We researched 20 of the best travel bike cases before settling on 4 to buy and test. We then biked many miles with each in tow; we packed and unpacked them, loaded them with different bikes, tossed them in and out of cars, and tested as much as possible for months on end. In addition to field testing, we use our critical eye to mull out and compare the details of each case. With this information, we evaluate each based on six important metrics to figure out which deserves an award, and which should be left on the shelf. Whether you're a first-time bike traveler or a globetrotting veteran, you've got great recommendations for you and your wallet.
We chose the EVOC Travel Bag Pro as the best overall travel case. This case can fit any kind of bike, from a road/triathlon/gravel bike to a big, huge, downhill mountain bike. This versatility really helps the EVOC case stand out from the competition, as most other bags are limited in which bikes they can fit. The Travel Bag Pro has a relatively intuitive and thorough packing process that delivers a reasonably protective hold on your beloved bicycle. EVOC used a three-wheel design with larger, softer wheels; as a result, it has by far the best wheels and rolling ability in this review. As a result, this case blows the competition out of the water when rolling it around on city streets or cracked pavement.
The EVOC was our favorite bike travel case by a solid margin. However, it isn't totally perfect. The positioning of the handlebars when packed up raises concerns. They sit noticeably close to the fork, and Velcro secures them to the top tube pad. It is very easy to imagine the bars slipping or coming loose and damaging the fork stanchions, an expensive piece of damage. That said, we did not experience this issue during our testing. Our bike was totally and completely intact without an ounce of damage. Still, it is important to note it is an area of concern. Another downside is this bag is rather pricey. There are passable options at approximately half the price of the EVOC. And yet, we think the construction and design quality justifies the price, as this is a piece of gear you could have for 15-20 years.
The Dakine Bike Roller is a clear example of a functional bike travel case at an attractive price point - without all of the bells and whistles. What we are left with is a simple and easy-to-use travel case that is fully capable of hauling your bike around the globe. The load process is exceptionally easy; with no mounting frame on which to bolt your bike, it is quicker and simpler than the competition. This bag is easy to muscle around with plenty of handles, and it also boasts a low weight. This low weight may not seem all that important, but if you are approaching a maximum weight limit set by the airlines, a couple of pounds difference in your travel case could make all the difference. The included fork cover/padding is a fantastic touch and protects your most expensive component very well.
The Dakine case isn't exactly flawless. The loading process is easy and fast, but it is a bit less secure compared to other options we tested. The bike tends to have slightly more movement within the bag than other models where the bike mounts on a frame within the case. While it is a perfectly functional travel case, it might be better suited for the rider whose bike has seen some miles and abuse and those who are not concerned with a small scratch or a scuff.
The Topeak Pak Go X bike travel case worked well with our road and gravel bikes. Road, cyclocross, and gravel bikes tend to remain in more pristine condition than mountain bikes, which take more abuse during regular use. As a result, protection is critical when you're traveling. The Topeak case is far and above the most protective option in our test. The hard plastic shell protects against bumps and bruises when it is being moved around. In addition, this case delivers a nice, secure hold of your bicycle, and there is very little movement.
While this is a great option for road and gravel bikes, mountain bikes do not fit. Repeat, modern mountain bikes do not fit in this case. Modern bikes are too long, and the axles are not compatible with the mounting system in this case. This is an important criticism as it limits the versatility of this case. In addition, the foam packing material included with the case is not sufficient in covering up a larger frame. Our 58cm cyclocross bike still had plenty of uncovered real estate when we ran out of packing material.
Pat Donahue is a mountain bike fanatic. This man has worn many hats in the bicycle industry, from shop employee to full-time bike reviewer, to shop owner. Pat has an appetite for rocky and steep trails and can be out in the woods of eastern Washington at the most obscure hours. He is passionate about testing the capabilities of mountain bikes and gear and has a knack for destroying components.
Testing mountain bike cases was no easy task. We spent countless hours disassembling and loading bicycles into these travel bags. We packed these bags multiple times, and for the sake of being thorough, we used a mountain bike and a road/gravel bike to help suss out any crucial details. We also used the biggest bikes we had available, an extra-large trail bike, and a 58cm gravel bike, all intended to test the true load capacity of each case. Once packed, we hauled each of them around, loaded them into vehicles, unloaded them, stowed them away on shelves, and tossed them around a bit. The goal was to do our best to mimic the beatdown the airlines can/will dole out on your bike travel case. All in the name of finding the right travel case for you.
