Traveling with a bike is always an adventure—and not the good kind. Packing your bike in a cardboard box for flying works sometimes, but when things go wrong they go really wrong.
While a soft-sided case might seem less protective than a hard-shell, the security of your precious cargo really comes down to 1. how the baggage handlers can maneuver it and 2. how easy it is for the TSA to get a look at your stuff.
Scicon bags specializes in bicycle transportation cases and is used by several top pro road teams and triathletes, but they also offer a mountain bike case, pictured here.
The case starts with a metal chassis to which the frame and fork are mounted. With both axles (QR or thru axle) mounted into place it protects your chainrings from impact and keeps the bike from moving around. Beneath it are a set of four castors that make it a breeze to roll through the airport.
One hangup is the rear thru-axle adapter (the tiny silver piece pictured below)—it takes three hands to hold the bike, hold the adapter piece and slide the axle through the bracket. Plus if you lose it on your trip you are SOL.
Both sides of the bag fold away to give you total access to the bike, and each side contains a special zippered pocket for your wheels, and I was pleased to see that they fit both 29-inch wheels and a 26×3.8 wheel and tire. They will likely fit even larger tires if you deflate them.
The handlebar is removed from the bike and slides into a padded sleeve to keep it protected. The sleeve then Velcro’s into place so it’s not flopping around.
The last piece is the saddle. You can either remove it altogether and stuff it in somewhere, or slam it down and slip this cover over it. If found that even with it all the way down this strap wasn’t long enough to reach up and around to secure it in place, but it doesn’t seem like a very vital step in securing the bike.
Some nice touches on the outside of the bag include plastic bumpers in high wear areas, an integrated name tag, and pull handles to roll it along.
The Aerocomfort MTB case retails for $799, though it is on sale at several online retailers. It’s a lot of money but if you are planing that trip of a lifetime, it’s worth the investment to know your bike is safe.
I haven’t had a chance to fly with the case yet but as soon as spring comes it’s likely we’ll be back on the road. I feel a lot better knowing my bike will be in the Scicon case than a cardboard box.