Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Choose The Right Bag/Boxes For Your Bike

If you take your bike on holiday with you, the right bag or box can make the difference between it arriving safely or in several pieces. Most bags and boxes will take a standard drop-bar road bike or hardtail mountain bike with ease, but things get a little more difficult when it comes to time trial/triathlon machines and full-suspension rigs. 

If you’re flying, you need to take extra measures. Baggage handlers aren’t known for their finesse or delicacy of movement. They’re not going to move every bag and case as if it contained a priceless Ming vase, are they? Luggage often gets flung about, dropped or stacked sky high, and you don’t want your bike to be subject to any of that with anything other than heavy-duty protection.

The main decision on which bike bag to choose will depend on the value of the bike. A $4000 racing bike will probably demand a hard case whereas the majority of mountain bikes can be safely transported in a soft bike bag or a correctly packed and reinforced cardboard box. Bike bags and bike boxes might be expensive but chances are that they’re not as expensive as your bike or your holiday. Invest in something that’s right for your needs and it’ll likely last you years.


Cost: Usually between the $100 and $200.

Protection: These bike bags are designed to pack away, so they’re light and have very little bulk. A bit like the bike box, protection is entirely up to you. Fill it with large pieces of cardboard (cut from the sides of a bike box), to reinforce both sides, plus lots of foam. Foam camping mats cut to size are also excellent.

Weight: 1.2–2kgs.

Size: Big enough to fit a dual suspension 29” MTB, but check with the manufacturer if you have any doubts.

Disassembly: Because they have little reinforcing, you might like to remove your rear derailleur, rotors, and more. A typical soft bag requires removal of pedals, front wheel, and handlebars as a minimum. If your soft bag’s a tight squeeze you’ll have to empty shock pressure. Small to medium frames will need your post dropped, or removed if it’s easier.

Portability: Reasonable, depending how strong you are and how much other luggage you have. Over short distances, the shoulder strap will be okay. You’ll only have one other hand free, so think about a backpack or rolling suitcase for your other luggage.

Storage: Generally they pack down to about the size of a full A4 folder, and they either come with cases to zip into, or the option to buy one for a little extra. That padding you’ve put in has to go somewhere though – but it does all store flat. Soft bike bags offer the best in storage and are perfect for travelling light or bike-packing.

Verdict: Perfect if you travel light, and really cheap, but not great if you have lots of other luggage or need to walk long distances.


Cost: Between about $500 and $800, depending on the brand and features.

Protection: Usually a combination of soft padding plus hard plastic reinforcing on the outside, and often a metal frame to anchor your bike into the bag on the inside.

Weight: Between about 7 and 9kgs. This is a big step up from boxes and folding bags and a reasonable chunk of your baggage allowance.

Size: Varies, and while most are big enough to take a dual-suspension 29er – be sure to check, most manufacturers list a maximum wheelbase length that they can fit. There’s usually room to chuck in a small bag of your clothes, plus bike shoes and spares – but it’s very easy to make it very heavy to move around.

Disassembly: You’ll usually have to remove both wheels, handlebars, and pedals. Whether you take any other bits and pieces off is up to you and individual bag design.

Portability: Go for bag on four wheels, rather than two, because there’s still a lot of muscle involved if you have to lift and drag, rather than tow the bike bag behind you.

Storage: Not great – whether it’s your garage, hire car or your hotel room, these guys make their presence felt. 

Verdict: A great option if you want some extra protection for your precious steed and if you’ve got a fair distance to walk. 


Cost: Minimal. If you can’t get one for free, you’re not trying hard enough. Pick one up from your local bike shop.

Protection: Your bike shop might also be able to put aside a few bits and pieces of foam, and nobody’s ever going to stop you going nuts with a roll of bubble wrap, towels, and more layers of cardboard. Stuff in lots of soft clothing and other luggage and keep your box out of the rain to stop it going wobbly. Use packing tape to reinforce the base and handle holes. 

Weight: About 2kgs.

Size: Varies. Get a big one and you won’t have any troubles packing any bike and a whole bunch of other junk in there.

Disassembly: Generally remove pedals, front wheel, and handlebars. The rest (like rotors and rear derailleur) is up to you.

Portability: Be prepared to struggle getting this onto a conveyer belt, around corners, and into the boot of a car. Steer away if you have a lot of transfers outside the airport, particularly if you’re taking public transport like trains and buses, and especially if you’re walking. Carrying a bike box is awkward, slow, and those pointy corners will find somewhere to stab.

Storage: You can collapse your box and fold it into a bulky flat pack – although much of its strength comes from being kept in once piece, not folded. Another option is to discard your bike box at the airport, build your bike then find another one for your trip home. 

Verdict: Great weight savings and the cheapest option. Terrible if you have to walk anywhere.


Cost: Hard cases vary a lot in price. The cheapest is around $300, but they can ring up more than $1,000 at the register.

Protection: Sometimes an exoskeleton is the only thing that will do the job. You’ll still have to pack your bike correctly, and generally a lot of disassembly is necessary.

Weight: Generally between 10 and 16kgs.

Size: Take care checking whether the hard case you like fits your bike. Some simply don’t fit 29ers, or big rigs, especially larger sizes.

Disassembly: Generally quite a bit. Hard cases are typically quite compact and the bigger the bike, the more you’ll need to strip.

Portability: Nearly all hard cases are mounted on four wheels, which are a breeze to tow. Some models are ‘dragable’, on two wheels,

Storage: These guys can’t fold away for easy storage. Investing in one means you’ll have to consider transport options at your destination once the bike is built, and where you’re going to keep it at home. 

Verdict: Hard cases offer superior protection for your bike and a decent one will follow you effortlessly wherever you go. On the downside, you’ve got no hope of coming in under most airlines base baggage allowances and a great model might hurt your wallet. But if the protection of your bike is of utmost importance – they are a premium option.

Australian Mountain Bike

Ride On!

1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

Right now I’m most in love with a lacy mannequin on an antique cast iron base. I’ve always wanted one for some reason! Folding Boxes