The ToPeak PakGo X is a serviceable bike case with some stellar protective and security features. This is the only hard case in the review and does an excellent job of protecting your bicycle from getting damaged. The TSA-approved integrated lock is a nice touch, although we question the practicality and effectiveness. The ToPeak does not work with modern mountain bikes that use a 15mm thru-axle or 27.5 / 29-inch wheels. Bikes with moderately long and slack geometry are simply too long for the mounting system. This case travels very well, and the rolling system is stellar, but this case is the most expensive in our review by a solid margin.
Topeak PakGo X Review
Cons: Modern mountain bikes will not fit, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The PakGo X fared well in certain categories, with protection, ease of rolling, and security standing out. The packing process, weight, and ease of storage were among the less impressive metrics. The relatively narrow scope of bicycles that this case works with was another issue. That said, when you are working with a compatible bike, this is a great choice. As a result, it earned a Top Pick for Road and Gravel Bikes. Mountain bikers should look elsewhere.
The process of packing the ToPeak is a little daunting. All of the included bits and pieces provide everything you need and the only required tools are a 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm hex wrench. You should allow yourself a solid hour to load this case up, and it's nice to have some space to spread out a little bit.
Included in this case is some pipe insulation, a mounting system that doubles as a work stand, a few axle adaptors, a drivetrain cover, a seatpost protector, and two wheel bags.
The first step in loading this case is to remove both wheels from your bike. Lay the bottom bracket onto the mounting system using the rubberized pad on the track. Position your fork over the thru-axle clamp, find the appropriate adapter and clamp your fork into the mounting track with your axle. Remove your seatpost and handlebars then secure your seatpost in the post protector. Use the pipe insulation to cover up your frame and fork and secure it with the reusable zip ties. Place the wheels in the appropriate bags and put the secure the wheel bags under the straps on the underside of the flaps on the main case. Secure the mounting system into the two slots at the seam of the two main flaps. Close the case and you are good to go.
The ToPeak is a little more of an involved process than some other options in our test. The fork mounting system works but it requires a bit of trial and error or substantial knowledge of your bike. Not everyone knows which kind of axle or quick release system your fork uses. Finding the appropriate adaptor could be difficult for some.
The use of simple styrofoam padding certainly gets the job done. That said, it feels like a cheap copout on a travel case with its price tag. Other systems have more clever solutions. Riders with larger frames may run out of insulation/padding before their frame is properly covered; our 58cm frame was a little too large, and we ran out of padding fairly quickly. You could simply buy some more pipe insulation and cover your bike up properly.
When it is time to seal up the case, there is plenty of real estate to work with. This isn't the sort of case that you will need to squeeze tightly to get it to close. In addition, there is plenty of space in the ToPeak case to fill with extra clothes and shoes.
The PakGo X offers impressive levels of protection. Users with expensive carbon fiber road bikes should be confident in their case surviving air travel. The hard-case construction delivers superior protection compared to the softer bags. This can be invaluable when something is dropped on top of your shiny and precious bike.
The frame covering system that utilizes foam could use some refinement. That said, when packed properly, there shouldn't be any hard items floating around inside the bag. The wheels are separated from the bike and should be a non-issue. The seatpost could, in theory, come loose from its protector and is fully capable of damaging the frame.
We had a carbon road bike packed into the PakGoX for a few days. We rolled it around, drove it around, and loaded and unloaded it from vehicles as much as possible. We didn't have a single scratch on our frame. One item of note is the drivetrain guard fell off the drivetrain. This is quite okay as it serves little purpose.
Ease of Rolling/Carrying
The PakGo X has a mediocre and reasonably efficient roll. As this case is a rectangle, the multi-directional wheels are located on the short side of the case. It rolls easily on smooth surfaces but the small, hard, plastic wheels don't do well on choppy cement. The wheels have a 2.25-inch diameter and are easily disturbed by cracks and imperfections on the ground. The case is easy to turn and the wheels swivel well.
This is one of the more difficult cases to roll-off or up curbs. The pull-style rolling bags give you more stability for plopping up and over curbs. The ToPeak is a little trickier. Given the mass and rectangular shape, this isn't the easiest case to carry. It does have multiple handles in varying locations; still, it is isn't the easiest to pick up to put on a scale or into a vehicle.
The ToPeak case weighs 29 pounds, 11 ounces, making it the heaviest case in our review by a wide margin. It is eight pounds heavier than the next heaviest case.
The ToPeak case has a TSA-approved lock. This lock secures the zippers and uses a three-digit code to allow access to the bag. The PakGo X scored high in the security metric.
This security feature is important but is not an end-all-be-all. Many thieves will just attempt to steal your whole bike case as opposed to trying to crack into it and steal your bike from within. Still, it is a nice touch and can only help.
Ease of Storage
This case is large. It measures approximately 13" x 47" x 32". Given that it is a hard case, it does not collapse like the soft cases. As a result, ease of storage is very poor. This is a big case that is sure to take up a substantial amount of space in your garage, shed, or apartment.
The PakGo X is the most expensive case in our review by a large margin. If you are the type of rider who will fly with your bike once or twice a decade, we recommend looking elsewhere. For the rider with a high-end road or gravel bike, the PakGo X is a solid value. Yes, it is expensive and no, it is not the easiest to work with, but it does do a great job protecting your spendy bicycle.
Mountain bikers must look elsewhere.
The ToPeak PakGoX performs quite well within its intended application, and it safely moves road and gravel bikes with a high-level of protection. This case is certainly expensive and some potential buyers might balk at the fact that you can only travel with certain kinds of bicycles. This is a valid concern. Either way, this case performs at a high level when carrying the right kind of bike. As a result, it earned a Top Pick for Road and Gravel Bikes.
— Pat Donahue