Biospeed Aerus Bike Case Review: How I travel with my bike

If you travel as much as I do for work (150,000+ miles last year), you’ve got no choice but to get creative with your training.  There’s simply no way you can be competitive at all three sports without actually training in all three sports (disappointing, I know…I keep hoping that Pasta Eating can be substituted for swimming).  Of course, some sports are easier to train for while travelling than others.  In the past I’ve talked about how I train and travel, but I wanted to spend this post and focus on the bike segment.  Running is easy – you can run just about anywhere on earth (ok, Haiti was a no-go for running).  Swimming though, albeit a logistics and financial pain in the butt to find a pool, can be done with a bit of homework.  But cycling…that’s tough.

See, many hotel gyms these days have transitioned over to EZ-Boy recliner type stationary bikes.  And while Spin bikes are on the rise in higher end American hotels, they haven’t made it to the international scene yet – nor to the ‘Hilton Garden Inn’ type hotels I’m usually at while stateside.  Further, none of these really solve the long-ride problem.  Weekday rides I can get away with on a stationary bike at a hotel, since it’s primarily an aerobic experience.  But for the 2-6 hour (or longer) Ironman and Half-Iron type rides, you just need a real bike.

Hence…bike transport.

I’ve got a long and storied history with dragging my bike around the country and world.  My first experience with this venture was over three years ago when I did my first half-iron triathlon (The Big Kahuna), down in California.  Not knowing what I might need long term, I simply went to Performance Bike nearby and picked up their $200 bike case.  Seemed sturdy and simple enough.  So into the case Mr. Bike went.

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But, after just a few trips I started to notice something.  This bike case is a piece of crap.  Really…crap.  The hinges started to break.  The handles started to snap.  The locks become inoperable.  They had taken every build short-cut they could with it – and my bike case was slowly disintegrating – and with it, putting my bike in further danger each trip.

So, I started looking around for an alternative.  While the Performance case was cheap – it lacked long term life.  Other cases on the market however, lacked cheap – but appeared to be built like tanks.  It then starts to become a cost equation.  If I spent $400-600 on a case, will it last three times as long as the crappy Performance case?

Before I finished mentally debating that – I started hearing murmurs about new soft cases.  These cases were slowly making the rounds on the pro scene, and also infiltrating the age groupers as well.  The benefits were actually more than meets the eye.  First, the case was a bit smaller – easier to manage and drag around an airport with a simple shoulder strap.  Secondly, it was easier to pack.  And third – most importantly – it didn’t scream ‘Bike Case’.  In fact, it didn’t scream anything at all.  The word ‘bike’ isn’t anywhere on it.

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And that my friends…is the key.  You see, when you arrive at an airline check-in counter the world around, the first thing they do is scope out your luggage (ok, usually they scope you out first, especially if you’re good lookin’).   If you have something that looks like a bike case, they immediately start to find the fee table for it – often costing upwards of $150 each way (yes, some airlines like Southwest and JetBlue are cheaper though).

But the soft case…not so much.

In fact, out of the 20-30+ flights I’ve taken with it over the past year, only once have I been charged a bike or oversize fee.  To them, it looks like a big bag – one that barely weighs 20-25 pounds.  Some airline agents have said it even looks like a ‘portable massage table’ (which are fee-free btw).  When asked what’s inside, I’m usually pretty generic: “Equipment”.  Or, if pressed “Equipment while working”.  All technically true.  As a related side note, simply placing your wetsuit draped long-ways over the top of the bike has immediate visual benefits should airline inspect occur.  Oh, and you don’t need to worry about TSA.  They’ll no doubt open the case every time, but since the soft case easily opens for them to peek inside, they’re quickly happy without damage to your bike.

P.S. – TSA and the airlines are not the same entity.  TSA doesn’t give a hoot about fees, airlines do.  TSA oversize checked baggage inspection comes after check-in has completed and is done in a separate area that you drag your bag to.  Always be upfront and honest to TSA.  Always.
Secondary P.S. – Always check-in online prior to arriving at the airport, and just note how many bags you have as you normally would.  Agents usually don’t want to re-do baggage fees if you’ve already done them online.  Trust me on this one…
Third P.S. – Airlines won’t likely reimburse you for the cost of the bike anyway.  And they won’t do it even if it’s their fault (which it never will be).  Lots of messy details of course, but in short, you’re likely to walk away with nothing.
Fourth P.S. – Always approach the ticket counter with the bike case behind you slightly out of view.  It should be the last item you give them – after they’ve printed out the bag tags.
Fifth P.S. – This may sound like I’m trying to avoid bike fees.  I am.
(Note: I’m all for reasonable bike fees…but you don’t even want to get me started on the state of US aviation bike fees today…that’s a post for another day.)

So how does it stand up?  Well, I’ve had pretty good luck.  My bike has largely been unscathed.  I’ve had a few minor cable tension related issues, but nothing that couldn’t be quickly fixed with a multi-tool.  And, I suspect those are mostly because I’m usually in a rush to pack it up.  Speaking of which – I can pack/unpack this case from the end of a workout in about 10-12 minutes.

Before I show you my packing scheme – I want to point out that I know it’s not perfect.  I know I could spend more time and make it perfect.  I know I should detach the rear derailleur.  I know I should do this or that…but…I don’t.  Simply because in 99% of situations, I just don’t have the time I wish I had.  I’m usually rushing from a race or workout straight to the airport.  And the other 1%?  Because I’m lazy.

So, I make up for it by padding the crap out of it.  After all, my race bike is damn expensive.  So what better parts to use than super-cheap less than a dollar pipe insulation foam from Home Depot?

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One night The Girl and I went down the street to the big orange Home Depot and simply grabbed a whole pile of long 8’ segments.  We then cut them up as needed using scissors.  In theory, I could be really organized and label where each section goes using a marker.  But in reality, I just figure it out on the fly each time.

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These then get wrapped around the different bike parts.  They stay there just fine.  For the top tube, the bike bag came with that funky blue thing – which I use as extra padding.

