Bicycle Transport Cases – What Are Your Options?

Are you planning to travel with your bicycle on a cycling tour and considering how to transport it? If you have spent a significant amount of money on a carbon frame bicycle (and wheels) and you intend to travel by plane, it may be worth investing in a decent bike box. What are the best bicycle transport cases? Is a cardboard box bicycles are sold in sufficient? A corrugated plastic bike box? Do I need to splurge for a soft or hard case? Let’s run through the options and look at the pros and cons of each. Of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Free / Cheap Options

The cheapest option is using a cardboard box bicycles are sold in. They often don’t last – especially in inclement weather, and may not offer complete protection, but they are generally (next to) free at your local bike shop, and if packed properly, especially with some foam padding, do offer protection. I have traveled this way with my son and his road bike (not carbon!) and it made the round trip beautifully. You need to be aware that the box could be damaged beyond repair on the outbound leg of your trip, leaving you searching for a box for your return trip.

Similar to a cardboard box but more protective is the Enviro Bike Box. Waterproof, weatherproof, and extendable, this corrugated plastic option is not free, but relatively inexpensive, costing less than $200 AU. It is also more protective than the standard cardboard bicycle box and only weighs between 5 and 6 kg. For those transporting a tandem bicycle, they have an option that will work for that size too. My question is whether this box will withstand the abuse airport workers put luggage through, including stacking multiple heavy suitcases on top of bike luggage.

Soft Case

A lightweight (8 kg) soft case option is the Scicon Aerocomfort Road 3.0. A very nice feature of this bag is that other than removing the wheels, the bike fits into the case as is. There is no need to do anything else; not even lowering the saddle. The bicycle can really be packed in just a few minutes. Also, they do have a tandem bike option. There are a few downsides with this option. For starters, it doesn’t protect the bicycle in all conditions. When I flew from Milan back to Israel in July, the seat stays on my Cervelo R5 got cracked during transit while in my Scicon Aerocomfort 2.0 bag. Also, this case is not cheap, retailing at $900. (Note that the 2.0 version is a more affordable $650. Finally, it’s worth noting that some airlines have started refusing to take soft case bicycle bags.

I’ve seen a recommendation for the Pika Packworks soft case, which is in the $400-$500 range. You will need to do some disassembly of your bike for travel with the Pika bag.

The Hard Case

The first hard case I’ve chosen to highlight the Aerotech Evolution X TSA Travel Case. Scicon claims the hard shell case is “the toughest and lightest hard shell bike transport case in the world”. It comes with a TSA approved lock, which means TSA (hopefully) won’t bust your case trying to get a peek. It weighs 12 kg, certainly not the lightest hard case in the world. While it offers protection, I don’t know how they can definitively prove that it is the toughest in the world. Plus, that protection comes at the whopping price of $1,000. Be aware that it does require minimal disassembly of the bike, including removing saddle and seat post, both pedals, and twisting the handlebars into a more compact position.

Another hard case worth mention is the GPRS Race Bike Box by BikeBox Alan. This option weighs 11.2 kg – 800 grams less than the Scicon option above – you can read full technical info here – and comes in 13 color options. It seems this company too likes to make claims about the durability of their case: “The BikeBox Alan GPRS Race Bike Box is the strongest bike box available. Made from a patented material and a unique one-piece anti-crush carbon pole, it’s as close to indestructible as you can get.” Used by Chris Froome and other pros, it also has a bike and case tracking device. The invisible, waterproof, ultra lightweight GPRS Race Tracker device offers peace of mind and recoverability, with the added convenience of real time tracking from your smartphone. Another plus is a 7 year guarantee. The hard case is priced at £475, which is equivalent just over $600, significantly less than the Scicon model. You can add a TSA approved lock for £10. They do ship worldwide, although shipping out of the UK is not cheap.

Finally, if you want to go with a hard case that looks bombproof, Road.cc recommends Buxumbox cases. At 12.5 – 15 kg weight, neither of their models are the lightest in the category, however, they do appear to be sturdy. Note that they do scratch and dent, and I have not been able to find any YouTube videos about how well they hold up to abuse. You have to remove wheels, seat post, pedals, and with the Tourmalet, the handlebars as well. Prices are £700 – 800.

Final Thoughts

While I certainly like the simplicity of packing with my current Scicon Aerocomfort bag, having my seat stay cracked was far from a pleasant experience, nor was the repair cheap. Having been through that experience, I also don’t relish the worry of traveling with the soft shell case, knowing that the bike may show up broken. I plan on trying the BikeBox Alan GPRS Race Bike Box and just have to figure how to get it without paying the exorbitant shipping prices + Israel import tax/VAT.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What case do you have? Are you happy with it?

