First Flight: Evoc Bike Travel Bag flight case

What’s worse: flying with a bike or going on vacation without a familiar bicycle?

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.

marc

evocusa.com (USA)

www.evocsports.com (International)

Comments

jaas - 11/22/11 - 10:47am

will this survive airport baggage handling?

Kovas - 11/22/11 - 10:48am

Nice bag review. With the bike in there, could you still add clothing for further padding? Or would that push it past 50lbs?

By the way – Just a warning to all tourers out there… Flying overseas, hell-anywhere with your bike – AVOID UNITED AIRLINES like the plague!!! I got hit $450 round-trip to Ireland. That was with an S&S coupled bike too!

ken - 11/22/11 - 10:53am

Does this work for my 29er hardtail?

Larry Falk - 11/22/11 - 10:56am

Re: bent rotors. Even though I have only traveled with a road bike, I prefer a hard case for this reason. I seem to remember my case was at least a $100 less although I can see it falling apart and this bag’s quality is higher.

Squally - 11/22/11 - 5:47pm

Full suspension rentals for $50/day? If I could get them that cheap, I wouldn’t need a bike bag!

paul - 11/22/11 - 10:56pm

Have you reviewed the Biknd Case? That is a great travel case that I used last summer! I personally saw my Wilier at the bottom of a stack of luggage on my domestic portion of the flight..all good thousands of miles later.

tim o - 11/23/11 - 7:48am

@Ken, @Jas:

Did either of you *read* the review?

Marc - 11/24/11 - 9:19am

Kovas,
With my 26lb f/s bike, it’s possible to throw a few light items in the case- but I would like to see a few tie-downs for helmets and the like. If they’re an option for your trip, Southwest tend to be the most reasonable (!) about bikes- $50 each way, plus two free checked bags. Always check the bike fees before booking…

Jason - 12/05/11 - 4:15pm

Great review, so how many thumbs up on the Bikerumor review scale?

Marc - 12/05/11 - 7:39pm

Jason,

Thanks! It’s too early for a final verdict (which would take into account durability), but from a design and initial impression standpoint, it’s got to be a 4-4.5 out of 5.

marc

don - 02/27/12 - 8:49pm

Gotta watch the wiggle order in usa, their price rocked and with free shipping looked too good to be true, it was, I get hit with a $75 cod customs charge at my post office which put the bill higher than msrp. Buyer beware.

Really like my bag, Mine was packed new with something sticky so when I unpacked a bit of the exterior white lettering tore off. No biggie, the first plane ride made it look a lot more used anyway.

I took your advice and took my rotors off and mine came with the right length fiberglass rods too. 29 tall boy fits perfect. I added a towel around the handlbars for extra protection.

al - 07/26/12 - 2:05am

does anybody knows whats the dimension on this case? as far as i know airlines only allowed 62 inches total without getting any penalty

michael - 12/29/12 - 1:01pm

Great review of this product. But I didn’t see the referenced jump to find out why soft over hard.
Does the answer to hard/soft change if one tends to ship rather than fly?

I have gotten into the habit of shipping my bike, rather than flying with it. I have ZERO faith that the TSA folks could put anything that they open back together properly, so I think it’s better to just steer clear of them.

Seems like shippers are also less likely to lose a piece. And most bike shops will “catch and hold” a bike for little or no charge.

Marc - 12/30/12 - 8:44am

Michael,

Thanks! The reason for a soft case is to stop flirting with airlines’ 50lb weight limit. Hard cases, when loaded with a mountain bike, often bump up against this weight. If shipping, I’d be inclined to use a hard case.

No shipping method is perfect, but the TSA have had no problems with this case and, at $50 each way, Southwest hasn’t had any trouble either.

marc

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