For the crank, I simply have a big ole’ chunk of bubble-wrap to protect Mr. Quarq.

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The rear derailleur I pull up against the bike frame using Velcro.  No, not ideal.  Yes, I should take it off.  I know…I know.  Do as I say, not as I do.

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Pickup a pack of Velcro at Target, it’s a couple bucks and you’ll find never ending ways to use it in bike packing.  For example, strap your aerobars back against the padded frame to prevent scratching.  Loose aerobars and brake handles will flop around and scratch.  Ones tightened up against the frame don’t.

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The wheels simply slide in the two main side pockets, and I’ve had no problems with their placement.  The bag also includes two more pockets for shoes (to the left of the wheel below) – which is where I can also stash goodies.

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And finally, all my spare parts that I detached from the bike go in a Ziploc bag next to the shoes in the above pocket.

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Oh – and because the case is wide enough, I don’t even need to detach the bike pedals – sweet!  My non-aerohelmet fits perfectly where the rear wheel goes – protecting it.  And my seat simply fits upside-down right behind the fork.

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Finally, a word about potential damage.  It goes without saying that a soft-shell bike case is fundamentally more vulnerable than a hard-shell one.  I know from flying enough that bags get the crap beat out of them.  Most baggage handlers don’t differentiate between a bike and a suitcase.  I’ve winced as I’ve seen my bike tossed through the air from luggage cart to belt out on the tarmac.  And I’ve seen the story about one guy who had his soft case and associated bike torn up by Delta.  But, what I haven’t seen is any of those things happen to me…yet anyway.

I also counterbalance that against the costs associated with flying with your bike.  Take for example, The Girl’s bike.  On a trip this summer her derailleur hanger got bent a bit, and she had to get a new one (btw, always travel with a spare if you can, it’s a few bucks and they’re designed to bend so your frame doesn’t).  She was using the soft-shell case.  Had she been using the hard-shell case she would have been charged $300-$500 round trip.  Her bike fix costs?  $40 at the LBS.  A month later, another trip.  This time, to Vegas.  Had she taken a hard-case to her Vegas Tri, that would have been another $300-500 in bike fees.  At some point you have to balance the potential cost for bike damage (usually pretty low), compared to the cost to transport your bike. All food for thought.

So there ya have it – how I transport my bike.  It’s not perfect, but it works for me.  And with my rate of only one trip out of 20+ being charged for carrying my bike, and all of them coming out with the bike happy – I’m happy!

(P.S. – The soft case is made by Aerus (Biospeed) and costs $280.  I paid full price for my case last year, and the company has no idea who I am.  There is a new one out there by Biknd that I saw at Interbike, which looks great – but also clearly looks like a bike case, thus only solving half the problem.)

(Another P.S. – A brief word about bike rentals.  While renting is occasionally an option – it’s actually more difficult than you might think.  Most road bike rental places in the US…suck.  The bikes are usually old and crappy, and unlike anything you’re normally riding.  Further, they tend to be really expensive compared to how much time you’re actually using it.  Third, you’re still stuck bringing much of your own gear like shoes and potentially helmets.  Fourth, reserving and picking up the bike tends to be a giant time-sink – especially if you’re on a tight work schedule and the bike shop is only open during daylight hours 15 miles away from you.  Finally – in the case of long-distance triathlons specifically – the most important factor in doing well will be how comfortable you are on your bike for 5+ hours.  Doing long-rides on a rented bike isn’t ideal long term.)

Ok…no more P.S.’s, I’m done now.  Thanks for reading!

123 Comments

  1. SSB

    I love my Aerus bike bag. I've had it 2 years and have flown with it about 20 times. Only been charged 1 time. I think checking in online before you get to the airport is key. A lot of times airline reps won't even handle your bags, they have contract people do it. And those guys don't care about fees. Plus with all the extra stuff I can put in my bag I usually get away with just a carry on (even for a 10 day trip) in addition to the bike bag. Saving even more money.

    Reply
  2. SSB

    oh, and you forgot to mention the savings on rental cars too. You can get away with a compact (I've fit two bike bags and other luggage in a compact)

    Reply
  3. As an employee for a major airline (I work both the ramp loading bags and the ticket counter), I'll definitely have to agree with you on the soft-sided bags. As soon as we see a hard-sided case in the check-in line, that person is immediately sent to "special services" to be charged $150.

    But a hard sided case is much more likely to have several hundred pounds of luggage stacked on top of it. It fits perfectly on the bottom, and bags stack easily on top of it. I don't think I've ever seen bags stacked on top of a soft-sided bike case - it's just not that conducive to stacking on top of.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Ray:

    Thanks for the article. This will definitely come in handy as I will be travelling to three out of town races this year. Another thing I have been wondering is it worthwhile to purchase insurance for your bike much like you do a car? I was hit twice last year on my bike (both not my fault)and had to replace 1 bike entirely and have significant repairs to the other. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Have you ever considered or looked at the costs of shipping hardcase via a shipper? I have no idea how the costs stack up but i have a buddy who does that all the time with several set of skis when he travels.

    Reply
  6. So THAT'S where the funky blue thing is supposed to go. It usually stays in my closet when the bike bag is in transit... helpful tips!

    Reply
  7. DWoody

    Ray,

    Great post and great insights as always. Appreciate the thoughts, too on the soft vs. hard.

    You've inspired me to travel with my ride and made the process a helluva lot easier.

    Keep it up.

    Reply
  8. Another tip (second hand from a friend that often travels with a bike - I haven't tried it myself):

    If they really press about what is in the bag, you can always say "bike parts". Technically, you're not lying... and the fees generally aren't as high as they are for an actual bike.

    -Elaine

    Reply
  9. Check out http://www.velolet.com (especially Tucson - Trisports link to velolet.com)

    Reply
  10. I don't travel much anymore. But I ride a Bike Friday folding/travel bike. It fits into a standard suitcase and has never incurred a surcharge.

    Reply
  11. cat

    Best post ever!

