Aeroclam - The best saddle bag ever?

by paulrbarnard   August 18, 2014  

First off a bit of a disclaimer. I'm a saddle bag user, there I've said it. I share this review in the hope that it might help those of you who also can't cope with rule 31. I'd previously taken the view that if I used a small enough bag no one would notice. I've been at sportives and been the target of the withering glances of practicing Velominati. In fact on my last sportive a ride buddy was in the process of sounding off about the spoilt lines of the expensive road bikes festooned with saddle bags when he noticed the ortlieb mini dangling from my rear.
I've tried lots, and I mean LOTS, of bags over the years but never hit on one that didn't fail to impress on one level or another. The biggest failing tends to be waterproofing. There is nothing worse than opening a soggy pack to extract the wet £5 emergency money (buying coffee and cake is an emergency) then having to apologise to the cashier as you pay. So requirement 1; it has to be waterproof. Requirement 2; it has to be small. Big enough to hold a multitool, tube and inflator, oh and a £5 note. Finally, requirement 3; it has to be either discrete or exceptionally stylish, essentially invisible or a bold statement. That's it, just three requirements to fulfil. Not much to ask but I have not found a bag to date that ticked all the boxes.
So roll back the clock a few months. There was a Kickstarter campaign by a guy called Pat Reardon from Cyckit in New Zealand who was looking to fund the tooling for a pretty great looking saddle bag. Unfortunately the project didn't make the funding required but thankfully Pat went ahead anyway. As of a couple of weeks ago the Aeroclam is now available to purchase. Check out the website at www.cyckit.com. I paid my NZ$49 the day the website went live and it arrived a few days ago.
It's now fitted to my Roubaix and is everything I have been looking for in a saddle bag. It even aces requirement 3, it's discrete and exceptionally stylish at the same time!
The upper half of the clam bolts to the saddle rails and the lower half clips into hinges at the front of the Aeroclam. It closes at the rear using a rubber catch. A great feature is that you can mix and match the black and white parts to match with your saddle. I have all white to go with the Specialized Toupe on my bike. The web site shows all black, white and black and white combinations to really fit well with your bike aesthetics.
The Aeroclam very small so loading has to be done in a specific way. There is a recess in the bottom to take a small multitool. The Topek I had was too big so I ordered a small one by Genuine Innovations as recommended by Cyckit. A quick measure showed 27mm x 75mm x 10mm to be the size of tool that will fit, possibly a bit thicker if your tubes are thinner. The Aeroclam comes with two tire levers which sit on top of the multitool and form a partition between the multitool recess and the rest of the bag. The tube and inflator with CO2 cylinder sit on top of the tire levers. The Aeroclam then closes up using the rubber closure on the back. It's a tight fit in there to ensure no rattles while riding. The attention to detail is great as Cyckit also send a small rubber packing piece which you can use if needed to stop rattles.
When closed the Aeroclam is sleek and refined. If you weren't looking for it you would assume it was an integral part of the saddle. Forget the adage "form over function", this is function with great form.
It wasn't completely plain sailing though. When I first packed the Aeroclam it didn't close tightly. That concerned me as requirement 1 needs it to be waterproof. I narrowed it down to the tube not fitting properly. I looked at it and saw that it was pretty messily rolled so not as thin as it could have been. I re-rolled it neatly and the clam then shut, just, but I felt that the seam was not as tight as it could have been. Without the tube in there the seam shuts tight. I exchanged some email and pictures with Pat and he was exceptionally helpful, even going to the shops and buying the same tube as I had to try it himself. It turns out the Specialized 700x20/28 thin tubes roll to be 3mm wider than the range of tubes that Pat had used when designing the Aeroclam. It's that extra 3mm of packing height that caused the Aeroclam to not close firmly. The design is that finely tuned! With my neatly rolled tube I have an acceptable case seal but don't have the invisible case line that it should have. I can live with the way it is closed now, but it does give me an excuse to try some other brands of thin tubes so this can actually be seen as a good thing Cool
The bottom line is that yes, I think this is the best saddle bag ever. Even the most ardent of Velominati will struggle to spot the Aeroclam on the bike and when they do they will most likely be awed by it's great lines rather than appalled at the desecration of a thoroughbred racing machine. Oh and did I mention it only weighs 136 grams

13 user comments

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Interesting, I'm currently using my huge old MTB saddle bag as the nice new one I bought for my road bike doesn't fit.

My meticulously adjusted saddle position leaves very little horizontal space on the saddle rails at the rear which is where a lot of saddle bags are fitted; the MTB one fits on the diagonal part of the rail between the saddle and the horizontal bit.

