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Which travel case should I buy?


With several S&S travel bike cases available it may be hard to choose the right one since they are all made to carry your bicycle and protect it in transit. We sell a lot of travel bikes equipped with S&S couplers and for many years we had just two choices for cases, the original Hard Case and the Backpack Case.

Since introducing our Co-Motion Co-Pilot Case (formerly called the Co-Motion Co-Pilot Hybrid Case) in 2007, it’s more clear to us than ever what the best choice is, and this is why we’re only selling the Co-Motion Co-Pilot case. However, we recognize that there are other choices, and we still field a lot of questions about which case to choose. Here are some facts and observations about some of the cases that are currently available, in the interest of helping you to make an informed decision.

HARD SHELL CASE FACTS

At first glance it may appear that a hard shell cases offer the best overall protection. In use however, the hard cases sometimes seem to expose your bicycle to overzealous luggage handlers, who at times will treat the luggage that looks like it can handle the roughest handling with… well, rough handling. We’ve seen many incidences of hard case carry handles and latches damaged or completely sheared off in transit, which sometimes can lead to a damaged bicycle.

A hard case may give you a false sense of security. Your bicycle needs to be packed as carefully in a hard case as in one of the soft-shell alternatives. Keep in mind that most of the damage we see to bicycles packed in hard cases is from loose items rattling around inside the case, or improper padding. Travelers seem more motivated to carefully pack and pad their bicycles in the soft-shell luggage, and this may be why we see less damage to bicycles packed into soft-shell luggage.

HARD SHELL CASE CHOICES Hardshell Case

The original Hard Case has a thin, yet fairly rigid outer shell to protect its contents and has a handle and wheels to make it easier to get around with it in the airport. This case features:

Thin, yet tough polyethylene shell
an interlocking aluminum perimeter lip, key-locking latches (TSA won’t allow locking these latches during travel)
A hasp for a TSA approved padlock or zip-tie
Wheels mounted in one corner, Pullman handle on opposite corner. Walk slowly to keep it tracking without wobble.
(26"x26"x10”=62 linear inches)

SOFT-SHELL CASE FACTS

We’ve always been enthusiastic proponents of the soft-shell luggage like the Backpack Case and Co-Motion Co-Pilot Case. Being flexible, they’re easier to pack your bicycle into, a real help with larger sized bicycles, or bicycles with wide rear axles, like our Americano Co-Pilot.

Soft luggage tends to receive better treatment by airport luggage handlers, which can make a real difference for the condition of your bike after several trips. If your soft-shell luggage does receive rough treatment, you may nd up with a scuffed bag, but handles and latches do not get knocked off, and the redundant perimeter straps doubly assure that your contents will arrive intact. Perhaps most important, you’ll probably do a more careful job packing your Co-Pilot into a soft-shell Co-Motion Co-Pilot Case or Backpack Case, because you you’re less likely to be overconfident in the case’s ability to protect your bike. And that’s good, because your extra care will only add to our tally of well-traveled bikes in soft luggage outperforming those packed in hard cases!

THE BACKPACK CASE Backpack Case

The less structured Backpack Case is easy to pack because of its flexibility. With semi-rigid perimeter panels, and exterior pockets that can be filled with protective materials like old towels or sheets of cardboard, the Backpack Case makes a very protective shell for your bike. Backpack straps allow toting the Backpack Case around the airport on your back, freeing your hands to carry the stuff you bought at the Duty Free shop. The Backpack case also folds into a compact size for storage or for shipping to your departure point.

We’re not going to pretend that the Backpack Case is a comfortable or convenient pack, but it does serve its purpose: Let’s say you’re traveling to a remote area, and you like to travel as lightly as possible. With a Backpack Case, you can arrive at your destination, unpack your bike, throw a duffel into the backpack case, adjusting the compression straps to snug up the load. From the airport, you can ride to your first hotel, pension, or hostel, where you may be able to arrange storage of the backpack, or ship it to your departure point.

Features at a glance:

Removable semi-rigid perimeter panels
large external pockets for adding additional perimeter protection, or for additional storage
Stow-able backpack straps tuck into exterior pockets when not in use
Compression straps for adjusting load.
The Backpack Case does not have wheels
(26"x26"x10”=62 linear inches)

THE CO-MOTION CO-PILOT CASE Hybrid Case

Our top recommendation, and the only case we currently offer is the Co-Motion Co-Pilot Case, which we designed to combine the best attributes of the Hard Cases and Backpack Case. With a tough nylon outer shell, it’s got rigid perimeter panels and pockets for protective materials. It’s outer skin is thicker and more difficult to penetrate than the Hard Case, just one more reason we believe it’s more protective. We fitted it with smooth-rolling wheels and a stow-able Pullman-handle to make toting your bike around an airport much easier.

No case can absolutely guarantee your bike arrives in perfect condition every time, but we believe your best insurance against damage is our Co-Pilot case. Subjected to rough handling, this case may get scuffed and scraped, but its hardware remains tenaciously intact, and the webbing straps provide redundant security to the tough 3/4-length zipper, keeping your bike as safe as possible.

Features at a glance:

Semi-rigid perimeter
Heavy-duty ballistic nylon exterior with tough corner reinforcements
Large external pockets for adding additional perimeter protection, or for additional storage
Zippered nylon interior liner
Interior reinforcements to prevent axle protrusion
Wide-mounted wheels and ergonomically designed telescoping Pullman handle for easiest walking (at a swift pace!) into and out of airports or hotels.
Luggage ID holder
You can easily strap on an additional piece of luggage for easy rolling, or even piggyback another Co-Motion Co-Pilot Case to simplify all that luggage juggling you do at the airport.
(26"x26"x10”=62 linear inches)