    Reply
  12. I got tired of the airline fees and of lugging around my oversized bike bag. I was looking for a second bike anyway and had one built with S&S couplings on the top and down tubes. The bike packs into a "regulation" size hard case that also accommodates all my gear except my helmet, fits more easily in rental cars and cabs, and avoids the airline fees. Plus, more often than not the bike is delivered with other luggage rather than requiring me to wait for oversized and sports gear to arrive.

    The couplings are not cheap because they require a retro fit or custom build, but if you were considering custom anyway, it's a very good alternative -- and they don't affect performance.

    Reply
    • Travis replied

      I have an S&S coupled 700C bike and am looking for a case for it. Which case do you recommend?

      Reply
  13. That is defiinitely something to look into. Thanks for the review.

    Reply
  14. Another vote for using a shipper (UPS, etc.). You'll need to check with your destination hotel, etc. and let them know that it's arriving ahead of time and that they can deal with that. And you'll be without your bike while it's in transit.

    Reply
  15. DTG

    Regarding Insurance for your bike. I asked my agent about that recently... Their response:

    "From a claims stand point, most of the items you would want covered should be able to be covered under the HO15 endorsement. This gives all risk coverage to personal property minus marring or scratching of course with certain exclusions. However, the most complete coverage is under the Inland marine endorsement which is much more costly. One thing that does stand out on it is that if the item is stolen from an unattended vehicle there may not be coverage."

    I added the HO15 coverage to my homeowners policy for ~$80/ year. Inland marine was $400-$500 year.

    Reply
  16. All the tips from your post will be very useful for me. So, thanks Ray:)

    Reply
  17. Thanks for that post. My husband sent me a link to a soft sided case a while back and I was just not sure how it would do. Your post answered all of my questions.

    Reply
  18. LBJ

    It is pretty hard to fly with a full-size bike - that's why I have a full-size folding bike. Makes traveling so much easier.

    Reply
  19. Check this out Ray and tell me what you think. Just ordered mine the other day. link to slowtwitch.com

    Reply
  20. DC Rainmaker: First things first. Thanks for the link to my blog.

    I must admit I don't travel much with a bike but airlines have made travel with any type of luggage miserable. Something needs to be done with how the airlines are handling our property, especially bikes, when flying.

    I love your blog and I too am reforming non-exerciser. Keep up the good work.

    Eran

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    Do you place any spacers between the drop outs?

    Reply
  22. Ray,

    Superb site btw.. Big fan.

    Anyway, I think it's time you splashed out and got a decent case for that P3C.. Its far too nice not to.
    I recommend http://www.bikeboxalan.co.uk , available in tasty Cervelo graphics too..
    I'm actually renting one in 4 weeks for Abu Dhabi (my 5th Tri, yes I'm a newbie)... I'll do up a mini review for you if you need. :)

    Reply
  23. Tom

    FWIW, British Airways were about to charge me a bunch for my bike, until I told them it was a bike - and then they went out of their way to get me sorted - - a guy even escorted me over to the oversize baggage drop-off and told them to be careful with it - because it was a bike.

    Didn't even count against my two checked bags.

    Reply
  24. Anonymous

    my wife and I travel by air at least 7 times a year with our bikes to race... it used to cost us as much as $600 for the two bikes round trip... we bought bikes with s&s couplers that come apart in the middle, and fits in airline regulation size luggage... you can retro fit any steel or titanium bike, with round tubes, with the couplers for about a grand (calfee will put these on their carbon bikes)... the cases cost about $300. we bought custom bikes from litespeed with the couplers... the cases are 10 pounds lighter than hard cases so you can put your shoes, wetsuit, etc in and still be underweight... we've traveled with these a dozen times now with no added charge plus they are really great for traveling inside europe by train

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Hello Ray..Awesome blog..with regard to bike traveling..have you heard of Aircaddy (aircaddy.com)..looks promising but don't own one yet, looking forward to your review if you happen to get hold of one

    Reply
  26. Scott in Maryland

    DCR - Hi from Frederick, MD. Hey I have some bad news for you: You are not getting stabbed with pricey bike fees NOT because you are the uber-stealth-bike-packer... but rather because you are uber-Platinum frequent flyer status ... is what I think. But this is another helpful article. Thanks again.

    Reply
  27. Hi Scott!

    I think there's probably a little bit of that of course - but when The Girl has travelled a few times on different dates as I to places, she's never been charged. Neither has a few other non-FF status carrying folks that I know that have it.

    Also, I've actually been on a run lately where I wasn't flying airlines I have any status on. For example Royal Jordanian in the middle east back a few weeks ago.

    But, I certainly don't complain! Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  28. How do you put the bike back together making sure your fit is the same every single time?

    Reply
  29. The only item that's open to change is the seatpost height - and I use a bit of white tape to mark the height. I also have it measured out as well. Nothing else on the bike changes during transport - it just gets disassembled.

    Reply
  30. Good call re: white tape on the seat post! Do you remove the stem but leave the handlebars attached to the stem so that you don't need to mess with bar angle?

    Reply
  31. Corret.

    I just detach the stem from the fork, so no adjustments are needed. Not ideal per se because you have a higher risk of over-tightening the fork (carbon) and breaking it than the cheap stem - but works for me.

    Reply
  32. Stefan

    Thanks a bunch for this article! I bought the Aerus bag after reading it. I just got back from a training camp in Nice, France. No cost either way!
    I flew Lufthansa both ways. When asked about the contents I stated "work equipment". Not a complete lie since I logged 35 "work hours" in the saddle" :)

    Cheers
    Stefan from Sweden

    Reply
  33. MPC

    Hey great travel article. After finding out that I was going to get ripped offf for 600 large from delta for my European round trip I bought a Moots with couplers for my touring bike. Works fabulous! On the carbon torque get yourself one of the Ritchey torque keys. Only $15 on line. It's set to 5MN. Exactly the spec for carbon. LUV IT!!!

    link to competitivecyclist.com

    Reply
  34. Anonymous

    if you can box your bike to less than 62 inches, American treats it as standard checked baggage. $25, free box.

