Home
How to find the right bag or box for transporting your bike safely, plus a selection of the best

If you’re travelling with your bike you need a decent bike bag or box to make sure it arrives safely. Here’s what you need to look for.

Take your bike in the back of your car and, fair enough, you can often just take the wheels off and/or fold down the rear seats and put it in there. But if you want to get lots of other luggage in too, using a dedicated bag will protect your bike from bumps and scratches, and stop oil from your bike getting on anything else.

If you’re flying, you need to take extra measures. Baggage handlers aren’t known for their finesse or delicacy of movement. No disrespect to those guys but they’re not going to move every bag and case as if it contained a priceless Ming vase, are they? Would you, if you were in their position? Luggage often gets flung about, dropped or stacked sky high, and you don’t want your bike to be subject to any of that with anything other than heavy-duty protection.

We’ve heard tales of people who thought they’d take their bike abroad in a soft bag or a cardboard bike box and it all going horribly wrong. You might get away with it, of course. You might get away with it many times. But what about that one time when your bike is at the bottom of a tower of cases being sorted by a bloke who’s already late finishing his shift?

Merida Premium bike bag - bike in frame

Merida Premium bike bag - bike in frame

It happens. Really, it does. And arriving in the Pyrenees with your bike frame snapped in two is, let’s face it, a disaster. Aside from needing to replace your bike in the long term, you need to salvage a trip for which you’ve already paid.

Bike bags and bike boxes might be expensive but chances are that they’re not as expensive as your bike or your holiday. Invest in something that’s right for your needs and it’ll likely last you years.

Wheels

All the bike boxes we know of and a lot of soft bike bags come with wheels that allow you to pull/push them to and from a car, around the airport and so on, and that’s a hell of a lot easier than carrying all that weight.

Wheels that are recessed into the base of the box are less vulnerable to getting broken off in transit and wheels that can be replaced after a mishap might save you needing to buy a completely new bike bag or box.

Handles

You can’t drag your bike bag or box everywhere – you’ll inevitably need to lug it up some steps or over some gravel at some stage. That’s when some form of carrying handle or strap comes in useful; More that one option helps. A shoulder strap will save your arms doing all the hard work.

Locks

Locks might be useful but, realistically, how often are you going to let a loaded up bike box out of your sight anyway?

Okay, it’ll be separated from you for the flight, but bear in mind that if you check in a locked bike box and the customs officials want to look inside, they’ll bust the locks open. Think about it. They need to be able to check what’s in there and a simple lock isn’t going to stop them (otherwise drug smuggling would be really, really simple).

Size

Get a bag or box that’s big enough to take your bike easily. If you have a 56cm road bike with a normal seatpost, you’re unlikely to have a problem with any of the options out there.

However, if you take a very big frame, have an integrated seat post (an extended seat tube rather than a separate seat post), or if you have a full-suspension mountain bike, things might get more complicated.

Check the minimum dimensions you need before you part with your cash, and allow a bit of wiggle room. You don’t want to have to remove every component and use masses of force to get your bike into a box; you need something that’ll take your bike easily. International travel can be stressful enough without adding to it with bike packing pressures.

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - wheels

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - wheels

You can often fit other stuff inside your bike box or bag, in the spaces between the frame tubes, although this obviously adds to the weight and that might be a consideration when you’re flying.

If you intend to drive to the airport rather than take public transport, remember to make sure your bike bag or box will fit in your car. As long as you can fold the rear seats down, that’s not usually a problem.

Oh, and remember that you’ll have to store your bike bag or box somewhere at home. One of the drawbacks of a hard-shelled bike box as opposed to a soft bag is the extra storage space you’ll need for it.

Ease of packing

Getting a bike bag or box that’s large enough (see above) is the essential first step, but beyond that some options are much easier to pack than others.

