The Stebles Bikes Aero Box is a good shape and holds stuff securely, but it doesn't hold enough stuff, and the way it attaches to your seatpost with zip-ties isn't very user-friendly, or reusable.
Stebles was founded in the UK by Mark Stebles in 2012 with a mission to 'revolutionise bike design', and one of its first bikes to go into production has mudguards integrated into the frame. As well as bikes, Stebles has began designing 3D printed accessories. This saddle box, which houses a puncture repair kit, is the latest.
Designed to replace a traditional fabric seat bag, the 224g Aero Box ties onto a seatpost or seat tube and is smoothed into a curve shape. Inside, Stebles supplies a Schwalbe inner tube, plus Park Tool patches and tyre levers for the £29.95 asking price. It sounds ideal, and when I put in on my bike I was happy with how streamlined and clean it looked, suspended handsomely on the back of the seatpost.
To open it, you just slide it downwards from its pivot point. While on the bike, the box didn't move in the slightest, even over some very rough roads.
It does seem that Stebles is forgetting one key ingredient that's needed to fix a flat, though: air. The box has no room for a CO2 canister or mini pump, so you'll have to find space for this in another pack or jersey pocket. I'm no expert on 3D printing and maybe the design wouldn't have worked if an extra compartment was added, but surely it would be better to have everything in one place to save space?
I also think the best application for this, because of the time-saving advantage offered by simply sliding the box open, would be triathlons or long time trials when you get a flat mid-race and need to do a rapid repair. The time saving isn't as significant if you have to fumble elsewhere on the bike to locate your inflation tool.
Another big problem I had was when it came to removing the cable ties so I could attached it to a different bike: it's very difficult to cut them off without nearly slicing into your seat tube. This, plus the fact that if you move it between bikes regularly you'll need new cable ties every time, makes the system a bit of an annoyance. I'd like to see bigger slots cut in for Velcro straps instead.
I spoke to Stebles and gave some feedback, and it's aware of my tips for improvement. I'm told a dedicated version for triathlon and time trialling may be on the cards to fit an aero seatpost. But even so, the box should also have space for a CO2 canister inside so you don't have to house that or a mini pump elsewhere on the bike – it defeats the object of the space-saving and aero design.
Overall the Aero Box is an interesting concept, but it's not refined enough for my full recommendation just yet. I hope there's a mark two soon.
Novel idea, but needs to fit a CO2 canister and attach to an aero post to find its true target market
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Stebles Bikes Aero Box
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Stebles Bikes Aero Box is for those looking for very speculative time savings, a talking point for the club ride, or just anyone who is naturally curious.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
3D printed for a standardised shape and close fit of accessories with no rattling
Schwalbe 700c inner tube, park tool tyre levers and patches included
Designed for standard 31.6mm road seat posts, but can fit smaller with no issues
Can be fitted to the seat post or seat tube with cable ties
It's well cut and nothing moves inside, but I'd prefer Velcro straps to cable ties to secure it to the bike.
It didn't move at all and housed the accessories without anything moving around.
The cable ties aren't durable long-term, because they need replacing.
It's not a great deal more than a canvas saddle bag, which is impressive considering it's a hard case.
There's not really any compass, but by volume it's expensive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fine, but you'll need to pull out your pump or CO2 from elsewhere on the bike to finish repairing your flat.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to open, the 3D print gives a nice clean cut and it looks pretty cool. It also doesn't move at all when you take a pothole or rough bit of road.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It doesn't fit everything in that you need to repair a flat, and you can damage your seat tube trying to get the cable ties off.
Did you enjoy using the product? I was indifferent, and got some strange looks!
Would you consider buying the product? Not yet.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Perhaps
Use this box to explain your score
If I had a friend who had an intrepid taste I'd mention it to them, but I wouldn't recommend it over a trusty saddle wedge pack for most cyclists.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon races
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He joined road.cc in 2017, having previously worked for 220 Triathlon magazine. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.