From looking at the picture, this fits on the horizontal part I'm guessing?

PS. I can't see any mention of shipping costs on their site? $50 NZD is about £25, what was it all-in?

posted by sergius [63 posts]
18th August 2014 - 14:21

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sergius wrote:
Interesting, I'm currently using my huge old MTB saddle bag as the nice new one I bought for my road bike doesn't fit.

My meticulously adjusted saddle position leaves very little horizontal space on the saddle rails at the rear which is where a lot of saddle bags are fitted; the MTB one fits on the diagonal part of the rail between the saddle and the horizontal bit.

From looking at the picture, this fits on the horizontal part I'm guessing?

PS. I can't see any mention of shipping costs on their site? $50 NZD is about £25, what was it all-in?

Total cost from my bank account was £32.04 after the UK bank had a cut for the international transaction, exchange rate and the postage.

I'll check where the clamp lined up when I get home but thinking about it retrospectively I'm pretty sure it was on the sloping rear part. There were also some molded wedges for use with some saddles to get the angle exact (I didn't need them). My saddle position is pretty central so it could have being either and I wouldn't have noticed specifically. Either way the clamp is certainly not a bulky item.

posted by paulrbarnard [124 posts]
18th August 2014 - 14:43

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Much appreciated, I can't do without a saddle bag - but my currently one is huge and ugly Smile

posted by sergius [63 posts]
18th August 2014 - 14:48

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Sounds a bit of a ballache really.
1. You had to go buy a new multitool, Call that £10-£15?
2. You had to change the tubes you used, so that means all those spares you have, or all the ones you buy from now on need to be that, were they more or less expensive than the specialized you ran before?

Your £32, is then looking more like edging £50.
Personally I can get all I need in my jersey pocket, and the emergency funds etc. go into a small zip-lock bag.

I think it's definitely the better end of saddle bags out there, but perhaps needs some refining so it can take a slightly larger tool (I can't see most people finding having to fork out another £10-£15 palatable), and not be so depending on supper thin tubes.

Just seems the designer looked at what he used, and didn't consider variations on the tool people us/tubes.

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posted by glynr36 [391 posts]
18th August 2014 - 16:12

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glynr36 wrote:
Sounds a bit of a ballache really.
1. You had to go buy a new multitool, Call that £10-£15?
2. You had to change the tubes you used, so that means all those spares you have, or all the ones you buy from now on need to be that, were they more or less expensive than the specialized you ran before?

Your £32, is then looking more like edging £50.
Personally I can get all I need in my jersey pocket, and the emergency funds etc. go into a small zip-lock bag.

I think it's definitely the better end of saddle bags out there, but perhaps needs some refining so it can take a slightly larger tool (I can't see most people finding having to fork out another £10-£15 palatable), and not be so depending on supper thin tubes.

Just seems the designer looked at what he used, and didn't consider variations on the tool people us/tubes.

Glyn you can certainly look at it that way and I'm sure many will, but for me after spending £5000 on a top end bike a few quid on replacing ancillaries to make it look top notch is neither here nor there. Pat did email me to say that he is talking to the tool maker to see if they can modify the moulds to accommodate the extra 3mm for the wider tubes. He freely admitted it was one inner tube model they didn't try during the design, though they tried very many other brands and models. In the mean time they are putting a warning about this tube on their web site.
My tool is pretty big Surprise so buying a smaller one was probably on the cards anyway. On the Cyckit web site they actually acknowledge that they have made compromises to make this the smallest neatest solution they can. In my mind that shows a dedication to getting the best solution rather than cutting corners and making a more generic bag that would be bigger, rattles, leaks or whatever. The generic approach might have made for a bigger market but the dedication of the approach they have taken has produced a pretty remarkable solution. It's not going to be for everyone that's for sure. I actually suggested that they look at offering Aeroclams ready filled with a suitable multi tool and inflator so you just have to add your own tube.

Having lost items out of jersey pockets (emergency money, twice, and a debit card once) I prefer to limit the rummaging I have to do in my pockets. I keep my energy bars/gels in the left pocket, rain jacket in the center and my phone in the right hand pocket. Having the tube, inflator and multi tool in there as well would bulk out my pockets quite uncomfortably. Just what is the aero drag of over stuffed jersey pockets? This is a question that should be put to the wind tunnel guys I think. Nerd

As to tubes, I'm in a whole new nirvana of possibilities for light weight inners, I never realized the possibilities. As the Adam Ant song goes "Don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?" Well I spend all my money on bike bits Cool

posted by paulrbarnard [124 posts]
18th August 2014 - 16:42

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Maybe it's a ride duration thing, but after I pocket a couple of sandwiches, some gels and my phone - I don't have a lot of room for a tube + tool.

