bikeboxalan Bike Box Review
As much as I love buying bike related gear, I was not embracing the prospect of buying a new bike box. I had only used the dhb box three times, but the my last experience had not been a good one. Stuck in a field in the blazing Oregon sunshine, you could say I'd 'lost it'. Picture, if you will, the scenario. We'd spent the best part of 4-5 hours cycling that day off the back of about 450 miles previously. It was very hot and I was dehydrated. My fuse was lit. The crowning moment was probably screaming every profanity I could muster whilst thumping the box uncontrollably. This situation climaxed with me throwing a water bottle pretty much as far as it would go. I also ended up bending the front Easton wheel skewer. All in in, it was not my finest moment. Even the older folks who were quite quietly going about their business looked mildly concerned when the English madman seemed to be having a fit in the middle of the field. So that's the story of the dhb bike box. It simply wasn't big enough, and this proved it. I will say one last thing; even now it annoys me, standing there doing nothing in the bike shed. It's always in my way. It ranks as a poor purchase.
As per usual I'd spent some time trawling 'The Internet' investigating what my options were. I wasn't going budget again because it was a false economy. The field in Oregon had proven that. But exactly how much did I want to pay? (Sadly), it wasn't as if this was going to be used that often. Basically the market stretched from about £150 for the dhb box to around £700 for Scicon's AeroTech Evolution model. BikeBoxAlan sits some way in the middle.
Made in the UK it's an original, exclusive, patented design. More importantly, the reviews for this product were always favourable. I tried to find something negative about it, but couldn't which was a good sign. It also came with a 10 year guarantee. The range starts at about £400 and increases depending on the colour and the level of customisation you require. I opted for an orange box figuring it would stand out. I got my name and British flag added for £9. In total it cost £450. Not cheap, and does it do the job?
In all honesty, I'm a little premature writing this review as I've only packed the bike up twice. On the other hand, that should give you an indication of how good this product is. The box is made from toughened thermo plastic, about 5mm thick. Previously, the hardest part of packing the bike was getting the frame and wheels to sit correctly together. BikeBoxAlan have resolved this issue by making two recesses for the wheels. This is a great feature because otherwise the frame and the wheels get crushed together and you're not sure what damage is occurring inside. The wheels are held in place by attaching the skewer through the box and tightening the collar on the external side of the box. Another intelligent solution.
Open the box up and there's a foam divider to separate the bike frame and the wheels. There's even instructions on now to fit the bike in the best way. On the frame side of the box there's 10 or so Velcro straps that help keep the frame and anything else you've packed, locked in place. I took the advice offered, taking the pedals, saddle stem and handlebars off. My 58cm frame fitted without any drama. There's one other clever little device included; a steel pin the keeps the sides of the box apart - so no chance of the be getting crushed. These little features show that some serious thought has gone into this product and indicates that experience has been applied to make this bike box truly fit for purpose.
A couple of other features are worth noting. Firstly, the locking clasps. Five in number, they are robust and can all be locked. I cable-tied mine - cheaper and just as effective. The clasps were a major issue on the dhb model. Cheaply made, they would not always release. It really was a black art to make them work. Secondly, the trolley wheels are extremely robust. The front two steer, the rear pair are fixed. These are built to last and provide a smooth route through the airport! In the interests of review balance though I would say the following. The box is quite difficult to steer. There's no obvious handle and dragging it from the front, is awkward as the 'grip' is to low for me. It is possible to steer from the rear so to speak, but there's a definitely a knack to it. Weighing almost 12 kilos when empty, it' also quite difficult to man-handle. It's a strange shape and trying to physically get it into the car with the bike inside was a challenge.
If you conclude that £400 is too much money to justify on purchasing a bikebox then hiring might be an angle to try. A weeks hire delivered to your home costs £79. Alternatively if you can collect from their office in Rotherham its just £25 for the same period. This represents an ideal 'Plan B' and you still receive the benefits I've just described without the heavy outlay. If you are only going to use it once or twice this might be optimal, rather than buying a bikebox white elephant and storing it somewhere in your shed. That would be a shame since they are designed to be used. (There's also advice on how to pack the box and how it can fit in your car on the bikeboxalan website).
To summarise; my advice would be to skip the cheap box and purchase one of these. Granted, if you have a smaller frame bike the dhb will do a job for you; but in my experience it cannot adequately cope with a 58 cm sized frame and its certainly not built to last. BikeBoxAlan on the other hand will easily cope with this frame size and offer you protection with confidence. I cannot ever see the need to buy another bike box. Job done. Good work.
For more information go to www.bikeboxalan.co.uk.
Words, Thumbnail and Slider - bikebritain Ltd