We’ve reviewed 15 top bike cases and bags for you to pack your ride in safely for trouble-free travelling.

Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

Chain Reaction Cycles Complete

Chain Reaction Cycles Complete
£59.99
chainreactioncycles.com

  • Size: 122cm x 68cm x 23cm
  • Weight: 6.12kg
  • Extras: ID pocket, padded wheel bags, tool wrap

The CRC bag has smaller dimensions than most. It has a reinforced base with plastic runners, twin corner wheels, seven interior pockets, tool wrap and four quick-access zips, which double as slots to hang it on a bike rack. The sides are padded with 20mm thick high-density foam. The smaller dimensions did mean we had to dismantle Shiv test bike to get it to fit. The rear mech was removed and taped to the chain stays, and the whole bar assembly was undone and taped to the top tube. We also had to rotate the fork and remove the seat mast. With a standard road bike it was easier, though we still needed to remove the bar and stem and seatpost. The reinforced base holds its shape well making it easy to trolley around. The tough polyester material takes the knocks and we had plenty of faith in the dense foam padding.

Verdict
On the small side for a tri bike, but well made and great value.

Performance 2/5
Value 4/5
Overall 3/5

DHB Elsted Wheeled Bike Bag

DHB Elsted Wheeled Bike Bag
£62.99
www.wiggle.co.uk

Size 134cm x 90cm x 26cm Weight 6.78kg
Extras ID pocket
The Elsted’s dimensions are the biggest we’ve seen, but at 6.78kg it’s light for the size. Fitting the Shiv was pretty simple. The frameset fitted in with no problems, although we did undo the extensions and slide them back towards the frame. Two large slots hold the wheels in place and there is plenty of space left over for accessories and kit. The construction is heavyweight-coated polyester and the lining is a ripstop-like fabric. The base and corners are reinforced, adding a bit of structure and protection. The padding is dense 20mm crush-resistant foam. It offers decent impact protection for a bag, and still allows the bag to be folded, making it easier to store. Dual wheels and a grab handle make it easy to move and twin shoulder straps means you can lug it upstairs, though the large size means it helps if you’re tall.

Verdict
Masses of space, little in the way of padding and strapping though.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Brand-X Bike Bag

Brand-X Bike Bag
£89.99
www.hotlines-uk.com

Size 122cm x 68cm x 23cm Weight 6.12kg
Extras ID pocket, padded wheel bags, tool wrap
The Brand-X bag should look somewhat familiar. That’s because it’s essentially the same bag as the Chain Reaction model. It features all of the same multitude of pockets, padded wheel bags and quality, reinforced base. The shoulder strap system, like the Chain Reaction one, is very stable, with the padded sleeve fixing the twin straps together. To access the full three-sided zipper you need to unclip one set of straps. The twin rollers and opposing grab handle make it easy to trolley and when packed it has just enough stability so as not to fall over easily. The black polyester hides scuffs and knocks better than the CRC version’s loud blue and white finish but aside from that they don’t differ at all. As the CRC bag is now so heavily discounted we can’t find a reason to spend an extra £30 here.

Verdict
Tough little bag, but available elsewhere at a much better price.

Performance 2/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

AGU Bike Transportation Bag

AGU Bike Transportation Bag
£99.99
www.i-ride.co.uk

Size 123cm x 74cm x 26cm Weight 2.9kg
Extras Wheel pockets, bag carrying holdall, pedal pocket
The Agu bag is completely unpadded. Whilst it may not offer the best in protection that does mean it packs down into an included holdall which is just 50x25x36cm. Size wise it’s on a par with the CRC/Brand-X design so some dismantling is required. Being unpadded it’s a little more risky to use this for flight duties, though we did try wrapping our bike with plenty of bubble wrap and foam padding and it should just about do the job. The obvious advantage is that you can pack the bag up at the other end and store it in a closet, though you’ll still have bubble wrap and padding to store. Where we’d be more likely to use the Agu is when travelling by car and we don’t want to use a rack. This will keep oily marks off of your interior and disguise the fact you’ve got an expensive bike in the boot.

