Scicon Aerocomfort Road 3.0 TSA Review

I recently bought a new bike, which is a sweet 2017 Specialized Venge ViAS Disc. A simple mention of the bike gives me an excuse to put up a photo of it.

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Photo of my Specialized Venge ViAS Disc taken at the top of Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong

Anyway, I digress, with the disc brakes and the fully internal cables came with a few problems for traveling with the bike.

Problem 1: Fully internal cabling and hydraulic disc brakes meant that after loosening the handlebars there was not enough slack in the cables to let me either twist them down or remove them to use a standard hard case bike box.

Problem 2: With disc brakes, manufacturers have made a shift from the age-old quick-release skewer to a stiffer, more precise thru-axle skewer. This means that many of the bike cases that use quick-release skewers were not compatible.

I have been using a basic Serfas Bike Case for years now but that was out due to Problem 1. I also thought about the uber-expensive Douchebags The Tour but it was out due to Problem 2. I was left with basically only one option, which is the Scicon Aerocomfort Road 3.0 TSA. The older 2.0 version was also not compatible due to Problem 2.

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The Scicon Aerocomfort Road 3.0 TSA fully packed.

Since the bike bag is relatively new, I thought it would be useful for people to have a review of it and also some details on how it handles a thru-axle bike with disc brakes. I’ve now actually made two different trips using it from my home in Singapore to both Hong Kong and to Italy/Spain. That’s a total of 6 flights and many baggage handlers tossing it around without any issues.

The Good

  • It is very very easy to pack and unpack. You can read the same in any review of the the scicon bags. Since I’ve used a basic hard case for a while, this actually was a really nice change since it packed up in 25min despite the extra work I decided to do for extra protection.
  • It wheels around the airport extremely well. We had to walk some long distances within airports to/from rental cars and taxis and with the multi-directional wheels, it was really a breeze. I could push luggage with one hand and pull the bike with another.
  • The build quality is very good. When you feel the material of the bag, the zippers, the padding, the plastic protection added you feel like you have bought something high quality. It does also feel like they have put a lot of thought into the bag, some examples: 1) There is an external zipper pouch to put the straps which need to be removed before flight. 2) A special attachment for the flight tags. 3) A provided luggage lock. 4) Extra plastic to protect the hubs of your wheels.

The Bad

  • Handlebars and shifters feel exposed. Since you don’t have to remove the handlebars, they feel like they are sticking out and will easily get damaged if a luggage handler knocks the case on its side – which they will definitely do. I put something together which I’ll show later to add a little bit of extra protection.
  • The rear derailleur protector doesn’t work with thru-axles! Scicon claim that there is a derailleur protector but they don’t say that you can’t attach it if you aren’t using a quick-release skewer. Because of that, I had to remove the derailleur which turned out not to be a big deal, just that it added some extra time to the packing/unpacking.

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    A quick-release skewer could fit through the hole in order to attach the derailleur protector, but with a thru-axle, there’s no way to attach it.

  • Hard to fit it in rental cars. With a standard hard case, we normally rent an SUV and don’t have any problems fitting in 2 adults, a toddler, suitcases and the bike box. However for the Scicon Aerocomfort, it was too big to stand up vertically so we had to spend quite a long time re-arranging all the bags, eventually getting it to fit sideways. The car was a pretty big Volvo XC60 so it is definitely something to keep in mind.

How I Packed My Bike

Let me start off with what I did to try and make the handlebar area a little bit more sturdy. My fear was mainly that the shifters would get hit when the bag was put on it’s side so what i did was try and reinforce that area by strapping hard cardboard that would hopefully transfer any force to the other side of the bag rather than onto the shifter itself.

I also didn’t feel to happy about having so little padding on the frame and so I bought a pack of Albopads. These are basically high quality padding with straps to make it easier to attach to your bike. Sure, you could go and source your own foam and use your own straps but then you’d probably spend more time packing your bike. These pads have a nice fake-leather finish and I’m sure will last a long time.

 

I also didn’t feel to happy about having so little padding on the frame and so I bought a pack of Albopads. These are basically high quality padding with straps to make it easier to attach to your bike. Sure, you could go and source your own foam and use your own straps but then you’d probably spend more time packing your bike. These pads have a nice fake-leather finish and I’m sure will last a long time.

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This is all the padding I used to protect the bike.

I also did two extra steps in packing up the bike and that was to remove the rear derailleur as well as remove the pedals. The derailleur was then protected within a bag that came with the albopads and then strapped to the chainstay. I decided to remove the pedals since I use the Garmin Vector 2 Pedals which are a powermeter and I thought it best to protect the sensitive strain gauges in there.

The bike is attached to the bike bags solid base using the thru-axle skewers and then albopads are put all over the bike. I also used the top-tube protector from scicon to protect the seatpost. I didn’t use it on the top tube since the albopads were higher quality.

The Verdict

So far, I haven’t had any issues with the Scicon Aerocomfort Road 3.0 TSA, I do still have a worry at the back of my mind that the bike is going to receive a big hit and take some damage. Because of that I don’t think I would fully recommend it unless you have the same constraints I did or if you simply feel that being able to pack your bike quickly is the most important factor.

