Bike Box - Soft vs Hard Shell

I’ve had a trawl through past posts and there is no clear sway in favour of one or the other.

Having recently given an arm and a leg to acquire a new carbon framed racing bike I am keen to make sure it is offered maximum protection when being flown to Asia and Austria in coming months.

Instinct tells me that I need a hard shell (Bike Box Alan) yet loads of online reviews rave about the soft case Evoc.  They of course can’t account for the baggage manhandlers at each airport and I wanted to hear whether any of you guys can vouch for the robustness of the Evoc, which is cheaper and needs far less space when it’s not being used – both of which are big plus points but not if at the expense of a dinked bike!


  • Well on last flight husbands bike box alan got totally bashed to bits and despite our fears the bike is fine.  At airport on flight out also saw a hard box in bits as the poor owner reported the damage to the airport staff.  I have heard the argument that the baggage handlers will treat soft bags with more care.... but will they?


    Bikeboxalan also has the anti-crush bar in the middle - makes it a pain to pack but it is genius none the less.

  • Our kids flew got Italy last night, one using a soft bag, the other a hard shell..... Will ask for a damage report when they get back ! 

  • I've got the Evoc and I think it's excellent. Been to Fuertaventura, Lanza and Toulouse with it and sustained no damage to bike so far. It's very well designed in as much as it uses the wheels plus strengthening rods to protect the frame in transit. When not in use it packs down really nicely and goes in the loft. I bought the extra fork protector which I think is also worth the extra. Highly recommended. 

  • Thanks guys - local bike shop were very enthusiastic about Evoc but then they don't sell 'Alan' and call me cynical but I'm a little sceptical that there isn't some commercial motive behind advice.

  • X-post there with Mouse.

    Thanks for that.  It's reassuring to know.  I might head back to bike shop, ask owner to stick his bike in bag whilst I kick living daylights out of it.  If he's agreeable to idea, perhaps I'll be more inclined to entrust it with the safety of my pride and joy at the mercy of the airport apes.

  • A hard bike box can crack and break. I've never transported a bike, but have flown with many pairs of skis, which baggage handlers take joy in throwing about. For skis I use a soft bag, then wrap them up inside with towels, jumpers etc.... I would think the same would work for a bike in a soft bag.

  • Robbie, if you want to borrow an Alan box and can pick it up from Surrey sometime, PM me.

  • That's an incredibly generous offer CD and one I may take you up on if I end up procrastinating over this one for long enough.  Thank you.

  • Bear in mind also who you inted to fly with. Flying with BA next month, I'm limited to 23kg (or pay £40 e/w extra for 32kg). With a BBA weighing in at 11.2kg, there's not a lot of headroom in there after the bike for tools and the necessary other bits. I've weighed in at 28kg the last two occasions I've flown (with EasyJet who allow up to 32kg when you book a bike ahead).

    With a soft case, you can afford a couple of extra towels in there to pad it out!

  • I've flown with my CF bike a fair few times in a soft shell bag and its been fine.

    It needs to be pipe lagged all over - you don't want any CF visible. Then pack it and add extra padding. And then add a bit more.

    If you'd be happy to throw the bike down the stairs then you know you've done your job.

    The 'Alan' is good for wheeling through airports though on four wheels.
  • We have a hard case bike box, it's been to Spain a few times an Vegas, the box has been really bashed about, but the bike has been fine. We pack cycle helmet, water bottles, tools etc in the box and have managed to be unweight at the airport every time.

  • This is a very tragic reason for recommending a hard case - but it makes me happy so here it is:  Mine now looks like an old fashioned suitcase with  stickers from races I have done, IM stickers, race numbers off my helmet from various sportives and stickers from places I love to visit.

  • Just as I was settling on taking my chances with Evoc soft-shell you go and throw that idea into mix GA.  Box coverings sound awesome and a tad less permanent than tattoos.

  • I bought an EVOC to go to the Alps.

    One of my friends had a hired hard case - not sure of the make though.

    Hers was infinitely easier to move about and quite a bit smaller.

    She booked hers on as an extra case an paid a modest fee on line in advance I think.

    My EVOC was bulky and difficult to manoevre.

    I felt I had to pad the bike up with all of my cycling gear - it wouldn't have seemed secure without....and so it effectievly doubled as my suitcase - as everything I needed for a week fitted around the bike with loads of room to spare.

    This however took it over 23kg - I think it was about 28kg - can't remember.

    Because I couldn't pay up front for the excess weight I ended up paying a large number of euros (69) on the way home to travel with it. Fortunately they turned a blind eye on the way out.

    The baggae handlers showed no care at all in throwing the EVOC about - there was no other way to move it really.

    All our bikes survived unscathed.

    If I could choose again I would definitely choose a hard case. It seemed a lot more secure, easy to manoevre, easier to pay for beforehand, and I'd take a separate case for my other gear - and not have to put everything in plastic bags to keep the bike oil off. 

  • So if you want to buy a once-used second hand EVOC with a fork protector....

  • K9 - Thanks for review.  With the flights I intend taking bike on in foreseeable future (Dec 13 & June 14), I have prebooked the bike as additional luggage so there shouldn't be any nasty surprises.  As I'd prefer to acquire box second hand, I'd be interested to receive photo and £ via PM, if you would.  Oh and location.  I'm based in Suffolk.

  • Funkin has the evoc, with extra bits as Mousie's. However, he's so bliddy tall, he had no choice really, his frame barely fits in a hard case...we've been to New Zealand, Lanza a couple of times and it's been good.

  • The hard case by dhb that I have worked really well and comes in at £170 on Wiggle currently, I was really impressed with it.  There was enough space to fit all of the components into and it came with wheel bags as well.  It is probably a bit heavier than the Evoc ones but I probably trust it more because of that.

  • weight is critical..  there is a good review of various bags on Bike Radar ... Best … bags

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