So there I was with a bike valued in the five figures thinking, “How in the heck can I protect it during air travel?” when we all know, things are broken pretty often. Heck, if my regular luggage takes a pounding with visible scratches and chunks missing, how will a bike travel case fare?
At the time, I went with a standard Thule bike travel case which closed with tons of foam in a sandwich-type configuration. This means the bike is basically pressed together in a flat box with everything kind of floating around in shambles. In spite of that fact, the bike is super safe but with one problem, dragging it around Hyde Park in London nearly broke my hand and my back. After that trip, I decided I would do some more research and invest in a bike travel case that rolled easily, was medium in size and offered a lot of protection. In the past six years, here are some of the bike travel cases I’ve used and why I don’t still have them.
Other Bikes Previously Used for Travel
- Scicon Aerotech Evolution: The travel wheels broke through the bottom of the case and I think I replaced four of them in one year. Also, the plastic where the wheel screw attached cracked. United Airlines replaced it with the Thule Round Trip for free.
- Thule Round Trip: This bike travel case is like a fortress but super heavy. Nearly 70 pounds with only a bike, wetsuit and wheels. There is a built-in bike stand to which really helps for assembly and cleaning. However, I only use it for international trips as of late.
- Scicon Aerotech Comfort: This was a very early version of this bike case and during one trip, I had some cracked carbon on a road bike. This bike travel case is ideal for those who don’t want to take their bike apart but it also tends to leave the bike a hair more exposed, in my opinion. I currently have five athletes who use this bag and have been very happy, without damage. Again, it depends on the baggage handler and their mood of the day.
- Biknd Helium V2 & V3: I used these cases over three years total with over 25 trips between them both. I have been to Europe, Iceland, South America and all over the United States with these bags and loved them. The only issue was with overall durability. I had zippers brake, cloth rip and the front totally ripped off by a LATAM baggage handler. Also, the airbags always deflate and puncture quite easily. The good news is Biknd will eventually send you free replacement bags.
Reviewing the EVOC Bike Bag Pro
My first thoughts upon initial research were, “Wow!” There really doesn’t seem to be too much padding on the side of the case, which could help protect the stem, bars and frame. The rear of the case stores wheels and are heavily protected, so no worries there. However, upon first use, I was pleasantly surprised with how much security and protection this bag offers.
For starters, as someone who is mechanically inclined, my advice for you is if you plan to travel more than three times per year, you really need to learn how to carry out basic maintenance.
Learning how to remove your cockpit, chain, pedals, rear derailleur and seat tube are all essential. Bikes are basically more expensive than cars these days so learning how to take carry out basic maintenance and assembly will save you a lot at the bike shop. With that being said, what do I remove when I travel and why?
Parts to Remove Before Packing Your Bike
- The Chain: All you need is a quick link and a basic set of chair pliers. I prefer to clean my chain after major trips and this prevents grease from getting all over things in your bike travel case. Just make sure you travel with rubber gloves so you can keep your hands from getting dirty. I simply remove the chain and stash it in a Ziplock bag.
- Cockpit: It doesn’t matter if you have a triathlon bike, mountain bike or road bike. The bars usually have to come off to save space. EVOC has designed a great contraption which secures your bars to your frame (road bikes only). However, triathlon bikes have some crazy designs and sometimes stretching cables and securing your bars to the side of your bike frame is tough, but necessary. If you have electronic shifting, this gets a bit easier.
- Seat Tube: Sometimes you can just slam the seat tube all the way down and call it good but taking it off is quite easy. Just make sure you use some tape to mark where it was when you removed it.
- Rear Derailleur: Ask anyone who has had this very special piece of equipment damaged during travel and if they learned how to remove it for future travel. Most traveling cyclists will always say yes to those questions. This vital piece of your bike needs to be kept safe and so does the derailleur hanger. It’s easy to strip the threads on installation since they are very fine but with a steady hand and patience, it’s super easy.
- Wheels: Well, duh…
- Bottle Cages: This depends on if your cockpit can safely mount to your frame with bottles cages still attached. Either way, take them off and clean the gross crusty drink residue off.
A bike travel case needs to be light, be able to roll easily and above all, durable while offering 360 degrees of protection against the disgruntled luggage handler. The Evoc Bike Bag Pro seriously meets the needs of an avid traveler who just can’t leave that bike behind. Here are the general specs of the bike travel case.
- Weight: 22 lbs., including clip-on wheel and bike stand
- Dimensions: 147 x 36 x 85 cm (58 in x 10.6 in x 31.5 in)
- Longer Max Wheelbase: 130 cm (51.2 in)
Packing this case is super easy since the built-in bike stand is removable. I can’t tell you how many times I nearly strained my back crouching over for hours while breaking my wrist in order to secure a bike skewer to the frame mount. I think the last time I packed my bike, it took me 13 minutes from start to finish. I really do love how easy the EVOC Bike Bag Pro rolls around the airport. The front wheel is removable too. Most all higher end bike bags roll well but I do think this one might be the smoothest. I actually almost had it roll away from me when it was on a slight incline.
The external material seems as durable as an all-weather boat cover we used to use when I was a kid. It’s lightweight but super durable and even repellent. The outside is made stronger when you add four plastic reeds to the front-back and four small PVC pipes on the wheel case. Those wheels are seriously protected better than any case I’ve seen. Additionally, I feel comfortable adding more items to the case like my wetsuit, bike tools, running shoes, towels, cycling shoes, helmet and bike pump. Even fully loaded the case is under 55 pounds! That is a huge plus when you have to travel internationally. Some airlines are a bit stricter than others when it comes to their allowed bike weight. The best part is, the bike travel case fits the rules for air travel on all major airlines. But be prepared for a large variation in bike travel case fees. I have paid anywhere from $200 per leg to $25 per leg while using the same Biknd Helium and EVOC Bike Bag Pro.