Chain Reaction Cycles Bike Bag Review
In this Chain Reaction Cycles Bike Bag Review we'll take a look at CRC's value-for-money bag including wheel bags.
The Chain Reaction Cycles Bike and Wheel Bags Review is CRC's highest selling bike bag and at first glance looks like good value for money.
So let's get inside the bag and see what it offers.
The VeloNomad Bike Bag Review Metrics
As with all VeloNomad bike bag reviews, this is a very thorough review so feel free to click through each item to skip through to that section.
- Robustness/Build Quality
- Protection for bike
- Securing the bike
- Where to Buy
This bag is ok in the portability stakes, but it's not as good as the Scicon Aerocomfort 2 TSA or BikND Helium.
There is one handle on the front which is down quite low, meaning you have to bend right down and lift the bag right up. This is a bit of a pain in the neck, and could easily rectified with some front castors a-la the Scicon Aerocomfort 2 TSA and a handle higher up.
The bag ships with two shoulder straps which are pretty well made with metal clips, and attach to the bag onto metal eyelets. The metal clips are Quick Release (QR) so you can quickly unclip them and stow the straps inside the bag.
One thing I did notice is that there are no handles on the sides, top, or back, so baggage handlers are not going to be happy.
If you minimise the weight you add to the bag, you could carry it on your shoulders for short stretches (stairs, on/off trains and buses etc).
In the agility stakes, this bag is on-par with the EVOC Bike Travel Bag.
It's a bit smaller than the EVOC Bike Travel Bag (VeloNomad EVOC bike travel bag review) so will be a bit easier to move around (especially airport check in queues).
Convenience refers to being able to quickly get your bike in and out of the bag ready to ride or ready to travel.
You'll need to remove your handle bars and rear D/R and your sear will either need to be pushed right down (not possible on my Look 586 RSP as pictured) or, removed outright.
You can see below that the bag is not even close to being able to be zipped up around the handlebars.
This bag is fairly stable when packed, but, due to a pretty narrow lateral wheelbase, could tip over fairly easily. It won't tip over as easily as the Polaris bike pod tips over.
It has a low centre of gravity and won't tip forward like the Scicon AeroComfort Plus.
Also an issue will be cross winds. If you're in a cross wind (airport car park for instance), because you must lift the front of the bag off the ground to move it, the wind can tip the bag over. It's not a huge issue though.
As you can see, the bike bag packs down into a fairly compact package which means it can be easily stored standing up in your house or garage. If you're on the road, it will be non-intrusive in your hotel room, back of your car or campervan.
Weight and Size
This bag weighs around 7kg unloaded (claimed 6.7kg).
It's not too big which is a blessing and a curse.
It's good in that it forces you to minimise how much extra you out in the bag; you're better off having more weight in a luggage bag.
It's also good as you'll have less trouble fitting into taxis (fitting an EVOC bike bag into a BMW M3 saloon is tricky business).
The negative aspect of a smaller bag is that you have less “play” for bigger bikes, and you'll have to take your handlebars off.
The quality of this bag absolutely shocked me – it's absolutely fantastic in this regard. I was not expecting much (given the price point) but this bag has been built to last.
The exterior of the bag is ripstop.
The zips are metallic and pretty large gauge. They slide easily. They are not YKK zips.
One thing to note is that one of the internal zip tracks for the compartments was broken – I zipped it closed but the teeth wouldn't engage. After a bit of fiddling I managed to fix it, but keep in mind this is on a brand new (unused) bag. A change to YKK zips might fix this.
There are plastic rails on the base to help protect the base from wear and tear. The base seems to be a PVC type material inside the base bash guard material which will aid in the longevity of the bag.
The wheels are robust and are recessed inside the bag as opposed to the EVOC bike travel bag. They're housed inside individual plastic housing and bolted and sewn into the bag in a reassuringly solid fashion.
The wheels are a little low on the quality side, but in fairness, this is an extremely low price point bag, so compromises are to be expected. Don't get me wrong, they're completely adequate, but aren't as good as skateboard wheels.
There is a whole lot of this tear-proof latex or rubber-like material on the bottom, extending about halfway up the front and back of the bag. This is great thinking as these are the areas most likely to get scratched and torn.
Protection for Bike and Contents
Protection for Bike
Another outstanding feature is the protection for the bike. There is a uniform and generous amount of padding throughout the top and sides of this bag.
You will need to remove your handlebars, rear D/R and seat. You'll need to wrap and tape your crankset up, and probably wrap your bottom bracket up as the whole package will rest on it. This will protect your crankset and the bag.
A big improvement here would be straps to secure the bike higher up the side of the bag, off the bottom of the bag. I'd even be prepared to lose some storage pockets for some straps.
Or, a block could be added in the bottom (like on the EVOC) to rest the bottom bracket and chain stays on. You'll need to be very careful in protecting your cranks. You've been warned!
Your best bet is to lay the bike bag on its side, put your bike in and put some (and by some, I mean a LOT of) padding underneath the bike to protect the chain stays and bottom bracket.
Protection for Wheels
The bike bag ships with two Chain Reaction Cycles wheel bags, which in and of themselves, are excellent quality. A bike bag that ships with two padded wheel bags – tremendous value.
The wheel bags are padded, with an internal pocket for skewers and other stuff. The pockets are generously sized so you can fit a few things in there.
Below, you can see the 2 included shoulder straps for the bike bag and the tool roll.
The wheel bags had protector disks for the hubs and are internally protected from grease by surfboard bag foil.
