If you’ve shelled out several thousand dollars for a high-end road or mountain bike, it’s understandable that you might want to bring it with you when you travel to far-away cycling locales. Should you be traveling to compete in a race, it’s pretty much essential that you bring the bike you’ve trained on. It’s also understandable, however, that you might not want to entrust the safety of your precious cargo to a simple cardboard box or giant plastic bag. While several companies offer foam-padded bicycle-shipping cases, Biknd takes a different approach with its Helium case – it uses inflatable air bladders to protect your ride.
To fit one’s bike into the Helium, both wheels have to first be removed, along with the seatpost, rear derailleur, pedals, and the handlebars and stem. This is definitely more work than is required for the cardboard box or airline-supplied plastic bag methods, but is fairly typical of dedicated bicycle-shipping cases. The frame is secured to the hard bottom of the case via an attachment point at the front fork dropouts, a foam block and strap located near the bottom bracket, and a strap at the rear. Protective covers slip over the forks, handlebar stem and drive train, while front and rear protective axles keep the forks and rear triangle from being compressed inward while in transit.
The wheels and other removed items stow in assigned side, top or bottom compartments, with room provided for an additional set of wheels.
When the case is folded closed, the bladders sit between the frame and the wheels, so the air pressure won’t be forcing the wheels into the frame – this also, however, means that the air bladders won’t be protecting the outsides of the wheels.
Using the supplied pump, the user then inflates the bladders through two air valves. The company claims it should take about 70 pump strokes per side. Besides being lighter than foam, the air bladders also reportedly result in form-fitting padding that minimizes shifting and rattling.
The Biknd Helium weighs 11 kg (24 lbs) empty, has a 900 denier ballistic nylon exterior, and four caster wheels on the bottom. It sells for US$599.