Choosing a bike or bag
If you’re planning a riding holiday this year, you may be considering the best method of transportation for your pride and joy.
Travelling by air with your bike can be nerve racking, but with careful packing and a quality bag or box, it doesn’t need to be.
When picking your bike box or bag, you’ll likely want to consider the level of protection, cost, and weight – strong cases will often be more expensive, and heavier, light bags will be easier to carry, cheaper, but they’ll likely offer a little less protection for your bike.
Flick through the next 5 pages for some of the best bags and boxes available...
Vaude Big Bike Bag
If you’re looking for a light, value-for-money bike transportation method, a bike bag is probably the right choice for you.
The Vaude Bike Bag comes in at just £59.99, and packing is simple, with the only requirements being removal of pedals, wheels, and twisting the handlebars. Two padded inside pockets are included, one for wheels, and the other for small parts – such as skewers and pedals.
A continuous zip means you can fully open the case, so there will be no wiggling trying to remove or insert the frame, and a handle allows easy over-the-shoulder carrying of the bag, which weighs just under 2kg.
This is not the most protective option out there, but with careful bubble wrapping in packing, it is an easy, light and inexpensive one.
Tifosi Padded Bike Bag
Though bike bags meet all the standards required to fly, they are not as strong or resilient as boxes – but the Tifosi XL Padded Bike Bag offers a little more protection with a thick layer of 15mm closed cell padding to shield your steed.
The outer material is non-rip and hard wearing, and the base is reinforced with a rubber protected stiff base so you can put it down when you need to without worrying. Wheels mean that you can easily move around the airport without a trolley, carrying on your shoulder via an adjustable, padded carry handle if you wish. An added feature is a ‘grab handle’ which will give you access on the carousels.
Separate wheel bags, which insert into the overall bag for travel, plus inner storage pockets for accessories and gear are included – all at a weight of around 6kg.
B & W Bike Box
A tough strike-proof ABS shell is supported by an aluminium frame to make this heavy weight bike box, which comes with padded internal walls and wheel bags to keep your spokes safe.
Four locks should keep your pride and joy safely stowed for the trip, and you can wheel this one via the handle, which will probably be an asset due to the 12.8kg weight. At this weight, you’ll be limited in how many extra accessories – gear, energy products and inner tubes, you can include within the box as most airlines have a limit.
Included in the pack you’ll find bike fork spacers, to protect them against movement or damage on impact, and a tough foam chain ring guard. At 870mm high, by 295mm wide, and should fit into most hatchbacks – plus, it’s available in back, blue, green or red, so there’s a good chance you can achieve that matching luggage look. It’s currently on sale for £189.99.
Evoc Stripes Bike Travel Bag
Somewhere between a box and a bag, is a ‘soft bike case’ – such as this offering from Evoc.
This case is supported by glass fibre rods, but the main body of the protection comes from a soft foam – which is lighter. In addition, the rods can be removed, allowing the box/bag to be collapse to just 30cm in height.
There are two separate wheel compartments on the sides, as well as separate spaces for smaller parts, and 8 carry handles so you’ll always be able to grab one on the carousel.
Wheels on the base mean you can roll around the airport, and at 8.6kg, you’ve got room to play with the idea of packing your kit in around the frame – which saves space in your case, and lets you use your lycra as extra padding. At £259.99, you’re spending more than you would on a bag or a cheaper box, but getting with it longevity, and packability, which will be handy on the 358 days a year you aren’t using it!
Bike Box Alan
Hard cases from Bike Box Alan are some of the toughest boxes available – they’re moulded to a shape that’s efficient, and light considering the protection they provide. The real selling point on these hard plastic cases is that they have a metal pole in the centre, giving absolute assurance that the box can never be crushed, even if chucked onto a plane, or crushed by other boxes inside the hold.
Laura Trott herself calls the Bike Box Alan “so safe, easy and fast to pack" – and the claimed packing time is as little as 10 minutes.
Packing requires simply removing the pedals, deflating the wheels (which sit in the lid of the box, secured via the skewers), removing the seat post and the handlebar stem to allow rotation of the bars. The bike is secured in the case and then the ‘anti crush pole’ sits between top and bottom.
All boxes have wheels, though they do weigh 11.2 kg making them a little more difficult to load into a taxi than some lightweight bags, and the cost between £415 and £428. At this weight you can fit some extra accessories, but you won’t be able to get away with packing your entire kit bag. If you’re looking to a one off use, you can hire one, from £60-£80 for 7 days. Not cheap, not light – but bomb proof.
Now you're on the way to having you bike transportation ticked off, check out our ultimate guide on what to take on a road cycling holiday, and make sure you're all sorted with our guide to cycling holiday travel insurance.
Polaris Axial Pod
The Polaris Axial Pod is a real winner if you are looking for the protection of a bike box without the bulkiness. Just like the Evoc bag, the Polaris Axial Pod rolls up and can be easily stashed under a bed.
Packing this bag is also a cinch thanks to ample room (even for a 29er), straps in all the right places and a dedicated wheel compartment.
Want to know more? Check out TWC's full review of the Polaris Axial Pro here.