The Silca Maratona Gear Bag is the designer luggage of the travelling cyclist, the Louis Vuitton of the image conscious rider. And thankfully, it's not all fashion over function, with the quality and the design warranting that price tag.
No doubt we all have various ways of carrying kit to an event – a supermarket 'bag for life', a rucksack, or literally chucking it loose in the boot of the car. But if you are a dedicated racer or travel a lot with your kit then something dedicated to the job makes for a faff-free pre-race sort out. The Maratona is certainly an extravagance from that point of view, mind.
In my racing days it made a big difference to me to have everything in its specific pocket, so I knew exactly where to lay my hands on it. It was a bit of a ritual. I've had plenty of kit bags over the years but none quite as well thought out as the Silca.
Your shoes can be placed in an internal pocket which you can access externally and internally, plus it's vented too, should your daps get wet or pong a bit.
Inside you'll find a couple of mesh zipped pockets on the lid, which are perfect for the lightweight stuff – baselayers, jerseys, socks, gloves and so on. Plus in the main compartment there are various straps to hold onto rolled-up kit.
There are also elasticated straps for water bottles, which is a nice touch as you can fill them before an event and not worry about them leaking all over your kit before a race.
Around the outside are various zipped pockets for small essentials, and if you pack smart you can really carry a huge amount of stuff, easily enough for a week-long training camp in sunnier climes.
Although our photos don't show it, one of the neatest ideas is the way that when you unzip the top it lies completely flat so you can sit in the bag to put your shoes on. Anyone who's been hopping around in a wet field swapping between the trainers you drove in and your cycling shoes will appreciate this.
Also, if you've flown with your bike and need to put it together on landing, the bag creates a place where you can spread out your tools and parts without them having to sit on the carpet or bed of your hotel room.
Speaking of flying, as long as you don't ram the Maratona to its limits, it comes in just under the carry luggage size limits at 55 x 35 x 23cm. It's about 44 litres of space according to Silca, but pack it to the gills and you can achieve 60 litres – though it'll be a squeeze to wedge it into the basket at check-in.
So, the price: £180. Worth it? Well, it's a fair amount, but I think so. Of course, you can do things a lot cheaper and the Maratona is an extravagance, but the quality and finish really do justify it.
Before the Silca turned up I was using my Endura Roller Flight Deck Bag which has a capacity of 40 litres and loads of separate compartments. It also has an rrp of £119.99, but the Maratona seems better made, especially inside, and the material more robust. I'd also say it's more practical for general use as a non-cycling suitcase.
The Endura wins on having wheels and a pull-along handle, making it easier to use than the Silca if you are trekking between taxis, buses and airports. You have to carry the Silca, though it does have plenty of handles and straps, plus there are internal straps…
…to turn it into a rucksack.
Castelli also has a range of luggage, including the XC Rolling Travel Bag at £200 or the Gear Duffel Bag costing £100, which goes to show that the Maratona is pricey but it's not alone.
Overall, it's a quality bit of kit. Do you need it? Probably not. But if you have it, it's very nice indeed.
A well-justified expense for the regular traveller who's happy to pay for quality
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Silca Maratona Gear Bag
Size tested: 55cm x 35 cm x 22cm but expanding to 60cm x 40cm x 25cm
Tell us what the product is for
Silca says, "The Maratona Gear Bag was designed as a cycling specific travel bag for those weekend riding trips and races, yet is versatile enough to be used as a general travel bag. Our designers used feedback gathered from both professional and amateur riders to design a gear bag that addresses the common pain points of traveling with cycling gear."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Silca lists these features:
600D construction with waxed canvas panels and reflective quilt stitching
Vented damp garment bag
Vented shoe bag with internal and external access
Internal water bottle storage and tool storage
Lined external pocket
Stowable shoulder straps to convert into a backpack
Maximizes airline size regulations for carry-on luggage
Dimensions: 55cm x 35 cm x 22cm but expanding to 60cm x 40cm x 25cm
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a great bag for cycling kit or just a weekend away without the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good quality and well designed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A few more specific storage pockets would be welcome.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
There are much, much cheaper options out there for bunging your cycling kit into, but I'd say for the quality and general design the Maratona is worth the money and deserves an 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!