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - open

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - open

You’ll have to take the wheels off your bike, either spin the handlebar or remove it from the stem, and remove a pedal (or both of them). You’ll likely have to remove the seatpost or push it down too (depending on the size of your bike). You’ll have to deflate the tyres for flying too. (Yes, we know tyre pressure is far too low to be hazardous, but as our commenters have pointed out, life's too short to teach airline check-in staff the laws of physics.)

Merida Premium bike bag - dropout

Merida Premium bike bag - dropout

If you have to remove the rear mech and/or the chainset, things can start to get boring. You obviously have to rebuild the bike at your destination, then take it apart for the return journey and rebuild it again when you get home. As long as you have half-decent spannering skills, that’s unlikely to be a problem. It only takes minutes on each occasion, but it just adds to the faff and might shorten valuable riding time.

Padding

You need some means of stopping the various bits of the bike from damaging one another. Some wheels attach to the walls of a bike box with their quick-release skewers (we've had a skewer take a knock and get ruined in this way, so you might want to consider using old skewers for the job) and and have some form of cover to avoid harm, others have their own separate wheel bags, as do many bike bags.

Look for other means of storage for removed pedals, the tools you need for rebuilding your bike, and so on.

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - frame

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - frame

If you’re ever in doubt, you can always fall back on the cyclists’ favourite, simple pipe insulation from your local DIY store, to protect the various parts of your bike.

Weight

There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to weight. First, you have to move your loaded up bike bag or box around so lightness makes life easier.

Second, you have to stick within airline weight limits. Currently, EasyJet allows you 32kg for a boxed up bike and the Ryanair limit is 30kg. Sticking within those boundaries shouldn't be a problem.

British Airways, though, say that items over 23kg may incur a heavy bag charge. Larger items (in dimensions rather than weight) like bike boxes can be carried for an oversized bag charge, although they waive this at the time of writing.

The point is, you need to check your allowances with your airline before you travel in order to avoid expensive surprises.

Scicon have published a really useful article on weight allowances and other regulations covering flying with your bike.

Hard or soft?

Soft, padded bike bags are lightweight, easy to store, and they’ll protect your bike from scratches and scrapes. As a rule, they’re also cheaper than rigid boxes. Some come with aluminium space frames and rigid spacers for the frame and fork dropouts to help avoid damage.

Merida Premium bike bag - frame

Merida Premium bike bag - frame

Next, there are boxes made from semi-rigid polymers that offer good impact strength. In terms of weight, they’re somewhere between a soft bag and a rigid bike box.

Then there are boxes with rigid walls that provide loads of protection, although these tend to be the heaviest and most expensive options out there.

Between that lot there are plenty of variations.

helium_4

helium_4

The Biknd Helium (£479, C3 in UK), for example, is essentially a soft bag with inflatable walls that protect your bike, and it folds down small for easy storage.Find out more here.Buy it here

Travel insurance

Get it! Even the best bike boxes don’t guarantee you against damage to your bike, so get yourself some insurance that covers the value of your bike.

Recommended  bags

B’Twin Bike Cover — £49.99

BTwin Bike Cover

BTwin Bike Cover

The B’Twin bag has a large bike compartment, two wheel compartments and a rigid base. It weighs 3.6kg and, like most other bags of this kind, it comes with a shoulder strap. That’s an unbelievably low price!

Read our review of the B'Twin Bike cover

Merida 29er bike bag — £159.99

Merida 29er

Merida 29er

This bag is quick and easy to use. It has the advantage of being large enough to take downhill and long 29er mountain bikes.

Find a Merida dealer 

B&W Bike Box — £201.98

bandw-bikebox-12-black

bandw-bikebox-12-black

An aluminium frame, ABS shell with internal padded walls, and padded wheels protect your bike here. You get four locks and the wheels are replaceable. 

Find a B&W dealer

Chain Reaction Cycles Pro Bike Bag — £189.99

CRC bike bag

CRC bike bag

You fit alloy crush protection inserts in place of your bike’s hubs in this padded bag, and hold everything securely in place with straps. 

