Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Bike Travel & Bike Boxes


shadow cycling

Image by .mw via Flickr

Update: I already went on my trip, but wrote the following bit below before going on my trip, so read it assuming I hadn’t gone yet until where I say it ends…

I’m going on my second Pyractif cycling trip soon, and I want to take my ‘good’ bike with me but not have to fear the airlines either damaging it or losing it (and if they do, that I can at least recoup the value).

So, the best place to begin is with bike boxes to ensure that there is as little damage as possible, and secondly, with bike insurance ‘in case of…’.

Last year when I traveled to Pyractif in the Pyrenees, I went to a now-defunct store called SBR in Fulham (the company is still running it’s just that store seems to have shut down) to rent a bike box. It was just a shell, but it worked well enough in getting my bike down. I basically disassembled the bike and packed it in there with bubble wrap and other items. Seemed to work well enough, and aside from a few paint scratches, it did not create any problems for BA.


Whilst at Pyractif though, I saw a whole bunch of other types of bike transport types, and one in particular caught my attention, the Pika Packworks bike bag. It looked pretty solid, and was clearly designed for the job in-spite of not being a hard-shell box. However, being that they only had USA distribution, it would be impractical for me to have it shipped to the UK.. so I was left with the local options.

On the high end, I found the Scicon Aerotech Evolution Bike box and on the low end, the dhb Elsted in between there were many options including the Roof Box company. All the reviews I read of for the softer bags were not encouraging so I decided I wanted a hard case for travel if I couldn’t get the Pika. The next problem was whether I was going to actually spend the money to get a box that at most I’d use twice a year. Considering that these boxes are massive, take a good bit of space, and have low utilization my options were to either buy it and loan it / rent it or to rent it. However, being that SBR, the closest store that I knew rented them had closed I was left with only the buying option.

Then I discovered Bike Box Alan.. with similar looks to the Scicon, the Bike Box Alan is cheaper and supposedly sturdier as you can see from the video on their website.

In the process of calling Bike Box Alan (since they rent them) I was then lucky to find out that my local bike store Prologue Bikes rents the Bike Box Alans as well as the Scion boxes for a reasonable price!

Anyway, the next bit was to actually get the bike packaged. I took the bike to Prologue where Tom helped me take my bike apart and put it in the box. I was given a Scion box with some battle damage, but that was structurally sound, it looks like these boxes are tough… by the time Tom had finished wrapping it up, it was safe to fly.

/ Update: Ok from now on, it’s after the trip.

The bike made it to Spain in one piece. One thing about the Scion bike boxes is that they allow you to skewer the wheels onto the shell of the box, but if you tighten the skewer all the way in, you will have the skewers sticking out and rubbing on whatever comes in contact with the box. This created an issue for me because when I arrived, one of the skewers was slightly bent from the airline handling. My recommendation is to tighten the skewer just enough, but not so that the shaft of the skewer pokes out of the screw bit.

On the return, the airport was a pain about getting the bike box into security so I had to open it up. Be prepared to do that.

Overall, I was happy with both the Scion box and with Prologue’s assistance on the matter. I recommend them and using a hard shell case. Those people that flew with the softer variety to our camp had some funny results, and one had damage. The majority of boxes were either the Scion one that I had or the Bike Box Alan, with the difference being soft bags.

In part 2 of this post, I’ll discuss insurance products.

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