PRO Bike Travel Case Mega - review - Road Cycling UK

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PRO Bike Travel Case Mega – review

Big, flexible and easy-to-pack bike bag, but how much do you trust your baggage handlers?

The prospect of packing away a bike for your travels can often involve consternation – leaving your pride and joy in the hands of others an uncomfortable experience. If you don’t mind the general soft bag design, the PRO Mega bike bag is a well-thought out design if used properly and treated with care.

Bike boxes and bags come in two forms – boxes… and bags. I’m loathe to start with such an obvious statement, but which you choose depends on how comfortable you are with the third party who have to lug it around in your absence.

Choose a softer construction, then you need to have faith that it’ll be stored considerately in the hold, away from luggage might impact or crush against the bag itself. A harder construction will save you from that worry, but can be a little more fiddly to break down and pack.

The PRO Mega bike case is the former, and is really rather sizeable to boot.

The PRO Mega Bike Case boasts plenty of storage space, with an aluminium base frame and hard plastic base the only solid parts of the construction

Interestingly, PRO don’t quote a capacity figure, but they do claim it’s capacious enough to take road, time trial and even mountain bikes.

  • Specification

  • Price: £379.99 RRP
  • Weight: 8.7kg
  • Website: PRO

It houses an aluminium base frame to which adjustable brackets are fixed so that the dropouts of your bike can be fixed via a skewer. The base is built using a hard durable plastic, but they are the only solidly constructed part of the case, unless you count two vertically-inserted plastic poles at either end that add a little rigidity and support.

The rest is built of a soft, foam-padded, tear-resistant material, of which the side panels house large pockets to accommodate removed wheels and accessories.

Internally, you’ll find an array of foam pads that attach via Velcro to the internal sidewalls to help protect your bike from impacts and unexpected pressure from the outside, alongside a couple of pads that tie to the frame to offer a little extra protection, as well as an included chain cover sheath and bag for helmet or shoes.

Packing

One of the great things about the Mega bike case is it allows you to get away with the minimum of work in terms of breaking your bike down in order for it to fit.

In reality, the only things that need removing are the wheels, with the seatpost loosened and fully depressed into the frame and the headset loosened so the bars can be twisted under the toptube. The pictorial instructions encourage you to remove the bars and stem entirely and attach them to the supplied bike frame protector, but I honestly found it unnecessary with my 56cm frame bike.

Once prepared, you then slot the bike into the bag, with the dropouts in line with the higher of the two brackets that house your wheel skewers (the lower bracket is for mountain bike users). The front accepts anything from 90-110mm, and the rear 130-150mm, with an extra chain guide handily placed alongside to keep it in check.

Then you can slot the skewer through the bracket and dropouts in order to keep the bike in place, with the weight of the bike resting upon the skewers themselves. It’s not totally free within the bracket – there’s a ‘pull-and-fix’ fabric tightener to help fix the skewer to the bottom of the bracket – but it does leave a little wiggle room with the bike fixed semi-securely to the base frame as a result.

The PRO Mega requires minimal work to get your bike packed away and ready for transit

With all the supplied foam pads and chain cover in place (adjustable depending on the size and dimensions of your bike), you can then zip up the side cover, using the outer body of the bag as another layer of support for the frame inside.

Get it right, and the bike is securely fitted, although it took a few attempts and adjustments to get this spot on each time we fitted our bike to it.

Then, you can slot wheels into each side of the outer zipped compartments – both padded – and throw in any extra bits and bobs too, including helmet, shoes, chamois cream and the like. I urge caution here, making sure the loose bits are placed so that they can rest inside the frame, minimising the potential for any damage to be caused in transit – an endeavour I had mixed success with.

For me, the bottom line is it took around 30 minutes to get the bike in place – and that’s from scratch, with a generally limited ability for mechanical maintenance and building on my part. If I can do it, anyone can, which makes the half hour I spent on it all the more impressive.

Plenty of padding and internal space

In action

I’ve used the bike bag on a few occasions over the past few months, with solid and repeatable results, each time keeping the bike and wheels safe inside. The main test, however, came when I took it to the Étape du Tour this year, and it was here the positives and negatives of the soft construction really reared their heads.