If you are carrying enough for a 4+ hour ride, I don't see how you have room if you rely on jersey pockets only.

posted by sergius [63 posts]
18th August 2014 - 17:18

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sergius wrote:
Much appreciated, I can't do without a saddle bag - but my currently one is huge and ugly Smile

Just checked on the Toupe it's clamped on to the back not the flat part. Should work for you. Probably worth confirming with them though.

posted by paulrbarnard [124 posts]
18th August 2014 - 18:39

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I recently went to a saddlebag now that I've realised just how much more food I should be eating, and needed the room in my pockets. I bought a topeak aero wedge micro sized in which I have

Tube
Patch kit with glue
Ratchet rocket and 8 bits including torx
Spoke key
Lightweight lezyne chain tool
Power link
Small pack of reserve haribo
Moist towelettes
Cash and keys

There isn't enough room for a pump, but I tape that to the outside. The bag cinches up pretty tightly under the saddle. All in all, I think it's pretty much most of what I could need in a pretty small and discreet package. I do not think it's all that waterproof, though, but I'm a fair weather rider, or I'll have something with mudguards.

posted by DrJDog [122 posts]
18th August 2014 - 23:23

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Nothing against the saddle bag, it looks very pretty, but not much space.
I am another Topeak user. I carry two tubes, patches, levers and allen keys inside it, and since washing it with 'Grangers' it's pretty much water proof (i also have mudguards) and the mud can be brushed off.

Like i said it is a very pretty bag, be even better if it could handle more and be less nick-able, but good luck to the creators on there invention

posted by Binky [106 posts]
19th August 2014 - 1:20

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paulrbarnard wrote:
[Glyn you can certainly look at it that way and I'm sure many will, but for me after spending £5000 on a top end bike a few quid on replacing ancillaries to make it look top notch is neither here nor there.

Guess so, but I've also found some of the super small ones ineffective/poor quality etc.

Quote:

Pat did email me to say that he is talking to the tool maker to see if they can modify the moulds to accommodate the extra 3mm for the wider tubes. He freely admitted it was one inner tube model they didn't try during the design, though they tried very many other brands and models. In the mean time they are putting a warning about this tube on their web site.

Have to say it's good to see a desinger/manufacturer who is honest about what they did, and has listened to the feed back, shame more of them don't do that!

Quote:
In my mind that shows a dedication to getting the best solution rather than cutting corners and making a more generic bag that would be bigger, rattles, leaks or whatever.

Depends on your view of best solution I guess!

Quote:
I actually suggested that they look at offering Aeroclams ready filled with a suitable multi tool and inflator so you just have to add your own tube.

Probably a better idea with the tight tolerances, and might even work out a little cheaper than buyer seperate if they were bulk buying.

Quote:

Having lost items out of jersey pockets (emergency money, twice, and a debit card once) I prefer to limit the rummaging I have to do in my pockets. I keep my energy bars/gels in the left pocket, rain jacket in the center and my phone in the right hand pocket.

I've just remained fortunate and never lost anything, yet...
Probably why I've never looked into more than I have.

Quote:
Just what is the aero drag of over stuffed jersey pockets? This is a question that should be put to the wind tunnel guys I think. Nerd

Probably fairly minimal, as they're already in a turbulent area of air

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posted by glynr36 [391 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:11

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sergius wrote:
Maybe it's a ride duration thing, but after I pocket a couple of sandwiches, some gels and my phone - I don't have a lot of room for a tube + tool.

If you are carrying enough for a 4+ hour ride, I don't see how you have room if you rely on jersey pockets only.

I usually do 6-8 on a saturday or sunday.
Get a tube, Co2 inflator, patches, tyre levers, allen key tool, keys, debit card,£20 note all into a Rapha Essentials case (key clipped onto the zipper), which sits on my centre pocket, as well as my phone in a zip lock bag.
Leaves me two outer pockets for food then, I usually grab some on the ride too, as I'll be stopping to fill with water, so may as grab food as well

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posted by glynr36 [391 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:17

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Interesting, I don't tend to stop for more than a couple of minutes so I carry everything with me.

I've not seen that sort of jersey pocket storage before, I'll have to look into that.

posted by sergius [63 posts]
19th August 2014 - 9:04

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I'd rather have a bag/pocket/clam that's too big, than one that's too small, any day of the week.

posted by chokofingrz [285 posts]
19th August 2014 - 10:03

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