Invest in a good bike case. Triathletes and cyclists (like TJ Tollakson and George Hincapie) who travel everywhere with their bikes and tire of carrying a behemoth hard-case through the airport (let alone trying to stuff three or four of them in the back of a rental car), opt for the super-light Pika Packworks bag ($335 for up to a 60-cm. frame, $345 for 60 cm. and larger; pikapackworks.com). The 10-pound casewhich is so light because Mike, the founder and designer, ditched the customary steel mount in the bottomis outfitted with strategically placed open- and closed-cell foam. The case is so thoughtfully designed that your bike can roll off the luggage rack and into the belly of the plane without fear of your bike being crushed. Better yet, its so unassuming that sometimes you can get away without paying an oversize baggage fee. Warning: The bags are so in demand that you need to place your order at least one month in advance.
If you want the security of a hard case, check out Sci Cons Aerotech Evolution ($1,021; scicon.it). Made out of ABS crushproof plastic, the rigid Evolution can absorb just about anything.