Vacations to exotic cycling locales like the Italian Dolomites or Colombia’s highlands sound incredible until you factor in the necessity of actually transporting your bike to those places along with you. Bikes are, after all, not the smallest objects in the world, nor are they the most durable when squaring off against the claws of airport baggage handlers.
However, as crazy as it may sound, traveling with your bike can be a pleasure if you use the right bike travel bag. Choosing the right one is where all of the difficulty of traveling with a bike can either be avoided or ensured. That’s why it is critical to choose a bike travel case that not only fits all of your needs but also protects your investment to the highest degree.
Choosing Between a Soft Case, Hard Case, or a Cardboard Box
When searching for a bike travel bag to tote around Australia or abroad, you’ll have three options right off the bat. As with anything else, each of them has 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.
The great thing about soft case bags is that when you reach your destination and break out your bike, you can neatly fold the bag away and keep it out of sight without taking up much space. Additionally, soft case bike travel bags tend to be quite light since the outer shell is typically made of durable synthetic fabric.
SHOP SCICON AEROCOMFORT 3.0 BIKE TRAVEL BAGS
Bike Travel Bags & Hardcases
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. Going with a hard case is almost exclusively a decision made out of wanting the most robust protection for your bike as possible.
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.
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.
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 our humble opinion, wheels are a must have when using a bike travel bag in Australia or abroad. 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. Make sure your bike travel bag has four wheels instead of only two. Having four wheels makes a huge difference in ease of navigating with the bag in hand.
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.
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. Soft case travel bags that only require you to remove the wheels from your bike typically set up in under five minutes, making them an excellent choice for frequent travelers or those that don’t want to spend the whole night before a trip fussing about in the garage.
Keep it Simple
At the end of the day, traveling without a bike is already complicated, so, as you can imagine, adding a bike to the mix can potentially up the stress levels. Going with 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 less