Verdict
Simple and minimal in everything but price. Fine for use in a car but not great for flying.

Performance 2/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

Pro Single Padded Bike Bag

Pro Single Padded Bike Bag
£99.99
www.madison.co.uk

Size 110cm x 22cm x 86cm Weight 2.4kg
Extras None
The Pro is the lightest bag on test. It doesn’t have wheels. When we fitted the Shiv we expected to remove the bars, seat mast and rear mech. We found leaving the seat post and saddle in place (just dropping them a few centimetres) helped maintain the bag’s shape. The base is reinforced and the nylon outer is lined with high-density foam. Our only problem arose when trying to fit the wheels in too. Whilst it does have twin wheel slots, with our tri bike it was all a bit snug, so we’d suggest using a padded wheel bag to transport them separately. With a road bike we squeezed it all in, and when not in use the bag will pack down to a tiny size. If the Pro were significantly cheaper we’d see it as a good option for car travel and, packed with care, for flying. But at £100 there are much better options around.

Verdict
Super lightweight, but pricey for this amount of protection.

Performance 2/5
Value 2/5
Overall 2/5

Polaris Cargo Bag

Polaris Cargo Bag
£109.99
www.polaris-apparel.co.uk

Size 126cm x 23cm x 80cm Weight 5.32kg
Extras two wheel bags, tool roll, luggage tag
The inside of the Cargo features two large zipped compartments for pedals and accessories, plus two padded wheel bags. Externally it has twin shoulder straps, a grab handle, reinforced base and two encapsulated roller wheels. The robust nylon fabric is backed with dense 10mm thick foam. The size enabled us to fit our tri test bike in, only needing to slide the extensions back into the clamps towards the top tube. With a bagged wheel either side of the frame it was snug but manageable. What also impressed us was the weight. At just 5.32kg it’s light for such a decent size. The reinforced base with plastic skids has enough structure to prevent the bag from flopping over. The sides are still pliable enough to be able to fold over and reduce the size when you’re storing it.

Verdict
Lightweight bike bag that’s a good size and easy to transport.

Performance 3/5
Value 4/5
Overall 3/5

DHB Elsted Bike Box

DHB Elsted Bike Box
£174.99
www.wiggle.co.uk

Size 99cm-110cm x 24cm x 81cm Weight 13.4kg
Extras Wheel bags, frame strapping, corrugated pads, pedal pouch
The Elsted hard case looks like a massive suitcase. The plastic casing is very thick and resistant to cracking. We’ve dropped it from a height onto its corners and generally abused it but it stayed structurally solid. It has two large end wheels and a side mounted grab handle enabling it to be scooted around, with a second set of wheels so it can be pushed horizontally too. The inside is lined with dense foam and two large corrugated foam pads add even more protection. Two further square corrugated foam pads are included to protect the fork ends and bottom bracket shell. Security is paramount with lockable top clasps and a combination lock. The sides are supported with a further four hook clamps. Once packed there was still room for extras so you’ll get your kit, shoes and even helmet in too. The downside is the weight.

Verdict
Great value for a hard case; it is on the weighty side though.

Performance 3/5
Value 4/5
Overall 3/5

Polaris EVA Bike Pod

Polaris EVA Bike Pod
£249.99
www.polaris-apparel.co.uk

Size 122cm x 93cm x 26cm Weight 8.1kg Extras Steel skewers
The EVA Pod looks similar to those from Bike Box and Scicon. Where it differs is in the use of EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) material for the shell. This has a semi-rigid structure and offers the same amount of protection as a hard case but with less weight. At 8kg it’s over 3kg lighter than the competition. The case closes with a full heavy-duty zip. This is backed up with additional quick-release buckles. Fitting in our tri bike did require dismantling, but we like that Polaris have included two heavy-duty skewers to fit your wheels to the integral ports on the pod’s side. The quality is top-notch with all the fittings being metal and riveted into place. For a road bike this offers the best balance of protection and weight around. For a tri bike things are a little snug so you may want to try before you buy.

