After testing more than 20 travel cases and bags, we think that the best travel case for bikes is the Thule Round Trip Pro XT. If you prefer to have some extra protection for your precious bicycle, check the best hardshell case Thule RoundTrip Sport.
As most of you are acquainted, for some of us that get deeper into the cycling business, there comes a time when you have to travel with your bike to another destination. You pack your bicycle up and head to the airport, put it in your car or take it on the train.
Whichever means of travel you go through you will need a suitable piece of equipment to pack your precious bike up. Right here my personal experience with traveling as a cyclist, as well as some experts’ opinions come to play. Yescycling has gathered up some info to help you choose the perfect bike travel case for your needs.
If you are the owner of an average bike, that is not worth that much, you can always choose the good old-fashioned way of putting your bike in a cardboard box for your travels. It is a pretty budget-friendly option, as such packing would cost you about 30-40 bucks. This is not a very secure way to pack your bike up for your trip, but either way, this is how the bikes get initially dispatched in most situations.
Thule Round Trip Pro XT – Our Pick!
The Thule Round Trip Pro XT Travel Case is definitely one of our top picks for a softshell case. It measures 49.5 x 35 x 11.8 inches and weighs 19 lbs. This is a complete softshell case with a smooth design, made out of ripstop nylon around an aluminum rail base, with a plastic undercarriage for extra stability and protection. It has a nice set of wheels that makes carrying and maneuvering it very simple.
The case is a pretty lightweight construction with removable side panels and a foldable frame, which makes it absolutely compact to store when not in use. The side pads are very reliable, as they offer enough safety at just the right spots. This case is a great choice for bike owners who are looking for minimal disassembling before packing.
The Thule Round Trip Pro XT Case fits most road, mountain and cyclocross bikes that have a wheelbase of maximum 46 inches although some users may find it not fitting to some more modern trail bikes with the same wheelbase.
A very unique advantage that this travel case possesses is that has an integrated bike holder that comes with it. This serves as a stand and helps a lot with preparing the bike for packing, as well as reassembling it.
The Thule Round Trip Pro XT may be categorized as one of the high-end cases on this list, as it is suitable for a slightly bigger budget.
- Lightweight and foldable design, compact to store when out of use
- Fits a variety of bikes of different sizes
- Easy to carry and maneuver
- Comes with a very convenient integrated stand
- Might not fit for some modern bikes with a 46-inch wheelbase
- A bit higher cost than the average bike case
Thule RoundTrip Sport Bike Case – Also Great!
Another one of Thule’s bike cases takes place on our list of the best bike travel cases. This is the first hardshell case in our top 5. The Thule RoundTrip Sport is a solid construction made out of polyethylene, which measures 47 x 30.5 x 10.5 inches. Its internal dimensions are a bit shorter at 45 x 28.5 x 10 inches. As a representative of the hard cases, it is quite heavier than the previous ones on the list – 37 pounds.
This travel case suitable for road, mountain & cyclocross bikes with wheels up to 29”. As well as the other ones, the Thule RoudTrip Sport also has wheels of its own to keep it moving easier and trust me, you will need them with this one because of the heavy load.
The RoundTrip Sport is made for just one simple task – to give your bike the 100% protection when you are traveling. I am pretty sure there is nothing that can harm your bicycle. Well, maybe throwing it off a plane will do, but its construction is just impressively strong. It can easily withstand harsh travel conditions and some rough handling at the baggage claim.
One of its keys features is the thick foam dividers, keeping the frame separate from the wheels, which helps avoid any scratching and deformation of the parts. Another great feature is the plastic buckles on the outside of the case, doubling up on the safety of your bike.
If you simply want to get your bike from point A to B and be 100% sure that nothing will go wrong inside, regardless of the weight and size of this case, I strongly recommend considering this bike case.
- Extremely solid structure
- Easy to carry
- Top safety for your bicycle
- Foam separator for the frame and wheels
- A really heavy and massive travel case
- The plastic buckles on the outside might get loose or broken easily
The DAKINE Bike Roller travel case is another one of the best softshell cases ( or a soft bag ) on the market. It is made almost completely out of polyester with some very small plastic elements. An overall very simple and sharp-looking bike case. Its dimensions are 55 x 14.5 x 18 inches and it weighs 17 pounds.
