How does the new Buxum Tourmalet stack up against CA’s old favourite box, the trusty and secure BikeBoxAlan?
If you’re doing any kind of overseas sportive or want to take your bike somewhere warm and sunny. the chances are you will need a bike box. Sure. you can create a DIY box out of pipe lagging. duct tape and a cardboard delivery box from your LBS, but if your bike is worth several thousand pounds, you might want some extra protection.
Up till now, pretty much every test of bike boxes in any magazine or cycling website has concluded that the BikeBox Alan (BBA) offers the best protection for your money. Yes, there are cheaper and lighter ones available. But for best—value protection, the BBA has been the go-to box for some years.
So when Buxum launched its range of aluminium bike boxes, aimed squarely at the upper end of the bike box market, we wanted to find out how they compared with the established favourite. We booked some flights to Toulouse and took two bikes to the Pyrenees, one in the BBA and one in the Buxum Tourmalet.
Alan vs Buxum
The BikeBoxAlan set the standard for hard-shell boxes. It is a polycarbonate clamshell design. with recesses in the lid for the wheels. The frame lies on its side in the base. with Velcro straps to secure everything in place. There is an anti-crush bar that locates between the base and the lid. meaning the box won’t collapse even if numerous heavy cases are stacked on top of it. Empty. the BBA weighs in at 12.04-kg on the office Park Tools scales.
The Buxum Tourmalet works in a slightly different way. You still need to take the wheels. pedals, handlebars and seatpost off, as with the BBA, but the lid lifts off and in the bottom half are quick—release mounts front and rear, into which you slot your bike’s forks and rear dropouts (the rear one is adjustable to fit frames up to 6lcm). The wheels go either side. and then a bracing rod sits across the middle to strengthen the whole structure.
The box itself is constructed from aluminium sheets, with the corners heavily reinforced for strength. The catches are also beautifully constructed, and should last forever. The Tourmalet weighs in at l3.49kg as measured on our scales.
Even those of us with limited mechanical nous can get either of these bike boxes packed in under 15 minutes. Wheels off, seat and seat post off, pedals off, stem and bars off, job’s a good ‘uh. Securing the bike in the BBA is simply a matter of tightening the relevant Velcro straps. Where as in the Buxum you slot the forks and rear dropouts into the appropriate mounts.
With the bike lying on its side in the BBA, you might want to use fork and rear dropout spacers just to protect those areas from crush damage. but it shouldn’t be strictly necessary if the anti—crush bar does its job. It should be noted that getting the BBA’s anti-crush bar correctly located can be a bit fiddly. It’s also a bit of a faff adjusting the QR for the front forks in the Buxum. Both boxes can be secured with TSA-approved locks so that airport security can check the contents if they need to.
On the move
Both boxes are easy to move around, each featuring handholds at each end on the top (the Buxum has some very stylish sprung handles); and they both have caster wheels at the front foreasy steering. and fixed wheels at the back.
In the interests of research. we took the boxes to Heathrow in the back of a VW Passat estate (an easy fit with the rear seats folded). but brought them home on the Tube. They both proved easy to move around, and kept within the British Airways maximum of 23kg.
Of the two, the Buxum is marginally easier to use; its wheel bearings are brilliant and the box has a flat top on which you can balance other luggage. That said, there really isn’t much in it.
Both these boxes are sturdily constructed, simple to use, and survived with only minimal scuffs and no damage to either bike. at £680 (more than £250 more than the BBA) delivered to the UK, the Buxum Tourmalet is not cheap. But it is immensely stylish, looking more like something that a rock band roadie or film crew might use. The quality of construction is fabulous, and if you’ve spent upwards of £5,000 on a bike, you’ll no doubt want a suitably protective box. This may be it.
Ultimately , though, for most people the BikeBox Alan is still the go-to box. It may not be quite as lovely as the Buxum, but it does the job perfectly. The BBA is lighter, relatively inexpensive (from £415), and comes with a seven-year guarantee.