Depending on how you packed it, where you're headed, and the airline you're flying with, putting your bike on a plane can be one of the scariest parts of traveling. Will it cost you four months salary? Will you ever see it again? And if it does arrive, how damaged will it be from jerkoffs throwing it around like killer whales playing with a dead seal? You can't do much about the first two issues, but packing and protecting your bike to lessen the chance of it looking like an expired seal upon arrival is entirely within your control.
• Semi-rigid foam construction
• Rigid base
• Clamps bike by axles
• Compatible with most bikes
• Inflatable wheel protection
• Dimensions: 51" x 31" x 10"
• Weight: 19.8lbs
• MSRP: $449.95 USD
Biknd's $449.95 USD Jetpack travel bag has been made to do exactly that, and it employs a few neat features that are designed to keep your bike safe and make your life easier, like inflatable wheel protection and a rigid, adjustable base that your bike clamps onto. The sub-20lb Jetpack bike bag can accept any type mountain bike, and even has room for road bikes with high, integrated seat posts. Our large-sized Patrol fit inside the Jetpack with a bit of room to spare.
The Jetpack bag is all about separation; keeping your wheels, handlebar, and frame all packed together tightly and, most importantly, protected from one another, which is accomplished by way of a number of neat dividers and pads.
Anyone who has had to package a bike in a cardboard box knows that half the battle is squeezing in the wheels (if the rear wheel is off the bike) without letting the rotors or cassette tear a new one to either the side of the box or its precious cargo. Biknd employs two inflatable cushions - one on each side of the bag for each wheel - that are located between the bag's padded sides and the wheels. Picture big yellow donuts and you'll get the idea. These donuts are inflated with your mouth before being laid over the side of the bag; attached covers are then pulled up through the hole in the center of each that keep your wheels from puncturing them, and straps run up through the same hole that you use to snug the wheel down securely before a cover is laid on top. The inflatable wheel protection means that the padding is there when you need it, but they can be deflated and rolled up when the bag isn't in use.
What the inflatable donuts do is allow Biknd to squeeze in more protection but without the added bulk, especially when the bag is empty and rolled up, and it means that you can also leave the rotors and cassette on the wheels.
What to do with the bike's handlebar when it's boxed up is another common conundrum, with most people wrapping it and the frame in cardboard or padding before using zip-ties to attach it to the bike so it's not swinging around scratching stuff. Biknd has done something similar, although they've executed in a nicer manner. A frame pad is included that's shaped to wrap around the bike's front triangle, and Velcro straps on the outside of the pad are used to hold the handlebar up against it. Clever.
The Jetpack bag opens from the left and right sides, and when both sides are unzipped, the bike easily stands upright. This is because it's attached to an aluminum base with axle clamps that can be adjusted so the frame will sit up and off the bottom of the bag and have clearance up top regardless of if it's a big downhill sled, small-sized kids bike, or even a triathlon rig with an integrated seat post. The front axle clamp slides horizontally to adjust for the bike's wheelbase, and the rear clamp is moved vertically via a quick-release pin to adjust the bike's height in the bag. Biknd includes axle adapters for nearly every single axle size between here and Jupiter - minus some mega-wide fat bike axle spacing - so most people will be covered.
Our Jetpack travel bag has seen some serious miles since it landed in the office, with trips to both Chile for an enduro race and to Japan for some riding in the Far East. It has been responsible for protecting a Transition Patrol and a Knolly Warden during that time, both of which escaped scuff-free during their air miles, as you'd hope and expect they would. Protection aside, let's look at how the Jetpack was to pack and travel with.
We first attempted to get a bike in the Jetpack bag without looking at the instructions - you know, like a guy would - and the process is straightforward enough that it wasn't anything that we'd call challenging. The instructions are clear as day, mind you, and they do show you how to make adjustments for bikes of different lengths by tweaking where the clamps sit on the base, but the job is a cakewalk regardless. We had to employ the supplied 15mm axle adapters that slide in and out easily, and it's probably worth noting that you'll want to keep these little guys zipped up in the parts bag when not in use as they're sure to roll away.
The bag's axle clamps are nearly flush with the stiff lower section of the bag, right where the Jetpack's sides fold down, which made sliding the axles in a bit tricky. It took a bit of force to push the sides of the bag out of the way to be able to get them in, which, while not a deal breaker, was kinda annoying. You can lift the base up slightly to make alignment easier, but it'd be nice to see a relief put into the stiff section, or maybe have it lowered a touch.
And as for the nifty inflatable wheel protection, they work exactly as advertised. We fit a set of 27.5 x 2.5'' wheels and rubber in them and there were zero issues. Lowering the dropper post creates enough room to keep you from ever having to completely remove your seat post, which is something that everyone wants to avoid, and the entire package zipped up snug as a bug. The zippers themselves are also burly enough that they'll probably last longer than the bag, so there shouldn't be any worries about them wearing out, and the whole package was free of any rattles or jingles from metal or carbon bits touching each other. A bike bag should be a no-contact zone, and the Jetpack does exactly this.
So, with a 30lb bag inside of it, how was the Jetpack while trying to get through the gongshow that is an airport? It turned out to be relatively easy - it's still a tall and skinny bag that weighs a bunch - but the bag's handles are where they need to be, and it rolls easily on its two wheels. Four wheels might be a bit nicer, however, as then you could just push or pull it along without having to lift one end, but this isn't a big issue. And because it can fold down on itself, it's also easy to deal with when it's empty. Four wheels would be more convenient than two, but the Jetpack is easy to handle in a crowded airport.Pinkbike’s Take:
|The Jetpack's novel design - particularly the aluminum base with integrated and adjustable axle clamps, as well as the inflatable wheel protection - isn't different just for the sake of being different. The setup provides ample protection and, just as important, separation between the frame and the wheels and other components.|
There's no getting around the fact that investing in a $449.95 USD travel bag for your bike doesn't make much sense unless you're jetting off with your bike at least a few times every year, but the Jetpack is worth looking at if you're lucky enough to be doing exactly that. - Mike Levy
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