The crew across the ditch at Ground Effect have a reputation for thinking outside the box and developing innovative products that just seem to hit the spot. The Tardis bike bag is no exception.
These days our domestic racing scene is filled with a bunch of great events spread from one side of Australia to the other. So unless you are going to drive to each of them, you are going to need to look at how to transport your bike. On one hand, a rigid or semi-rigid bike bag/case generally weighs over 8 or 10 kilograms before you put a bike or gear in it. This means that you could be spending as much on excess luggage as the hard case itself, and a decent semi- rigid case costs upward of $400. On the other hand, cardboard bike boxes are hard to stow when not in use, are bulky when in use and can disintegrate in a heavy shower on the tarmac.
The Tardis then fills the gap in between the humble cardboard bike box and the delux rigid case. It weights in at a mere 1.8 kilograms, costs under $150, packs down into a tiny A4-size nylon storage bag and is made of durable Cordura fabric.
This bag has evolved over the last ten years or so and the 2015 model of the Tardis will accommodate an XL full suspension 29er bike. The Tardis is pretty much a 135cm x 80cm Cordura shell, but it has a few simple and well thought-out features: an internal zippered pocket, adjustable wheel sleeves (with foam pads around the hub area), compression straps to accommodate smaller bikes, two grab handles and an unpadded shoulder strap. The bag is also supplied with front and rear drop-out spacers to support the fork and frame in transit.
While the Tardis is a simple concept, the key to its functionality is Ground Effect’s suggested packing method, by which the frame is placed upside down in the bag (with seat, post and bars removed) and the wheels sandwich the frame on each side to protect it from side impacts.
I recently used the Tardis on an overseas trip from Australia to Europe and then on quite a number of internal flights within Europe to ensure the bike bag was exposed to the best and worst luggage handlers around.
On the outward journey, weight was a real concern and the 1.8 kilogram Tardis bag helped enormously in keeping the weight down. On the flip side, given the lack of padding in thebag, I went to great lengths to protect my bike, using a heap of foam padding and three big zip-ties to secure the wheels to each side of the frame to eliminate the chance of rubbing, I removed disc rotors, derailleur, hanger, bar and seat/post. Packing the bike so carefully required a time investment of about 45 minutes, but by the third trip (and third pack), I had this down to about 30 minutes. The Tardis fit my XL hardtail 29er with ease and you could see how the Tardis would accommodate an XL duallie, given that I cranked the compression straps down quite a bit so that the bag fit snugly around my hardtail.
With the bag zipped up using the heavy-duty zips (with lock loops) the bag was compact and light, meaning that it was easy to fit in taxis, miniscule hire car boots and designated luggage areas on high speed trains. Carrying the bike around was easy with the shoulder strap and the two grab handles helped getting the bike in and out of tight spots. While at times I would have loved a bag with wheels, there were many other times (crowded metros, sets of stairs, crappy footpaths) that I was very grateful to have the bike on my shoulder.
When I had arrived at my destination and unpacked the bike, the Tardis packed down to the size of two A4 reams of paper stacked on top of each other, meaning I could stash it in my backpack when on the road (the extra packaging I used probably took up the same amount of space again).
Despite being passed through the rough hands of many baggage handlers, from Qantas to low cost Euro airlines, the Tardis and (more importantly) its contents have come through without a scratch, dent or scuff.
The Ground Effect packing video is definitely worth checking out.
For those who have unlimited baggage allowance, fragile frames and/or somewhere to store a bulky bike bag, you may want to look at a rigid or semi-rigid bike bag/case. For those who want something light, inexpensive, storable and portable, I highly recommend checking out the Tardis. – ENDuromag