Best Bicycle Box for Airline Travel

Why Buy a Hard Bicycle Travel Case?

Cyclists who regularly travel by air with their bikes need a strong bicycle box to keep them safe. Here's why a hard bike case is the best option.

Thousands of cyclists travel by air every month with a bicycle in tow. Many arrive at their destination with broken or missing bike parts ruining the start to their training camp or much needed cycling holiday. Good quality hard bike cases cost between $450 and $800 but are a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers who cannot bear to be parted from their trusty steeds.

Hard Bike Boxes

A hard bike case offers the best protection for a bicycle as heavy objects dropped on the case or rough treatment by baggage handlers normally results in just a dent in the outer material. Good quality hard bike boxes have thick protective padding on the inner lining and a heavy grade, squash-proof plastic outer shell. Beware of cases that retail around the $250 mark which may look robust but the plastic used can be compressed easily.

Other quality features in hard bike cases include:

  • Internal straps to secure loose parts.
  • Recessed wheel compartments or loose soft wheel bags for added protection and to stop hubs scratching the frame.
  • Tough handles and recessed wheels for easy movement around the airport.
  • Quality hinges that open wide for easy packing.

Buying a Hard Bicycle Case

Good quality brands to consider include Elite who make the excellent Vaison oblong- shaped case; Thule, the experts in all forms of bike transport; German brand B&W and US maker Bike Pro USA.

Always check the size and weight of the bike bag before purchase to ensure it will fit in your vehicle as some larger cases are only suitable for large people carriers or 4x4's. The size of most hard cases is around 120x75x30 cm so remember that, unlike a soft bike bag, the corners cannot be squashed to squeeze it into a hatchback!

Tips for Packing a Bicycle for Air Travel

One advantage of a hard case is there is less need to remove all delicate parts from the bike. In most cases only the saddle, wheels and handlebars need to be removed although it is advisable to put bubble wrap or something similar around any parts likely to be move around in the box itself. The chain for example could be damaged by heavy handling so should be securely fastened or taken off for maximum safety.

In addition:

  • Use bike clothing as padding around delicate parts.
  • Pack bike shoes, pedals and one set of cycling clothes in hand luggage so that if the bike case goes missing in transit, at least some riding can be done immediately with a rental bike.
  • Make sure there are no loose parts inside the box.

Best Bike Travel Case

A hard case will become a bike's best friend when taken abroad on a regular basis. Whilst a $500 bike case may be too expensive for a bicycle costing under $1000, it is probably the only choice for pro cyclists or those lucky enough to own an expensive bike.

Related Articles

If interested in a soft bike bag, you may be interested in reading:

How to pack a bike for air travel. Gives some tips on how to do it safely and well.

How to choose the best Bicycle travel bag. The article discusses the types of bike bags and boxes available.

Shipping a bike. Some tips and simple instructions for shipping a bike by air or sea.