    Reply
  35. Anonymous

    Hey there, just a quick word, the Aerus looks nice and I am sure it is, but researching a bike travel bag I discovered link to pikapackworks.com Google the name, there are some cool vids on the bag.

    I contacted the owner/ builder, a guy named Mike regarding a purchase and we talked for a while. He has been making these bags for 15 years and claims others have been building knockoffs. I don't know whats what as for the history of this type of bike bag but I was sold and purchased one of his made in the USA bags. Anyway, long as I skirt the Airline Nazis I am happy!

    Reply
  36. Ray,

    maybe a noob or stupid question :) ideally when you check in your bike case at the ticket counter. do you still ask to have them put a fragile sticker on the case or just check in normally just like with your regular luggage?

    thanks!

    Reply
  37. Hi Adventurer-

    I don't typicaly ask for it, but I've found that they almost always put a fragile sticker on it anyway.

    That said, I've also found that I could make the entire case out of fragile stickers...and they'd probably still ignore it. ;)

    Enjoy!

    Reply
  38. Great blog post! I meant to ask you about insurance. Do you normally insure your bike every time you travel and if so what is the best of about doing so? Thanks so much!

    Reply
  39. No, from an insurance standpoint it's covered under my homeowners policy - so I don't have to do anything per se anytime I go anywhere.

    Reply
  40. My Aerus finally arrived a week ago after being on back order since August. The bag came with extra padding for the bike frame so you don't have to go buy any foam padding from home depot. The padding that comes with the bag is similar to the blue piece in Ray's pictures. There were several pieces (9 or 10 pieces) in 2 different lengths. I used all the padding on the frame except for one piece. I also liked that the bag had enough room to fit a small pump, cycling shoes, helmet, and even my running shoes with no issues. I could have fit more in there but I wanted to keep the weight down.

    I'm in the process of moving to Florida and I used the case to transport my Trek Speed Concept 9.5 via plane (I'm actually flying to Florida today). I had done lots of research on how to avoid bag fees and I didn't get charged anything astronomical. I checked-in last and prepaid for my 2 checked bags (1 regular suitcase and my bike case) for $60. I flew delta and went to the counter to get my bags checked. The agent commented how big my bag was and asked if it was "presentation stuff". I told her "yes ma'am" ;). She went on her business and got my bags checked. I gave her my regular suitcase and I had to take my bike case to TSA. I dropped it off with TSA and they asked if it was a bike and I told them that it was. The TSA agent was being friendly and started walking back with me towards security. I asked him if it would have been better to say no it wasn't a bike. He laughed and said no because he then would have had to waste his and my time and open the bag to look/search inside.

    Hopefully my bag/bike isn't lost or damaged. I will report back later once I get to Florida.

    Reply
  41. Thanks Ray. Awesome review. I am an instant fan of your blog. I just ordered mine from MPGear and am looking forward to my first trip.

    Reply
  42. Osh Richardson

    Just flew to France to do L'etape du tour (recommended btw, and next year is the Tour centenary, do it!) and United were obliging enough to relieve me of $200 each way for the privilege of taking my bike (soft bag, agree with all your points there DC).

    Guys, you can summarize it like this. Most airlines adhere to a maximum allowed baggage size of 62" (length plus width plus height). Even a soft bag is obviously way over this, so you're likely to get stung (United is $200 international, $150 domestic). Avoiding this fee is normally down to having a sympathetic or careless airline agent and has little to do with status (our United Platinum status counted for squat).

    Anyone tried breaking the bike down into two bags? I'm thinking wheels in one, frame (fork removed) in a second. Am looking into large wheeled garment bags as an option, anyone tried that? Afraid cutting my Cervelo frame in half and using joints as suggested by a few keen travellers isn't an option!

    Reply
  43. Stuart

    To the 62" comment, ANY normal bike is 40" long so you'll never make 62". I've had two S&S and two Ritchey BreakAway's. I put four years and thousands of miles on a basic steel BreakAway, first in their crappy soft/square'ish case until all the plastic parts, frame, dividers broke apart and then I got the S&S hard case which is 26x26x10 so exactly 62". I then moved up to the new Ti/Carbon BreakAway which is much superior in every way. I found I prefer the ease and speed of assembly and system with the Ritchey. The steel one got scratched up but never damaged except wheels out of true toward the end sometimes. I said I'd never want to travel with anything worth more than the steel one but finally succumbed. I've been using the zero dish Ritchey wheels with Shimano it came with which makes packing really much easier. I'm in a 58cm so it is tough and barely fits in the S&S case but at least nothing moves around. I'm about to change it over to Campy Record to match everything else in the fleet and I'll keep it forever. Heading to Europe for a two week Alps vacation with buddies and we are taking "A" bikes. I've got both the Performance case and a 2XL BikePro. Probably taking either a Colnago or my Kuota Khan with high-zoot wheels. We booked British Airways and it looks like they will charge us for extra bag but will ignore oversize since it is a bike. Great post, I do like the hard case since it is a legit piece of luggage, protects the bike from damage but you have to go S&S or BreakAway. I can be riding the BreakAway down the hotel hallway 14.5 minutes after entering my room in a suit, pretty cool. Packing takes longer.

    Reply
  44. Jim Reed

    My wife and I use BikeBox Alan boxes. Yes, they are clearly bike boxes, and yes, we occasionally have to pay fees (only when traveling in the US), but they are about the best you can get for protection for the bikes. US carriers like to charge mega-extra for handling bikes. We normally fly KLM or Emirates, and there is no additional charge for the bikes.

    Reply
  45. Gouldee

    Just wondering, how people have got on once they leave the airport and have to put bike in a taxi? Have just bought an Evoc bike bag.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The nice part about this bag is that it easily fits in the back trunk of most taxi's, and failing that, in the backseat of any taxi/car (just flip itupsidedown). I've put it in the smallest rental cars you can think of.

      Reply
    • Gouldee replied

      Hey, when you say flip it upside down, do you mean on its end?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, so essentially instead of the bike case sitting as it normally would on the floor (bottom bracket down in frame), just turn it upsidedown so the bottom bracket faces towards the sky.

