Jun 27, 2012

Bike Box Alan Review

For some time I've considered my options and the pros and cons of both soft and hard cases. Soft ones provide less external protection and potentially make the rear derailleur and hanger vulnerable. On the flip side, they are cheaper, lighter and some even have excellent compartments for wheels.

 “A hard case that not only is user friendly, but also turns heads at the airport and makes you feel like a travelling pro.”

After crawling the web for a while, I came across Bike Box Alan (www.bikeboxalan.co.uk) from the UK. The boxes look stylish, put an emphasis on toughness and are sold over the Internet at a reasonable price. There are many colours to choose from and the website has examples of pro themes such as HTC Highroad, Sky Procycling and Radio Shack-Nissan-Trek. The sky is the limit when it comes to customising the Bike Box Alan!

The ordering process is kind of an adventure as there is no online purchase or checkout options (is it 2012?). The order was completed using traditional email correspondence, at least they were very quick to respond. I opted for a black case with a few stickers initally I went with my name, an Australian flag, Zipp, Specialized and Shimano stickers. It took 3 weeks to make and 1 week to ship half way across the globe via TNT. On arrival I also made myself  a red Specialized 'S' and Rapha Condor Club stickers.


The box itself is made of high quality hard plastics. It is sturdy with no bend or flex, while remaining relatively light (about 11kg on my scale). Within the case there are a couple of layers of firm foam and a steel pole to prevent crushing of your beloved bike from side impacts (something I've experienced while watching airline staff compete with each other for who can stack the most amount of luggage on my bike).

To figure out how to put the bike in the box I watched the YouTube instruction video made by Bike Box Alan. The video was very helpful and gave me the complete picture without having to guess or try and remembering what I have done for other bike boxes. The video can be viewed here.

The box also contains helpful hints on where stuff should go
Here is what my completed bike looks like packed (total weight 20.3kg

Pros and cons:


Pros:

Unlike the Bike Box Alan, my old case had no separate recess for the wheels, and the rear derailleur needed to be removed just to fit in the box. You could still remove the derailleur when using the Bike Box Alan to ensure there is absolutely no chance of bending the rear hanger, but hey I'm lazy and to date I've had no issues taking my chances.


The first time I travelled with the Bike Box Alan Last I had a 23kg baggage limit for each item so I didn't have space or weight allowance to include the floor pump. Instead I found a handy use for the space and used it to mount the seat post and saddle.


Also included are some little protective bags for the skewer ends. This stops them rubbing on the frame and permanently damaging your valuable investment (pride and joy, best friend, lover...?)


Also, the exterior design includes a couple of carry handles at each end and some wheels on the bottom, making it a breeze to move around whilst travelling.

A few cons:

I think the only potential problem with the box is that there is a slight chance that lock will come loose during air transport. So if you are travelling by air, it is probably wise to put a few cable ties in the hole provided. I have a combination lock on the top one. And have a few cable ties on you if you need to transfer, just in case the security personals wants a visual inspection mid part of your journey.


I use Speedplay pedals which didn't sit in the space provided so I had to tuck them into the back of the box in a bag with my spare tools.

It is slightly hard to guide the crush proof pole dead set in the middle. If the bottom bracket holder was taller then maybe it would be a little easier. I was told a tip is to try and put some tape on the bottom bracket so it stays upright to making it easier to close.

The inclusion of some 'Fragile' stickers would also be a welcom addition. I know Alan thinks the box is indestructible but I don't want the airport grounds testing out its durability by throwing it the tarmac next time I travel.


Patriotic



All in all the Bike Box Alan is a very worthwhile investment for anybody who regularly travels with their bike, and at a starting price of AUD $675 (US $700) delivered it's not much more than you would pay for a decent bike bag.

More information and ordering details can be found at the website bikeboxalan.co.uk/


Back of the case

Inside the case there are two layers of foarm for added protection

There are 2 clips on each slide and a top clip. All clips are replaceable and can order via Alan.

Testing out the Bike Box Alan in real world conditions

Travelling with your bike can be very rewarding.

Word and photos courtesy of Stephen Chan... thanks Taka! ~VL

4 comments:

  1. Do they make a bigger one?

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  2. Wow, surprisingly I never knew this.I have been reading your blog a lot over the past few days and it has earned a place in my bookmarks.Thanks for sharing with us.

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    Replies
    1. Always great to get some positive feedback, thanks - VL

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  3. I ordered one on 10 November, 2012 and it arrived into Australia on the 28 November, 2012. Strangely I was not notified and it just sat at Australia Post before being returned on the 14 January, 2013. It was delivered by TNT Post in the UK but apparently Australia Post can't deliver this size parcel once it gets here. Was yours delivered to you by Australia Post?

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