Polaris Eva Bike Pod Plus — £249.99

Polaris Bike Pod

Polaris Bike Pod

This polymer case is moulded to take the vast majority of road bikes without any trouble. You attach the frame to one side of the clam shell design, your wheels to the other, and zip it closed.

Find a Polaris dealer

Evoc Bike Travel Bag — £298.99

evoc-bike-travel-bag

evoc-bike-travel-bag

Evoc’s highly rated bag comes with a reinforced fork mount, external-loading wheel pockets, compartments for smaller parts, and multiple handles. It’ll even take big mountain bikes and is collapsible for simple stowage.

Find an Evoc dealer
Read our review of the Evoc Bike Travel Bag

Bikebox Alan Premium Bike Box — £385-£4o5

Bike Box Alan

Bike Box Alan

This robust plastic case has steel catches to hold the sides together and good wheels to make travel that little bit easier. You can even choose your own stickers!

Merida Premium Bike Bag — ~£285

Merida Premium

Merida Premium

An alloy internal frame provides your bike with extra protection inside this soft bag. You get separate wheel bags inside.

Find a Merida dealer

Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 — £287.98

Scicon-AeroComfort-2-0-TSA-Bike-Bag-Bike-Bags-Soft-Cases-2015-TP053004813-11

Scicon-AeroComfort-2-0-TSA-Bike-Bag-Bike-Bags-Soft-Cases-2015-TP053004813-11

You fix your bike to a frame inside this a nylon ripstop bag, and hold it steady with a strap system. A waterproof polyurethane base and high-density foam padding provide protection for your bike.

Find a Scicon dealer​
Read our review of the Scicon AeroComfort 2.0

Thule RoundTrip Transition hard case — £467.99

Thule Round Trip Transition

Thule Round Trip Transition

This ABS hard-bodied case includes an integrated bike work stand that makes taking your bike apart and rebuilding it again super-easy. List price is £494.99 but you can find them for less currently Evans are selling them for £445.49.

Find a Thule dealer

Bikebox Online VeloVault —  £459

Bikebox Online Velovault - closed

Bikebox Online Velovault - closed

The VeloVault is a versatile and secure travel companion for your bike, whatever your bike may be. It's well-designed and strong enough to cope with the rigours of international travel.

Read our review of the Bikebox Online VeloVault

Scicon Aerotech Evolution — £534.99

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - closed

Scicon Aerotech Evolution bike hard case - closed

This rigid bike box is made from a tough plastic polymer and it provides superb protection for your bike. It’s also simple to pack and rolls on four wheels with proper bearings. The RRP of £700 is a sticking point, but shop around and you will find it for less - we found it on Wiggle for £439.99 when we were putting this guide together.

Read our review of the Scicon Aerotech Evolution
Find a Scicon dealer

B&W Bike Guard Curv — £549.99

Bike Guard Curv - full.jpg

Bike Guard Curv - full.jpg

The Bike Guard Curv is a high-end flight case which gives excellent protection to your pride and joy. At a little over 8kg it's very light for a hard case, but it's also very expensive – costing nearly as much as an aluminium flight case. In our travels, our bikes arrived unscathed, but the lack of bracing could make it vulnerable if a lot of weight is stacked on top.

Read our review of the B&W Bike Guard Curv
Find a B&W dealer

Buxum Box Tourmalet — £699

Buxum Tourmalet 19

Buxum Tourmalet 19

​It's not cheap, but the Buxum Tourmalet is very well thought-out and built to take anything baggage handlers can dish out. In fact it looks like it'll survive anything short of a direct artillery attack. It's very easy to pack, though it's not light at 13.3kg.

Read our review of the Buxum Box Tourmalet

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

24 comments

Avatar
. . [175 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Shouldn't CTC plastic bags should get an honourable mention in these articles?   Cheap, light, and arguably baggage handlers look after your bike because they can see what it is.

