Flying with your bike is easy if you do it correctly.


Q: Hi there! I’m getting ready to go on a bucket-list trip up to Whistler with my group of riding friends, and we decided that flying is the best way to go. I’m pretty set on bringing my own bike, but am not sure what the best and safest option would be. Would I be okay using a bike box from a shop? Or, is it worth the investment for a bike bag?
Jack Freese
Phoenix, Arizona

A cardboard bike box is often the best bet for infrequent flyers.


A: For many cyclists, the conundrum of choosing between a cardboard bike box and a specialized bike bag is all too familiar, each presenting its unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Cardboard bike boxes are an economical choice. They are often readily available, either for free or at a minimal cost, from local bicycle shops. Additionally, they are eco-friendly, as they can be recycled after use.

With proper padding and support, they can also provide reasonable protection against minor dings and scratches. Check out our how to on properly boxing a bike here. However, they have their downsides. Cardboard is susceptible to water damage and can easily tear or get punctured, especially if subjected to rough handling. Given their single-use nature, they might not be suitable for multiple trips. Additionally, their often bulky size isn’t tailored to fit all bike models, and their lack of wheels or ergonomic handles can make navigating through airports a hassle.

Some bike specific bags like the Orucase B2 allow you to avoid airline fees because of it’s small size but you have to break the bike down much futher than other bags.

On the other hand, bike bags, specifically designed for traveling purposes, generally offer better protection. Many are padded or reinforced, feature built-in wheels for easier transport and are crafted with compartments that simplify the packing process. Their durability ensures they can be used for multiple journeys. Furthermore, their weather-resistant materials shield bikes from moisture. But, these advantages come with a steeper price tag.

Good-quality bike bags can be notably pricier than their cardboard counterparts. They might also be bulkier to store when not in use. And, while generally lighter than rigid bike cases, their weight could lead to increased airline charges. It’s also worth noting that not all bike bags are created equal. While some are robust and heavily padded, others are more basic, potentially offering less protection than a well-prepped cardboard box.

Those on a tight budget or looking for a one-time solution might find cardboard bike boxes adequate. But, for frequent travelers or those seeking more durability and convenience, investing in a bike bag is probably the best option. Regardless of the choice, it’s important to account for individual trip specifications, bike type and any relevant travel restrictions or regulations.

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