Analysis and Test Results
After four weeks of rigorous testing, the dust had settled. We combed through our notes and analyzed everything from the most obvious characteristics of each case to the nittiest and grittiest of details. Alas, we had a winner. The EVOC Travel Bag Pro had the best blend of top-end performance and user-friendliness, and blew the competition out of the water in terms of rolling abilities. The Dakine Bike Roller bag featured rock-solid performance at an attractive price point. Meanwhile, the Topeak Pack Go X earned a nod for transporting road and gravel bikes.
We don't score our test items on price. We are out to find the best-performing bike case without regard for the price tag. That said, everyone wants a good value when they slap down the credit card. The Dakine Bike Roller case is a stellar value. This travel case may not have the fancy features of the more expensive models, but it is functional and easy to use. As a result, this case is a very strong value for the rider who wants a product that is going to get the job done without breaking the bank. The EVOC Travel Bag Pro is on the expensive side of the spectrum. That said, for riders who will be using their bike travel case frequently, it represents a decent value. The quality of the construction and the high levels of performance help justify the price tag. We have no doubt that you will be able to get 10-15 years out of this case, which helps justify the cost.
The packing process is a critical metric. Traveling can be a complicated and stressful process; the last thing you need is to have a bike case that is difficult to load and requires 90 minutes to pack. The goal is a simple and effective loading process that maximizes security. The packing processes of all of our bike cases share many similarities, but some variations make all of the difference.
Most of our cases require you to mount your bike to some sort of frame or stand within the travel case. Mounting to a frame provides a secure hold, and the bike is fixed in a position within the case. This usually includes bolting your fork and frame to the stand that clips or straps into the bottom of the travel case. This is the hardest part of the packing process, as you need to find the correct adapter and make sure the space between the axles is correct.
The Dakine Bike Roller does not use a frame/stand. As a result, it scored at the top of the class in terms of packing process. Start by removing the wheels, handlebars, pedals, and rear derailleur from your bicycle. Use the appropriate padding to cover your top tube and fork. The fork cover is a fantastic touch. Then, stick the derailleur in the derailleur padded envelope and place the rear triangle of your frame onto the foam block that holds it off the ground. Strap the handlebars to the top tube pad, strap the frame into position, and put the wheels in the wheel pockets, and then you're ready to go. The absence of the mounting frame saves significant amounts of time when loading the Dakine bag. It is fair to say this takes about half of the time as some of the more complex options. One could easily argue that the simplicity of this process leads to a less protected bicycle; more on that later.
The EVOC Travel Bag Pro scores exceptionally well in this metric; this is a well-designed case with a highly intuitive packing process. The loading system is quite involved, as you do need to mount the bike to a frame; however, the design and simplicity of the process stand out as impressive. The stand comes out from the case quickly and easily. You prepare the bicycle outside of the case with plenty of room to work. When you're done, simply clip the stand into the bottom of the case, zip it up, and you're good to go. The process isn't dissimilar from the more complicated options, but the directions are clear, the padding is labeled, and EVOC makes it easy on the user.
The Topeak PakGo X was the most complicated case we tested. It was the hardest to load and included the most steps.
Protection is exceptionally important when evaluating a bicycle travel case. It is not uncommon for some bicycle fanatics to have bikes worth many, many, thousands of dollars. These riders can be very protective of their prized bicycle, and rightfully so. Nobody wants to arrive at their dream riding location after a day of planes, trains, and automobiles to find scratches or dents in their frame. A mechanical issue like a snapped derailleur hanger or broken brake lever would be an even less-pleasant surprise.
The most protective bike case in our review is the Topeak Pak Go X case. If you have a high-end road or gravel bike and want maximum protection, this is the travel case for you. It utilizes a hard-shell design, while many other cases are more bag-like, with fabric construction. The Topeak's burly, hard plastic casing protects the bike very well. It can withstand tipping over, getting tossed around a bit, or having other luggage stacked on top of it. The loading process is complex but delivers a solid, protected hold and uses foam materials to cover your frame. So why didn't the Topeak case win best overall case? Because this case does not work with mountain bikes. Due to the longer wheelbase and different axle standards, it only accepts road and gravel bikes and will not work with mountain bikes.