Avatar
flobble [116 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

It's a small thing, but "you’ll have to deflate the tyres for flying too" just isn't true.

The difference in atmospheric air pressure between sea level and cruising altitude is about 10psi. And since aircraft holds are pressurised to the equivalent of about 10,000ft, the actual difference is more like 3-4psi.

So unless you've already pumped up your tyres to be right on the edge of failure, it's a complete waste of time to deflate them.

Avatar
vbvb [619 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
flobble wrote:

a complete waste of time to deflate them.

It may not be good for avoiding blow outs but it does stop the airport people trying to do it themselves - cutting through your packaging, finding they can't work those weird valves, and then puncturing both wheels as a workaround.

Avatar
Gasman Jim [201 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I've used lots of different bike boxes over the years. In my opinion the Bikebox Alan is the gold standard, the quality & robustness really stands out. Any bike box without a cross brace isn't worth bothering with.

Avatar
Griff500 [206 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
flobble wrote:

It's a small thing, but "you’ll have to deflate the tyres for flying too" just isn't true.

The difference in atmospheric air pressure between sea level and cruising altitude is about 10psi. And since aircraft holds are pressurised to the equivalent of about 10,000ft, the actual difference is more like 3-4psi.

So unless you've already pumped up your tyres to be right on the edge of failure, it's a complete waste of time to deflate them.

 

It just is true!  You are not allowed to carry pressurised gas on an aircraft, either in the cabin or in the hold, and air at 100psi is compressed gas. You have applied logic which suggests it is not necessary, and as a physicist I totally agree with you. But please don't mislead people by suggesting they don't need to do it. Is it really a waste of time?  You will waste more time arguing with the jobsworth at the airport who doesn't understand physics, but does understand CAA rules. That's after he has finshed with the guy ahead of you carrying scuba tanks who tried the same argument!

Avatar
graybags [87 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Griff500]</p>

<p>[quote=flobble

wrote:

It's a small thing, but "you’ll have to deflate the tyres for flying too" just isn't true.

The difference in atmospheric air pressure between sea level and cruising altitude is about 10psi. And since aircraft holds are pressurised to the equivalent of about 10,000ft, the actual difference is more like 3-4psi.

So unless you've already pumped up your tyres to be right on the edge of failure, it's a complete waste of time to deflate them.

 

It just is true!  You are not allowed to carry pressurised gas on an aircraft, either in the cabin or in the hold, and air at 100psi is compressed gas. You have applied logic which suggests it is not necessary, and as a physicist I totally agree with you. But please don't mislead people by suggesting they don't need to do it. Is it really a waste of time?  You will waste more time arguing with the jobsworth at the airport who doesn't understand physics, but does understand CAA rules. That's after he has finshed with the guy ahead of you carrying scuba tanks who tried the same argument!

Sorry, but you can carry CO2 cylinders in hand luggage, but according to easyjet only two, I had four so handed two to a friend who took them through  for me  1

Avatar
Roger Geffen [61 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
. . wrote:

Shouldn't CTC plastic bags should get an honourable mention in these articles?   Cheap, light, and arguably baggage handlers look after your bike because they can see what it is.

 

Indeed!

Compared with its vastly-more-expensive competitors, the £12 "CTC bike bag" (or "Cycling UK bike bag", as it should now be known!) may not offer as much protection against the whims of airport baggage handlers (though nothing is fool-proof against that risk - and as others have said, the sheer visibility of the bike may  in fact be an advantage).

Where it really scores though is when you simply need to comply with the rules of train and bus companies (particularly some of the intercity trains in mainland Europe) who insist on bicycles being carried in bags or boxes.  In those circumstances, the light, cheap and cheerful solution is surely the one to go for!

More information here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/cyclists-library/bikes-public-transport/bikes-air.