On the trip, the bag had to look after my bike on two flights (Bristol to Geneva, with an outward stopover in Frankfurt and return stopover in Munich), a private shuttle transfer on arrival and coach-commuter transfer on return, and being left in the combined logistical hands of DHL and the ASO as the bag was transported from Megève to Morzine while I took the long way round. In between, I’d be lugging it around on the four wheels, getting a thorough all-round test.

The first thing to note is how easy it is to roll forwards and back, under the guidance of the handle on the upper edge. The wheels roll freely and easily, and are good at dealing with less-than-airport-smooth floors.

However, I would argue they’re a little too easy to manoeuvre, thanks to the generally soft build of the bag and free nature of all four wheels. Trying to guide the bag via either the top or leading edge handles can result in a lot of twisting as your inputs aren’t guided to the hard base and wheels, lost in the flexibility of the bag itself. It’s very easy for it to get away from you, twisting whichever way it chooses if you start moving on anything less than a perfect trajectory.

As a result, you really need two hands on the case at most times, which can be difficult if you’re also pulling along hand luggage as well – and you also need to bear in mind the negative impact sheer size has on manoeuvrability too.

Beyond that, the case was largely out of my hands – so on the other end of my flights and transfers the true test was retention of the bike on the frame, and the hardiness of the outer fabric.

In truth, the case is very good at keeping the bike in place, and the tethers to hold the skewers down do an admirable job – the bike was never twisted or out of place when I received it back, with the chain still guided through the guide on the rear bracket.

As you’d expect, there was no damage to the frame, although it became apparent the saddle in its depressed position became a support point for the top of the bag – arguably not the best scenario for the health of both the seatpost and seattube.

Where I did spot a damage over the course of my usage was where the freehub body of the rear wheel had poked outwards against the case. Clearly it had come under pressure in transit – potentially dropped on its side at some point – because it had rubbed a small hole clean through on the weaker, outer fabric, although not completely through the foam padding, curiously.

You could argue I could flip it round and have the freehub pointing inside, but the outward pressure is still present against the hub even if you do this, and now the offending part is facing your bike frame instead.

I can’t blame PRO for the actions of baggage handlers, but the fact a hole had eroded in the outer does indicate a weakness that could be improved upon. A clear plastic panel on the inside, for example – like the kind you get on plastic tent windows – might have helped avoid the cosmetic damage to the bag, and helped definitively guide the user in terms of where you should keep the rear wheel.

The size makes the bag hard to manoeuvre, however, and the soft, foam-padded material is susceptible to damage

So, was there any further evidence of weakness? The outer fabric is susceptible to marking and scraping if left on its side on the floor and dragged, as is possible when not in your possession. On getting it back from the Étape baggage shuttle crew I’d noticed it had been knocked over and left on its side. And while that does reflect slightly negatively on the service at the time, it also reflects negatively on the bike case too – you’d hope it could deal with a bit of potential mistreatment from time to time.

Also, on one of the journeys, I chose to make use of the helmet bag and keep my helmet inside, instead of strapped to my hand luggage. The end result? A decent lid – a Kask Mojito – returned off the return flight with a dent in the upper fascia, indicative of a whack or some fair pressure encroaching into the zipped cavities designed to hold such accessories. While superficial, the helmet remains dented and looks as though it’s been in an accident – not ideal.

However, despite the obviously rough treatment by a third party, the bike remained in place and secure, and suggests that although it’s overall hardiness can legitimately be questioned, it’s decent at performing its core job of retaining the frame in place.

Conclusion

The PRO Mega bike case is quite literally a mixed bag. It’s very easy to install your bike in, with the internal base frame adjustable to take nearly any size of bike, and the flexibility for use with mountain bikes, if that’s your thing. It’s also secure once the bike is in place, which at the core is what we’re after.

However, the innate weakness inherent to a bag construction over a hard-style box rears its head, not least through the damage visible on the external sidewall, and the cosmetic dents that appeared on my helmet after making use of the bag’s ability to carry accessories too. And, overall, it’s not the easiest to drive.

Bottom line? If you can trust your baggage handlers to look after it in your absence, then it’s a perfectly capable bike bag and will take care of your frame, with plenty of space for our bike, plus accessories if you want to leave them there. But if you can’t, then a soft bag with a sturdier construction or a hard case would be a safer option.

Pros

  • Easy to pack
  • Minimal bike fiddling needed
  • Big and flexible capacity

Cons

  • Weak outer fabric
  • Susceptible to crushing forces/heavy impacts
  • Difficult to manoeuvre

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