The EVOC Travel Bag Pro delivers a secure hold and protects your bicycle quite well. The frame is partially padded, and a frame/stand holds your bike securely within the case. We only had one concern with this case as the handlebar mount on the top tube padding is a little weak, and the proximity to the fragile fork stanchions is a bit worrisome. There could be a problem if the bars come loose. The Dakine Bike Roller is easy to use but sacrifices a bit in the way of protection, and the lack of a mounting stand means your bicycle is floating around within the case a little bit. When you shake and rock the Dakine case, you can feel your bicycle moving slightly back and forth, which is not ideal. That said, we did not observe any damage to our bike during testing.
Ease of Rolling/Carrying
Ease of rolling is an important metric. Yes, the load process and the protective elements are the most important items to evaluate. That said, after getting your luggage at the airport, you need to find your way to a train or taxi stand. Next, you may need to navigate some city streets with cracked pavement to find your hotel. This isn't the flashiest performance metric, but it's important nonetheless.
The EVOC Travel Bag Pro was a clear winner in this metric. This case has two wheels in the rear, and a third wheel clips onto the front axle. The front wheel is on a swivel while the rear two are fixed in position. The most important aspect is the larger diameter, soft wheels. As they say, big wheels keep on rolling, and the bigger wheels roll smoothly over cracked pavement and rough streets. These are the largest wheels in the review, and they roll the best over imperfect surfaces. In addition, they are constructed of a softer rubber compound, which provides a much more damp and smooth roll compared to smaller, hard, plastic wheels.
The Dakine Bike Roller is a solid performer in this metric. The wheels are smaller than the EVOC Travel Bag Pro and use a much harder compound. That said, the handles and slightly more compact feel work well. It is also quite easy to lift and toss onto luggage check-in stations or load into vehicles. There are plenty of handles to work with, and it has a smaller, less clunky feel. The Pro Bike Travel Case was also a solid finisher in this metric and has an easy-to-use feel and plenty of handles.
Weight isn't a dealbreaker for us, though airlines do have varying weight limits for oversized items and sporting goods. Obviously, the majority of the weight will come from your bicycle and not the case itself. That said, if you are approaching the weight limit and are starting to worry about having to pay additional fees, a couple of pounds difference is certainly noteworthy. Also, a lighter case may allow you to stuff your riding clothes and other soft items in your travel case.
The lightest travel cases in our review were the Pro Bike Travel Case at 17 pounds, 13 ounces, and then the Dakine Bike Roller at 17 pounds, 15 ounces. The heaviest case was the hard-shell Topeak PakGo X coming in at 29 pounds, 11 ounces.
Security is a straightforward metric that evaluates whether or not the case has any security features. Some cases have an integrated lock that can lock it shut. We don't put a huge amount of stock in this metric, as any thief who really wants your bicycle will just steal the entire case rather than opening the case and stealing your bicycle. We still think security is a useful metric and think that a locked case can serve as a deterrent for the opportunistic thief.
The Topeak Pak Go X has a built-in lock; this is a three-number combination lock that secures the zipper. When the lock is engaged, the zippers are tucked into a slot, and you can't get ahold of them. The Topeak case took the win in this metric.
Even cases without locks could be secured with a TSA-approved lock. You can use these locks to bind the zippers together. These locks are affordable, but look like they can be broken with your bare hands.
Ease of Storage
Unless you are tremendously lucky, you aren't traveling with your bike on a monthly basis. In fact, most folks will use their bike travel case less than once a year. As a result, the travel case is going to spend the vast majority of its life packed away in your garage, shed, or closet. Having a case that stows away easily is a significant factor to take into consideration, especially for apartment dwellers who are short on space.
The EVOC Travel Bag Pro was easy to store. The hard shell Topeak PakGo X scored the lowest in this metric, as its design doesn't allow you to collapse the travel case at all. This means the Topeak will occupy a lot of space in your garage.
All of these cases are serviceable and get the job done. We think the EVOC Travel Bag Pro is the bee's knees and is a clear favorite. The Dakine Bike Roller case was a great value for its solid performance at a very attractive price point. Finally, the Topeak Pak Go X was an excellent choice for those flying with road/gravel bikes.