 

Roger Geffen

Policy Director, Cycling UK (formerly CTC, the national cycling charity)

Avatar
hellodave [1 post] 1 year ago
1 like

Does anyone know how to attach thru-axle (rather than QR) wheels to the Scicon Areotech Evolution hard box?  

Avatar
MarkoTwee [1 post] 1 year ago
1 like

Has  anyone ever seen a frame and fork only hardcase before? It amazes me that I am the only one on the planet that would like to transport without the wheels and have wheels at both locations, not least  to minimise the mass involved in transporting a full sized bicycle. 

Avatar
dodgy [224 posts] 11 months ago
2 likes

I've travelled with my bike fairly extensively protected only by a bike shop cardboard box. Top tip, put a football in the main triangle to protect from side loads.

On my last trip abroad a friend lent me a plastic bike box. Heavy, fiddly to pack the bike, I prefer a cardboard box. That's how most if not all bikes make their way to your LBS, before you take ownership by the way.

 

Avatar
simonmb [465 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 — fairly recently bought and have completed several flights with it.

Plus points: only need to remove bike wheels and pedals (Scicon say you can leave the pedals on, but for the two minutes it takes to remove them it's safer). Frame held securely in sturdy metal base. Great padding. Very drivable along station platforms and through airports. You should be well under 23 kilos - bag, (my) bike plus an extra (soft) bag of cycle clothing weighs around 18 kilos. Looks very cool.

Negative points: the carry / pull straps must both be removed before flight - so there's nowhere for the airline's luggge tag to wrap around, and when it's coming towards you on the carousel there's nothing but a slippery 18 kilo case to grab at with your fingertips. Awkward.

It's a pleasure to use though, and recommended. 

Avatar
LaVieEnVelo [30 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Or don't put them anywhere near a plane. Just take your front wheel off and put them in our trailer and we'll drive them and your bags down to lovely places and then pick you up from the airport... #bikesdontfly http://www.lavieenvelo.com/cycle_france/file/getting_there.php

Avatar
ade gower [3 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

Hi , I have a 9 Madone SRS,  I can't remove handle bars or front brake , please can anyone help or guide me in the right direction brgds Ade 

Avatar
ade gower [3 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
simonmb wrote:

Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 — fairly recently bought and have completed several flights with it.

Plus points: only need to remove bike wheels and pedals (Scicon say you can leave the pedals on, but for the two minutes it takes to remove them it's safer). Frame held securely in sturdy metal base. Great padding. Very drivable along station platforms and through airports. You should be well under 23 kilos - bag, (my) bike plus an extra (soft) bag of cycle clothing weighs around 18 kilos. Looks very cool.

Negative points: the carry / pull straps must both be removed before flight - so there's nowhere for the airline's luggge tag to wrap around, and when it's coming towards you on the carousel there's nothing but a slippery 18 kilo case to grab at with your fingertips. Awkward.

It's a pleasure to use though, and recommended. 

hi could my aero bike with blade handlebars fit in this box ? Brgds Ade 

Avatar
simonmb [465 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
ade gower wrote:
simonmb wrote:

Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 — fairly recently bought and have completed several flights with it.

Plus points: only need to remove bike wheels and pedals (Scicon say you can leave the pedals on, but for the two minutes it takes to remove them it's safer). Frame held securely in sturdy metal base. Great padding. Very drivable along station platforms and through airports. You should be well under 23 kilos - bag, (my) bike plus an extra (soft) bag of cycle clothing weighs around 18 kilos. Looks very cool.

Negative points: the carry / pull straps must both be removed before flight - so there's nowhere for the airline's luggge tag to wrap around, and when it's coming towards you on the carousel there's nothing but a slippery 18 kilo case to grab at with your fingertips. Awkward.

