Choosing a Bike Travel Bag to Suit Your Needs
Bike travel bags. Despite being on the road for just a few days now, there is a lot to be said about bike travel bags. Perhaps not a post that we’d expected to be writing so early on (if at all), but these essential tools for safe manoeuvring from A > B have at times been so damn heavy, awkward and downright annoying; all the while just doing their jobs as they should be.
We may have packed too much (not blaming C here at all), and we could have made much wiser choices around which bike bags to purchase (guilty) but we’re getting on with it and sharing a few constructive tips to help save others the hassle(s) we’ve encountered.
It may be worth mentioning that we’re targeting a year of travel. We opted for carry-on sized luggage and we have an 8-day cycling escapade of the Italian alps fast approaching. Which of course, requires additional extras than a usual weekend away.
We left Australia with what should have been 23kgs checked luggage (bike + bits) and 7kgs carry-on (life as we know it for the next year).
A little side-note (because we’ll draw on this later) – C’s bike bag weighed 30kgs at check-in (ex. Melbourne) and K’s was 17kgs. It doesn’t take a genius to piece together what happened next… Those sneaky additional kilos got redistributed to K’s cycling bag and have become a permanent fixture much to C’s annoyance, as he’s the one left carrying it!
More often than not you would prefer to transport your beloved in some sturdy casing, which can become quite the investment. It’s not at all uncommon to spend upwards of $500-$1000+ (AUD) on a quality made bike bag. Lessons learned, we would encourage you to do so for more reasons than 1.
LOOK: On the back of this ‘travelling light’ mentality, K went a little overboard on the ‘light’ note and picked up an as new French label LOOK soft case bike bag. Costing a few hundred in-store yet only $90 on Gumtree.com.au (as well a pretty drive to Victoria’s Alpine Country) it was quite the bargain. Might I mention, no wheels. This bag is supposed to be light (which it is, when empty!) and well suited to the on-the-go traveller who might prefer to drive rather than struggling awkwardly through airports and stations. It’s padded well, has designated slips within the bag for the wheels (one each side of the frame), two side straps as well as a shoulder strap. Simplistic and functional and absolutely what I thought I was after, originally…
Given that K is 165cm tall, the bag simply sits too low to the ground even when the shoulder strap at its tightest length. With it’s anticipated 17kgs it was fine to lob on the shoulder, however with additional kilos (total 25kgs) coupled with the Northern Hemisphere summer, it’s been a whole lot of uncomfortable.
Functionality however, – fine. All pieces in tact, plenty of room for the frame, unsealed slips on the inside of each side for wheels/items and a relatively sturdy outer zip; – heavy duty, perhaps not. This bag is probably better suited for shorter travel and/or storage.
EVOC: When lots of people follow suit, it usually means they’re on to a good thing. This is definitely the case with the EVOC bike bag.
As heavy as it is (our doing), yet with a lot more room to store more if required (shoes, pump, helmet), it’s many clever components really make for life’s little luxuries. Think wheels (genius) + more!
Though a soft cover, the case is well padded and maintains its core curved shape built around plastic structures, even when empty. There are multiple handles at either end and on the sides, 2x quality wheels (one end) for easy manoeuvring and dedicated wheel pockets – exterior to the frame (central compartment). Lots of in-seam zip pockets make for handy storage of pedals, tools, bidons etc. In comparison to the LOOK bag, the zippers are most definitely made to stand up to the demands of travel.
Retailing for around $500 (AUD) new depending on the grade, this case was picked up second hand for $250 and still has so much life in it.
Functionality is great in terms of keeping the bike being safe and well supported, however a small downside includes having to take the headset off. A small job for most. Though the wheels are strong and reliant, a shoulder strap would offer a further means for transport
SCICON: Perhaps the bike bag of all bike bags, with a price tag to match – upwards of $800 AUD (quality in numbers). You will often see Scicon bags in floods at airports, which speaks for itself in terms of quality, functionality and ease of travel.
We have one of these at home, which C loves for his TT bike. It has an in-set frame, which means you only need to remove the wheels. The headset remains as is.
The bag sits on four wheels for easy manoeuvring, however with Europe’s beautiful cobblestone streets we thought this would be difficult (now, full well knowing, not nearly as difficult as carrying around a 25kg bag with no wheels!) hence the purchase of the EVOC.
This is a soft case bag (with padding) and has a strap, so you can throw it over your shoulder too. It is on the larger size of the bags and has a lot of room for gear, but it sometimes doesn’t fit the specs of airlines (just be extra nice at the check-in desk). Dedicated wheel pockets and heavy duty zips make life easy too.
Funnily enough, our friends (travelling for cycling bootcamp too) are travelling with Scicon bags, and have mentioned the awkwardness of these bags at times, as well the wheels giving way on occasions.
It really just goes to show that some bags are perhaps better suited to various travel requirements and locations.
TIOGA: Our club offers Tioga bags for hire, and so our review of the Tioga hard case is based on a hire bag that I would assume has had good use over the years.
It’s a hard case (big tick), on 4 wheels, which should make for easy manoeuvring. Downside here, is that there is no strap or handles to push/pull the case with; rather just the clip/buckle that provides extra security to the zipper. With no other option that to use this makeshift strap to push/pull, more often than not, it comes undone…
The casing is moulded around the bike so there’s no possible way you could set the bike the wrong way. The difficulty here however is making sure the seat is lowered enough, the handle bars are tucked away properly, pedals are off (as they should be) etc., to ensure for a proper fit. There is a little bit of extra room for a helmet, bidons and kits and it’s relatively lightweight, which is good news for all.
Prior to purchasing a bike bag to suit your travel needs, we would suggest doing your research and taking into account individual travel requirements and demands of that shiny locale in view. For example, the terrain, duration of travel and frequency of use, which should each play a key role in influencing your decision. I’m not really sure of anyone who takes pleasure in assembling/disassembling bikes and oftentimes I’m envious of those who pay others for the service. #travellingonashoestring
Given our experiences to date, the pick of the bunch would be the EVOC bike travel bag. Absolutely no reservations there.
We hope you find this somewhat helpful. Wishing you the happiest of hassle free travels with bike on board!
Nb. This post was written prior to cycling some of Italy’s best climbs (which was just incredible! More to come on that front soon). A busy schedule got the better of us, hence the late upload.