With an expanding range of high-end mountain bike trails being built around the country and beyond, there will come a time that you want to pack up and ship out with your bike for a mountain bike holiday with mates. This should be one of the highlights of your year, but sometimes the thought of travelling with your bike can make it a nightmare. How do you pack it, do you really have to deflate your tyres, can I take CO2, do I need a hardcase, how do I deal with the weight limit – there are so many questions!

From my experience, while a cardboard box can do an admirable job of protecting your bike in transit, a bike bag with wheels makes the whole experience a lot easier. With models from EVOC, Thule and Scicon already quite popular, the Dakine Bike Roller bag comes into the market claiming to fit a whole downhill bike, and weighing under 8kg.

With a typical clamshell opening, that is a side zips down, the Dakine Bike Roller bag isn't as monstrous as you might think. The bag itself is quite deep, and has a reinforced plastic base that runs up each end to give the bag some structure. The whole bag is padded, plus it has two generous padded wheel bags that can clip into place. There's a block to strap the back end of the bike onto, a padded sleeve for the fork that loops over the stem, a wrap for the frame that then holds the handlebars when removed, a disc sleeve, a tool roll, and a neat chock for the bottom bracket.

That means there is actually just about everything you need to pack your bike – you don't need any extra padding material. So that is exactly how I tested it.

I went a little off tangent by packing a large fat bike into the bike bag and travelling to Gstaad, Switzerland. That involved a car trip, three flights, a bus, a walk to a friend's apartment, then a walk back to the bus the next day, then three trains and a taxi ride until I was there.

Packing the bike was a cinch. With the wheels off, I dropped the seat into the frame, put the sleeve over the fork, and took the bars off. I found setting all this up before placing it in the bag was easiest. I removed the rotors from both wheels, and deflated the tyres to fit them in as really, 4.8” tyres are probably beyond the design parameters for the Bike Roller bag. I put the front wheel in the pocket in the back, then strapped the frame onto the back block, and clipped the front fork sleeve into place.

Next up I removed the rear derailleur, and packed the rotors into the sleeve, which has Velcro on the back to stick to the Velcro strips on the base of the bag – a great little feature. Tools, pedals and quick releases went into the tool roll, and I wrestled the rear wheel into the other wheel bag. With some shoes, clothing and a Camelbak in the bag it tipped the scales at about 28.5kg. Overweight for domestic travel but within my weight limit for this trip.

With two wheels at one end and a skid plate along the bottom, the Bike Roller doesn't quite have the stiffness of some of the Thule bags, and it did wander a little when rolling – probably because the attachment of the bike inside isn't as secure as bags like Thule's. But that also makes it lighter, more versatile and packable when not in use.

Despite the bag hanging out of a taxi for a high-speed drive to a mountain hotel, the bike came out unscathed, and the bag packed up onto itself in my hotel room. Nothing had moved in the bag, and there was no damage.

The Dakine Bike Roller bag hits a great compromise. It's light at under 8kg, has a large volume that will take long travel bikes, it has wheels, and packs up well. If you travel a lot with an XC bike you can find a more compact bag. But if you need a bike bag that can swallow any bike and doesn't break the bank, then I think this is what you have been looking for.

- Well-designed, thoughtful internal additions - Doesn't wheel as directly as some
- Easy rolling and a good weight - Some bags hold your bike more securely
- Tough materials  
RRP $550
FROM dakine.com

WORDS: Mike Blewitt    PHOTOS: supplied