CHOOSING THE RIGHT TRAVEL CASE
Choosing the right travel case for your bike can be very challenging. Hopefully these guidelines will help you. It is critical to choose a bike travel case that not only fits all of your needs but also protects your precious cargo..your bike….to the highest degree.
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Choosing Between a Soft Case, Hard Case, or a Cardboard Box
When searching for a bike travel bag you’ll have three options right off the bat, each with an array of pluses and minuses, but the one you choose ultimately depends on your situation and individual needs.
Soft case bike travel bags are the most flexible of your options because they combine the best of bike travel bag categories. Don’t let the ‘soft’ in soft case fool you; these bags blend rigid elements with soft ones to strike a balance between packability, weight savings, and protection for your bike.
Some bags, like the Scicon AeroComfort 3.0, include a permanent mounting system that fixes to a sturdy base along the bottom of the bag. This design allows you to attach your bike frame to the mounting system in as rigid a manner as possible. The mounting system is then fixed to the bag’s base while targeted padding takes care of your bike from all potential impact angles. In a nutshell, soft case bags allow you to retain the benefit of hard case bags while doing away with their downsides, like substantial weight.
Insuring your bicycle: However one disadvantage of a soft case is that usually the contents are NOT insured under an airline;s policy and so if the airline damages it, you are on your own. This may not be the case with a hard case . So you might want to check that you have your own coverage under your Home insurance or your travel insurance and ensure it covers soft cases and international travel up to the value of your bicycle.While soft cases provide a great trade-off between weight savings, packability, and security, they aren’t quite as strong on the latter as hard cases.
A hard case bike travel bag can all but guarantee that your bike will arrive at its destination unscathed. If you’re doing adventurous travel where the conditions are demanding, a hard case may suit your needs, but there are other trade-offs to consider. A hard case is significantly heavier than a soft bag and is not flexible or nearly as packable. It’s also overkill unless you’re flying aboard a military cargo plane before parachuting into your destination, bike and all.
However the big advantage is that the contents are usually covered by the airlines policy but only subject to their insurance maximum limits. For most expensive bikes, you really need separate coverage.
As an ultimate cost-saving measure, you may choose to go with a cardboard box or thick bubble wrap to transport your bike. Part of the logic behind going with a cardboard box tends to be that if bike shops receive thousands of bikes via cardboard box from all over the world, why can’t we safely transport ours in the same manner? That logic isn’t entirely wrong, but it does miss the mark by quite a bit. Bike manufacturers ship en masse with distributors who take care of their merchandise when shipping. It would be bad business to destroy bikes en route to sales points. Airport baggage handlers, in contrast, have no real incentive to care for your precious cargo. But if you use tons of bubble wrap and a solid mountain bike box, you should be okay. We’ve used it dozens of times as has our National Team. A cardboard box provides the least amount of protection compared with the previous two options and has, as its few positives, the benefits of being recyclable and cheap to replace. Ultimately, the cardboard box’s real Achilles heel is that it has no wheels. You’ll have to drag the box around or have a very good friend help you to carry it. In addition airlines will make you sign a liability waiver that they are not responsible for the contents because it’s a carton box but this can apply for soft bags sometimes as well and in any case airline coverage for damage is minimal. Best you buy adequate insurance.
In our humble opinion, wheels are a must have when using a bike travel bag. Imagine walking across several airport terminals while trying to reach transportation to your accommodation and having to carry your bike bag along with your luggage. No way.Not all wheels are created equal, though. Best to purchase a bike travel bag that has four wheels instead of only two. Having four wheels makes a huge difference in ease of navigating with the bag .
Ease of Use
After all is said and done, a bike travel bag will only be as effective as you allow it to be by packing your bike correctly. Many bike bags require you to remove pedals, handlebars, stems, and other cumbersome parts which elevate the risk that you’ll do something wrong and compromise the safety of your bike. Or you will have to visit your bike shop and pay someone to break down your bike and pack it for you and to fit it up again on your return. That may work best if you use the cardboard box but if you invest in an expensive bike case you should be able to pack it yourself don’t you think? Going with a bike bag that only requires you to remove the wheels (which are stowed in protected outer pockets) is best for both you and your bike.
Be careful who you buy from. You may be able to get your case cheaper from one company vs the other. So why not just grab the cheapest one?. Some of these retailers are huge but are not based in the USA. Probike has good deals but is based in the UK. So in case of an issue it means you have may to return the case to the vendor internationally. We highly recommend you stick to a USA based company or directly with the manufacturer. It can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. We provide Amazon links as they are pretty good with customer service.
Keep it Simple
At the end of the day, choosing a protective bike travel bag that can easily be wheeled, packed, and stowed away when not in use is a considerable value. When choosing the right bag for you, take care to go with the one that will make your travel easier from home to airport and to your travel destination.
Here are some links for you to check out offers we found (at the time of printing):