For riding across Japan, there was no question we were going to bring our own bikes. I really didn’t want anything to happen to my bike during the multiple flights and shipping processes we had ahead of us, so I turned to Thule. The RoundTrip Transition bike boxes are made from the same ABS material as the company’s car roof boxes, so I knew they could withstand whatever abuse awaited them.
Bomber Protection: Your bikes will survive unscathed from pretty much any abuse the airlines, shipping companies, or crazy bus and taxi drivers can throw at them. As mentioned above, the ABS construction is super tough and impact resistant, while the Click-Rail system keeps your bike firmly centered and bolted into the box.
Another cyclist in our group flew with his bike using a soft sided case from another brand. His bike arrived with a bent rear derailleur hanger, along with major Di2 cable and rear brake issues—I am not saying it was the fault of the bike bag per se, but we had absolutely no issues with either of our bikes.
Integrated wheels and monster padded handles: Three different handles and low profile wheels make it super easy to get around the airport, through hotels and extremely crowded train stations. Top tip: use an underhand grab on the front handle if you want to spare your knuckles.
Extremely easy to pack and unpack: Each bike took less than 30 minutes to break down and pack (that includes fully bubble wrapping the frame, which is not really necessary unless you are extra anal). Nylon wheel bags protect your precious carbon fiber wheels and keep them from damaging your frame.
Getting your bike in and out of the box is made super easy by the Click-Rail system. Your frame attaches to the rail via the front wheel quick release and at the back, a padded ratchet strap around your bottom bracket. This rail snaps into the base of the bike box, with a small center pull tab that triggers the catch and makes removing the rail a piece of cake.
Integrated work stand: The Click-Rail makes up the foundation of the work stand. Three legs, velcro strapped to the bottom of the bike box when not in use, slide right into a base that is clamped to the rail. Ever tried to assemble your bike without a work stand? Add to that a tiny hotel room that is barely big enough to fit your suitcase let alone a bike box and the situation becomes somewhat comical. The integrated work stand meant we could easily assemble or work on our bikes in the hotel hallway, or even out front of the local Ryokan.
Multipurpose: The RoundTrip Transition fits your road, mountain, or cyclocross bikes. The bike box includes thru axle adapters for 15mm and 20mm axles.
Yes, all this good means there has to be one or two tradeoffs. These are by no means deal breakers for me, but something to keep in mind when you need to figure out how best to get to and from the airport, especially in a foreign country. Luckily in Japan, everything can easily be shipped around the country in just a day or two.
Heavy: The box alone weighs over 35 pounds. That’s more than twice the weight of my bike. I am willing to live with the weight, however, knowing my bike is protected.
Big: If you remove the top handle, you could fit three RoundTrip Transition bike boxes side by side in a Lincoln Navigator (a huge car). Otherwise you can easily fit two lying sideways on top of each other. We can just barely fit two boxes lying on top of each other in the back of the Subaru Outback, as long as you load the bigger ends first.
If you love your bike and would hate to see it damaged in any way, the Thule RoundTrip Transition bike box is the best way to travel. It pretty much guarantees your bike will arrive safely.
The Thule RoundTrip Transition retails for $599.95 and is available now.