Six best bike bags and boxes for cycling travel

Included in this guide:

Our guide to the best bike bags and boxes to keep your ride protected whilst you travel the world

Riding abroad can do absolute wonders for a cyclist’s soul. Good weather, premium quality roads and minimal traffic are all great... 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 the damn thing there.

best bike bags

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.

Bike bags vs 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.

best bike box and bags

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.

>>> What do different airlines charge to fly your bike?

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

How to 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

best bike bags and boxes

A Lampre mechanic works on Rui Costa’s bike into the evening, using the lights from the mechanic’s truck at the Challenge Mallorca event in February.
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

There are a few more mechanical adjustments you might make, and if you’re handy with 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.

>>> How to prepare for an overseas cycling event

Best bike bags and boxes

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best bike bag bike box

Scicon Road AeroComfort 3.0 TSA Bike Travel Bag
(Image credit: Picasa)

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+Pockets for wheels+Plenty of padding+Pockets for wheels and components
Reasons to avoid
-Shifters felt somewhat exposed

The AeroComfort 3.0 TSA from Scicon is smart because it offers the lightweight, foldable characteristics of a bag, but comes with a metal structure inside. 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.

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.

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

Bike Box Alan

(Image credit: Bike Box Alan)

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 fact that it's a hard case box immediately gives the user piece 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.

Best bike bags and boxes

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

A wicked piece of kit that kept our bike safe despite its softer outer shell. However, the area that the Evoc bike bag really excels in is ease of use.

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.

Best bike bags and boxes

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.

Best bike bags and boxes

Chain Reaction Cycles Pro Bike Bag

Best bike bag for those on a budget

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

We've not had the Chain Reaction Cycles Pro Bike Bag in for review but for its minimal price it looks good. According to the retailer and brand, only pedals, bars and wheels need to be removed for the bike to fit and it comes with a Shock Blocking System which features Crush Protection inserts.

Bike bags and boxes: Things to consider

Fit

Chances are you ride a 56cm bike frame, or smaller, with a standard seat post and handlebars, in which case you should be golden with a standard bike bag or case.

However, if you ride a super-sized bike or if it has an integrated seat post (where it’s just an extension of the frame) then you could find yourself in a bit of a pickle.

If you know you're the latter, its probably worth scoping the bag or box out in person, or getting some more of an idea of how well your precious cargo will fit.

Padding and protection

best bike boxes and bags

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 the 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.

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 on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).


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 Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.


And the vital statistics:


Age: 52
Height: 178cm

Weight: 69kg