A couple of posts ago I mentioned I had placed an order for a new saddlebag from Sci’Con. Well the bag finally arrived…good thing too as my old Trek bag actually fell apart during my last 70 mile ride, leaving me to stuff my jersey pockets full of gear, which was not all that pleasant. I disliked stuffing my pockets so much that I decided not to ride until the new bag arrived.
I had mentioned that I was ordering the Vortex 480, but I switched gears at the last minute and decided a little more carrying volume might be nice, so I ordered the Hippo 550 instead. Now don’t get intimidated by its name. Yes, it’s a bigger bag than the Vortex 480 (550cc vs 480cc of volume), but by no means is it huge by any stretch of the imagination. In fact it looks outright dainty….no strike that, it looks aerodynamically efficient next to my old Trek bag. But then pretty much anything would, as that old bag was large enough to hold a compact car…ok slight exaggeration, but it did hold 2 tubes (still in their boxes), 2 Co2 cartridges, 2 tire irons, a mini CO2 valve, my wallet, keys, a multi-tool, garage door opener, a bunch of wet wipes, a couple packets of DZnuts and a partridge in a pear tree.
As I previously mentioned, I like redundancy and being prepared for the unexpected is always a good thing, especially when putting in some serious mileage, but frankly, that old bag was really way to big and, as I found out, it physically got in the way causing some unexpected wear in my bibs. So a little downsizing was in order, and the Hippo 550 looked to be just the right size.
When the bag arrived this afternoon, my wife took one look at it and said, “it’s way too small to fit all your stuff in it,” and she was right, but my plan was to pack it more efficiently and redistribute/eliminate some of the stuff I carried. Being a master packer…no one can pack a dishwasher like I can…I sat down with all the gear I normally carry and started to experiment, seeing how much stuff I could fit into 550cc of space. The results will surprise you.
I was able to fit in 2 tubes, 3 CO2 cartridges, the mini CO2 valve, some wet wipes, a packet of DZnuts and my keys. That left out my wallet (no big deal as it is not bulky and can easily remain in my jersey pocket), my garage door opener (no reason to carry it as I have my keys to get into my home), and my multi-tool (I don’t ever recall having to use it on a ride…and anyways I always give the bike a thorough check before riding). The bag really swallowed an impressive amount of gear all the while keeping a very desirable small footprint. By the way, notice that I did not mention my tire irons. The Hippo 550’s Roller mount comes with 2 integrated tire irons, freeing valuable space in the bag.
Once packed up, I proceded to install it. Unlike my previous bag which had numerous loops of velcro which took quite a bit of adjustment to get just right (and we know just right was not right as it was chewing up my bibs), the Hippo 550 uses Sci’Con’s ingenious Roller 2.1 mount which completely eliminates all those velcro straps. The mount could not have been easier to install.
A quick quarter turn disengaged the mount from the bag. The mount is a very elegant cleat which quickly fastens to the seat rails with just the twist of a red knob. Once secure just place the bag back onto the cleat and give it a quarter turn. That’s all there is to it, no tools, no fuss, no adjustments. Just a quick quarter turn and the bag is on, or off.
The installation results in a a cleaner, much more aerodynamic look than before. The bag is virtually floating under the seat, isolated from your legs and the rest of the bike. In short, it’s staying out of the way doing it’s job. It’s a handsome bag with reflective striping and an integrated logo on it’s side. It even has a convenient little loop on the back to hang a blinky light off it. The bags materials are top notch too, everything from the stitching to the zipper screams quality and durability.
The Hippo 550 from Sci’Con looks like a winner. It’s sleek, aerodynamic, holds everything that I need, and most importantly it will stay out of the way and not chew up my bibs. I’ll put it to the test tomorrow on a 60 mile ride with some friends I’m sure I won’t even realize it’s there….exactly what a saddlebag should do.