Thule RoundTrip review: a nearly perfect bike travel bag

Thule RoundTrip review: a nearly perfect bike travel bag

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Traveling with a bike can be stressful for two reasons: one, that the bike might be damaged in transit, and two, that the bike won’t make it to the intended destination on time.

As an impatient (okay, and also not that savvy) mechanic, I have a third concern when flying with my bike: how much will it have to be reassembled when I get to said destination?

Now that many airlines have all but nixed the extra fee for traveling with bikes, I am more keen than ever to travel with a bag that allows me to keep the bike mostly in one piece so that I’m not faffing around trying to put it back together when I land.

The other most important thing is that the bag rolls smoothly. I love the concept of a removable front wheel (the same one I am realizing right now that I forgot to remove before walking away from the ticket counter).

On a recent trip from my home in very snowy Colorado to ride gravel in sunny southern Arizona, I traveled with the Thule RoundTrip travel bag. For the past two years, I’ve used a EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro, which I loved because it fit both my mountain and gravel bikes, but I was excited to try something new.

Packing the Thule RoundTrip

When I first unboxed the RoundTrip, I groaned. My eyes were immediately drawn to three aluminum tubes and a big blocky … thing. I’m a minimalist by nature and averse to anything that seems over-engineered. This seemed that, and I was forming opinions before knowing a thing. I was wrong.

In hindsight, this is not that many things.

The tubes and blocky thing are the foundation for the RoadTrip’s work stand, quite possible the most ingenious feature of the bag. The stand is ridiculously easy to set up (insert tubes into thing), and makes taking your bike apart (and putting it back together) nice and easy.

When you’re ready to put the bike in the bag, you keep it fastened to the base of the work stand which attaches securely to the base of the bag. Pretty slick.

Mounted to the work stand, pre-break down

In terms of my anxiety about breaking down my bike to the point of not being able to put it back together, the RoundTrip does not require any reassembly that I can’t handle. It’s just the usual remove the handlebars, seatpost, pedals, and derailleur. Wheels go in their own little compartments, and you don’t have to remove rotors and cassette!

For each of the parts you do remove (handlebar, seatpost and saddle, and drivetrain), there are protective packing sleeves. A simple and informative instructional video on Thule’s website guides you through how to use them.

Packed and padded

Full transparency, I did not remove my derailleur as the instructional video recommended, but I did use the padding sleeve for it which seemed safe to me. Also, on the flight over to Arizona, I left the pedals on my bike. While doable, I don’t recommend it because then the wheels (which go into sleeves on either side of the bike frame) don’t fit properly.

Once the frame is in the bag, there are two huge padded flaps that tent over it, offering more protection. The wheel pockets are on the outside of the flaps.

The legs for the work stand also fit into designated slots on the padded outer sleeve.

One of my favorite parts of traveling with a bike is all the other stuff I can cram into the bag — the RoundTrip has plenty of room for things like shoes, a helmet, hydration pack, frame bags, and in my case, four pounds of freshly roasted coffee that I picked up from Presta in Tucson ?.

I have one gripe and one gripe only about the packing portion of my experience with the RoundTrip, and it’s that I wish the legs on the work stand were a little bit shorter. I’m 5’6, and while I was able to do everything I needed to on the bike, I may have been standing on tip toes to get my seatpost out and loosen the handlebars.

Traveling with the Thule RoundTrip

Traveling with the RoundTrip is very easy. It’s compact — so much so that it fit into the backseat of my Uber driver’s Mitsubishi Lancer — and easy to lift in and out of a vehicle or onto the scale at the airport.

In terms of maneuverability, the RoundTrip is great, namely because it has a removable swiveling front wheel (which did not break off or vanish during my flights and layover even though I forgot to take it off before flying). If for some reason you don’t like a swiveling front wheel, you can hoist the front of the bag up using the handle at the base of the front of the bag and roll it on the rear wheels alone.

Dear Thule: I wish you had put that handle at the top not down by the front wheel

Speaking of handles, herein lies my one gripe about traveling with the RoundTrip (but hey, that’s only two gripes total): the bag doesn’t have a handle on the front panel, which is where it feels most natural to grab it.

There are two handles on each side panel, which is nice but I really only used the one in the front on the right side.

In terms of durability, the bag — and bike — made it back unscathed. The side panels are rigid and reinforced and the bottom is a molded HDPE tub. This seems like a good pairing, but international travel will truly be the test. 

And, those trips, with this bag, are coming soon.

Tough stuff

Thule RoundTrip tech specs

Accommodates almost all road, gravel or cyclocross bikes, fitting a wheelbase up to 110cm

Dimensions: 48.82 x 12.99 x 33.46 in

Weight: 27.56 lbs

Price: $999.95