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR A CYCLING TOUR

Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. I can tell you it’s painful.
I recently received an almost new 2018 Cervelo R5, purchased on eBay, as a gift, and took it traveling with me to Italy. Of course, I got travel insurance. I flew Elal, and carefully packed my bike in my Scicon Aerocomfort soft case bag. I have traveled this way for years without incident.

Unfortunately, I was not so lucky this time: The seat stay was cracked in two places during transit. Although I got documentation of the breaks while still in the airport terminal, the airline didn’t cover the damage, claiming limited liability that excludes sport equipment.

But, I figured, I do have travel insurance. To my utter dismay and vexation, PassportCard did not cover the damage either. Evidently, I hadn’t read the fine print – they too exclude coverage from sports equipment, including bicycles. I learned the hard way that when purchasing travel Insurance for a cycling tour, one has to find the specific coverage that one needs.

Bicycle frames are replaceable. Nevertheless, this is a nightmare situation for any cyclist. A new Cervelo R5 frame will cost upwards of $3,000.

CYCLE TOUR SPECIFIC TRAVEL INSURANCE IS ESSENTIAL

So, lesson learned: You must get cycling specific travel insurance that covers both you and your bicycle when you are abroad. The policy should cover accidents or damage to you and/or your bike when you travel. Look for a travel insurance policy that can cover the total value of your bike if it gets stolen or damaged. Look for cycling specific policies that offer the additional coverage you need, such as third party liability (this can cover the cost of claims against you if you injure someone or damage their property, e.g. if you crashed into a parked car,) and accessories coverage (this covers any bike accessories like protective clothing, lights or GPS if they are damaged and need to be replaced).

If you are not sure whether the policy is right for you, here are some questions you can ask: Does this specific itravel insurance cover cycling? Will I be covered – for medical expenses – if I crash my bike abroad? Will my bike be covered if I crash, and if yes, for what amount? Will my bike be covered in transit, and for what amount? What country or countries will the coverage include or exclude? Do I need to use a specific lock for my bike?

TRAVEL INSURANCE SHOULD PROPERLY COVER ALL MEDICAL EXPENSES, INCLUDING MEDICAL TRANSPORT

Of course, the travel insurance should also cover medical expenses, including rescue and medical transport services for tours that may take place in rural or remote areas. Ideally, you should have medical transport not just to a hospital, but, if needed, back to your country of residence.

So, which companies are the best? I’d love to hear your feedback and recommendations. Have you had a nightmare, or hopefully a story with a good outcome? Feel free to share your story in the comments section.

DRESSING FOR CYCLING IN THE DOLOMITES – WHAT TO BRING AND WHEN TO WEAR IT

Passo Fedaia
Summer weather in Europe can be glorious – sunny, warm, and perfect for cycling. The Dolomites are no exception. Temperatures in July are usually in the mid 60°s F (18° C). Highs in July can be 77° F (25° C) and lows around 50° F (10° C). These temperate conditions, along with great mountain passes, are ideal for some epic riding. This is why we choose July as the month for our Dolomites tour. But one thing is near certain: the peaks are colder than the valleys. Get ready to lose 1.8° F (1° C) for every 328 feet (100 meters) we climb.

For our July 2018 tour (and yes, it is highly recommended!), we will stay in the four-star hotel My Kosher Hotel in Canazei. Canazei is in a valley and is at 4,757 feet (1,450 meters) elevation. So if the temperature is in the mid-60°s F (18° C) in Canazei, it could be 46° F (8° C) at the highest passes we’ll be climbing. When descending from the peaks at speed, it can get pretty chilly, especially if you’re in gear that is wet with sweat.

So here are my suggestions:

  • When packing for your trip to the Dolomites, bring a variety of warm and cool weather cycling gear: Short sleeve jerseys, long sleeve jerseys, arm warmers, shorts or bibs, leg warmers, sleeveless base layers and long sleeved base layers, and definitely a windbreaker for the descents.
  • I highly recommend a glove layering system. Assos makes some great gloves. I wear the Assos Tiburu gloves in 50° F – 59° F (10° C – 15° C) weather. Then, when the weather warrants it, I put the Assos Early Winter S7 gloves on top of the Assos Tiburu base layer.
  • Make sure to store some warmer kit in the SAG vehicle before we start heading for the higher altitudes. Whenever possible, bring 2 of something you think might get sweat-soaked, such as base layers, so that you don’t get too cold on the descents.

As a reminder: We’ll have a supply of spare inner tubes and nutrition In the SAG vehicle.

get news & updates

Subscribe now