      Reply
  46. Tim Deline

    I fly for one of the major airlines and quite often travel on days off with my bike. Even for employees it's hit and miss for whether or not the ticket agent will charge you for bike transport.
    Once while traveling, a fellow cyclist gave me his means of getting around the charge. When asked what is in the bag, he replies "its an inline wheel chair". I guess it's not a lie as there are two wheels, inline with a seat on it. Airlines never charge extra for a wheelchair.

    Reply
  47. Hello All,

    I have been traveling with my bike for several years and I recently came across the best and most premier travel bag I have ever owned. Ruster Sports is the company and the have a product dubbed the Hen House. The Hen House meets the standard luggage requirement and flies as a checked bag. I have used the case numerous time and by golly the thing works! Where have you been all my life??? I am not saving around $200/flight (depending on the airline). My pockets are deeper and my life is better.

    Check this thing out link to rustersports.com

    Reply
  48. Greg Hodgins

    Hi Ray. I love the detailed reviews. Thanks so much.

    Perhaps you've never had reason to, but how do you think the case (and bike obviously) would wear and behave strapped to the top of a vehicle? Thinking of a "one case fits all uses" (air and land) that would keep the bike outside of a vehicle full of kids and luggage. I gather I would need to tarp it for protection from weather, but can't see why it wouldn't work subject to potentially tricky fastening.

    Thoughts or experience?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Oh yeah, it'd be fine for that. As you guessed, keeping out a downpour would require a tarp, but a random bit of passing rain would be fine no problems (it's a fairly thick outer shell material). That's a solid use for it!

      Reply
  49. Bert

    Hi Ray

    I'm probably going to be traveling around the globe a fair bit for work in the coming years, but mostly for longer periods of time (10 weeks).

    Would you still recommend the Aerus Biospeed even though:

    - It has been two years since your post was published and some new bags might have popped up on the field?
    - The bag is 380$ for someone who lives in Europe, including shipping but not customs (which could push it to 350EUR)
    - it is currently on backorder, which could take multiple months according to one reader above

    Thanks for the pro tips in any case! :-)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I generally would. I don't believe there's any new bike cases on the market that can still pass off as being under the allowed limit.

      There's plenty of new bike cases on the market that will hit bag fees every time, but for me, that sorta misses the point. If I'm going to do that, I might as well just get a hard shell case and not worry about it at all.

      Reply
    • Bert replied

      Ok great!

      I ordered the Aerus Biospeed then, let's hope won't take too long to arrive at my doorstep.

      I found a checkout code online (HB2013) that knocks 85 USD off the current price, bringing the total (incl. shipping) to 295 USD or 225 EUR, which I consider to be a good deal :)

      Reply
  50. Eric Dawson

    There is a bike case out there that is the only bike case in the world that actually meets the 62 linear inch requirement for standard luggage. No longer will you be nervous at the counter. I have been using this case for moths now and never been charged. Hands down the best case on the market. Designed by a professional triathlete to help other cyclists avoid those bike fees. Guarantee you will not be disappointed!
    http://www.rustersports.com

    Reply
  51. Stig Falck

    First I have to say that it is a great site you have created. I'll try to do my Amazon shopping via your link in the future. :-)

    Regarding traveling, I bought an Air Friday from Bike Friday in 1997. I am still using it and it fits in a normal suitcase. You will also be amazed how well the small wheels perform.

    Check it out at link to bikefriday.com

    Reply
  52. Travis Warner

    I am currently looking into bike cases and am about to pull the trigger on the AERUS that you use. are you still having good luck with airline fees? do both you and the girl have the same case and travel together with them? i am in the market for two as my wife and i are tired of the bike rental game. thanks for the great site!!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, used it last night - no issues! And, fingers crossing, checking in again here in 30 minutes and hopefully won't see any charges either.

      Reply
  53. Conor McQ

    Ever tried this bike case on a Ryanair flight? Get charged for regular bag or extra bike fee?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, sorry, haven't flown with Ryanair yet. I'd generally assume the worst though from a bag fee standpoint. There's a long bag fee thread on Slowtwitch, my money says someone there has tried however. May be worth checking out.

      Reply
  54. Henry

    Thanks for a great post! Really need to order today box/bag today, late as usual. How about protection for the wheels in the bag you recommended? Will travel with my brand new shiv with zipp 808 CC, still a good option with those carbon wheels?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The side protect the wheel fairly well. Obviously, not as well as separate insulated bags, but I've never had any issues yet. I've been travelling with HED3 carbon wheels, as well as some CycleOps wheels. They've never been of concern compared to the rest of the bike.

      Reply
  55. Henry

    Thank you! Will get 2 of those then for me and the wife. Would you know where I might be able to buy them, some extensive googling have not helped I am afraid.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The only place I know of is the one I linked to under "I paid" at the end. It's where we bought ours (both my wife and I).

      That said, I actually reached out to Clever Training yesterday to see if they can start stocking them, since I noticed the same as you - really hard to buy. But that typically takes a few weeks to get in new stock, even if they can, so it doesn't much help your timeframes. :(

      Reply
  56. Henry

    Thanks anyway, I truly appreciate it! Maybe you know of a similar bag?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Unfortunately all the other similar soft-shell bike bags will still get 'caught' by airline luggage folks (just way bigger).

      Reply
  57. Caleb Appleton

    I have had trouble locating an Aerus as well (you might try contacting Blue as they manufacture it); however here is another option: link to pikapackworks.com

    Reply
    • Paul replied

      I ended up buying a Ruster Sports Hen House. The thing I pay for is an extra bag for longer trips. Short trips I just pack my stuff in the case. No extra fees. Just got back from a Spain trip with last week. Works like a champ.

      Reply
  58. RV

    By removing the rear wheel the strongest part of the frame is removed. Are you not affraid the rear fork (if carbon) will be pressed and broken. As in would it make sense to put a metal rod/axle in there to support the frame. This then can also have a cage around the rear derailler and protect it only during the transport.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      In general with the wheels on the side of the case it's actually really difficult to get side impact forces to hit the side of the bike (squish it). The wheels first press against the center of the frame, really preventing anything from hitting the side of the bike in the rear area. What's actually a bigger issue is protecting that area from impact forces being dropped directly on end. Thus positioning of the internal pad is important.

