First Flight: Evoc Bike Travel Bag flight case
As much as it can be fun to try out a new bike while on vacation, there’s a lot to be said for having your personal ride along. Assuming that they’re available, full suspension rentals often run upward of $50 per day and given the time it takes to pick up and get used to a loaner, sometimes it’s worth swallowing airline charges and bringing a ride along. After my trusty (but heavy) hard case finally bit the dust, I decided that it was time to stop rolling the dice and find something that would reliably come in most airlines’ 50lb ceiling. Hailing from Germany, Evoc’s very slick Bike Travel Bag was my choice. Hit the jump to find out why…
Unrolling it from its initial 5’x1’x1′ burrito, it’s clear that Evoc have built a well thought-out case. The materials (mostly a padded, waterproof tarpaulin) and zippers are burly and the bag’s rigid base seems solid. The provided illustrated instruction sheet is one of the best I’ve seen for any cycling product- clearly walking the user through bag setup and packing. Once inside, numerous attachment points seem able to accommodate even oddly-shaped full suspension bikes and a handful of pockets help to keep things tidy. A smaller package contains removable stays that help to protect the bike and wheels (without getting the way for storage). Though the package lists 2 short and 2 long stays for the ends of the bag, all four of my fiberglass pieces were long. After a minute or two with a hacksaw (and several nasty splinters), all four were the correct length and the Bike Travel Bag was ready for a bike.
Claiming to require only wheel, pedal, and handlebar removal,the Evoc uses the packed bike’s stem and saddle (or seat tube on larger frames) to support the bag. The fork is securely held in a well-padded area at the front of the bike and the bottom bracket and chainstays sit on (and are secured against) a movable foam block. A nicely-shaped pad holds the handlebars to the frame (while protecting them from one another). In order to protect my Maverick’s fragile hanger, I removed the rear derailleur and tucked it under the chainstay mounting strap, against the foam block (where it seemed quite happy). There are a number of mounting points inside of the bag that tie the bag to the handlebars and seatpost- a bit of experimentation was needed for the handlebars, but once everything is cinched down, the whole package is surprisingly solid. An inside pocket easily holds a couple of tools, pedals, and QR skewers.
Accessed from the outside of the bag, wheel pockets are located on either side of the back end of the bike. The wheel pockets- big enough for 29er wheels and inflated tires- have reinforcing tubular PVC stays and a hard plastic panel that are designed to protect mounted disc rotors. Sure enough, peeking into the closed pocket, nothing looked as though it was touching either my 180mm front or 160mm rear rotor.
In use, the numerous grab handles, relatively wide profile, and rear-mounted inline skate wheels make moving the Evoc easy. Most of the bike’s weight seems to be toward the back of the bag, so I only found myself wishing for a set of front wheels on very long walks. At 19lb (empty), the Evoc should allow most mountain bikes to squeak under 50lb airline weight limit- if you’re on the edge, it might make sense to move pedals to another piece of luggage.
On its maiden voyage, the Evoc truly did perform well. Everything stayed where it was meant to and the bike generally seemed well protected. When I arrived, my front rotor was bent slightly- just enough to rub. For my return and future trips I’ve decided to take the time to remove rotors and put them in an internal pocket, sandwiched between pieces of cardboard. Other than that, the Evoc has, quite frankly, performed better than expected. It really is the best thought-out bag that I’ve come across and actually a good deal easier to pack than the hard case it replaced. A couple of extra lash points under the downtube would be nice for securing lighter items like helmets or dirty riding gear, as would a rotor pocket against the rigid base, but those are really my only requests. The $430 price is steep, but actually seems justified given the bag’s quality and design- after all, there’s easily 5 hydration packs’ worth of material and effort here. An additional $30 fork and frame protector kit is required for road bike use- something I purchased but have not yet used.
Though I wasn’t aware of the fact when I ordered my bag from Wiggle in the UK (funny name, fast service), Evoc’s Bike Travel Case is now being distributed in the US by Rotor components. The Bike Travel Case is available in black, red, and blue in the US and in a truly amazing mint green/blue/white/purple colorblock overseas- the color has to be seen to be believed.