Best bike bags and boxes for cycling travel 2022

Our guide to the best bike bags and boxes to keep your ride protected when travelling the world

best bike bags

Riding abroad can do absolute wonders for a cyclist’s soul. The best cycling holidays offer good weather, premium quality roads and minimal traffic... plus, those big hills are ideal for putting some fitness in your legs.

Many cyclists like to take their own bike with them when they go abroad - rather than hiring a bike on holiday. But that means getting that awkward thing there in the first place.

There are two options: you can fly your bike in either a box or a bag. Both have their pros and cons, so we’ll run through both options.

Best bike bags and boxes

Scicon Road AeroComfort 3.0 TSA Bike Travel Bag

Best bike bag for lightweight structured support

Specifications

Weight: 8kg
Dimensions: 109 x 103 x 50cm
Frame size: Up to 62cm

Reasons to buy

+
Minimal disassembly required
+
Rear derailleur protector
+
Plenty of padding
+
Pockets for wheels and components

Reasons to avoid

-
Shifters felt somewhat exposed

The AeroComfort 3.0 TSA from Scicon is a firm favourite among the Cycling Weekly tech team. We've flown test bikes all over the world, and we like to use this carry case because it combines the lightweight, foldable characteristics of a bag, with the reliability of a box. 

How so? The outside is a soft, fabric bag, but inside you'll find a metal structure. You simply remove the wheels, loop your chain over a specially designed T-bar and use your quick releases to stand the bike on the metal frame, so it's immovable inside and thus a lot more secure. It couldn't be easier.

There's no need to remove anything aside from the wheels, the handlebars stay straight and don't need twisting. This does make the front end quite bulky, and though there's padding, we felt the shifters were a little bit exposed - but that's pretty much the only con to a host of pros.

Read more: View on retailer's website (opens in new tab)

Multi-coloured Evoc bike travel bag

Best bike bag for ease of use

Specifications

Weight: 8.6kg
Dimensions: 130 x 80 x 27cm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Bike padding kit included

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing

Whilst hard cases so the ultimate reassurance that your bike is well protected, they also take up a lot of room when out of use, and, they're heavy - limiting your ability to pack kit alongside your bike and stay within airline limits.

Enter: soft cases, and this Evoc bike bag is an excellent option. Yes, it offers less protection - but the Cycling Weekly team have used it to transport press bikes on plenty of occasions (NB, we once even used a cardboard box for a personal bike, the theory is that baggage handlers will be more careful!).

This Evoc Bike bag really excels in terms of ease of use, too. The side opening makes getting the bike in a cinch, and the handy Velcro makes getting the parts in the right place a piece of cake. The newer model reviewed here now has a reinforced front zip, meaning it should last longer.

Read more: Evoc bike travel bike bag full review

Thule Round Trip Pr XT bike bag

Best bike bag with integrated stand

Specifications

Weight: 8.6kg
Dimensions: 126 x 89 x 30cm

Reasons to buy

+
Doubles up as a stand
+
Integrated wheels

Reasons to avoid

-
Price - over £500 
-
Does have weak spots

The Thule RoundTrip Pro XT falls into the not-quite-a-bike-bag category. It's a softshell but has some structural implants that should keep your bike safe through the worst of it.

However, the bag does have some weak areas and for the price you pay this doesn't induce confidence. But, maybe we're being picky. This is a solid purchase, undoubtedly, and we always add extra bubblewrap around our frames, whatever we're packing them into.

The base, which holds the bike static in the case, can have three legs added, transforming it into a workstand for when you get to your destination - which is a rather 'nice to have', too.

Read more: Thule RoundTrip Pro XT

Chain Reaction Cycles Pro bike bag

Chain Reaction Cycles Pro Bike Bag

Best bike bag for those on a budget

Specifications

Weight: 8.8kg
Dimensions: 140 x 79 x 28cm

Reasons to buy

+
Crush protection inserts
+
Shock blocks secure bike at 3 points  
+
Plenty of pockets for storing components

We've not had a chance to call in the Chain Reaction Cycles Pro Bike Bag for a comprehensive review. However, it bears a striking resemblance to other bags that members of the Cycling Weekly team have used, and, it offers extremely good value for money, so we felt it was worth an inclusion if you're looking to keep costs low.

This is a soft bag, but it does include crush protection inserts and shock blocks secure bike at three points. The inside of the bag hosts lots of pockets, to keep your kit neat. 

