Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 2 seconds
The Polaris/OEM bike pod review
In this Polaris Bike Pod review, we’ll take a look at the Polaris/OEM bike pods. I’ve chosen to combine Polaris Bike Pods and OEM Bike Pods into one review as they’re typically very, very similar. In fact, from what I have seen, OEM pods are basically a copy of the Polaris, so combining them into one review makes sense.
I’ve also owned both, and travelled with both, so am well placed to comment on them.
You can check out my article detailing how to pack your bike in the Polaris or OEM bike pods.
Where they differ markedly, I will highlight the differences.
Before we dive into the pods, I want to quickly mention what I look for in a bike bag. All of these things, except price, contribute to the overall utility of the bag. Click through each item to skip through to that section.
- Robustness/Build Quality
- Protection for bike
- Securing the bike
- Overall design considerations
- Where to Buy
This bag was not made for agility in the same manner as the Scicon Aero Comfort Plus.
There is on the front about 2/3rds of the way up, so it’s reasonably simple to pick the bag up at the front and wheel it along.
There are no looped handles on the top, just these dicky moulded handles which serve no useful purpose.
I can’t overstate how much more convenient bags are to wheel around when they have front castors and you don’t have to keep bending down and picking them up to move them. This is especially true around airports.
You will need to take your handlebars and pedals off. Your seat can stay on, but will need to be pushed right down, or removed.
You don’t have to take the rear derailleur off.
Whilst it is undoubtably inconvenient taking your handlebars and pedals off, it is a small tradeoff for protection for the bike.
The pod is a clamshell design so you can easily pack your bike in on the ground – bike on one side, wheels on the other.
This bag is not stable at all due to a fairly narrow wheelbase. In my travels with this bag, it continually fell over as the feet it rested on were not even. The OEM bike pod I owned was slightly wider but suffered the same problem.
By virtue of the pods design, it scores poorly in the compactibility stakes. As it’s a moulded EVA bag, you cannot fold it up, so if you’re travelling in a campervan or car, make sure you budget for the space this will take up.
If you hole up in a hotel room or some other digs, you should be fine.
Weight and Size
The moulded EVA is quite light – 6.7kg claimed (which is about right according to my records). The OEM bike pods are a touch heavier – around 9kg.
The bag itself isn’t huge – it’s about the same size as the Chain Reaction Cycles Bike Bag (check out my Chain Reaction Cycles Bike Bag review) and smaller than a fully loaded EVOC.
The limited size is good in a way, as it will force you to minimise luggage.
Dimensions are: Length 1200mm, Height (tallest)907mm, Depth 280mm.
Due to the bike pods’ inherent design, it is really robust.
The only way the EVA exterior will be perforated would be via a hard impact with a pointed implement.
The zips are really robust.
The wheels are recessed but are probably the weakest point on the bag in terms of how they’re attached and their general quality.
There are plastic rails on the base which don’t really have any use as the wheels and rubber/plastic stoppers on the front keep them off the ground.
Protection for Bike
I think one of the biggest selling points of this bag is the protection it offers your bike.
If you pack your bike as I describe in my how to pack your bike in the Polaris or OEM bike pods article, you pretty much can be assured your bike will arrive in mint condition.
The wheels are attached on the other side of the bag, and secured with quick release (QR) skewers – not supplied. I recommend getting some cheap QR skewers. Actually, this design is a little flawed as it relies on the QR nut not becoming undone. I’d add some duct tape over the top of the nuts on the outside of the bag.
In the image below you’ll notice some plastic braces which brace the walls of the pod against each other, in order to prevent the wheels being banged on the frame when the bag has weight on it when lying on its side. The Polaris Bike Pods do not ship with these, so you will need padding to pack out the pod.
I’d also put some foam, bubble wrap or other protection – an old sheet would do – over the wheels to protect your bike frame.
The obligatory padding should be used around crankset, chainstays, rear derailleur (which could be removed for extra safety) and other sensitive areas.
Given the bag is moulded, there’s no real ability to adjust the bag – you’ll just have to measure your bike according to the pod dimensions (read above) and make sure it fits. You could put your wheels against your frame for a quick check.
I think the pods are for road bikes only, and you’d probably struggle to get an Integrated Seat Post (ISP) bike frame in.
There is adequate space for your shoes, kit, some tools and more.
In 2010, I put all my tools, nutrition for Etape, kit, cycling shoes and some other stuff in here.
Securing the Bike
Plenty of straps mean you can secure your bike, handlebars and forks with confidence – forks, top tube, handlebars, seat stays
The major straps are long, so you’ll be able to wrap around your frame at certain points.
This bag is great if you don’t need to do a lot of moving around and carrying it around (trains, buses, lots of airport transits).
If you just need something to get your bike from A to B, then this does the job.
Overall, the bike pods do the job they are intended to do, and do it well.
For those doing a lot of transits, or travelling by train or bus, this bag might not be the best solution for you. Check out the Scicon Aero Comfort Plus as a worthy alternative.
If you are travelling around in a campervan or car, you’ll need to account for the space this takes up (or leave it at the campervan depot).
There are a few things that would improve the bike pods, such as the addition of some castors on the front and some more straps.
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Polaris or OEM bike pods as your bike travel bag solution, but I think there are better alternatives out there, such as the EVOC Bike Travel Bag, Chain Reactions Bike Bag or the Scicon Aero Comfort Plus.
Expect to pay anywhere between AUD$320 and AUD$412 for the Polaris Bike Pod.
Be aware, shipping from the UK (Chain Reaction) is really expensive at AUD$297 (correct at June 2012) – this almost doubles the cost of the bag. By way of comparison, the EVOC bike bag ships free to Australia.
For OEM (no name) copies, expect to pay around AUD$200.
Where to Buy
OEM bike pods are basically copies and are available on ebay and from other online stores.
More Bike Bag Reviews
Check out the VeloNomad product review page for more bike bag reviews.
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