The soft bag has its own set of wheels which makes it another mobile and easy to wheel piece of luggage. The wheels are made of urethane and are completely replaceable if they get to break. The bag fits for most downhill, trail, Fat 29’er & road bikes. In general it
The case has a reinforced plastic base which gives it a good solid structure. The bag is padded from each side and has 5 internal padded sleeves for extra protection of both your bike and equipment. It comes with two-wheel bags, as well padded, that can come in handy for the safety of your spinners.
The DAKINE Bike Roller Bag is really lightweight and compact soft bag. It easily packs down to save you up some space at home when it is not in use. What’s more, it has a lockable YKK zipper and a removable Tool Roll for your pedals and instruments.
In general, you can pretty much fit a fat bicycle in this travel case. It provides you with all the protection you need for your ride – full padding, extra bags and internal pockets, a stylish look and, of course, the quality of DAKINE as bag producers. Definitely one of the best bike travel cases in the business, you can find it at a pretty much average cost.
- Good design & quality
- Plenty of thoughtful additions
- Lightweight and compact
- Can fit quite large bikes
- Might not offer the security of some more solid bike cases
The Sci Con Aerocomfort 3.0 TSA travel bag is an innovative softshell case, with a pretty extraordinary design. Due to its ergonomic form, its measurements are a bit unusual, measuring 50.7 x 38.5 x 17.7 inches at the top and 36.6 x 38.5 x 9.8 inches at the bottom.
The internal dimensions are 31.4 x 35.4 x 9 inches. This makes it compatible for triathlon bikes, with a maximum frame size of 24 inches, a handlebar size of 18 inches & 29-inch wheels. The total weight of the bag is 17.6 pounds.
The case is made out of the lightweight Scicon D-TEX860 with some plastic add-ons. This keeps the bag as light as possible, remaining below the weight allowance of most air carriers. It has it own great wheelset, consisting of 4 twin wheels that rotate 360 degrees. That will provide you with a more pleasant transportation experience.
What is charming about this bike case, apart from the design, is that it allows your bike to remain almost at its full composition. The only thing you need to remove in order to fit your bike in the bag are the wheels – no need to remove neither the seatpost, nor the handlebar.
Another key feature is its internal frame defender, that keeps your bike safe from impact. Inside, you can also find an internal belt system, that helps holding the frame in one place and being more stable and durable to collisions.
The travel case comes with a very good TSA padlock – a good way of preventing any parts to go missing during your travels.
This bike travel case comes at a more than an average price, which I believe exactly matches its quality. There are a few extras to this bag, that you can buy separately to optimize the protection of your bicycle.
- A very light case
- 360 wheels to help you carry it easily
- The Bike can remain almost fully intact when being packed
- Some parts of your bike might remain slightly unprotected
- A bit pricier than most bike travel cases
In our list of the best cases for bikes, I have also included a more simple and cheap bike bag like The RockBros Folding Bike Carry Bag. This case is suitable for the ones who travel a lot with their cars, as well as for the owners of some basic and not so expensive bicycles.
The bag measures 33.2 x 13 x 26.5 inches and comes with an extra backpack, measuring 14.5 x 5.9 x 16.3 inches. It is perfect for foldable bikes with a 16 to the 20-inch wheelset.
The bag is mainly made of canvas with a pretty simple design, colored in black and green. You can imagine how much this thing weighs – just 5.5 pounds, which is nothing compared to the previously reviewed bike cases in our article.
The bag is padded with a 3mm foam layer to protect your bike from impact. Another extra adding to the protection is the thickened shockproof bottom of the bag. The sewing of the canvas is of pretty good quality. It also has a shoulder strap that allows you to carry it easily. The outside layer is waterproof and dustproof and is extremely easy to clean.
This bike bag is completely foldable, so you will not have a single worry about where to keep it when it is not being used.
Keep in mind that it is not meant to withstand heavy impact – after all the RockBros Folding Bike Carry Bag is more of a travel bag, than a travel case.
- A featherweight bag
- Completely foldable
- Easy to clean
- Easy to carry
- Not suitable for most means of travel, as it cannot withstand a bigger impact
However, if you are a proud owner of a high-quality bicycle, with a decent frame, some good wheels, and a pack of costly equipment, I suggest it is high time you seriously start thinking about getting a travel case for your precious one. Just think about all those sloppy luggage handlers at the airport or any type of situation that your bike might get bumped or crushed by another piece of baggage.
You simply cannot rely on the good old cardboard box any longer and take some means against finding your bike damaged during your trip.Alek Asaduryan
Types of bike travel cases
In general bike travel cases come in two different types – bags (soft-shell cases) and boxes (hard-shell cases). If you are not yet acquainted with the bike packaging – don’t be too fast to judge either one of the options. They both are completely reliable choices. Of course, as you might imagine, they have their advantages and disadvantages, which I’ll point out for you, in order to make your decision a bit easier.
