Biknd's original Helium travel case earned widespread praise for its ease of use and ingenious inflatable airbag padding system. Biknd has now followed it up with the Jetpack, which has a lower price but is no less clever – plus it swallows up full-suspension mountain bikes much more easily.
One of the key guidelines for packing a bike is to keep it from moving inside its case. Whereas the hybrid-construction Helium features a moulded plastic belly to which the bike is rigidly fixed, the fully soft-sided Jetpack has a full-length aluminium frame attached to the bottom, with front and rear axle bulkheads to securely lock the chassis in place.
The fork cradle adjusts back and forth to accommodate different wheelbase lengths, while the rear axle mount adjusts in height to keep the rear derailleur and crankset safely away from the bottom of the case. Wheels are then strapped down to the case's dual butterfly-wing sides, protected from the frame by thick pieces of foam and Biknd's 'hub cap' system, and from the outside world by a pair of inflatable airbags. Meanwhile, a 1in layer of dense foam guards the perimeter.
According to Biknd, the Jetpack's sandwich layout works so well that it isn't even necessary to pad the frame separately. And despite being 6cm narrower, 5cm shorter and 2kg lighter – albeit 3cm longer – than the Helium case, there's more than enough room for long-travel 29ers and even full-blown downhill rigs. In fact, Biknd packed the display sample at the Taipei show with a large-sized Devinci Wilson and there was ample space leftover for accessories such as shoes and helmets. When not in use, the entire thing collapses down to roughly the size of a golf bag for easy storage.
Even better, the Jetpack is also US$150 cheaper than the Helium, at a comparatively reasonable US$449.
So why buy the Helium then?
That's certainly a reasonable question, but Biknd's Giles Hayes contends that the Helium is still easier to transport with four casters wheels instead of the Jetpack's two. The Helium's additional width can also handle two sets of wheels instead of one, and its inflatable airbags run across the entire sides of the case, not just over the wheels.
Riders traveling with more fragile road bikes and 'cross racers heading to events with multiple wheelsets might therefore still want to go with the Helium but otherwise, at first glance the Jetpack seems like it'll do nicely for everyone else. Biknd says the Jetpack is available at dealers now, and we'll soon have one in for review.