How to Choose the Best Bicycle Travel Bag

Cyclists travelling abroad by plane need to ensure safe transit of their bike to avoid a ruined holiday or a late start to a competition. Bike bags are not cheap, but are a worthwhile investment if regularly travelling abroad with a bicycle.

Air Travel with a Bike

Here's a review of the main types of bike travel bags available.

Hard Bike Case

A hard case is almost bullet proof, offering the most protection, as heavy objects will normally just dent the outer hard casing. Popular with professional road cyclists as bikes can be packed quickly with limited need for extra padding around delicate bike parts, the downside to buying a hard plastic bike travel case is the high cost of around 490 ($650) as a minimum. In addition, depending on the size of the bike case, it may be difficult to transport by car.

Soft Bike Bag

A soft fabric bike bag represents excellent value for money and offers good protection especially as the best bags, like the highly recommended Neil Pryde bike bag, have internal padding, skid proof wheels, carry handles and wheel bags as standard. Easy to carry around the airport on trolleys, a soft bike bag can be squashed more easily into a car and prices start from 100 ($135) - the Neil Pryde bag retails at 89 in the United Kingdom. Two pieces of stiff cardboard at the sides results in a bike travel bag which is almost as good as a hard case for a quarter of the cost.

Cardboard Bike Box

Bike manufacturers traditionally ship all new bikes in strong cardboard boxes and some retailers like offer reinforced cardboard bike boxes as an alternative for budget conscious cyclists. At 90 ($120) with straps included, they are a cheaper option but an even cheaper one is to go to a local bike shop and get one for free! Bike shops are happy give away a box that would have to be disposed of anyway and they will even pack the bike for a small fee. Most cardboard bike boxes need to be replaced after one return journey and there is an added danger of damage to the bike if the cardboard is ripped in transit. However, if packed correctly, even this method usually results in a bike arriving unscathed at its destination.

Wheel bags

Consider buying wheel bags to protect bikes packed in a cardboard box. These usually come standard with hard and soft cases but are a good investment at around 26 ($35) per bag for cardboard bike box lovers.

Choosing the Right Bike Bag

The main decision on which bike bag to choose will depend on the value of the bike. A 3000 ($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. Whichever bag is chosen, for regular trips abroad by plane, a bike bag will soon pay for itself.

Related Articles

Take a look at our articles on:

How to pack a bike for air travel. Some tips on how to do it safely.

Best bicycle box for air travel. This article looks specifically at hard boxes; the most secure way to keep your bike safe in transit.

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