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Why hello there!

OH MY GOODNESS.

I had completely forgotten about this blog… until Ian reminded me of it. *sheepish shrug* Sorry.

Well, it’s been a looooong while, so let’s get you quickly caught up!

Since the last post about the Olympics (that’s London 2012, mind you – I realise Rio 2016 is over and the world is already looking toward Tokyo 2020):

  1. There are now three of us! Yup, two became three.

That’s us standing in front of the lovely green and yellow stripy wall of the nursery that Ian spent an entire day paining. Good man.

And *drumroll*, introducing little Ashley Hall! Since she came into our lives in September 2013, it’s been an unbelievable journey. Tiring and trying at times, but for the most part she has been such a sweetheart and has brought so much joy into our lives.

We’re a proper little family now!  😀

 

2. We moved into new (bigger) digs!

Despite the lovely striped walls of the nursery, we quickly outgrew our last apartment and needed more space. So very sadly, we said goodbye to the first home we bought and moved down a few roads into our current place. Quite a project, and that’s another story, but we are loving it!

And here’s a preview.

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That’s it, not much else has changed. We still traipse around the world in search of adventures, taking little Ashley with us. It is one of the things Ian and I firmly believed in – that having kids would not change our love for travel. Well, it does change some aspects of our travel, and I won’t lie, it’s not easy – but we won’t give up seeing the world for easy, and I believe the shared new experiences makes us stronger as a family and hopefully Ashley grows up to be a better person for it.

Watch this space!

 

 

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The Olympic Vacation – Day 2 – Beach Volleyball @ Horse Guards Parade

The second day entailed an early start since we had to be at Horse Guards Parade by 9am for the start of the beach volleyball preliminaries. We left the house at 7am and got there pretty much right on time. There was no problem with the tube, no problems walking to the venue and again no problems with getting through security. If not for a stop for coffee on the way to our seats we would have gotten there right in time for introductions and the start of the match. Those few minutes we were late made me grumpy (sorry Chunnie) but that was soon forgotten since it was such a good time!

The sun was blazing, there were cute girls in bikinis (not including the cheerleaders) and the crowd was into the action! The beach volleyball really is an event. Between points there is loud music playing, and to Chunnie’s delight there was a commentator encouraging the crowd and telling you what has just happened! The points are quick and exciting and it’s just got this fantastic vibe since the stands were packed and the commentator and music help the crowd get buzzing.

In the first match Russia took on Italy and I just had to cheer for italy since that’s my heritage. That’s despite the fact the Russian girls definitely looked cuter 🙂 How can I not use that to find a team to cheer for? It took three sets and eventually the Italians did prevail so all was good! After that match we took the opportunity to walk around the stadium. It is really quite incredible to see that a temporary structure could be made to hold fifteen thousand people and still have a view of the palace behind it. Kudos to the London 2012 organizers!

In the next match Brazil took on Czech Republic and apparently this Brazilian pairing are one of the favorites for gold. The person whom I was impressed by was the 2.06m giant named Alison. He was big and tall and good. He is a blocker and normally you see the players try to block a spike and either get it or miss but he was different. He was so big that even when somebody tried to dink it over him he would reach back and get it anyway – a monster! Although they dropped a set, they still won the match.

In true British style, the sun went away, the clouds came in and “liquid sunshine” came down. At first it was passing showers but then eventually the heavens really opened and we scampered out of the stadium just before the end of the final set.

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The Olympic Vacation – Day 1 – Tennis @ Wimbledon

The London 2012 vacation started on the evening of 27th July as we hopped on the plane, just hours before the opening ceremony was about to start. That meant we would miss it which in turns out was perhaps a slight oversight since in the end so much (all good) was said about it in the press and by just people that had watched it.

We were fully prepared for this flight and the arrival to be absolutely harrowing, with bags lost, hours in immigration and the like. We bought travel insurance in case the bags were lost and threw in an extra change of clothes in our hand luggage for good measure. Amazingly however, there were no problems at all. The immigration hall was empty, the baggage came quickly and we zoomed onto the tube to catch a ride to High Barnet to put our bags down with Mom’s friend whom we would be staying with.

On The Tube

After that, we headed straight to Wimbledon! It was exciting for Chunnie and I since neither of us had been there before but had watched many matches on TV over the years.  (Side note: we had also planned to go watch the cycling road race, but alas we left the house too late and just didn’t have time.) Once we got off the train, Marisa showed us that the best way was to get a cab from the tube station to the venue itself rather than walk for 20min. It was £2.50 (per person) well spent since it was a quick ride and we were a little tight for time.

Centre Court

We swiftly made our way through the security checks, again proving that all the reports of long lines had been blown out of proportion. I guess it’s a British thing to exaggerate everything, including the prowess of their athletes. After the obligatory photo in front of Centre Court we climbed up to the stairs to our seats and were told “2 minutes to take your seats!” So we ran round the corner and sat down just as Tomas Berdych and Steve Darcis started their match.