      Reply
  59. I talked to the representatives at Mountain Plus Outdoor Gear (the only people who seem to offer the Aerus Biospeed in all of my searches), and they told me that the bag had been discontinued indefinitely by Aerus because of new ownership. However, they did inform me that they themselves are starting to manufacture a nearly identical bag, which should be available in 3-4 weeks on their website (the same website you linked to in your article). MPOG said they only made a few slight modifications to the bag to beef up padding in a couple of places, but otherwise it was identical since it has been such a good seller (and their company also uses it to ship bikes without incident). I'm looking forward to getting one, but I'm still nervous about putting a custom carbon tri bike worth several thousand dollars in it.

    Ray, you consistently fly with your Cervelo P3 in it without problems, still? Or do you just bring a training bike places? Or perhaps your P3 *is* your training bike? Would you stick your racing bike in the Aerus? The other top end soft shell one, the Helium, previously mentioned looks good too. But you think it looks more like it's a bike so it'll get stamped with the extra $100+ for being ID'd as a bike? Ack, this is so difficult--I want to save cash on airline fees, but *really* don't want to get a broken custom bike along the way.

    Any guidance you can provide would be helpful.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, my P3 is my only bike these days (well, I have a little commuter bike but that'd never get travelled with).

      So same bike for race and training.

      The bigger case (Helium) will absolutely get nailed for a bike fee.

      Reply
    • Henry replied

      Cameron, did you hear anything about the availability of the remake of the bag from MPOG lately? Really like to buy a couple of them.

      Reply
  60. erwin

    awesome article! I have a trip to asia lined up soon and thinking of bringing the bike but I'm worried about custom duties. how have you dealt with custom duties when travelling internatiaonl?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Import and custom duties are generally reserved for returning to your home country where you've bought goods overseas. They aren't applicable to visiting a different country than your home country where you're bringing in goods you bought outside that country and those goods are coming back with you.

      In short, in my hundreds of international trips I've never paid a custom duty.

      Reply
  61. Henry

    Thank you guys for all for the support, I ended up packing the bikes the old fashioned way in cardboard boxes w lots of pipe insulation and bubble wrap, took forever to pack and Delta charged a lot to take them, but no problems otherwise.. Very interested in the remake of the soft case, will get 2 ASAP!

    Reply
  62. Hey Ray,
    did you know I also import and distribute the b&w international cases? That 'crappy' Performance case you didn't like has been improved and we make it for Performance. There are two versions of hard case. They haven't yet taken the plunge to sell our soft case, but this is the one I prefer for all of the reasons you mention above. Actually, I designed a soft case about 12 years ago and was selling it until about a year ago under bikebag.com together with my partner, Hannes Hawaii Tours (Mr. Blaschke) in Germany. Based on the 25+ years I've been traveling around with bikes (post cardboard box) I prefer a soft sided case for a couple of reasons:
    1: it fits in more types of cars
    2: it's lighter weight and when 50 lbs is the max. they test for... every lb. counts. you can pack more gear.
    3. it's easier to hide when you reach your destination.
    4: the baggage handlers and TSA seem to treat it with more care and know how to close a zipper ( no really, this is the main problem with hard cases).
    5. from the retail perspective, it takes less room and costs less to ship.

    So together with B&W we created a bike.bag that is lighter (20 lbs), safer and easier to use (4 wheels) than my previous version.
    link to b-w-international.com
    The cool thing about this one is the hard 'tub' bottom that protects the delicate parts of the bike and the floating mounting frame inside.
    I think the 'floating' nature of the internal frame keeps the bike from getting damaged, since if the highest point of the bike (saddle) gets hit, the bike simply moves and the forces are not concentrated down to the dropouts.

    Maybe it's time to revisit the 'soft case' and see what you think about the wheels we use. Let me know if you would like to test one. Since you are in Paris now, I can arrange to get one sent from Germany to you directly.

    Reply
  63. James

    I'd like to know your secret. I've travelled 3 times with my soft shell on 3 different airlines. I've been charged all three times. Once I thought I got through but they came looking for me at the gate. Bike parts, equipment....nothing works if the airlines are looking for fees.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Clearly it's my good looks. ;)

      Wow though, coming after you at the gate! Dang!

      Reply
    • tatnai replied

      What airlines are you travelling?

      I'm looking at taking my Ridley X-fire travelling with me, going to be flying united in a couple weeks. buying a bag PLUS paying united's $200 round trip fee (plus the extra bags fee) would kill it for me.

      Also curious as to how the new bag compares, anyone use it yet?
      link to mpgear.com

      Reply
    • Eric Ensminger replied

      I find that smiling and engaging always helps as most people yell at the agents.

      Reply
  64. Henry

    Finally MPGear have come through and they have a really nice replacement for the Biospeed:

    link to mpgear.com

    Not much help for me as we are traveling all summer and leaving July 11, and I need two, and the Swift bag above is available in the end of July.

    Does anyone have an opinion about this bag,

    link to amazon.com

    could it be as good?

    Reply
  65. Art Bedard

    Been using my Aerus Bag (HumblePower $305) for six month now. I have not paid a bike fee in the four trips I took to date!

    Reply
  66. Andrew from CBS

    Great reviews, DCR, and glad to hear on CBC that the girl's cupcake venture in Paris is working out well. I raced with you when you did the St. John's tri.. Sorry about those flats!! Here's my question: I've only travelled with my shiv once, but hope to continue to travel w my bike perhaps once per year for a goal race. As its only once per year I don't mind swallowing the fee. In this case do you think the extra protection of a hard shell case (considering bikebox Alan) would be worthwhile? Keep up the great reviews and hope to see you back on the NL race circuit soon.

