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by Dave Rome
December 24, 2019
Photography by Dave Rome
After 11 years in the bike case market, Evoc’s latest, the Road Bike Bag Pro, is the German company’s first dedicated solution for travelling with road and timetrial bikes. It’s a product that shows a deep knowledge of the role of a bike case, and where the chinks in the armour of other products lay.
Bike bags are a core product in Evoc’s extensive product range and pre-existing models have a loyal following. Their hybrid construction aims to offer the protection and easy wheeling of a hard case, combined with the lighter weight, easier packing and convenient storage of a soft bag.
The new Road Bike Bag Pro takes many of the lessons learned with Evoc’s previous bags and brings them into a premium product with a far narrower focus. It’s an extremely interesting product with countless clever features and a design which makes it the quickest bag to pack that I’ve ever used.
It seems that road bikes are forever getting harder to travel with. Over the years frames have become far more delicate to impact, brakes have become fussier to setup, and derailleurs more easily bent out of shape. And then there’s the latest trend – integrated handlebar and stem designs that are a straight-up problem to remove or adjust. As a result, the vast majority of travel cases and bags on the market can be a pain to use, and most require you to at least remove your seatpost, handlebar, pedals and wheels.
For many years the Scicon AeroComfort Road has been the go-to road bike-specific travel bag for those who wanted the simplest travel experience with the least amount of bike disassembly. And a quick glance at Evoc’s Pro Road Bag would have you believe it’s a rip-off of Scicon’s hugely popular design: both are designed on a rigid base with a stand to hold the frame, both support the bike by the front and rear dropouts, and both allow drop handlebars and the stem to remain in an untouched and forward position.
But that’s about where the similarities end. And it’s quite obvious that Evoc has looked carefully at the weaknesses of Scion’s bag, namely the fact its four-wheeled design is commonly tipped upside down to go on conveyor belts (putting the lightly protected shifters at risk), or that it lacks protection for delicate seatstays.
With solutions to these surprisingly common issues, Evoc has taken the good stuff from its pre-existing bag range. However, such advancements haven’t come cheaply, and where Evoc’s own regular Pro bike bag retails for US$730 /AU$999 and Scicon’s AeroComfort 3.0 TSA is US$899 / AU$949, the Evoc Road Bike Bag Pro is US$925 / AU$1,399.
The Road Bike Bag Pro is shipped in a long cardboard carton, with the bag folded in its most compact state. Opening the bag reveals a number of pieces to this case, and some tool-free assembly is required before it’s ready for adventures.
The soft-sided padded bag offers a moulded hard EVA top and bottom, with the bottom accompanied by aluminium slide rails affixed to the base. Long and thin strips of hard plastic are inserted vertically in the soft bag’s sides to give shape and semi-rigid protection. And PVC pipe is inserted horizontally into each side of the bag to give it further shape and strength.
These plastic ribs are what turn the Evoc bag into a semi-hard case.
There are four of those thin strips of plastic per each side of the bag (eight in total), a component I’ll refer to as the ribs. These ribs run much of the height of the bag, guided through slots in the bag’s sides and into the hard base. They add a remarkable amount of stability and structure to the case and act like the sides a shoebox — not all that strong on their own, but they become unexpectedly solid when combined with a rigid base and lid.
Getting the ribs in place the first time is nothing short of a pain, and you’ll certainly want to make use of both the included pull loops and closing velcro tabs to help pull them down. I personally found some of the ribs that ran at a diagonal angle to be a particular challenge, and sweating and swearing were both involved when the bag was new. Thankfully they become easy to insert with use and practice.
With four different lengths and widths of ribs used, I was surprised to find a complete lack of colour or number coding to make the setup process easier. The provided instruction manual numbers them by relative size to one another, but it could be easier. Thankfully this assembly is likely to be a once-off occurrence for most people, but it remains a weak point for those wanting to store or transport the bag in its most compact form.
The plastic ribs go all the way into the bottom of the bag. One side must be dislodged in order to gain open access to the bag.
The ribs are so effective that the bag cannot be fully opened until one side of these ribs is partially dislodged/removed. While extremely unlikely, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which an airport security agent will have to force their way into the case without knowing the simple steps to ease the process. Still, if given the choice between protecting the bike in transit or protecting the case against an over-eager security agent, I’ll always pick the former.
With the bag now in its semi-rigid shape, the bike stand needs to be assembled. This surprisingly weight-efficient design simply consists of two aluminium rods and two plastic dropout holders, which all lock together. The rear dropout holder slides along the rods and caters for bikes with up to a 106 cm wheelbase.
