Going somewhere nice?
If you’re lucky enough to have a cycling holiday booked then you may be considering how you are going to transport your steed safely and comfortably.
There are a few options available, each with their own pros and cons. The most popular methods of transporting bike include bike boxes, bike bags, and for a few thrifty riders – cardboard boxes.
We’re going to look at the pros and cons of each – take a look before you make your decision…
Bike Bags: Pros and cons
A bike bag is a constructed from material, and usually has a layer of foam for extra padding. Some have a resilient outer, to prevent ripping in transportation, and more expensive versions will have wheels as well as a handle for moving around the airport.
Bike Bags are fairly light – usually just a couple of kilogrammes, which makes them easier to get in and out of cars and removing a lighter bag from the carousel is a lot less intimidating than grabbing a box. They are also squishable – which makes fitting a bike bag into the car much easier than a rigid box.
The other major benefit of a bike bag is cost – these are generally around £100, some are significantly less, others can cost more – you’ll pay more for extra padding, a stronger exterior and more padded storage pockets.
The downsides on bike bags is that though they meet all airport luggage requirements, they are not as strong as rigid bike boxes. You can add to the protection offered by wrapping your frame and components in bubble wrap but a box will offer greater bash proofing.
The lower weight does mean you will likely come way below airport maximum weight, which means if you like you can fit some extra kit inside the bag. This said, unlike a rigid box, which allows you to pack kit in neatly around the bike, extra bits included in a big will be free to float around and could get dirty or damaged unless well stowed. Fabric straps will also be limited to the weight they can carry, so you won’t be able to load your entire suitcase in there.
Bike boxes: Pros and Cons
Much stronger and more resilient than a bag, bike boxes are generally constructed from hard plastic. The major selling point on a bike box is the safety of a hard construction that shouldn’t bend or flex under pressure.
Some are large and fairly square, which means there is plenty of space to store your kit around the bike if you can fit it in and remain under the weight limit, whilst others are moulded into the most efficient shape to save space, making them easier to store and transport, but giving you less wiggle room on adding kit, energy products, and the like.
There are usually designated and moulded spaces for wheels, skewers and often straps to hold the frame in place and prevent it from moving around in the box.
The downsides on bike boxes are the cost – cheaper boxes are around £150, and more premium brands, such as Bike Box Alan which has a metal ‘anti crush pole’ for ultimate safety, could set you back just shy of £400. They’re also generally much heavier, at around 10kg – 12kg, give or take.
The other negative on bike boxes is that you’ll need to store it throughout the year when you’re not travelling. You can solve both the cost and storage issue by choosing to hire a box as well. If you’ll be travelling regularly, this is not so cost effective, but for 1-2 holidays a year, it’s not a bad idea. Many local bike shops offer a hire service.
Another alternative is to opt for a soft bike case like an Evoc Travel Bag – these have a strong structural frame, but the body is made from a strong fabric, which in this case is collapsible making storage easier and reducing weight substantially.
Cardboard box: Pros and cons
Option number 3 is much cheaper, lighter, and easy to store, and simply involves getting to a cardboard box from your local bike shop. You can either store it when you reach your destination, or chuck (better still, recycle) it and get another for your journey home, if you know you’ll be able to get one.
Cardboard is, admittedly, not the most resilient material known to human kind – if thrown around, dropped, or piled at of, it won’t suffer as well as a bike box or bag. To counter this, you can twist your handlebars, remove pedals, as well as your rear derailleur, and pad each item, and the frame, with foam or bubble wrap (or both).
It’s a good idea to fill in any extra space with more padding or bubble wrap, this will prevent the bike from moving around, which greatly limits the chance of any damage.
Once you’ve got your bike box, or bag, take a look at this post on how to pack a bike into a bike bag for some advice on how to make sure you have your steed safely stowed.