    Reply
  67. Great article. You can view the Bicycle Travel bag at http://www.bikebags.com
    For $129.95 its a great alternative to hard cases and made with the highest ROME Bike Bag quality since 1995

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      That bag doesn't really seem like something you'd actually board a plane with - more for just packing a bag to put in a car. Definitely doesn't seem to have sufficient padding.

      Reply
  68. Andrew

    Ray, have you seen the "replacement" bag in person yet? Curious how you think it compares to the Aerus.

    Aerus Biospeed:link to mpgear.com

    Swift: link to mpgear.com

    Thanks,
    Andrew

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      No, I haven't. Perhaps at Interbike or Eurobike coming up in Aug/September. Sorry!

      Reply
  69. A couple of questions:

    1. I'm guessing that 99.99% of your business travel is solo? I find that sharing a rental car with coworkers is more of an obstacle than finding the optimal way to pack the bike for air travel.
    2. Is this bag small enough for the 25-30 seat regional turboprops?

    FYI, I'm currently using the Bike Friday in the hard case method. It's worked out generally well for most riding, though the 20" wheels have been a little sketchy on downhills or rough terrain. My needs have been a little different than yours, in that my goal has been a smaller total package size for occasional use on a private plane, or taking along on family vacations without hogging valuable space. But now I'm looking at alternatives so I can take a "real" bike instead, thanks for the post!

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Hi Brian-

      1) Yes, it's solo in that I tend to have my own rental car. So it would depend a little bit on how many other folks you're sharing with. I've found that 80% of the time the bag will fit in a rental car trunk easily. And 100% of the time in the backseat. So if you were more than 2 people (say 3), you'd want to ensure it could fit in the trunk, so that other luggage could still go in the backseat.

      2) No problems with regional turboprops. I've done a few flights that way, in/out of smaller California airports, and up in Canada.

      The one good piece there is if you were in a private plane situation and some strange reason it didn't fit - it's actually really easy to take it out of the bag and put the bike in the plane and just roll up the bag. I did that with a friend in a private plane situation (really small 4-seater). Without wheels, a bike will fit in even the smallest of spaces.

      Reply
  70. Thanks for the info. Should you get your hands on a Swift, I look forward to a future update of this review, and whether the Swift's size increase over the Aerus (by about 10cm x 6cm x 6cm) is an issue in reality.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't at the moment have a plan to add more bike case reviews to my lineup. Only because realistically a bike case review requires travelling with a bike case - which means tempting the airline gods in getting charged extra for my bike.

      Given my generally good luck (including just 60 minutes ago as I just checked in for a flight) with avoiding fees, I'm kinda content with things.

      Sorry!

      Reply
  71. tatnai

    Thanks Ray, find myself relying on you more and more as I spend more and more money on my bike. Your reviews are always exhaustive, covering everything I would want to know on the item/subject.

    Questions for others:
    1. Has anyone tried out this bag yet? Another "replacement" of the aerus biospeed that is OOS vs discontinued.
    link to mpgear.com

    2. How are folks doing on avoiding bike/oversize fees this years? About to fly United for a week long trip to Jackson Hole WY, and trying to decide if it is worth it to try and take the bike if I have to pay the $200 oversize/bike fee AND my extra bags fee.

    Thanks for any replies in advance.

    Reply
  72. Erin Dresden

    There is only one solution on the market designed specifically to meet the airline's stringent baggage requirements, the Hen House/Armored Hen House from Ruster Sports. Much of the feedback above is wonderful if you are one of the many attempting to dodge the counter agent despite your case being over-sized. We all know the game, it's a crap shoot! Quit playing the game with a stiff consequence ($150 one way), and get a case that has a proven track record. Check out the Hen House http://www.rustersports.com. I swear by this product, 6 successful round-trips has lead me to feel this thing!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The only challenge I see with that approach is that you may still get slapped with an extra bag fee - since the wheel bags would be extra (unless carry-on, but then you'll likely be checking a different carry-on bag instead).

      Reply
  73. Scott T

    Ray,
    Really in a quandary, what with the Aerus being discontinued. Don't care for any of the alternatives mentioned for the same reasons you mention. Any suggestions for another soft case? I also travel a fair amount (and am in IT) so I'd be happy to pass along what I find.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I've been in touch with the Travelspeed case, but don't have one on hand quite yet. In any event, it seems to look pretty darn close to identical to the Aerus.

      Reply
  74. tatnai

    Bought the Travelspeed bag. From Ray's pics, it is almost identical to the Biospeed bag. Well made, well padded. Traveled with it, didnt get charged extra using your tips. Came close though. Was asked whatbwas in the bag, said "equipment". What type of equipment said "equipment for work". Then paused and asked me directly, is it a bike? I said "it's a in-line wheel chair." Stopped asking. Picked it up and said wow that is light, I said "it's a carbon fiber in-line wheel chair..."

    Reply
  75. Scott T

    Can't seem to find a link for Travelspeed, anyone have one?

    Reply
  76. Scott T

    Perfect, thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Sonny replied

      Buy the Pik a Pak. I just took my 20th trip - only damage I've ever had was a rear derailleur hanger got pushed from behind and so getting the wheels in and out was a bit of a pain. The dropout itself was fine so I replaced the hanger and good as new.

      I have very rarely paid oversize (although I am pretty careful about what airline I fly). Even my last trip - Delta did not charge me $150 for the bike (although I did have to pay $100 for a second bag which is Delta's standard policy on all international flights, oversized or not). Buying a bag made in China may be just as good but only someone local like Mike is going to repair a bag.

      If you travel a lot, the bike bag will eventually develop little abrasion holes and the like. If you buy from Mike at Pik a Pak, Mike also repairs his bags for a nominal fee.

      Reply
  77. Chris Payne

    My wife became obsessed with this bag after our last trip when we spent $700 for 2 bikes. We have a Tri all 3 box, and a Seris clam shell box. I was trying to find the Aerus bag, but was having no luck. I contacted Blue Competition Cycles who was producing the Aerus bag. The rep informed me that they were no longer making the bag, but that Swift Carbon is making a bag called the Ochrana which is almost the same bag.
    I contacted Swift Carbon and basically found out that the guy who designed the Aerus is now working at Swift, and took the design with him. There are a few small improvements to the bag, a zipper pocket inside, and a small zipper pocket on the outside to store the shoulder strap. The price is around $325.
    Here is the link, link to swiftcarbon.com

    Reply
  78. Ray

    I long for the old days. I once checked a bike (ten speed!) by just rolling it up to the counter. They put a tag on it and just took. Three thousand miles later in bag claim, I picked the bike up and rode it to long term parking.