As a natural reaction, most of you will jump straight into the bike boxes. That is perfectly normal, as everybody would assume they can offer the maximum protection a piece of luggage can get. You will definitely have no worries that any type of impact will damage your bicycle when traveling. On the other hand, a hard-shell case in 99% of the times means a far heavier and bulky packaging.
The materials that make up the hard cases are understandably heavier and make it kind of hard to carry. What is more, is that it might cause you to pay some extra luggage fees at the airport. Another thing is that hard cases don’t break down when not in use, so they might take up quite some space in at the place where you stay.
On the contrary, the soft-shell ones also offer some decent protection of your bicycle during your travels. They are becoming more and more of a trend in recent years, as a kind of a more modern solution to your travel problems. A soft-shell case is normally made of lightweight materials, with some padding for extra protection on the inside.
What is best about this type of cases is that not only are they lighter to carry, but these bags are usually foldable and save up a lot of space when they are not in use. With such a case, you wouldn’t have to worry about having an overweight bag at the airport. However, soft-shell cases do not offer the same protection as hard-shell ones.
Of course, there are some exceptions from the classic variations of the bike travel cases. Some modern versions include soft-shell cases that have fortified internal frames that give more the bike extra security against crushing forces. Hard cases have some variations that are lighter in weight, relying on the thinner casing and featherweight materials. This of course effects in a decrease in the safety of the case. There are also the so-called hybrid cases – a fabric exterior lined with protective foam and some fortifying plastic elements.
The perfect bike travel case
We gathered up the best qualities that the perfect bike travel case should have, in order to suit you best and be of optimal convenience to you:
- Compactness for storage
- Providing maximum protection, through the use of pads, fortifiers, etc.
- Having wheels (as it is A LOT easier to carry during your travels)
Of course, throughout the list of bike cases, most of the cases you find will lack some of the abovementioned characteristics, as those are very hard to combine altogether. However, all of them have their own solid advantages. Hopefully, with our buying guide, you will find the best choice for you.
How to deconstruct your bicycle
Before getting a travel case and packing up you have to be acquainted with the basics of deconstructing your bicycle into a couple of core pieces. In most occasions, you will have to take it down into three parts – the two wheels and the frame. In some cases, you can take off the seat, the pedals, the handlebar, the stem, etc.
How to remove the wheels
To remove the wheels in most cases you won’t need any tools, because most bicycles today are featuring quick releases.
I don’t advise you to remove the chainset, as it is a very precise thing to take off and put back on.
Another tip I would give is deflating your tires – some airport security personnel might have a bad day and decide to take it out on you.
For an easier experience for newbie travelers, a simple YouTube tutorial video will be a very helpful way to reach your goal and make deconstruction and bike packing a much simpler task. With a bit more luck, you can even find tutorials for the exact bike travel case you own.
Bike case sizing and tips
Before approaching to buy a travel case, you should be aware of the measurements of your bike, as not all cases are meant to fit all bike sizes. I would strongly recommend looking for more compact cases so that you save yourself some money from paying those overweight luggage fees. The catch with more compact cases is that you have to deconstruct your bike more and more, according to the size of the case, whereas with the bigger ones, you might have to take just one of the parts off.
A great tip I would recommend: if you have some space left in your travel case, I advise you to fill it up with some clothing or anything you can fit inside. Just note that clothing will give your bike some extra cushioning during the trip.
Traveling by plane always requires some preparation in terms of luggage size and measuring. Since your bike will require you to carry a pretty large piece of baggage with you, I suggest that you always go through the different airlines’ luggage policies and pick the one that best suits your needs in order to avoid an extra charge.
Make sure you weigh your case out before approaching to buy a ticket, with including all of the equipment that you might eventually travel with. Bicycles that weigh between 24 and 32 kilos will be subject to corresponding excess luggage fees on routes for which allowed luggage weight is up to 23 kilos. Note that airline weight limits are different for bikes in some cases.
When you are at the last step before buying a plane ticket, make sure you double-check that the airlines you will use allow bike transportation – some of them do not allow that, whereas there are some that do it for free. But most importantly – make sure your bike will be accepted on the plane.
Another piece of advice I would give is printing the particular airline’s luggage policy and bring it with you at the airport. Traveling with a bike is not so common, so you might come across with some airport employees that are unacquainted with such cases.