The wheel bags slot into your bike bag wherever you would like them to, and are a welcome extra bit of protection for the bike. I like the idea of putting your wheels inside wheel bags inside the bike bag. The bike gets extra protection and the wheels get extra protection. Plus as an added bonus, you get two wheel bags for everyday use (races, etc).
This bag is smaller than the EVOC Bike Travel Bag.
Integrated Seat Post (ISP) bikes almost certainly will not fit in this bike bag, as it is does not have a large height dimension (i.e. it's short). Richard from Quebec tells me he fitted his Scott Addict into this bag.
I have grave doubts that you'll get a mountain bike in this bag, as opposed to an EVOC Bike Travel Bag, whose genesis was as a mountain bike bag.
The person who designed this bag is either a big Ikea fan, or, really is a cyclist. This bag has 8 – count 'em, 8! – internal pockets.
There are two very large ones (opposite ends of bag – good design thinking), two large ones, and 4 small ones. In reality, I'd call the small ones medium.
In these pockets, you could easily pack ALL the cycling kit you'll need for a month, some tools, food/nutrition/powders/protein and countless other items. This is a good thing – everything for cycling, in one bag (unless you lose it, then this is bad).
If you are travelling domestically – or even internationally if you pack light – this bag would carry everything you needed for a short cycling trip, with extras in carry-on luggage.
The bike bag also ships with a tool roll – totally unexpected. The roll is a bit limited in terms of what it can carry, but still, it's a nice added extra.
Securing the Bike
As I mentioned, this bag is a bit smaller than the EVOC so, once you pack out all the storage pockets, and put your bike and wheel bags in, your bike is going to be very snug.
Which is just as well, because – wait for it – there are no internal straps to secure the bike. This initially shocked me, because I had the EVOC (lots of straps) and the Scicon as frames of reference.
But, thinking about it, and taking into account the amount of space and size of this bag, I am not sure it's a huge issue. Like I said, once you get your bike and everything else in, your bike is going to be nice and snug, negating the need for straps.
The only major issue with this bag is the main zips. They do not extend all the way to the base of the bag, meaning you cannot lay the bag down – completely open with each side on the ground – to pack the bag.
This means packing the bag is a frustrating episode where the bag sides flip-flop all over the place and the bag constantly tips over.
Whilst this might not fuss some people (it's a trade off given everything else) it sh!t me to tears.
The main zips do have padlock holes which is cool. But I'm not sure how useful that is given there are 4 large zips providing access directly into the bag anyway.
There are 4 zips on the exterior that unzip to provide complete access into the bag. These are so you can hang your bike bag on a bike rack. I am not convinced as to the utility of these – they could easily provide access for someone who was up to no good. My personal feeling is that the bag does not need these – handles for baggage handlers could go here instead.
The internal storage uses single zips, which cuts costs, but is a bit of a pain. If you have the pockets full of stuff, and only one zip, when you zip them open to gain access, things can just fall out – i.e. no ratting around in pockets without stuff falling out.
The internal material is surfboard bag material, so when it gets greasy, some eucalyptus oil or citrus cleanser will have it clean in a jiffy.
All the other considerations contribute to provide a bag with a high degree of utility, or usefulness.
Expect to pay around AUD$115 for this bag.
I will be brutally honest – I was not expecting much from this bag given the price point. However, after unpacking the box, and really getting into the bag, I was pleasantly surprised.
Great padding, loads of pockets, pretty good zips, solid construction – this is a pretty well thought out bag.
Apart from the shortcomings listed below – especially the main zips not extending to the ground – this is a great bike bag that is STUPIDLY good value.
Comparable to the EVOC Bike Travel Bag, but 1/3 the cost, this is the perfect bag for the value conscious traveller who can overlook the few shortcomings this bag does have.
- Internal pockets
- Internal lining
- Zip quality (internal zips)
- Only one strap on front
- Too small for integrated seat post bikes
- No internal straps (partly mitigated by snugly putting everything in)
- No external handles for baggage handlers/general wrangling
|CRC Bike Bag|
|Protection for Bike||20%||9||1.80|
|Storage (for stuff)||5%||10||0.50|
|Securing the bike||15%||9||1.35|
Where to buy the Chain Reaction Cycles Complete Bike Bag and Wheelset
You can get the Chain Reaction Cycles from Chain Reaction Cycles.
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I’ve owned one of these for the last few years and have travelled to France and Australia without any issues.
I agree about the uselessness of the lateral access zippers…
I had a Scott Addict with integrated seatpost and was able to fit the bike in the bag… by removing the crankset. Ok so that sucks, but it eliminates the issue of needing to protect the crank and rings if left on the bike. Plus you don’t need 101 tools to remove a modern crank, so no big problem there.
Now that I switched to a Foil I’ll be able to remove the seat post. I’ll get a few solid foam blocks (used to haul canoes on a roof) to secure the crank inside the bag.
I also got a bunch of inexpensive foam tubes for water pipes and cut them and taped them around each frame tube. This adds a really light, yep efficient protection for the frame.
Cheers! RJ (Québec, Canada)
this is great feedback, I will add your comment to the post about the cranks – what size Addict do you have?
The tips about the foam blocks is a good idea too.
This is a superb review about Chain reaction bag, I’ve ever read. I want to ask one thing that I’ve got chain reaction cycles coupon code.
£12 off orders
Expires: Jun 07, 2012
If I order a chain reaction bike bag. Will they give me discount or not.
Thanks Julie for the kind words!
The coupon should work if you’re in the UK.
Jubilee 1 is 12GBP off orders of 79-98GBP, Jubilee 2 is 15GBP off orders 99GBP+.
Redeem them here.