Verdict
Excellent build quality, with low weight for the large amount of protection on offer.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Serfas Bike Case

Serfas Bike Case
£299
www.walkerscycles.co.uk

Size 72cm x 26cm x 111cm Weight 10.3kg
Extras Three foam layers, straps, drop-out spacers
The Serfas design has been around for over a decade. Its simple two-piece clamshell design makes packing easy. All of the hardware, clamps, handles and wheels are quality metal-framed items. The wheels are set into the sides rather than the bottom, which means you trolley it around in a vertical position, which is great for getting through doorways and onto airport travelators. The shell is crack-resistant and takes knocks well. Incorporated into the clamps are handy padlock loops for extra security. Fitting our tri bike, as with most of the cases on test, required some dismantling, but we liked the fact that Serfa’s includes plenty of straps to tie it all down and drop-out spacers to keep the frame safe. We like the Serfa’s simple sturdy design, and the price isn’t too much of a shock either.

Verdict
Simple, solidly built and good value with good security features.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Top Value Award, issue 38

Elite Vasion Bike Box

Elite Vasion Bike Box
£349.99
www.madison.co.uk

Size 118cm x 32cm x 75cm Weight 16.44kg
Extras Pads, straps, roof rack fitting kit
The Vasion has had an overhaul for 2012. The structure is now more resistant to squashing. We stood on the side and, while it dips, it doesn’t get too far. The redesign also dropped a lot of weight – it’s still a heavyweight; at 16.44kg it’s the heaviest here. Inside, two full-size pads keep the wheels separate from the frame. But the fully open design means plenty of space for accessories and kit. Even though the Elite has large dimensions, we still needed to remove the bar extensions to get our test bike to fit. But the simplicity meant getting everything in was a doddle, helped by the internal straps to make everything secure. The case has two lockable clasps and the wheels are recessed out of the way. They’re also larger in diameter so we had no problems wheeling it across rough surfaces and even gravel.

Verdict
Massive, tough, hefty and good value too. Easy to pack and surprisingly easy to transport.

Performance 3/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Bikind Helium Case

Bikind Helium Case
£425
www.c3products.com

Size 125cm x 75cm x 32cm Weight 9.74kg
Extras Fork dropout mount, pads, hub protectors, pump
The great idea behind the helium is how it’s achieved the protection of a hard case with the storage of a soft bag. The core of the Helium is an aluminium-framed sled base. There are four wheels for easy wheeling. The aluminium frame allows the fork to be mounted to a solid anchor with the included skewer. The bottom bracket shell sits on a padded base and is strapped into place. The wheels lock into mounts on the inner sides. Plenty of supports and straps hold the frame. The sides have super-tough, lilo-like inflatable ribs in them. Use the included foot pump and you’ve got five-inch thick air-sprung protection. The side of the bag where your fork sits offers hard-case-like protection for your frame. Compared to all the other bags on the market the Helium is the next evolutionary step.

Verdict
Innovative design protects brilliantly and packs small too.

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Gold Award, issue 38

Bikebox Alan

Bikebox Alan
£438
www.bikeboxalan.co.uk

Size 30cm x 82cm-90cm x 105cm Weight 11.74kg Extras Bottle, saddlepack, straps, anti-crush tube
Outwardly similar to the Polaris and Scicon hard cases, it’s inside where Bikebox do things differently. The wheels attach to the side and this is separated from the bike by a fitted foam pad. The second pad has integrated strapping to hold the frame secure. In addition, there is mount provision for a track pump, seat pack (included) and even a bottle (also included). We like the included anti-crush bar. Its an aluminium tube that fits across the centre of the box, protecting your frame should something heavy get dropped on its side. The attention to detail makes it obvious that riders that have travelled extensively put this together. All of the sturdy clamps are replaceable and include padlock loops, and the four wheels are hidden and protected. Bikebox can customize the box size for £25.

Verdict
Quality built, clever design and a custom option.

