Thule have been manufacturing bike accessories for quite some time now and their brand has always been synonymous with quality. So when they asked if I wanted to try out their new bike bag I was enthusiastic. You can tell you’re a keen cyclist when you get excited about a bike bag. You’re either that or a complete bore…
The Thule Roundtrip Pro XT is a soft shell bike bag but it’s not like other bike bags on the market. And given that it’s a pretty hefty £520, I wouldn’t expect it to be.
So what do you get for your pennies?
The bag has a solid, sturdy hard plastic base with foldable inserts that slide into the soft sides for reinforcement, so in some ways it’s a softshell/hard case hybrid. The design and construction delivers two key benefits, serving to keep weight to a minimum whilst also ensuring the bag can pack down and be stored very easily. If you live in a flat or a small house where space is a premium, this is very handy as it means you can stow the bag under your bed when its not being used.
Your money also buys you a pair of sturdy nylon wheelbags so that your posh wheels can travel in style. And there’s a work stand chucked in too – with a quick reconfiguration the removable frame is turned into a a handy stand that’s make assembling your bicycle in a hotel room just that little bit easier. The cats aren’t included.
Once you’ve grabbed the bag from wherever you’ve stored it, all you need to do is inset the corrugate plastic inserts and you’re ready to pack your bike.
Packing and travelling
The design of the bag means your bike is attached to the metal frame via the front axel whilst the bottom bracket sits on a foam block and is held in place with a rubber strap. There’s not rear axel spacer, which is a bit of an oversight as it means your rear triangle could potentially be squashed if it encountered careless baggage handlers. However, it’s easy enough to add your own spacer here – I just use a block of wood fastened with washers and screws.
Something that is often overlooked is the different axle sizes bike now have; I’m pleased that the Roundtrip will fit both thu axles and quick release so I can use it for all of my bikes, from road to gravel to Enduro mountain bike.
I’ve already mentioned the frame/workstand but honestly it’s too good not to go into in more detail. The clever design uses a lightweight aluminium frame that sits flat in the bottom of the bag to add strength and rigidity. You’re certainly not lugging around extra parts just for the convenience of your build, it’s a useful part of the bag in its own right, in fact the frame has the bottom bracket block attached. When you reach your destination you simply pop the entire thing out, attach the legs and Hey Presto you’re ready to build without having to awkwardly bend down all the time.
The case has a sturdy bottom that makes wheel it a lot easier than other softshell bags that bend every time you lift them. The wheels seem attached strongly enough but I haven’t had the bag long enough to tell you about their durability. Picking the bag up when you reach a staircase is easy enough as the handles are in the right place. And believe me, the handles are not always in the right place on bike bags…
One of the real benefits of this bag, along with its compact size when disassembled is it’s low weight of 8.6kg. Previously, I’ve turned up to an airport before with just my bike in my bag AND NOTHING ELSE and been told by the check-in clerk to remove items from my bag as it’s over weight. What am I meant to leave behind? A wheel? The Roundtrip Pro XT’s weight means I have plenty of my allowance left to take my bike, helmet and shoes as well as a few clothes – I actually like travelling with clothes in my bike box as it gives my bike extra protection.
A good solution
As soon as I unpacked the bag the quality was apparent, I love brands that pay close attention to details and maximise performance with dual function features.
Whilst the Roundtrip is not as sturdy as its hardcase counterparts, what it lack in extreme protection it more than makes up for in ingenuity. One of the most common problems with bike bags is the storage, I love how small it lacks down and how easy it is to do.
There’s no getting away from the steep pricetag for an extra £80 you can get the full on hardcase but it’s not packable and for some this will be the deciding factor. If you have a posh bike I would always consider a hardcase but the equivalent Thule one , the RoundTrip transition is close to double the weight.
Source: Biks $ Stuff