Sometimes the hardest part of a triathlon isn’t the training or the diet but can often be how to transport your triathlon bike to the race. There are numerous ways to transport your pride and joy and they all have pros and cons that you need to weigh up before choosing the right way for you.
Three methods to transport a triathlon bike
First you need to know whether your bike is carbon fiber or aluminium. This makes a huge difference in how to transport your bike. While the working parts need to be protected in every bike, the aluminium frame is stronger than the carbon frame and won’t break as easily in transit. Of course aluminium isn’t indestructible either.
You have three basic choices in how to pack and transport the bike to your event . The first and cheapest is the bike box that the bike is sold in. The second is the solid purpose-built bike bag and the third is the soft purpose-built bike bag.
Cardboard Bike Box
Made of solid thick cardboard, you can pick these up from any bike shop. Just make sure to pick a size that fits your bike. You can also buy them online if you’re in a remote location.
This is a great way if you have a less valuable bike and are just going from point A to B. If you travel less frequently you can just recycle the box at the end of the trip instead of finding space to store the box.
The downside of this method is that it is just a box and you will need to really pack up the bike to stop it moving around and damaging vital moving parts.
They are also very awkward to carry. If you have a large TT bike the box will be big and while not heavy, not easy to move around if you have to take either public transport or a hire car.
I used this method travelling to Ironman Thailand but don’t recommend it.
Hard Bike Bag
This option is the best in terms of protecting your triathlon bike. With its hard shell the bike isn’t squashed or banged about as the baggage handlers move it across the airport.
Inside the box there are places to secure the bike parts that you need to remove when packing it up for transportation. Both wheels, frame and handlebars may come off. The more deluxe hard bike bags will also allow you to store the tools that you’ll need to rebuild your bike on arrival.
The downside is weight. Being a hard case the total weight is large. All airlines have weight limits and while a good quality triathlon bike isn’t heavy, with spare parts and tools it will soon add up. Make sure you get one with wheels. Hard bike bags also cost the most and are upwards of $400 for a good one.
I’d recommend this if you have a very expensive bike and are just going from point A to point B without any side trips.
Soft Bike Bag
The most common way of transporting a triathlon bike is the soft bike bag. There are numerous types on the market but all have an outer nylon cover much like a backpack.
The bike is protected to a certain point but if you drop the bag or it has another bag placed on top then the bike or wheels may be damaged. The bike is attached to the inside as with the hard cases but this won’t offer any protection besides the bike not moving in the bag.
The beauty of soft bags is their low weight. You won’t have to worry so much about airline restrictions on weight and can carry the bag over your shoulder.
Storage when not using it is best with soft bags as they are folder up in a cupboard out-of-the-way.
It depends on not just your budget but also circumstances. If you are only racing in the immediate vicinity then a cardboard or soft bike bag will be ideal. You’re not taking your $5000+ triathlon bike across the country but your cheaper trainer then ye,s save the money and get the soft bag. If you’re going to Kona and spent both large amounts of time and money qualifying, then the savings won’t be worth it if you arrive with a broken bike.
I’ve given you the 3 best options here and it is up to you to decide what suits both your budget and needs. I recommend buying from a big company such as Evans or Wiggle, both of which have worldwide deliver and a great returns and help department if you’re not entirely satisfied. Happy riding
This post contains affiliate links. They cost you nothing extra and keep the website, and me, running.