Thule Round Trip Traveler Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, packs down small
Cons: Tight fit for large frames, enduro and aggressive bikes may be too long, wheel pockets too tight
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Thule had a tough time in some metrics such as packing process and protection. In fact, it had a really tough time in those areas. As a result, the final score suffered. Even though this travel case was far from our favorite, it posted solid scores in certain metrics like weight and ease of storage. There is a lot of room for improvement, but the Round Trip Traveler could still be a viable option for roadies.
The packing process was fairly simple with the Round Trip Traveler. In fact, the process itself was one of the more impressively straightforward in the test. The problem was, it didn't really work with our extra large mountain bike. We had to take shortcuts that compromised the integrity of the pack quality to get our bike to fit.
The first step is inserting some structural pieces of plastic into the front and rear end of the bag. This gives the case its structure. Next, remove the wheels, pedals, and handlebars from your bike and set your frame in the case. It is important to put your seat down as far as possible.
There is a silver, padded, block of material that your bottom bracket and chainring is supposed to sit on. There is Velcro on the block so you can move it into the best position for your bike. When we tried to put it under our bottom bracket/chainring, our bike was sitting far too high. Our saddle was about four inches higher than the top of the case and wasn't even close to fitting. We tried adjusting the block to a better position. Nope, not happening. Our solution was to scoot the block as far forward in the case as possible, so the chainring was only sitting on a tiny piece of the block. Only then could our saddle fit under the case, and it only barely fit.
The next problem was the length of our bike. The derailleur and part of the rear triangle was poking out of the rear of the case. This occurred when the fork was pushed as far forward into the case as possible. We had to remove the derailleur from the hanger to kind of get the bike to fit into the case. Really, we should have removed the hanger, too, as it was highly exposed to damage.
Once that was sorted, we attached the fork padding and strapped our bike in. The handlebars were definitely an area of concern as they were just kind of loosely sitting there waiting to wiggle into our fork stanchions. We recommend finding some pipe insulation and wrapping your bars and stanchions.
The icing on the cake was our 29x2.6-inch wheels barely fit into the wheel pockets of the bag. This was an absolute battle to get the wheels in there. We had to let all of the air out of the tires to get the wheels into the pockets. This caused our tubeless tires to unseat and leak sealant into the pockets. That, of course, means you will need to set your tires up tubeless again upon arrival at your destination. This is no easy task depending on where you are traveling.
Protection was lacking with the Round Trip Traveler. The case itself was fine and could withstand some bumping and dropping at the airport. There were just areas that we weren't quite satisfied with.
The probability of handlebar/fork contact is fairly high. We would have liked to see Thule provide some sort of padding to wrap around your fork stanchions to protect them, as fork stanchions are a very expensive part to replace if you slice them up. Some sort of handlebar sleeve would have also been a good idea.
Thule's instructional videos show that you should remove your derailleur when packing the bike. Fair enough. However, if you have larger bikes, we highly recommend removing the derailleur hanger as well. Larger frames will have the derailleur hanger pushing hard against the zipper/end of the bag. This is an area where you could very easily bang it into a wall and bend/snap your hanger.
Ease of Rolling/Carrying
The Thule posted a mediocre score in the ease of rolling/carrying metric. This case uses two non-swiveling hard plastic wheels. The wheels have a 3.5-inch diameter and work okay. The small wheels paired with the hard plastic construction create a rough ride over cracked sidewalks and imperfect cement. Inside the airport, it rolls well, out on the street, not so much.
This case has plenty of handles all over the place and is easy to lift into a taxi cab or onto a conveyor belt.
The Round Trip Traveler weighs 17 pounds and three ounces. This measurement was taken with a Park Tool digital hanging scale. The case was empty except for the materials required to pack a bike.
The Thule was the lightest case in the review by approximately a half-pound. Weight is not a critical consideration as most of the weight for your packed case comes from the bike itself. That said, if you are approaching a weight limit, a couple of pounds difference in the travel case can make all of the difference. If your bag is significantly underweight, you can stuff some clothes in there.
The Round Trip Traveler has no integrated lock or security features. It would be quite easy to use a TSA-approved lock to secure the zippers together.
It should be noted that thieves will likely attempt to steal your entire bike case as opposed to opening it and snatching your bike. As a result, security features on travel cases aren't critical. That said, it is nice to be able to deter an opportunist that may try to sneak into your bag.
Ease of Storage
Ease of storage was a strong suit for the Thule case. If you remove the structural plastic, it packs down into approximately 50 x 15 x 10", making it one of the more compact cases in the review. When you pair this with the low weight, it is easy to stuff onto a high shelf or into the corner of a closet.
The Round Trip Traveler is a below-average value. Yes, it works; yes, it can carry road bikes reasonably well. That said, its design doesn't play well with mountain bikes, especially modern bikes with more aggressive geometry. There is a real possibility that your bike is too long for this case, especially if you have an aggressive trail or enduro bike. You can do significantly better with your hard-earned money.
The Thule Round Trip Traveler is a disappointing travel case, and it was far and above the most difficult to fit our mountain bike in. We aren't talking about some super long and low enduro bike, this is a trail bike with pretty conservative geometry. Simply put, the Thule was the hardest to use case in our review. If you are carrying road or gravel bikes primarily, this case should get the job done; it just lacks the refinement of other options. If you are spending this amount on a travel case, it is reasonable to expect better.
— Pat Donahue