The practical, aero solution to carrying luggage on a very reclined recumbent
The Angletech Aeropod Lowracer bag is designed, as it’s name suggests, for bikes such as the Challenge Fujin where the back wheel sits in fairly close proximity to the seat back. This situation can mean that a standard Radical bag such as the Solo Aero Narrow is obstructed by the rear wheel. The solution is to use a bag with a wheel well cutout, such as the Aeropod Lowracer.
When I started out with the M5, I discovered that with the seat in the middle position, a Radical bag would hit the rear tyre unless you added the M5 carbon mudguard to support the bag and did a bit of bodging – usable but not ideal. With the seat on the lowest position however, there is no chance of using a Radical bag, there’s just way too much wheel interference. I now ride with the seat as far back is it goes, so I ordered an Aeropod Lowracer bag from Angletech via Laid Back Bikes. It took a while to arrive – apparently it’s not a common request and is therefore made to order, but it was worth the wait. I’m surprised that not many people buy this bag as I have been unable to find anything similar that would work on a very reclined setup like the CHR, but there you go.
The bag feels very solidly constructed. It uses stiffeners to maintain its shape – for the walls, lid and wheel arch. The stiffeners are somewhat flexible but strike a good compromise between weight and solidity.
All the material used feels quite heavy duty with one exception – the thin fabric coating over the wheel arch underneath is very easy to tear, should your bag sag onto the wheel at any point. I have a hole in this area after just one ride where I loaded up the bag too much and had contact during bumps.
Other than this, it is pretty robust, and the zip seems decent.
There are 3 small ‘bits and pieces’ bags included, that velcro onto the inside walls of the main bag. Useful for things like coins, asthma inhalers, keys etc. I use one and the other two I leave at home. Spot which ones in the picture haven’t been used yet!
There is a hydration bladder pocket at the wide end of the bag nearest the seat. For me this pocket is way too small for any bladder I ever use, so I don’t bother putting a bladder in there. Instead I put all the tools, tubes etc in there so they are easily accessible mid ride without rooting around in the main bag compartment. In the picture below you can also see the red bag stuck to the wall of the main bag – there’s Velcro strips down the inside so that you can keep these small bags elevated up near the zip for easy access. Very nice.
There is a hose hole on the bottom – I don’t use this either as my bladders are not in the pocket.
There are two different bands to put the bag on the seat, in order to move the bag up or down depending on your individual bike geometry.
2 sturdy velcro straps secure the bag to the seat. These are pretty heavy duty which I like.
There is a nice handle on the top for lifting the bag off the bike. In this picture you can also see the two retractable badge holders I use to connect to two bladders that I put in the bag on a long ride. I cable tie these to the frame of the VTX neck rest so that they are within easy reach when riding.
There is an external phone pocket – I don’t ever use this when it’s much safer and more weatherproof to just shove the phone inside the bag, but it’s there if you need to have access to your phone while on the move (my family know that phoning me when I’m on the bike will result in severe grumpiness on my part unless it’s an emergency!)
The bag can be slipped on over a neck rest – it’s a bit of an acrobatic manipulation to get it over the VTX rest I use but it can be done 🙂
The stripes around the bag are made from a reflective, high viz type material. They will light up nicely in the dark when a car’s headlights are pointed at you.
The bag is a nice wedge shape – I’m not sure how much difference it makes aero wise but it sure looks nice. Given that Cruzbike tested their race case and found it made a few watts difference, I’m betting you’ll get a slight benefit from this bag too.
Official weight is 816g, but mine weighs 950g without the 3 small bags included. Not for weight weenies!
The bag officially has a capacity of just over 8 litres. It seems a lot bigger than that from the outside, but of course there is a large chunk of space taken up by the wheel well cutout.
Practically speaking, I have managed to fit the following in –
- tool bag – multi tool, 2 CO2 canisters, 2 tyre levers, small puncture repair kit
- 2 spare tubes
- Small hand pump
I stuff these in the hydration bladder pocket (see Features above)
- 4 litres of fluid – 2.5 litres on one side, taking up the whole side of the bag, and 1.5 on the other side. This is extreme – I tend to ride with just one 2.5 litre bladder on the left side and stuff everything else on the right and top. Recently I have found myself reacting badly to high carb drinks after a few hours so I sometimes fill the other bladder with pure water or electrolyte only drink which helps when there’s a bit of gastric distress.
- Emergency stuff in one of the small additional bags – spare cash, keys, inhaler
- Castelli lightweight rain jacket (folds up small enough to fit in a jersey pocket, it’s quite light)
- Some spare food – a few bars or gels, a banana etc. I put most of my food in a bag hanging under the tiller. I always take spare just in case.
- One or two other small objects such as lights etc.
The majority of the space is taken up by the Camelbak hydration bladders. These are just slightly too tall to fit comfortably in the side wells, so you have to stuff them in and have a very slight bulge to the lid. If you took those out there would be stacks of space. Running with 2 bladders is definitely pushing the bag to its limit – usually I will use just the one.
Some of the space is quite thin towards the rear due to the taper, so stuffing thin things into the ends of each side helps use the space better.
With all the above in, and 2 bladders, the bag is stuffed to overflowing point and the lid will be a little bulging. It will also sag significantly with that much weight so watch your wheel clearance – see Fit below.
The bag doesn’t fit on the CHR in the lowest seat position without some intervention – the seat is still too reclined. It might be ‘just’ OK when you put the bag on the seat, but once you start adding weight it will sag enough to catch the wheel during movement. I learned this the hard way which resulted in the aforementioned small hole in the material covering the wheel well stiffener.
My solution was to make a wedge out of cavity insulation ploystyrene, cover it in gaffer tape and velcro that to the back of the seat at the appropriate height. The bag then sits against that. I can change the amount of lift given by moving the wedge up or down. Now I can fill the bag to overflowing and it will never touch the wheel, even on big bumps.
On the middle seat setting, I think the bag would work without a wedge (I haven’t tested that though).
You can see from the CycleDifferent page online that the bag fits nicely on a Fujin. Obviously any bike with a very reclined seat angle might require some form of wedging like my solution above.
The bag does exactly what you’d expect – no surprises and it functions perfectly. The wheel arch cutout acts as an excellent mudguard on the CHR, catching most of the crud thrown up from the road.
Getting it on and off over the VTX neck rest is a tight fit and requires tilting the bag sideways to slide it over the foam rest. Without a neck rest it would be very quick to take on and off.
Once you’ve tightened up the velcro straps, you need to check the bag is sitting straight and the wheel arch walls are not close to the tyres. Once you centre the bag, it stays there without any noticeable shift over long rides on rough roads.
The only minor issue I’ve had is with the zip on the lid – it can be quite fiddly to get it moving from the extremes, and sometimes requires you to straighten out the material round the zip to get a perfect zip line before it will move. Once the zippers are out of the extreme ends, it works fine.
There is no discernible noise produced by the bag during riding – unlike a carbon case which booms and bangs and rattles unless you pack it very carefully.
Overall, I think this bag is an excellent addition to the CHR or other similarly reclined bike. It’s basically a small removable tailbox and has been very well thought out. As long as you pay attention to the fit and make sure it is raised far enough off your rear wheel, it will work just perfectly and it feels like a quality product that will last.
It provides enough space for a decent day ride, and it has replaced my Fastback Double Century bags, which were a bit more fiddly and interfered with the chain line, and possibly caught the wind a bit more too. They’ve been moved to the Fuego now – they are also excellent but I wanted neat and aero for the CHR and that’s exactly what the Aeropod Lowracer bag gives me. Thumbs up!