Ian n Chunnie Centre Court

After watching for a few games, we decided that our stomachs were more important and since it was lunchtime already we should pop out quickly for some IOC-accredited food before the heavy hitters (Roger, Serena) arrived on court. So we trooped out and bought hot dogs, pizza and Coca-Cola (all purchased using Visa). The food was expensive but not really too bad. During the short sojourn outside Centre Court I walked around to some of the outside courts and got some real close-up action including Zvonerava in a match and more excitingly, Roger Federer! Roger was warming up and i was standing just court-side!

Steve Darcis

Steve Darcis had managed to upset Tomas Berdych and that means the first of the famous folks came onto the court. Serena Williams came on with her first round opponent Jelena Jankovic. Serena looks like a beast on TV and now I can attest she looks like a beast in person. She plowed through Jelena without a problem, the funny thing was that I remember a time when Jelena was actually good. One person in the crows who must’ve approved of this was Michelle Obama who was about 15 rows in front of us and causing quite a commotion. At every stoppage in play people stand up and try to catch a picture of her.

Serena and Jelena

Next up was Roger, the king of Wimbledon and his opponent Alejandro Fall. Roger was good in the first set but then lost his way in the second. It was shocking but Roger had a chance of getting kicked out in the first round! Fortunately for him he pulled himself together and won it in the third set. During this match Centre Court was packed and you could tell people were there mainly to watch Roger.

Roger

In the final match Anne Keothavong from Great Britain took on Caroline Wozniacki and Centre Court promptly emptied out. We were included in the exodus as we took the opportunity to enjoy a Wimbledon classic of strawberries and cream… Ahhhh… We did pop back into the match for a while, I was surprised to see Anne had managed to take a set and the crowd was roaring much louder than at any point previously. However, it was getting late in the day and we were all jetlagged. That was the trigger for us to head home, tired but happy.

Wozniacki

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A very curious incident. AKA The Great Newspaper Robbery!

As Ian usually does every Saturday morning, he heads out really early to go cycling, leaving me to sleep in. This is one of the happiest times of my week – waking up late, getting the newspaper and reading it over a coffee on our balcony waiting for Ian to get home.

Well, one rainy Saturday morning in April 2012, our routine was rudely disrupted by a newspaper thief!

That fateful morning, when Ian left the house at 6.30AM, he noticed the newspaper was sitting on the doorstep. Nothing unusual.

Except that at 8.00AM when I woke up and went to get the newspapers, heavy rain was falling and the newspaper was GONE!!!

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Oh dear.

Being good neighbours and waiting to warn others of a newspaper thief in our building, we put out a sign on our door, and left for lunch at 11.30AM.

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At 1:45PM when we got back from lunch, the newspaper was BACK!! However our PSA sign is now gone too.

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Nonetheless, we were thankful to the thief for returning our newspaper, and being polite, we decided to thank him or her. Although we would really prefer not to share newspapers.

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The sign was gone at 2.45PM when we checked again. Ah well.

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2XU Compression Run – Race Report

The Short Version

A time of 55:13 and almost 10 minutes slower than my PB.

 

The Slightly Longer Version

At about Christmas I had gone for a 12K run and was finally back running good distances after having been recovering from ITBS after Ironman Oz. I was walking around at home when I slipped and kicked the door frame which I think fractured a toe. That kept me from running for two full months. I’d like to think that that is the reason why I was so slow at this race. I’ve really got a long way to go to get my fitness back.

Some other observations from the race:

  • If you have to walk after 100m of a 10K then you should really be training more.
  • With participation increasing in Singapore, more races should try to enforce starting corals.
  • My pace in the Singapore Biathlon for the 10K run (after a 1.5K swim) was pretty much the same as today, that shows either how slow I am now or how little effort I put into the swim.
  • Running races are so much more convenient than triathlons – You just show up with your shoes and run. No bike, no prep-work, no waves, no waiting around. Afterwards we still had time to join the family for breakfast.
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A quick hike in Hong Kong

I was in Hong Kong for work during the week, and Ian flew up to join me for a quick weekend break.

The Wongs generously hosted us in their apartment, JD in particular was very happy to share his new computer game with Ian as they played into the middle of the night like old times!

For once the highlight of our trip wasn’t around food. That’s not to say the food wasn’t good. The Wongs introduced us to lots of yummy food in their neighbourhood and also to a really good Chinese restaurant, West Villa, in Lee Garden (On Yee gets all the credit for this!) where you have to reserve the char siew in advance. It’s worth it!

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The highlight of our trip was actually an afternoon spent hiking at Shek O Country Park, way to the south-east on Hong Kong island. We had both been to Hong Kong numerous times before but this is the first time we were going hiking even though we’ve heard so many good things about the hiking in Hong Kong. Being amateurs though, we picked an easy trail – the Dragon’s Back.

 

It was an interesting, tiring but really fun experience, the views were lovely, and JD was sweet enough to pack strawberries for us all to snack on when we took a break mid-way through.

 

Here’s our route and the statistics of the hike: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/150855892 Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 9.04.27 AM

 

If we get to spend more time in Hong Kong in future, we should definitely do more hikes!

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