The traveling triathlete – part 1 – bicycle suitcase

The much welcomed explosion of triathlon competitions have made it possible for the majority of triathletes to participate in a race without travelling far. Still, as you want to expand your triathlon race repertoire travelling by plane often becomes a necessity.

Starting from T1 on a rented road bike (or tribike for that matter), is not preferable so having your beloved and often quit expensive tri bike with you is the only option. The airplane companies will cover the cost of potential damages on your bike, up to about $ 1000, or equivalent, depending on the company, which again seldom is enough to cover the actual costs of a damaged frame. Also, having any damages on your bike a couple of day before race day will put tremendous pressure on the triathlete to get it fixed or get a replacement bike in a very limited time. Therefore I need a sturdy bicycle case to be as sure as I can be, that my bicycle comes with me in a race ready condition.

First I had a bicycle suitcase, which was ruined after the TSA chose to open it (fair enough) with a crowbar (which I found a bit unnecessary since it was unlocked) and failed to close it properly. Luck, more than anything, made sure the bike did arrived back home undamaged. After that I bought a BikeBoxAlan, which is just over 4 year and about 40 – 45 flights ago. You might call it a very thoroughly long-term test.

My first bicycle suitcase was like this one (don`t remember the name), but it was to heavy and not very roomy.
Allans BikeBoxAlan
After that I god a BikeBoxAlan that comes with stickers your name, flag and the bike brand , in in my case was Argon 18 in 2012.

When you are going to get a bicycle suitcase you have to make a choice, going with a hard case or a soft case. In general the differences are:

Hard case

  • Very good protection
  • Heavy
  • Needs more demounting of the bike
  • More difficult to fit in a car
  • Expensive

Soft case

  • Good protection
  • Usually quite light
  • Can often manage with less demounting
  • Can be easier to fit in a car
  • Less expensive

When I list it up the pros and cons you should think that going soft case is a no brainer, but to be 100 % sure (at least my mind think so) that “Mr.Boardman” arrives in one piece I chose hard case. I also have an Evoc travel bag pro, since Jenny also want to bring her bike ones in a while. That is a very good soft case bike bag and we have never had any issues with that, but I have seen that bag being put at the bottom of a pile with not less than four hard cases on top. That can happen, and I don’t have stomach to send my bike that way to competitions. Jenny’s bike is a less expensive road bike and she is not competing, so it would be horrible, but not a disaster if something happened to her bike.

There are a lot of hard cases out there. While I ended up with a BikeBoxAlan and am incredibly happy with my choice there is also other good ones. The Scicon Aerotech Evolution is nearly identical (Alan worked there and though he could make a better bike box that was what the did). If you chose a hard case I would carefully consider the following:

Size: it should obviously have room for you bike, but other than that it should be as small as possible. It can save you from renting a bigger rental car and take a normal taxi. BikeBoxAlan have a bit odd dimensions but is relatively small and fits in small rental cars.

Weight: every saved kg counts. There are different rules for each airplane company and you should check them before booking. Most companies allow 30 kg and some 32 kg, but some also have a 23 kg limit (and with SAS you can bring your a hard case as normal luggage if it is less than 23 kg), and some demands $50/kg overweight for the whole case(!). BikeBoxAlan weighs 11,5 kg, which makes me able to put in my bike and some other stuff without exceeding my weight limit. B&W bike guard curve is the lightest hard case weighing 8,2 kg, but I have not tried it.

Ease of packing: how much demounting is needed.

Having travelled so much with my BikeBoxAlan without any issue with the bike, I cannot be anything other than very happy about it. The case has been thru a lot and the only damage has been a buckle that got torn of and heavy wear on one of the wheels. A new buckle was sent free of charge by BikeBoxAlan, and a new wheel costs £8 + postal fee.

Packing my bike in the case is fairly easy and I have to dismantle the aerobars, seat post, the left pedal together with the wheels. Of course, not as easy as Scicon Aerocomfort triathlon bike case, were you don’t need to dismantle anything.

The only downside I see with the case is that you cannot use the pole (to improve the integrity) together with a disc wheel. BikeBoxAlan says you can use the case without the pole, and I have done it a couple of times with success, but having the pole is preferable. When I bought mine a strap to pull the box with was not available like now, so I used the same strap as I use to stretch out to pull it along like.

triallan-bikeboxalan-traveling-with-tt-bike-boardman-tte-signature-2
Emty the case looks like this with a plenty of straps that gives a secure fit for many different bikes and sizes.
triallan-bikeboxalan-traveling-with-tt-bike-boardman-tte-signature-4
Everything fits in nicely end there is a layer of foam to put between the bike and the wheels. A pole is to be placed between the wheels and with 80 mm rims that works fine. A disc wheel? Not to much. Then you have to use it without.
triallan-bikeboxalan-traveling-with-tt-bike-boardman-tte-signature-6
When removing the aerobars I have a couple of small parts that I put in a zip lock bag because a lost small part can make it very difficult to replace.
triallan-bikeboxalan-traveling-with-tt-bike-boardman-tte-signature-7
I have a small towel to put between the aerobars and the frame. You do definitely not want any rubbing. I also put my TT-helmet in the bike case since it is better protected there than in my normal luggage bag. I also put big, but light things in the bag like bottles, pull bouy etc. I try to keep things as light as possible even if the weigh limit is much higher, because it is better for the bike case if it gets trown around at the airport. I know you love your bike, but you cannot expect that the baggage handlers share the same love and treat it like you would.

triallan-bikeboxalan-traveling-with-tt-bike-boardman-tte-signature-8

triallan-bikeboxalan-traveling-with-tt-bike-boardman-tte-signature
Big suit case, but quit small in the world of bicyle suitcases. It got my biggest recommandations.
1
One thing that I missed with the bike was a strap to pull it along. Now they are selling it, but I have been using a band/rope made for stretching, which I usually carry with me anyway.

Publisert av

triallan

Jeg er en 31 år gammel triatlonentusiast som prøver å bli så rask som mulig til å svømme, sykle og løpe. Treningen, konkurransene og utstyrsmanien blir godt dokumentert på bloggen min.

3 thoughts on “The traveling triathlete – part 1 – bicycle suitcase

  1. XXL White har en som er kliss lik.. Den er også meget god.. Kjøpes med DNB Mastercard rabatt 25% som kommer ca hver 3mnd, og man får en veldig bra koffert til en veldig fin slump penger 😊

    1. Du har rett. Jeg har sett det før, men ser det ikke på nettsiden deres nå. Reagerte på at det var en «kopi», men det er ikke sikkert at den er designbeskyttet. Uansett sikkert også en veldig god koffert.

  2. Hei Allan. Bra innlegg. Jeg er på jakt etter en lignende box for min tempo-sykkel. Jeg har armrests og tempobøyle litt høyere opp enn deg, så jeg er usikker om min sykkel vil passe (uten å måtte justere armrests og bøyle noe som er uaktuelt). Hvor god plass er det inni box’en i området hvor du legger styret? Når min Canyon Speedmax CF ligger på bakken med styret koblet fra måler jeg 19 cm fra bakken til toppen av tempobøylen. Tror du at det vil gå?

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