Choosing a bike travel case that’s right for you

Choosing a bike travel case that’s right for you

Have you always wanted to participate in a marquee bike event that required you to fly with your bike but the hassle of it all prevented you from doing so?

It’s happened to me dozens of times!

For years, I’ve wanted to ride in both Levi’s Gran Fondo and George Hincapie’s Gran Fondo. But, I’ve been reluctant to attend because of the hassle of traveling with my bike.

My reservations were largely due to the headaches of modern travel. I’m a cursed traveler and nothing seems to run smoothly. But, there’s no need to let that stop you from participating in bike events you’ve been dreaming to attend.

There are a number of high quality bike travel cases that will get your bike to your destination in one piece. Take a look at our tips and advice below to help you find a travel bag that suits your needs.

 What to consider before buying a bike travel case

It’s simply about getting your bike to arrive safely and intact.

To ensure that happens, a bike bag should offer all of these important features:

  • Portability
  • Convenience
  • Adjustability
  • Stability
  • Storage
  • Robust/Durable
  • Excellent internal padding

Most importantly, you want to feel comfortable your bike is secure and you want to be able to wheel it around with ease.

Personal considerations

How frequently do you plan on traveling with your bike? 

If you only plan on taking infrequent trips with your bike a soft shell travel case is the most cost effective option. If you know you’ll be taking several trips over the next few years and durability is key, a hard shell travel case is your best bet.

What type of bike do you own?

Most bags have no problems transporting road bikes, TT bikes, 29ers, and cyclocross bikes. Most cases fit bikes with up to a 46 inch wheelbase and bikes with up to a 20mm front axle.

What kind of storage space do you have?

If you own a smaller car or a small living space where storage is an issue, a hard case my not be your best option. Soft shell cases are far more flexible and malleable.

Pros & Cons of Soft Shell Bike Travel Cases

Pros:

  • Lightweight, easy to manage and wield your way around an airport
  • Less likely to incur “oversize” travel fee which may run upwards of $150
  • Having a soft bike bag greatly increases your chances of avoiding ridiculous airline fees

Cons:

  • Susceptible to wear and tear if mishandled by airline baggage handlers
  • May require extra time packing the bike to ensure it’s well protected

Pros & Cons of Hard Shell Bike Travel Cases

Pros:

  • Virtually indestructible and can withstand almost anything an airline or shipping handler could do to it short of dropping it out the back of the plane
  • They tend to be pricier but last longer and provide peace of mind for very expensive bikes

Cons:

  • The extra weight may mean higher travel fees
  • Hard cases can be hard to maneuver, pack, and lift
  • Storage may be a problem if you have limited space
  • You’ll need to rent a larger car/truck to ensure you have room for the bike case

Tip:  

Before choosing either option, think about how many trips you plan on taking over the next few years. If you see yourself flying with your bike often, I’d recommend a hard shell case to ensure it holds up long term.

Alternative option:

If either the hard or soft case isn’t a good fit for you, REI can help. For $65 + shipping, they’ll pack and send your bike to any REI in the country. No worrying about taking the bike to the airport. Plus, they provide a quick tune up when you pick it up.

Bike Packing Tips

Check out this article for helpful tips from a baggage handler on how to travel with your bike and pack it safely.

And here’s a quick video on how to pack your bike:

  • Remember to take all the air out of the tires before you fly with your bike. The airport requires it and if you don’t do this the tires will explode
  • Many of the bags offer side pockets but I’d recommend packing your helmet and shoes separately.
  • Take extra precaution with components and brake levers. Use extra padding to prevent damage
  • Make sure to cover forks well. Most bike shops have plastic fork covers you can use to protect your bike.
  • Make sure you secure the wheel bags inside the case. If you have a set of expensive carbon wheels, secure them with extra padding to prevent them from jostling around.
  • Put a thick towel or extra bubble wrap at the bottom of the bag to make sure the teeth from the front chainring doesn’t tear the bag.
  • To protect your spokes, place cardboard on the outside of the wheels to ensure they do not get damaged.
  • Use bubble wrap as much as necessary to keep the bike in place within the bag

Our Pick

SciCon Aero Comfort Plus Bike Travel Case

This bike travel case checks all the boxes and is the best all around bag. Plus, It has a solid reputation among top pro teams as their bag of choice.

Size: 118 x 25 x 90 cm

Weight: 19lbs

Other great options

Trico Iron Bike Travel Case

Size: 120 x 26 x 77 cm

Weight: 31lbs

EVOC Bike Travel Case

Size: 132 x 38 x 77 cm

Weight: 19 lbs

BIKND Jetpack Bike Travel Case

Size: 130 x 77 x 26 cm

Weight: 15 lbs

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