Choosing The Best Bike Box – At first glance, choosing the perfect bike box might seem a bit of a minefield.
You have Bike Box Alan bike boxes, Bonza bike boxes, B & W bike boxes, Velovault bike boxes, Buxom bike boxes, Packgo X bike boxes and Scicon bike boxes to name but a few.
So, how do you go about deciding which bike box is best for you? Well, this guide will hopefully help steer you in the right direction. Lets take a look at some of the most important factors when purchasing a bike box.
Ease of Packing
Packing your bike shouldn’t be a nightmare or take hours. With most bike boxes, handlebars have to be removed from triathlon bikes and road bikes before packing. The new generation of road bikes and triathlon bikes have fully integrated cables tightly packed into the handlebar stem (cockpit) rendering the removal of the handlebars almost impossible and very time consuming by all but the best of bike mechanics. This style of bike box is best avoided if you are not confident with mechanics or unable to remove handlebars.
So the key question to ask is: Will my bike fit WITHOUT removing the handlebars? With some boxes like the Buxum Ventoux bike box, road handlebars can remain in place however aero bars have to be removed on triathlon bikes, not ideal if you have paid for a bike fit and you don’t want to interfere with the precious settings.
When handlebars can remain in place like with the Bike Box Alan Triathlon Aero Easyfit, packing can be achieved in as little 6 or 7 minutes!
Some bike boxes, like the B & W Bike Box 2 don’t have anti-crush poles without which your bike inside will be vulnerable. Bike boxes are generally loaded on top of each other in the hold of the plane so if yours happens to be at the bottom it needs to be able to take the weight. A mind boggling number of time consuming straps and packing pieces that some manufacturers include are no substitute for an anti-crush pole, a standard feature across the Bike Box Alan range of boxes.
This is a very important factor. With some bike boxes like the Buxum Tourmalet Bike Box weighing in at over 18kg, the traveler may be subject to airline surcharges even with the lightest of bikes inside – especially if the airlines bike carrying weight limit is 25kg or less.
Size, Shape & Design
Some bike boxes are a very bulky rectangular shape and the additional cost of transportation to and from airports in cars, taxis and rental cars should not be under estimated. The bigger rental vehicles can be eye wateringly more expensive. The plastic style bike cases that come with anti crush poles (like the Bike Box Alan range) are molded more faithfully to the bike shape so have the added advantage of accommodating bigger bikes whilst still fitting in small cheaper hatchbacks and economy hire cars like the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and similar.
Some bike boxes are less versatile than others. The Packgo X bike box for example will not accommodate the popular 27.5” and 29er Mountain bikes. A lot more component removal is required than normal, even bottle cages and rear derailleur normally have to be removed. Also with the Packgo X we again see a lack of the all important anti-crush pole system that is standard across the Bike Box Alan range. Instead, Packgo X have created what can only be described as a very complicated system of maximum component removal, along with an equally complex and very time consuming jig saw puzzle of straps, bags, plastic tie straps, pipe insulation and plastic frames, in an attempt that they hope will prevent damage.
The upright stance of the Packgo X is at a very convenient height for maneuvering around an airport concourse, but the high centre of gravity will severely de-stabilize the bike box on adverse cambered walkways, bumpy surfaces and when mounting sidewalks. The caster wheels are very susceptible to damage too because they have not been recessed into the body of the bike box. Another flaw in the design of the Packgo X is the use of a zip closure. At best, zips are problematic and non serviceable so not the best choice when you see the abuse baggage handlers subject bike bags and bike boxes to.
There is a bag option available for road bikes and triathlon bikes that doesn’t need handlebar removal and thats the Scicon Aero Comfort Triathlon 3.0 TSA Bike Bag. This is a good bag if you hate the stress of removing handle bars and aero bars. It’s one of only two options available if you have latest generation of aero road bikes or triathlon bikes as these have the fully integrated cabling which makes removal of bars almost impossible.
The Scicon Aero Comfort Triathlon 3.0 TSA Bike Bag is quite cheap, light and has the advantage of being able to be laid flat for storage if space is an issue. A bag however is no match for a hard case with anti-crush pole and packing the bike in the Scicon bag is a bit tedious too because of a multitude of component bags. Some riders have used bike bags successfully for years without issues, but you don’t have to delve for long on social media to find evidence of broken bikes as a result of baggage handlers throwing bike bags around. Apart from the disastrous monetary element of a broken bike, the race you have spent months training for could also be in jeopardy.
In comparison, the Triathlon Aero Easyfit hard case with anti crush pole and 19 cushioned Velcro straps is locked solidly within a protected solid shell. There is no need for all the bags and your bike and componets are better protected because they cannot move around within. The Bike Box Alan Triathlon Aero Easyfit can be packed in as little 6 or 7 minutes!
The confidence a manufacturer has in their boke box is reflected in the length of their guarantees. Some bike boxes like the Bonza, Scicon and Packgo X only have very short 2 year guarantees. Buxum are marginally better at 3 years whereas the BikeBox Alan comes with an impressive 7 year guarantee.
At the end of the day you are buying more than a bike bag or a bike box you are effectively buying protective insurance.