To understand someone else’s perspective, the old adage says to “walk a mile in their shoes.” To understand the necessity of owning a bike travel case, I’d say “walk a mile with your bike in a cardboard box.” My apartment in Boulder, CO is only .7 miles from the downtown bus station—which offers a direct, inexpensive, one-hour ride to Denver International Airport—but my trek there feels like at least a mile when I’m hauling a bike along. I always tell myself I will “totally have time” to stop and get a coffee but, before I know it, I’m sweating bullets, a coffee sounds terrible, and I’ve got two minutes to run the final few blocks. After making the walk-run with a cardboard bike box in tow a few too many times, I was keen to find a better way. Enter the Orucase B2 Bike Travel Case.
Orucase positions their bike travel cases as “the smallest, lightest, and stealthiest” in the world. They make two models, the B2 and the Airport Ninja, both of which combine the structure and protection of a hard case with the storability perks of a soft-sided case. In practice, this means that both cases are built around multi-density foam side panels that are quick to remove and accordion-fold away so that the whole bag packs down into a storable package, about the size of a large duffel. While the Airport Ninja is lighter than the B2, it doesn’t have wheels and is portaged via backpack straps. Rolling ability was a must for me, so I opted to test out the B2. Full disclosure: Orucase provided me with this product at no charge.
B2 Bike Travel Case
The B2 comes in two sizes: the B2-R and B2-MTB (and, you guessed it, those variations stand for “Road” and “Mountain Bike,” respectively). I opted for the MTB model, which measures a few inches longer than the Road in each dimension (30 x 36 x 10-12″, where the latter range refers to the slight vertical taper from the base to the fabric upper). The B2-R claims to fit most drop bar bikes (road, gravel, ‘cross) up to 58cm, so even though I was pretty sure it would be able to fit my hardtail too, I knew I would be able to fill the extra room afforded by the MTB size with bike bags, riding/running shoes, etc. I hardly ever travel with checked bags so if I am checking one, I’m going to try to max it out!
The first occasion I had to travel with the B2 came in early May with a flight out to Santa Barbara, CA for the start of the Rapha Yomp Rally. The rally itself was a point-to-point, finishing in Santa Monica, but my travel wouldn’t end there as I’d fly directly from Los Angeles up to Seattle afterwards to spend a few days at the Swift Industries HQ. Needless to say, all my bike bags and touring accoutrements, running shoes, and a few cameras meant that I’d need all the space I could get, and the back-to-back travel proved to be the perfect opportunity for the B2 to make its…case.
Packing & Features
Given the rugged nature of the Los Padres, I chose to ride my Bearclaw ti Hardtail MTB, setup as a rigid dropbar 29er for the Yomp. A major selling point of the B2 is its smaller footprint when fully packed, but achieving this comes at the price of a dedicating a little extra time to the packing process. This didn’t feel like a hurdle to me, though it did require taking the fork out for my size Medium frame. The B2-MTB’s silhouette is a somewhat rounded parallelogram, which closely contours that of a frame sans fork, and also tries to take advantage of how airlines actually measure bike cases. The slight visual lean means that there’s more useable space inside the bag, without being taxed the actual measurable inches that would be required to make the case a more right-angled rectangle.
Orucase includes two lightly-padded wheel bags with the B2 and those served as my starting point for packing the bike—wheels went in against the compression-molded foam case walls, then I tucked the frame in between. I slotted in the fork, saddle and post, and bars wherever made sense, and tried to wedge already-stuffed bike bags in empty air pockets for more padding. There’s a handy zippered pocked on the top closure flap which made a tidy home for my pedals and repair kit. Inside at the base of the case, I noticed sleeves on the front and rear foam padding inserts that seemed like a smart spot for rotors. The B2 also has a second zippered sleeve on one side of the 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon Exterior and, on the other side, another zippered pocket serves to stash backpack straps that can be taken out and secured to a couple nylon webbing loops via aluminum hooks. Once the top flap is zippered shut, four buckled straps further tension everything and help batten down the load.
As a previous cardboard-box bike traveler, I hadn’t really taken into account the fact that a bike travel case definitely weighs more than a box and thereby reduces how much additional weight you can pack into it. Most airlines charge you an additional (hefty) fee if your bike baggage tips in at over 50lbs and some cases on the market can weigh up to 35lbs. Therefore, unless you’re riding a Tour de France bike, you’re probably going to get dinged the fee. However, the B2-MTB weighs just 18lbs (and the B2-R weighs 15lb), which leaves you with over 30lbs of weight to pack.
Given the demands of the Yomp—what amounted to four days of fast-paced touring for me—I’m not sure I would have been able to finagle all my gear into a heavier case while still skating under the 50lb threshold. Admittedly, when my partner and I checked in with United on the way out, both of our bags were overweight—mine by just a couple pounds (so those pedals and most of my tool kit quickly moved from the zippered flap pocket to my carry-on) but his was substantially overweight. We largely attributed this to his older/heavier case, as to trim it down to exactly 50lbs (which the United attendant was adamant about—no, not 50.4, or 50.2, but 50lb), he had to remove almost everything from his case. Carrying on your post and saddle is a little awkward.
(Pro tip: while this could have just been a bad day for said person at the United counter, on both of my subsequent flights from LA to Seattle, then Seattle back to Boulder, I flew Alaska and they didn’t even bother to weigh the case!)
B2 In Action
While I was thrilled with how compact and snug my bike and bags fit into the B2, the real test—of course—would be The Walk To The Bus. Rather than a telescoping handle—à la most rolling suitcases—the plastic front handle of the B2 does not extend. Rather, it is laced to short aluminum (I assume) rails that offer about an inch of give for the initial moment when you start to get rolling. While I could see the fixed handle length as possibly being problematic for shorter users, I appreciated that the handle, at least, had that tad bit of flex. The case itself rolls on two oversized rubber wheels, surrounded by hard plastic to reinforce the corners, and sits at the end of two parallel aluminum rails. All of this creates a more rigid chassis to give the case stability in motion, while the rails also provide additional protection for your luggage.
I found this to be mostly the case in real world use. On flat ground with relatively few bumps, the case rolled well. Corners proved to be a bit trickier and any banked curbs or especially pronounced breaks in pavement made things a even more unwieldy. In my experience, the case’s more efficient size came at a bit of a trade-off: while the shorter wheelbase and squatter shape has clear benefits for transport in cars and planes, the result is a case more prone to tipping in motion. Still, I made it to the station significantly less sweaty (win) and stressed (double win) than on previous cardboard-toting/dragging, time-crunched mini-epics and with more confidence that my bike would arrive well-protected in Santa Barbara.
Once home from my travels, the case was, indeed, a cinch to break down and pack away. While unzipping and folding the side panels, I was again impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into the B2’s design, while in use but also while being stored between trips.
The B2 is Orucase’s higher-end bike travel case offering. The case is built around two aluminum rails that provide most of the rigidity at the base, two oversized wheels, and semi-rigid walls made of removable compression-molded foam. Other smart design features include a few zippered pockets, removable backpack straps, tension straps, and exterior handles. While the case is one of the lightest offerings on the market and packs down for easy storage, the shape is a bit more prone to wobble and tipping.
• Lightweight—18lbs, leaving you 32lbs of extra bike/luggage weight.
•Compact in size and storable!
•Thoughtful details—a couple zippered pockets, handles, backpack strap, and wheel bags.
• A Bit Pricey – $649 (but, will pay for itself in short order if you have to pay the $200 fee for an overweight bag more than three times)
•Prone to tipping (wouldn’t take it off-road)
•Have to remove fork when packing bike