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February and early March sees a mass of cyclists evacuating the UK for a week or two for sunnier parts of Europe. Majorca, Lanzarote and the Costa Blanca are just a few of the more popular destinations for those cyclists who are after topping up their tans and getting the miles in.

A good few years back it was a case of sorting the trip out yourself, finding a cheap flight, accommodation, and talking cycling mates into taking the time off work to join you. Usually you’d end up in a hotel or apartment inundated with pensioners avoiding the UK winter weather. You’d be one of a handful of cyclists in the area who’d be feeling pretty smug that you’d managed to get 10 days off work and were “living the life of a pro”.

Now with numerous cycle training camp companies ready to help you get over there, feed you, show you the good roads and treat you “like a pro”, going abroad is a great way to start the season. After all, you need something to get you through the first few dark months of a new year. Generally the only thing January has going for it is the arrival of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs, oh and the Tour Down Under.

Baggage handlers are the arch nemesis of cyclists

You’ve booked your trip, dug out your shorts and the day before you leave it’s time to pack your pride and joy away ready for its voyage. It’s about this time that starting to pray to the baggage handler Gods is worth a try, praying that your bike will arrive at its destination in one piece. I’ve heard horror stories, the worse being a lovely Italian Alan frameset with it’s downtube being pierced by a rogue skewer.

This can really ruin a trip so the answer is to protect your steed. If you’re planning a trip it’s worth investing in a bike bag, so here’s a breakdown of what to look for when treating your bike to a bit of protection.

The BIknd Helium Bag. Pump Up the Jam!

First up there is a range of different bike bags out there. You can get soft style bags, great for lugging your bike about in the back of a car, storing it away in the garage during the off season or just giving it a bit of extra scratch and ding protection. They’re purely designed to make carrying your bike about easier. They have minimal padding but are great if you need to keep the baggage weight to a minimum. Just a bit of foam padding will help the bike but don’t expect miracles. The upside of these bags, apart from them being the lightest style, is that stuffing them away under the hotel bed is a doddle and they’re comparably cheaper than padded bags.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Qp0uguE7c]

Next up are the padded cases, these are usually made of a durable fabric lined with a dense foam. Pockets for the wheels and other items are usually built in, and you’ll probably find that these bags often come with a set of wheels on the bottom to make dragging it around the airport easy. On top of this some will even have the added benefit of a frame structure built in so that you can attach your bike frame to it. Keeping it from rocking and rolling all over the place. You may also get reinforcement rods to distribute shocks and make the bags a bit more solid, bags such as the great looking Evoc.

If you really cherish your bike and want to give it the best possible protection available there are a few options. You can either go for the hard plastic or EVA shell like cases. Specially designated areas and strapping for both wheels and frames mean nothing’s going to rub or jump around during transit. Great if you’re not restricted to weight with your airline. They’ll handle almost anything a heavy handed baggage handler can give it.

SciCon bike bags, sponsors of numerous pro teams.

Inside the SciCon Atlas bike case. Snug.

Another option is the Biknd, these cases are amazing. They look like a standard soft case with padding until you start to pump them up. Inflating the internal bladders basically pumps extra padding around the bike. A neat idea, and in doing so keeps weight down to a minimum.

Each of the styles have their plus and minus points. For a fully secure and pretty much bombproof bag you’re looking at extra weight where as if you’re just looking to get your bike over the water and keeping things to a minimum a soft case is the answer.

So there you have it, a quick run-down of the different baggage options available to transport your bike. Whether it’s a bike bag, wheel bag, bicycle saddle pack, bike pannier or kit bag you’re after, check out the latest range of bike bags and luggage available now at PBK. If you’re lucky enough to get abroad on the bike send us your holiday snaps via Twitter and our Facebook fan page.

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