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Peak Performer Award, issue 38

Polaris Pod Pro

Polaris Pod Pro
£475
www.polaris-apparel.co.uk

Size 116cm x 30cm x 86cm
Weight 11.4kg Extras Strapping, reusable zip ties
The Pro Pod is constructed from polypropylene and it’s not only supremely rigid but also very crack resistant. The four individual trolley wheels are deeply recessed to avoid accidental breakages. All of the hardware, handles, wheels and clasps are bolted into place and fully replaceable. Of the four clasps, two are lockable for added security. Inside, on each side of the box, are fitments for the wheels that allow the hubs to centre. These are locked into place with integrated position guides and reusable zip ties. The frame is then sandwiched between the included foam and plenty of straps are included to lock it down. The downside is the compact proportions, while great for transporting, meant we had to dismantle the Shiv quite significantly. The upside was we had total confidence in the Pro’s protection.

Verdict
Superior build quality, very secure and compact size makes it easy to transport.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Scicon Aero Cycle Comfort Plus

Scicon Aero Cycle Comfort Plus
£475
www.sciconbags.com

Size 115cm x 87cm x 28cm Weight 6.9kg
Extras Frame bag, frame pads, handlebar and rear mech padding
This is certainly pricey for a soft bag though the Comfort Plus does go the extra mile in the protection stakes. The offset shape allows a road bike to be fitted inside with the bars in place. On our tri bike we only had to remove the extensions. The rigid base has a metal framework that secures the bike at both sets of dropouts. The wheels are taken care of with two integral padded bags. Inner pockets are there for your tools and pedals. It’s surprisingly lightweight at 6.9kg for a bike bag that features a metal frame mount. The four trolley wheels are a bit exposed and could be potentially damaged. The nylon outer is thickly padded and it’ll offer better protection than most. This is a brilliant bag, but like the Aerotech case it has a price premium over the competition.

Verdict
Stunningly good soft bag that is easy to load and offers excellent protection but expensive.

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

Scicon Aerotech Evolution

Scicon Aerotech Evolution
£703
www.sciconbags.com

Size 89cm x 78cm x 114cm Weight 11.7kg
Extras Wheel shields, frame pads, accessory bag, four-sided padded frame enclosure, drive train cover
The Aerotech is the original form-fitting hard case. Your wheels mount into the box side with the supplied steel skewers; you then slip over the padded covers to protect them and your frame. The frame hangs from the box top by integral straps and it’s secured with straps from below. This means the frame effectively floats within the hard case. The frame is also protected with a four-sided padded enclosure. The Aerotech’s fittings, the wheels, handles and combination lock clasps are all replaceable. Fitting the Shiv frame meant removing the bar assembly, but if you spin the frame to the other way round the seat mast can be left in place. The Aerotech is the best of its type, but we couldn’t justify the extra expense over the Bikebox or Pro Pod.

Verdict
Simply superb case, but prohibitively expensive.

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

OVERALL VERDICT

Which bag or case to go for really depends on the amount of travelling you do, and the type of bike. If it’s just an occasional overseas trip with your tri bike then the Dhb Elsted bag offers unrivalled value. If you travel a lot and want your bike to have the very ultimate in hard-case protection then we’d opt for either the SciCon Aerotech Evolution or BikeBox Alan. Both offer comparable protection, but the fact that the Alan is £265 cheaper and they will offer a custom size should you need it means that’s our peak performer. Hitting the top in the value stakes for a hard case is the Serfas. £300 is a lot of cash, but for a hard case offering this much protection it feels like a steal. For a soft bag for a standard road bike, opt for the CRC, but for tri bikes, the Dhb’s vast volume is perfect. Our overall winner though is the highly innovative Helium. It has all the features we want in a hard case – solid metal frame mount, plenty of padding – but the killer touch of inflatable sides makes this soft bag as good a protector as most solid cases. When folded up and deflated it’s small enough to shove under a hotel room bed or in a closet meaning it’ll never be in the way. It will, however, keep your bike safe in transit.

Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

This review was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Pocketmags.

You’ll find loads more triathlon gear and kit reviews in triradar.com’s Gear section