When people start their mountain bike travel career and begin flying with their bike for the first time there is always the burning question of what is the best bike travel case? Well, there are many different kinds of mountain bike travel cases, many different companies that make them, and there are also a fair amount of alternatives to what some people imagine to be the best bike travel case for them. Here at 2Wheel Epix we have been traveling with our mountain bikes for the past 5 years and have used all sorts of different mountain bike travel cases, and we have tested out what works and what doesn’t. So let’s dive into the best bike travel cases and see if we can make your buying process a little easier.
First thing we want to talk about is the different types of mountain bike travel cases that are available for mountain bikers. There are soft case travel bags, hard cases, duffle bag cases and then of course the classic cardboard bike box. All of these types of cases will get your bike to your destination, but which one you choose can determine the convenience of traveling with your bike, the buying price, and how much airlines charge you for your bike as well.
SOFT MOUNTAIN BIKE CASES
Soft travel bike cases are the first case we will discuss. The most popular company that makes these bags are Evoc, but Dakine and Thule also make soft case bags that are nice as well.
Pros to Soft Travel Cases:
- Lightweight, which is nice for transporting and could save you a chunk of change when checking your bike.
- Easy and convenient to pack, you only have to remove both wheels, remove your pedals and twist your handlebars. Very simple.
- Are super maneuverable once you have them packed and all zipped up.
- Storing them is easier as they are light and fold.
Cons of Soft Travel Cases:
- Bikes have come out of soft cases with cracked frames, broken derailleurs, and on one occasion a broken crank. (This is why trip insurance that covers your bike is super important)
- They can be a little bit pricey, if you have expertvoice then you should be able to buy a Dakine soft case for about $250
- They have more moving parts and can break easier. Such as seams, zippers, handles and other soft materials that could rip or fray.
HARD MOUNTAIN BIKE CASES
Hard mountain bike cases are the next type of case that we will discuss. Firstly there are only two companies that make these cases for mountain bikes, Thule and PBK, and in general we don’t see a lot of Mountain bike hard cases, but we do use them and have clients that use them as well.
Pros of Hard Travel Cases:
- These cases are extremely durable, and as long as you put bubble wrap and extra padding around your bike this case will keep your bike safe and sound from any mishaps you may have. We recommend bubble wrapping your frame, bottom bracket/cranks, headset, stanstions, and just make sure there is adequate padding on your bike.
- They are generally about $50-$100 cheaper than most soft cases.
- Are manoeuvrable but can be heavy.
Cons of Hard Cases:
- It takes about twice as long to disassemble and assemble your bike when using a hard case. You have to completely remove your fork (use two zip ties to to keep your headset together), pedals, wheels, derailleur, and your handlebars. So you will also want to make sure you know to properly tighten and grease a headset.
- Hard Cases weigh about 20lbs- 28lbs and with your bike usually add up to around 60-68 pounds. It will be impossible to get your bike under the 50lb weight limit for normal luggage and you will have to check your bike as oversize luggage and pay the fee ($150-$200)
CARDBOARD BIKE BOX
Next on the list in the cardboard bike box, this is a classic option and can really help you out in a bind, all it takes is a little extra attention to adding bubble wrap and styrofoam on your bike.
Pros of Cardboard Bike Box:
- Usually they are free.
- They are generally available at any bike shop any time of the year.
- They only weigh about 8-10 pounds and your bike will generally always weigh under the 50lb weight limit.
- You can usually add some extra gear in your cardboard box and still be under the weight
- They are indispensable so you are not worried about storing it, maintaining it or fixing broken parts.
- Are always a great option (don’t listen to the haters)
- They are easy to transport.
Cons of Cardboard Bike Box:
- They are not as durable and require you to add a more bubble wrap and padding on your ENTIRE bike, if your bike is aluminium then you don’t have to go ham on wrapping up your frame.
- They can get water damaged easily and can deteriorate.
- It is not as visually appealing and all your friends that have high paying desk jobs will make fun of you, but they have desk jobs, bah!
Ok folks! There is your list of pros and cons of the best bike travel cases that are out there. Let’s do a final breakdown of what we have found. Soft cases are best for people that travel frequently with their bike (2-5 times a year) and want the convenience of easily packing and unpacking their bike. Hard Cases are for people who are afraid that their bike is going to break and want to assure that they have that little extra protection and are ok with paying the oversized luggage fees. Cardboard Bike Boxes are for that guy who took home your leftovers for lunch the last time you went to dinner; but they work and we fully support the use of cardboard boxes for any type of bike. Thanks for your time and please feel free to contact us about anything related to the best bike travel case for you!