Airline bike travel

Hi folks - i know this has been a podcast topic in the past (cannot recall the episode), but what is the best way to pack & travel with your bike via the airlines? I thought the TR consensus was to use a soft case? As a relatively un-mechanical rider I can handle pedals and bars/steam dis & reassembly however 'm concerned about possible derailleur damage.

Thanks - John

I rented a hard case (Thule RoundTrip sport) from a local shop for a trip. I was pretty inexperienced but watched a YouTube video about how to specifically pack for that case and was able to manage. The derailleur hanger was tricky to undo but only because it was really tightly on there. You should be able to do it. Not sure about a soft case as I’ve never used one.


I have travelled with an EVOC soft case bike bag on more than a couple of dozen times with great success. In all those cases I have only had one issue and that was a slightly bent disc brake rotor. Since the airlines typically charge a flat fee I stuff the bag full of stuff like riding clothing, helmet, shoes etc, and use much of that to wrap around parts of the bike or to cushion it from potential blows.

I also wrap the derailleur in a couple of large fibre cloths that I use for wiping down the bike. First wrapped cloth is one that I use for things that potentially can be dirty like the chain etc., and the second one wrap around that cloth with one that I will use to dry my bike after washing it when I’m packing to go home again.

I work with our National team and I would say that more than 3/4 of them travel with soft cases while the other 1/4 use a hard case. The soft case is easier to stuff full of things while the hard case is much more difficult for damage to take place. Both are good options 99% of the time and the deciding factor typically is how much other baggage they want to deal with.


Here is a photo of what my bag looks like typically from my comments above


I’ve done a video on one of the THULE cases and how I pack things tightly and protecting the rear derailleur.

I’ve used the Elite BORSON the a recent trip. The bonus here was next to no disassembly. There are risks with any bag/travel. Here’s that one:


I prefer semi-soft cases like those from EVOC and Biknd Jetpack, but Thule is a great option, as @GPLama mentioned.

I’ve traveled with my Biknd Jetpack a lot and never had an issue. It fits my size Large Yeti 5.5 with no problems, and Nate’s bikes (gigantic!).


I have the same bag. A friend of mine warned me about the possibility of a bent disc, so the past couple of times I’ve used the bag I’ve taken the discs off the wheels.

1 Like

I had good experience w/ soft case (I use Pika packworks, Even though you could leave the derailleur in place, I do remove it as instructed (case comes with a special pouch for it that straps onto the chain stays). I think this is a very exposed piece, so probably worth your time (it’s not that difficult, varies by bikes and types, mine is di2 and super-easy). Otherwise Scicon makes a protective pieces ( I also add extra tube covers to protect from pieces that could shift in the bag. Understand the TSA will open your bag, so don’t overpack, make it easy (easy to open/close, only use clear plastic bags). Keep it light so handlers don’t toss it. Pierre.


I’ve got an Aerus Biospeed bag, which is a soft case and just a tad past the limit on what can get checked without a bike fee. That said, out of four flights, and have only been charged regular checked baggage fees each time. That’s partially down more to trying to be agreeable and nice and making it ‘easier’ to not charge me the higher fee than anything else. No damage to the bike, and a friendly note inside from the TSA every time.

Some friends have the Orucase Ninja Bike case, I believe it legitimately comes in under most airline’s size requirements for regular checked bags. In four trips they also haven’t had any damage to the bike. However, you have to take the fork off to get it down that small.

For both bike cases, the rear derailleur is removed as part of the packing process, and separately protected.


I have used a normal cardboard bike box five or six times with no issues. Rear mech comes off and wrapped. Pedals off etc. Wrap the bike pretty well and throw most of my bike stuff in there. Half the time I don’t even bring luggage - just stuff that box. Throw my race wheels in bags and bring them on as carry on.

1 Like

I used a Bikeboxalan for my recent trip. Would take a heck of a lot to break those things.

Still didn’t enjoy watching the airport man launch my bike off the trolley onto the loading belt, but hey…

The metal pole inside of them stops anything heavy being placed ontop crushing the box too.

1 Like

For a mountain bike then the Evoc Bike Bag Pro wins every time. I haven’t tried my road bike in the Evoc bag, as I have a solid box by Bike Box Allan, both work perfectly.

I know this question isn’t directly related to bike bag/box travel. However, I think it’s a question that people often find themselves wondering the day of packing. When it comes to traveling with liquids, tools, wheel bag, etc whats the protocol?

My teammates and I are traveling to Palm Springs, CA from NYC to do a training camp. Numerous questions have come up around carrying on tools, Can I bring my SIS gels on the plane, Should I check an extra set of wheels?

Any help here would be greatly appreciated. We’d hate to have an issue while trying to get the hell out of NYC for a week.


I looked into travelling from Canada into US with my bike (also Palm Springs) and read online that commercially pre-packed foods are OK - So I read this as OK for gels, bars etc. My thinking would be if your also taking any powders take individual portions rather than tubs. I would then also expect these may be taken out and inspected/tested.

Regarding the tools, you should be fine with tool’s in your checked luggage as I’ve previously travelled with kitchen knives in my checked luggage. Shoes and helmet in my hand luggage. If travelling with a team you get a great opportunity to spread the weight of the tools by splitting the kit amongst your travelling companions. Hope this helps and have a great camp.

Gels and such in checked luggage should not be an issue. I usually put them all in a clear bag in the checked luggage. Carrying energy/protein bars in your carry on isn’t an issue either. My wife and I carry a bunch of stuff with us so we have something to eat on plane and in case we get stranded somewhere.

Tools shouldn’t be in issue in checked luggage either. I always pack a flashlight and pocket knife in our checked bag. Our last vacation we also took a bunch of workout equipment with us (rollers, ankle thingy, etc…)

+1 for Bike Box Alan. I don’t trust baggage handlers. Pack expensive tools in the bike box too - made the mistake of carrying a torque wrench kit in cabin luggage, and it was duly confiscated :sob:. Also , FYI, if using CO2, I’ve been fine packing 3 canisters per hold bag (read that that was the max allowed somewhere) but I’ve had them confiscated by some (not all) airport security if in cabin luggage.

1 Like

If you take gels as carry on they will be subject to the liquid limit. I would put them in checked baggage.

General rule of thumb is to bring helmet and shoes with you in the cabin and stow everything else you can. You can always hire a bike if the box/bag doesn’t arrive but particularly shoes are harder to replace short term.

1 Like

I tried a number of cases including a Thule hard case, but once I used an Evoc Pro softcase I have stuck with it. It works great with both my 29" mointwin bikes and my road bikes. They released a fork pad recently that works with disk brake equipped road bikes too. I also like their wheel bags and bought a set to give some extra protection to my road carbon wheels.

The Thule hard case offered amazing protection but was really big and unwieldy to travel with. The Evoc cases still offer great protection but are much easier to travel with.

1 Like

I too use EVOC soft bag and fly with it a lot for racing.
If you’re going to stuff it full (and I suggest you do) just make it easy for TSA to repack as they will inspect what is in there so it may mean some stuff comes out and then goes back in. I bought some mesh draw string bags to stuff my riding kit into, when full it doubles as padding for the bike. But if you have tools, put them in a tool roll or bag. If you’re packing gels and rice cakes, same thing. Otherwise don’t be surprised when you land and have your stuff is all over the place.

1 Like

A friend of mine released the Post Carry bag a few months ago in order to help people travel with their bike without (or reduced) fees. It requires some disassembly and I just used it to travel to Asia. No issues, no fees.