At 8.8kg, there's space to pack in some kit alongside your bike, and it'll fold/crumple away nicely for storage. Of course, it's not as solid as a bix - like the BikeBoxAlan - but we have used bags of this style without a problem, just be sure to pack in lots of bubblewrap or alternative protection. 

Read more: View on retailer's website (opens in new tab)

Bike Box Alan

(Image credit: Bike Box Alan)
Best bike box for durability

Specifications

Weight: 11.2kg
Dimensions: 116 x 96 x 36cm
Frame size: Up to 65cm

Reasons to buy

+
Carbon anti-crush pole
+
Two layers of padding
+
High quality fixings 

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing!

The BikeBoxAlan is probably the most popular sturdy bike box on the market, and for good reason. Almost every cycling club has several members who own one, and these are sometimes loaned out among members. There's a reason BikeBoxAlan has such a good name. 

The fact that it's a hard case box immediately gives the user peace of mind when packing their bike away inside a Bike Box Alan. Throw in the addition of an anti-crush pole in the middle and things are looking good for your pride and joy. 

It is expensive, but it does come with a seven year guarantee, so depending on how much you holiday, it should pay for itself.

The only downside is that, like the VeloVault2, it's not light - but at 11kg, it is a smidge lighter than the competitor. 

Read more: BikeBoxAlan

Blue Velovault2 bike box

Best bike box for peace of mind

Specifications

Weight: 12.5kg
Dimensions: 122 x 90 x 30cm

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious inside
+
Quality fixings
+
Sturdy
+
UK made

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy at over 12kg

We really quite liked the VeloVault2 bike box when we had it in for test. It's big and sturdy, which is what many cyclists need in order to achieve peace of mind when flying with a bike.

However, weighing in at 12.2kg means it should sneak under most airline weight controls. The company has sweated the small stuff, too: the clasps are quality, it's easy to close and it rolls great.

VeloVault2 bike box has a new carrying handle, longer wheelbase, improved strut design and it is roof box ready. Oh, and it's now bright blue... other colours are available if that's not to your liking.

Read more: VeloVault2 full review

How do I pack a bike into a bike bag or box

Packing the bike into the bag or box sometimes takes quite a bit more effort than expected. The process may differ slightly if your handy companion has some special inserts of internal structure, but the general process goes something like:

  • Remove the wheels from your bike 
  • Turn the handlebars to one side 
  • Either remove the seat post or drop it into the frame
  • Remove the rear derailleur

There are a few more mechanical adjustments you might make, and if you’re handy with a spanner they shouldn't cause too much grief. For example, you might have to remove the chainset. This will keep it protected en route but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll have to reassemble it when you arrive on your hols, so if you're no spanner wizard it might be best to avoid this. It may also mean packing extra tools, which means extra weight to carry around.

Best bike bags vs best bike boxes: which is better?

You might think this is an easy question: it's surely a box, right? However, that's probably before you’ve taken weight into consideration.

A lighter weight bike bag influences two things: how comfortable it is to carry and lug about but also how much of your baggage allowance it eats into - and how much the baggage supplement might be.

The trade off is in the level of protection: a hard flight case like box is going to take the knocks better than a soft bag. That said, soft bike bags will usually protect your bike from the worst of it and they also tend to be cheaper than bike boxes.

There is an in between option. The best bike bags tend to have some more structural inserts inside but retain more of a bag's lightweight nature. Other bike bags can have nifty, in-built storage techniques. For example, some have built in dropouts that allow you to stand your frame upright and hold it tight.

Airport baggage handlers load bike bags onto a plane

Do I need to add extra padding to my bike bag?

Regardless of how tough your bag or box might be, you’ll definitely want to pad the important parts inside it. We’d recommend bubble wrap and foam piping. If you’re lucky, your local bike shop might have excess from all the bikes they get sent in.

Wheels and handles

Considering a fully packed bike bag or box is a weighty beast, built in handles and wheels become pretty vital. You’ll want to make sure they’re good quality, too, as nothing's more annoying than a broken wheel on a long journey.

Storage

A bike box can be a big item to store when not in use, both at home and at your destination when you use it to travel. Some bags fold smaller than others and they're all going to be smaller than a rigid box when empty.

A road cyclist riding with a mountain in the background

Simon Smythe
Simon Smythe

Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism.


In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.


What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Mercian Classic fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.


And the vital statistics:


Age: 53
Height: 178cm

Weight: 69kg