A road bike installed on the bike holder.
The fork holder includes axle adapters for either 100 x 5 mm (QR) or 100 x 12 mm (thru-axle) forks and consists of two height options. The rear dropout holder comes with inserts for 130x5mm (QR), 135 x 10 mm (thru-axle), and 142 x 12 mm (thru-axle) and offers four different height settings. The adapters and holders are non-marring and designed to easily clear derailleurs and disc brake calipers.
Also provided are quality wheel bags with reinforced centers. They’re sized for a snug fit with road bike tyres and realistically an inflated 30 mm tyre is about the maximum they can handle. Similarly, a quality foam-padded handlebar and hood protector is included, and it’s simply strapped into place.
It’s the plastic device that looks somewhat like a Yoyo that’s arguably the most clever feature of the entire bag. With an adjustable width, this widget velcros into place at the rear of the bag and protects the delicate seatstays and derailleur from damage. I don’t throw out this term often, but it’s genius design.
The bag includes everything pictured.
Finally, the bag features two fixed and inline rollerblade-like wheels at the rear. A third swivel wheel is included and can be clipped to the front handle for easy mobility – however it does need to be removed and stashed into its own external pocket at baggage check-in.
All told, the case weighs an actual 11 kg including the road bike holder, 12 mm thru-axle adapters (front and rear), wheel bags, handlebar protector, rear-end protector and clip-on front wheel. It’s not a super-light figure by any means, but still respectable given the protection and ease-of-use offered. For comparison’s sake, the Scicon Aerocomfort 3.0 weighs just over 8 kg (claimed), while EVOC’s regular Pro bag is about 10 kg.
On the assumption that you ride a relatively normal road bike, then getting ready to travel with this bag is extremely quick and easy. Where my own Thule RoundTrip Traveler case takes me almost 20 minutes to pack, I was getting ready to go in under five minutes with the Evoc. The steps I took are as follows:
1. Dislodge one side of the case’s ribs and open case.
2. Take the bike holder out of the bag and insert the appropriate axle adapters.
3. Shift chain into the big ring and the smallest cog at back.
4. Remove pedals from bike and stash them into their own internal pocket.
5. Remove wheels from bike.
6. Remove quick-release skewers or thru-axles and keep them handy.
7. Place fork onto front dropout holder and clamp into place with bike’s QR/thru-axle.
8. Place rear dropout onto rear dropout holder, noting to catch the top of the chain onto the dummy axle and then clamp into place with the bike’s QR/thru-axle.
9. Put wheels into wheel bags.
10. Clip handlebar protector into place.
11. Put bike frame and holder into the case. Affix the bottom straps over the top of the bike to lock it all into place.
12. Put wheels on each side of the bike.
13. Strap seatpost, frame or handlebar to side of bag with provided velcro straps.
14. Put frame wedge in place at rear of bike.
15. Re-insert the case’s ribs and zip-up case.
The case is lightning quick not only for how little bike disassembly is required but also because you’re not required to wrap each tube in protective foam. Absolutely you could provide your own foam or additional protection for additional piece of mind, but it’s not an absolute must and Evoc has built the case to keep the bike stable and protected.
However, it’s worth noting that smaller bikes are always easier to pack, and my 52 cm frame size is certainly on the easier end. The case was designed to allow you to leave your handlebar and saddle height untouched, but my 735 mm saddle height only just cleared the top of the bag.
The bike holder offers four different axle heights. Which one to use will depend on your chainring sizes and bottom bracket drop. I can’t imagine the lowest setting being needed.
The bike holder offers four different height settings because you need to setup the frame in the lowest possible position without the big chainring touching the floor. In my case, a 52T chainring plus a 72 mm bottom bracket drop meant I needed the highest available setting – which then meant my 735 mm saddle height pushed the available limits.
Evoc claims the case can fit a maximum 86 cm height measured from the bottom of the chainring to top of the saddle. Ideally I’d have liked to see even more vertical height provided and I suspect many riders will need to lower or remove their seatpost (or seatpost topper for integrated designs) in order to correctly fit the bike into this case. Of course, it’s a trade-off, and additional height just makes what’s already a relatively large bag even larger.
The 50 cm maximum handlebar width (measured outside-to-outside at the widest point) is another consideration if you ride a gravel bike with a wide-flared handlebar. The case has been designed to cater for triathlon and timetrial bikes with room for extensions, however, admittedly I didn’t test this aspect. And while the case can be used with the handlebar removed, at that point you’re likely better off saving some money and going with Evoc’s regular Pro case.