    Reply
  79. Mercury

    I used the Hen House twice. Both times, my $3000 bike was damaged. Bent derailleur hanger one time, rear dropouts compressed the other time so that the rear wheel would not go back on. Luckily, damage was repairable. I followed their instructions to the letter. I used their special skewer between the rear dropouts and made sure it was tightened properly. I padded the heck out of everything. I had to pay $70 in fees each way, since the airline I flew on did not offer any free checked bags.

    A soft case requires significant disassembly and reassembly, including fork, aerobars, and rear derailleur.

    As much as I hear people saying that small amounts of damage are an acceptable alternative to ridiculous bike fees, consider what happens if your carbon frame is damaged beyond repair. Also, consider that the average triathlete probably only travels to a couple of races each year. How do you want to spend your first day at the race venue: relaxing and getting in your race mindset, or putting together your bike only to find it damaged, then having to compete with thousands of other athletes to get it repaired and potentially not being able to do your pre-race workouts?

    Reply
  80. Andrew

    Definitely interested to see how many people like the Carbon Swift as that looks to be the only one being made right now. Interested in how it compares to the Biospeed and packaging and airline fees.

    Reply
  81. dustin

    Wifey bought me the Carbon Swift Ochrana bag for x-mas. I promptly packed my bike up just to see how to do it and if it was enough protection. It was easy to pack up by using the advice in this article. The bag itself seems very durable and well made. I am probably just being paranoid, but I would be a little hesitant to hand my $6k race bike over to baggage handlers at the airport in this bag without some added protection. To remedy the situation I went to the local Target and bought a 2in thick foam mattress pad for $50. Then I cut out two pieces, one for each side of the bag\bike. The added padding made a world of difference...Now I would feel fine checking it on the plane. It would be nice if the bag came with the extra padding, but $50 is a small price to pay to make sure my bike arrives without being damaged.

    Reply
  82. Sean

    Potentially looking to pick up the Ochrana, but wondering if airlines have tightened up on the soft-sided bike bags since this post first came out? I'm a Delta regular if folks have any experience with them in particular. Thanks!

    Reply
  83. Jon

    I am quite keen on getting a Biospeed to take my carbon bike from London to Australia. The thing I have found that is most of the insurance companies in the UK will only cover your bike for damage in transit if you comply with airlines guidelines.

    In this instance I am flying with Emirates and they specify you must use a hard case or sign a form to say you absolve them of responsibility for damage to your bike.

    Reply
  84. Dom

    Hi all,
    Could someone do me a favor, I have a Trek Madone (58cm) as you may be aware they have integrated seat post, if someone could measure the inside for me as Planet X have the Aerus on sale. It's a good price but I need the bike to fit,
    Best regards
    Dom
    link to planetx.co.uk

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't have mine handy at the moment, but essentially if you take the 65cm for the vertical dimensions, you lose about 2cm on top and bottom (4cm total) + about 3-4cm for the padding on the bottom, thus, 8cm total. However, there's a bit of give there because it's fabric, so realistically you could probably get it 'back' to close to 65cm with the give, but then it becomes risky as it makes it more vulnerable to hits.

      Reply
  85. Jonas Hallström

    Thanks a lot. I got an Aerus from http://www.on-one.co.uk Going to use it for Paris-Roubaix Challange in April. I´m excited.

    Regards
    Jonas

    Reply
  86. Beth

    As always, great review!

    I'm wondering what it's like to shlep the bag around given that it doesn't have wheels on the bottom. More specifically, I'm wondering what the girl's take on it is. Does it get heavy and cumbersome and would she prefer wheels to aid in moving it around the airport, transit stations and hotels? I see you have it on a luggage cart at the airport, but carts are not always readily available.

    Thanks again for all the great and thorough reviews!
    Cheers,
    Beth

    Reply
  87. dave

    Just ordered this for moving back to NZ. Great review as always, Ray.

    Reply
  88. Some small reflections from some short flights. I was told to always pre-register because I have a bike. Reason, sometimes they use the airlines small plane, you know, with just two or three seats on each side. When it is not sure that the bag enters bagege space.

    Wheels on the bag would be fine. Last, I had only the bike and hand luggage. Had the bag had wheels, I would not have to run around on a twisty cart.

    Believe that it is now a bit difficult to "fool" the airlines that it is a bike;-)
    As long as you do not exceed the maximum weight of your luggage should not be a concern. It works fine with SAS (23 kg) and Air Brussels (23 kg), do not forget to pre-register only. Probably at the time of ticket purchase. Probably there is no problem on continental flights (bigger planes).

    Moreover, the bag is great.

    Reply
  89. Manuel

    Hello Ray

    Where can i find an importer who sell this case in the netherlands ?
    Iam unable to find the homepage\ who sells them.

    Kind Regards

    Manuel

    Reply
  90. Karim

    do you have any experience or thoughts on the Pika Packworks cases? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, I don't. Though, it does appear to be nearly identical.

      Reply
    • JJ replied

      Karim - I just purchased a pika packworks and used last weekend. I am impressed with the quality of material and construction of the case. Took me about 45 mins to pack the first time because I took extra precautions and used pipe insulation and bubble wrap to add some additional protection for my carbon road bike. Travelled on jet blue with a connecting flight through chicago and JFK and it protected my bike well. Jet blue did not think it was oversized and was so light did not charge me anything both ways. It is so light on the return flight the agent had a curious look when she picked it up and asked if it was a mattress. I just said no and told her I would give her 20 guesses (she didn't say anything else)

      TSA did inspect both ways and the bike was repacked well. I have only used once bit so far can recommend.

      Reply

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