5 Reasons to avoid Cardboard Bike Travel Cases

When you’re traveling with your bike and equipment you’ll want to invest in a container for protection and ease. There are quite a few options out there; bike bags, padded boxes, hard cases, plastic boxes, etc. They all suit various needs for different people; however there is one that you too many cyclists purchase without knowing all the facts. The cardboard bike box!

There are a lot of articles out there that provide all the pros in cardboard travel cases, such as being easily disposable and ‘cheap’ but that doesn’t offer the whole story. This article provides you with the information you don’t normally hear but should when making your decision about cardboard travel cases.

Here’s a list of some of the cons of purchasing a cardboard travel case and what you can expect from one.

  1. They are heavy

You would assume, being cardboard, that they would be lightweight. Compared to hard cases with insulation and padding, of course, but overall when compared to more functional bike boxes they are very heavy!  For example, you’re average lightweight plastic case will usually lie at approximately 5-6kg. Cardboard bike boxes are anywhere between 10-15kg on average. See the problem here?

The explanation is that cardboard itself, whilst light in individual sheets, quickly becomes heavier when it is layered and thick. To create a travel case that can hold a bicycle and equipment and maintain structural stability requires a lot more cardboard than just a regular box.

If you’re thinking that it might be possible to actually have a lightweight cardboard travel case, think again! To successfully protect your bike it requires the extra thickness and layers. Minimizing these would leave your bike and equipment in a vulnerable state whilst traveling and the last thing you want is to get to your destination only to find your bike didn’t make it.

Weight should always be a consideration when traveling. When shipping your bike or traveling via airline with it, the type of bike box can severally affect the fees you pay solely based on the size and weight. Another consideration is that you will have to be the one moving it around and an extra 10kg could be the difference between you having a sore back or cruising along on your bike.


  1. They don’t last very long

Cardboard boxes were not designed to last long, they were made to do the job and be quickly disposable. The same applies for cardboard travel cases. For some, that might work, but for most cyclists it is wiser and much more cost effective to purchase a travel case that will last you for years.

How long do they typically last? The absolutely most you can expect out of a cardboard case is 4-6 trips. Not years, but measureable trips. And that’s only if you are extremely careful with them and they are handled delicately. For a comparison, the Enviro Bike Box can last more than two years and hard cases can last you as long as standard luggage does.

If you travel with your bike a lot, you can go through several cardboard cases a year! Not only do you have to go through the trouble of purchasing new bike cases every few travels, but that’s also money that could have been spared by investing in a more economical bike case.

This has quite significantly due to the lack of durable and resistance from cardboard. Despite its weight and thickness, it is still fragile when compared to plastics and mixed materials. Which leads us on to our next point..


  1. They are not durable

Despite appearing strong and sturdy there are many considerations that need to be taken into account.

  • No matter how thick and tough they look, they are still cardboard and subject to the same limitations
  • They offer no flexibility. The rigidity means that it does not absorb impact as well as other cases so all the force from any impact goes straight through the contents; your bike and equipment.
  • A small bit of damage, like a tear, can quickly undermine the integrity of the whole case. When using material designed for disposability, you need to expect that it will not hold up well when there is any damage.

And that’s just to name a few simpler facts. The main enemy of the cardboard travel case is the weather. They are not weatherproof in any way. Cardboard absorbs moisture. If you were caught in a heavy downpour with your cardboard travel case, you would soon be left with your exposed equipment in a puddle of mushy and deteriorated cardboard. Even light rain can be harmful to the case’s structure, not to mention that the cases are often not waterproofed so any deflection of light rain might only be funneling it inside the case.

When faced with anything but optimal, weather the cardboard travel case fails to compare to other bike cases. It’s no surprise but it is a point that is commonly forgotten about. You will come across various weather and challenging terrain which a cardboard case is just not designed for.

  1. They are complicated

How hard could a cardboard box be to set up? You would be surprised. To achieve the stability of other travel cases, cardboard cases are more involved and intricate to set up. A simple task like assembling/disassembling a travel case can take less than 10 minutes (with the Enviro Bike Box) but cardboard cases generally take over 30 minutes to set up. Imagine you are late for your flight and the difference between you making it with your bike in the case is only 10 minutes. It’s an exaggerated example but it gets the point across. It’s wasted time.

The reason it takes so long to set up a decent cardboard travel case is because of all the steps and parts that go into it. There are ropes, brackets, complex ties, etc. involved in the construction of one as opposed to premade hard cases or lightweight plastic cases (which only require a few simple pieces by comparison). It’s just one extra thing to worry about when purchasing a lesser travel case.


  1. They end up costing you more

The main selling point of most cardboard travel cases is that they are cheap. There are definitely some very expensive and overpriced bicycle transport systems out there, but for the simple travel case that it should be, it is still quite expensive.

For a decent cardboard travel case you would expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $250. At first this may appear to be a bargain when compared to luxury cases that look like luggage that can cost close to $100. But when you factor in there are more economical choices such as bicycle travel pods and The Enviro Bike Box that cost you $150-$200, it begins to lose its appeal.

Those are just the immediate costs of purchasing one. Let’s factor in long term use and expenditure. For example, if you travel with your bike twice per month for a year, at most (6 uses per case) you would go through 4 cardboard cases. The total cost would be around $1000. If you buy a case made to last for the same $250, you can have the entire year’s travel for that price and possible continued use.

That doesn’t include the extra luggage costs for the weight, which can vary depending on what you place inside. But remember that the average cardboard case has an extra 10kg than a traditional lightweight plastic case and that would certainly increase your costs.

Not as cheap as it seems.


These are 5 of the main reasons you should rethink purchasing a cardboard bike case. There are many more things to consider when purchase a bike box but with this information you can now make an informed decision with the full information to choose the bike case that is best suited for you.

When looking for a bike case, use tried and trusted suppliers such as Enviro Bike Box. The products are specifically designed to combat all the shortcomings of traditional bike cases (especially cardboard) and are accessible to every type of cyclist and almost every type of bike.

Buy yourself an Enviro Bike Box today and experience the difference