It's a pleasure to use though, and recommended. 

hi could my aero bike with blade handlebars fit in this box ? Brgds Ade 

Not quite sure why you're asking. Aero bike? Same silhoutte size as any other bike. They're drop bars? Check with the store before buying, but they will fit. They do a different version for TT-specific bikes - but I don't think that's what you're talking about.

Avatar
CXR94Di2 [1700 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Bike Box Kevin, Kevin, Kevin

 

No, its Alan

 

Alan, Alan.............Alan   4

Avatar
zanf [932 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Had the B&W box and Eurostar managed to destroy it when I went to the French Alps last year. Had many problems with teh box anyway: the wheels were rigid and turning was a PITA. Because it didnt glide too well, I was expending huge amounts of energy dragging it across Paris, etc.

Replaced it with a Bonzo Bike Box and bike faired a lot better. The wheels glide nicely so that I could effortlessly push the box. It steered so changing direction wasnt a case of lifting it and pointing it where I wanted to go. Nice velcro straps inside to hold the bike in place so there was no movement and stems that screw onto the wheel skewers so prevent crushing.

Avatar
Yemble [51 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Knock-off versions of the Polaris Bike Pod can be had for around £100 on ebay - not quite as luxe but compared to a soft bag, it's a no-brainer. I've used one on short haul flights, as well as long distance freight forwarding. No trouble at all.

Avatar
gazzaputt [230 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

Just returned from Mallorca using the B&W Bike Box and had no problems at all. I paid £180 at ProCycling for mine.

Swivel wheels would help but apart from this it's A1 especially for the price.

You get two wheel bags with the case. Removal of the seatpost, remove bars and attch to frame and your good to go. I can dismantle the bike and have it in the box in about 15mins and the same to reassemble. It's sturdy and held up to a cab driver dropping a 23kg suitcase onto it with no deflection (yes I wasn't happy!)

 

Avatar
jeffrejo [14 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Check out Probikekit.co.uk for a Bonza Bike Box at £354.00 Great price for a hard bike box similar to other leading brands and just as good; nice colour choice too. 3 flights down many more to come.

Avatar
rix [169 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

Scicon AeroComfort 2.0

road.cc wrote:

You fix your bike to a frame inside this a nylon ripstop bag, and hold it steady with a strap system. A waterproof polyurethane base and high-density foam padding provide protection for your bike.

What they didn't tell you is that your shifters are completely exposed and are not protected in any way. In the picture you can see bag burried under suitcases. As a result both shifters bent. To avoid damage I recommend loosening shifters so that they bend easy, without braking.

//i.imgur.com/4ZAItUA.jpg)

 

Avatar
whobiggs [109 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
vbvb wrote:
flobble wrote:

a complete waste of time to deflate them.

It may not be good for avoiding blow outs but it does stop the airport people trying to do it themselves - cutting through your packaging, finding they can't work those weird valves, and then puncturing both wheels as a workaround.

 

Does that happen?

Avatar
Phil H [64 posts] 5 days ago
0 likes
Yemble wrote:

Knock-off versions of the Polaris Bike Pod can be had for around £100 on ebay - not quite as luxe but compared to a soft bag, it's a no-brainer. I've used one on short haul flights, as well as long distance freight forwarding. No trouble at all.

cheapest I can see is ~ £219?

Avatar
Sub4 [39 posts] 2 days ago
0 likes
rix wrote:

Scicon AeroComfort 2.0

road.cc wrote:

You fix your bike to a frame inside this a nylon ripstop bag, and hold it steady with a strap system. A waterproof polyurethane base and high-density foam padding provide protection for your bike.

What they didn't tell you is that your shifters are completely exposed and are not protected in any way. In the picture you can see bag burried under suitcases. As a result both shifters bent. To avoid damage I recommend loosening shifters so that they bend easy, without braking.

//i.imgur.com/4ZAItUA.jpg)

 

Yes, someone travelling in my party found that their bars were bent (the bars, not just the shifters!). Theres no protection for shifters/bars on these. Avoid imo