Travel is such a huge part of my job as an athlete. I am about to head to my home town of Adelaide to watch the Tour Down Under and work on a new project. It got me thinking about travel and something I saw leaving IM Argentina last year. I saw so many different types of bike bags. I wondered how it all worked with the airlines. So I did some research.
Why I choose a soft padded case
For the past 10 years I have traveled with a padded bag, largely because I have had a Time Trial bike that fits more easily in one. When I raced ITU I had a hard case for my road bike but a padded bag also saves on weight, while still doing a very good job of protecting my bike inside. I’ve always had a SCICON bag and currently use the AeroComfort Triathlon 3.0 model, which has been fantastic. Most of my training group prefer using them as well.
I have recently done some research and discovered that any damage done to luggage is usually due to the conveyor systems and not the baggage handlers. So we should cut the guys some slack. Apparently the automated systems have several ramps and levers that direct luggage that can have large forces. When gear is placed in oversize it is loaded last which helps to keep it safe. Interestingly, padded bags have more grip and traction when loaded onto the plane via the belt. From my research it seems that plastic bike boxes can slip off the belt.
Personally I take a few extra precautions. I always use a large sheet of bubble wrap around the frame, to protect from scratches from anything that might come loose within the bag. I remove the rear derailleur and chain and place them in a hard box. I always remove my pedals. I stick my foam roller sideways under the base bar. If I place my helmet in the bike bag it will always be inside a helmet shell and will also sit under the base bar at the front. The only issues I have really ever had has been when I have overpacked additional items inside the bag and have not properly secured them.
SOME TIPS FOR PACKING YOUR BIKE SAFELY
Padded bag seems the best option
Remove your pedals, rear derailleur and chain and secure anything else inside the bag.
Use a protective layer for your bike frame such as a large sheet of bubble wrap.
Don’t overfill your bag with items, keep the weight as close to 23kg rather than the maximum of 32kg
Remember to use a name tag with address details
I’ll be sure to use my bikes bag to take my bike and Mike’s mountain bike to the Tour Down Under.
MY USUAL BAG SETUP
Mike and I generally travel with:
Checked: 2 x Bike bags, 1 x double wheel bag, 1 x large luggage bag
Carry-on: 2 x back packs, 1 x feedback Rollers and roller bag
It’s a lot but when you are away for a large part of the year it has to carry everything you need.