A good bike case should keep your pride and joy secure and safe, but also be easy to move and carry at either end of the journey – and the Evoc Road Bike Bag Pro is a good bike case.
As covered, getting your bike into the case is a pretty simple process, and arguably the hardest part is getting those plastic ribs to secure into the base. The large zippers are durable, but care should be taken with getting them around the hard and tight corners at the top. And once zipped up, the case offers an integrated TSA-approved combination lock.
Carrying the case is made easy with handles on the top, front, back and sides. I found that the odd shape, which narrows dramatically after the handlebar section, contours with my hips.
The EVOC Road Bike Bag Pro is not small. However, that size is trade-off for easy packing and secure protection.
Wheeling the loaded bag is pretty easy with the wide-set rear wheels and large front handle. The optional front wheel means you can easily guide the bag without having to lift it, but do beware that it’s noticeably less stable on uneven surfaces.
Perhaps the only clear room for complaint is related to the case’s size. A total length of 137 cm and a height of 90 cm makes it a tricky one to fit into common small hire cars. It’s slightly shorter in length than Evoc’s regular Pro bag, but is both wider and taller. Similarly, it’s a fair bit longer than Scicon’s bag. But hey, if you’re splurging this much on a bike case, you can probably justify the upgraded hire car.
There’s a lot I absolutely love about this case. The ability to leave my saddle and handlebars exactly in the right place makes this case an absolute breeze to pack and unpack. The level of protection is certainly a few notches higher than that of the comparable Scicon bag (even more so given the two-wheeled design won’t be turned upside down by baggage handlers). And the general construction quality and care in the details can’t be over-emphasised either. I truly believe that Evoc is not taking the piss with the high asking price.
However, that sheer ease of packing that I experienced isn’t likely the same for someone with a taller saddle height. Similarly, with a shape that looks like a 250cc sportbike from the top, there’s no ignoring that cumbersome shape or the 137 cm edge-to-edge length when travelling in smaller cars.
And then there’s my personal issue with this case. I ride all types of bikes, and having an expensive case that’s only suited to a specific type of bike just isn’t for me. I really like the hybrid case design, but I’m willing to suffer the slower and more painful packing of Evoc’s regular Bike Travel Pro bag in order to save a little money and use the same case to take my mountain bike on a holiday, too.
In short, if all you want to travel with is a road (or tri) bike, and you have ample space at either end of your journey for a large case, then this one won’t disappoint.
The contents when brand new. The bag comes with a surprising number of items within it.
A closer look at the small pieces that make up the bike holder. They may be plastic, but they’re well thought-out. Evoc provides both 12 mm thru-axle and QR adaptors for the front fork holder, and three rear axle adapters are provided which slide and then lock into place.
Simply remove the ribs and PVC rods and the Evoc Road Bike Bag Pro can be folded into a compact state.
The integrated lock is TSA-approved. Unlike a seperate padlock, being integrated means you don’t have to worry about losing it.
The wheel bags offer plastic protectors for disc rotors and cassettes.
The rear wheels roll freely and are made to take a beating.
The hard bottom features aluminium slide rails which add protection and rigidity to the case.
A closer look at the rigid top section for where the handlebars sit.
This plastic wedge is what keeps your seatstay and rear derailleur safe. It works well.
Here is the plastic wedge installed in the bag. There’s a long patch of velcro which holds it in place. So simple, so effective.
The case itself has a unique profile that somewhat flows with the contours of your bike.
The bag is at its widest where the handlebars sit. It’s pretty wide in this spot. The two handles on the top are the most comfortable of the lot.
The other handles on the bag are more typical and well-reinforced.
Another angle of the case. From the front it looks quite normal.
The front wheel is designed for easy transit, but needs to be removed once checked-in.
There’s a side pocket for that clip-on front wheel. There’s also a personal info card just above this pocket.
Each side of the bag uses a piece of PVC pipe for protection along its length.
The bike holder sits loosely in the case, but the case features fixed straps to secure the bike and holder into place.
There’s only one pocket inside the bag. It’s large enough to fit pedals, a long pedal wrench and maybe some small accessories.
The handlebar protector complements the bag’s hard top.
The bag in its packed state. Note the plastic ribs poking out – these need to be pulled out slightly in order to fully open the bag.
The bag is designed to work with integrated seatposts, but the available height may be a little limiting for taller riders.
Chainring clearance is the main restriction for whether your seatpost will fit without lowering it. I needed to place the bike on the highest dropout setting in order for my chainring to clear the base.
The fork holder offers two different heights. Ideally you’d use the lower of the two, but your fork shape may not allow you to do so.
The bag also features a number of velcro straps for securing the bike to the material.