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Verdict: 
Mid-priced hard box that's easy to use and strong enough to provide good protection for your bike when you fly
Weight: 
13,400g
Bonza Bike Box
8 10

The Bonza Bike Box is a mid-priced option that's easy to pack, simple to move around and, most important of all, is tough enough to keep your bike safe when you fly.

There's only one way to test a bike box properly: take it on a flight. Tony has taken the Bonza Bike Box to France and Italy and I've taken it to Italy too. There and back each time makes a total of six flights, so this box is now fairly well travelled. The bikes have come through all those journeys completely fine and the box is looking almost unscathed.

> Buy this online here

Getting your bike packed inside is relatively straightforward. Tony didn't find the printed instructions much cop but a couple of videos on bonzabikebox.com show you exactly how to do it. It's pretty standard stuff: you whip the wheels off, remove the pedals, take the handlebar out of the stem and probably take the seatpost out of the frame (you might get away with leaving it in if you have a small frame). I won't go into detail, but you won't have too much trouble with any of this.

Bonza Bike Box - inside.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - inside.jpg

You deflate your tyres and fasten the wheels to one side of the box using skewers that are provided as part of the package, and attach your frame to the other side of the box using whichever of the numerous hook and loop straps are best positioned. You can strap your seatpost in too so that it doesn't move in transit. A simple foam sheet stops your frame and wheels rubbing together when you close the box.

Bonza Bike Box - wheel storage.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - wheel storage.jpg

You get support struts that you can fix to the skewers which effectively act as columns between the two sides of the box. The idea is to provide extra strength that might be useful if your bike finds itself at the bottom of a large pile of luggage.

Bonza Bike Box - strap.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - strap.jpg

Anyway, I said I wouldn't go into detail about packing... the bottom line is that it's easy to pack your bike securely into the Bonza Bike Box, and you'll find that there's plenty of extra space in there for other stuff. We've put in shoes, tools and even a track pump, although many airlines say a bike box must contain just the bike and nothing else.

road.cc's Guide on: How to fly with your bike

You fasten it all inside with good quality catches that are mounted to dips in the box's sidewalls so they're unlikely to get knocked in transit. Those catches are lockable but I wouldn't bother doing that. If the customs staff want to open a locked box and you're not there with the keys, it sometimes ain't pretty. Instead of just popping an unlocked catch they'll smash a locked one off.

Bonza Bike Box - lock.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - lock.jpg

Okay, so your bike's in there. Moving the Bonza Bike Box about is easy thanks to a caster-style wheel on each corner. These wheels don't extend much beyond the bottom of the box so, like the catches, they're unlikely to get knocked off by clumsy baggage handlers. You get a couple of hand holds at the top of the box but carrying it more than a few yards – on and off the airport bus, for example – is awkward. A shoulder strap would help in these situations but I've never used a hard box that has one.

Bonza Bike Box - wheels.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - wheels.jpg

What goes on in the time between you dropping off your bike at the oversized baggage conveyor belt and picking it up at the other end of your flight is anyone's guess, but the Bonza Bike Box has taken everything in its stride with minimal damage. There are a couple of scratches to the plastic but that's about all.

Bonza Bike Box - side profile.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - side profile.jpg

The quality of construction is pretty good, the plastic seems strong and durable if quite thin (3mm, according to our vernier callipers, which is a little thinner than that of the Scicon Aerotech Evolution that we reviewed) and there's no hint of brittleness. Structurally, the box is still in perfect nick and we've had absolutely no issues with the bikes we've carried inside.

The Bonza Bike Box measures 124 x 94 x 34cm and can fit easily enough into the back of a small hatchback. I had it along with another bike box and a couple of other bags in the back of a Fiat 500 with the rear seats folded down on my last trip.

Bonza Bike Box - back.jpg

Bonza Bike Box - back.jpg

Bonza claims a weight of 12kg +/-5%. Our complete package (including straps and struts) came in a little heavier than that at 13.4kg. We measured it on two sets of scales just to be sure.

Check out our guide to flying with your bike and you'll see that there are various different maximum weights out there for a bike in a box. I won't go into all of them here but EasyJet, for example, has a weight limit of 32kg. Our 13.4kg Bonza Bike Box would leave an ample 18.6kg for the bike. Other airlines have different rules, though, so always check ahead of time.

> Buyer's Guide: 14 of the best bike bags and boxes

Although £475 isn't cheap, you can pay a lot more for a hard bike box (though it's currently on sale at £350). We reviewed a cheaper box than this a couple of years ago, and it cracked second time out. The Bonza Bike Box offers a high level of protection and it's very easy to pack. Looking at the build quality and the parts used, we reckon this is a very good mid-priced option.

Verdict

Mid-priced hard box that's easy to use and strong enough to provide good protection for your bike when you fly

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bonza Bike Box

Size tested: 124 x 94 x 34cm

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's a hard box for keeping your bike safe when you fly.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Bonza lists these features:

Lockable catches.

Internal Velcro retention straps.

High quality foam protective padding.

High gloss anti-abrasion finish.

Anti crush technology.

Easy glide high quality wheels.

Set of high quality allen key skewers included.

Takes less than 10 minutes to pack.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Ours has lasted well with minimal damage. The red colour has faded a bit, but we're not too fussed.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Currently on sale at £350...

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It's easy to pack and it always kept the bike safe.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's easy to pack and the various bits of your bike are held in place securely.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Like most bike boxes, it's awkward to pick up and carry.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Would certainly consider it.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

It's not cheap but then again, neither is your bike. If you're going to the effort of taking your bike on a flight, you really don't want to find it damaged when you arrive. Looking at the build quality and the parts used here, this is a very good mid-priced option.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

12 comments

Avatar
Team EPO [118 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Or just hire one for £5 a day, rent for 95 days to break even!

 

https://www.bonzabikebox.com/product/bike-box-hire/

Avatar
nadsta [182 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Pros /cons over a BBA? Looks v similar to me. 

Avatar
SDK-R [10 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Team EPO wrote:

Or just hire one for £5 a day, rent for 95 days to break even!

 

https://www.bonzabikebox.com/product/bike-box-hire/

I've done just that - I've booked one of these boxes for a trip to the US on the 20th of this month  1

Avatar
Jonathan Knight [25 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
nadsta wrote:

Pros /cons over a BBA? Looks v similar to me. 

It looks identical in almost every way to my BBA except that the BBA has a post in the middle to stop it getting crushed (or does this have one but not on the pictures). Similar price to what I paid for my BBA too.

Avatar
simonmb [565 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

A bit of a p-in-the-a removing seat post and handlebars, don't you think? Wheels and pedals, okay. And for those many airlines with a 23kg lmit, at a starting point of 13kg for just the box even weight-weenies are getting close to the limit with box + bike alone. Renting a box is fine - if you live within a very handy distance of a top-notch bike store. But what are you going to do in the height of summer when all your mates got there first? I got a Scicon Aerocomfort 2.0 (soft-sided) and I've already raved about it here. And a good investment to own your own.

Avatar
danthomascyclist [347 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
simonmb wrote:

A bit of a p-in-the-a removing seat post and handlebars, don't you think? <snip> And for those many airlines with a 23kg lmit, at a starting point of 13kg for just the box even weight-weenies are getting close to the limit with box + bike alone.

 

No, I don't. Seat post takes 10 seconds, handlebars take about one minute. From my experience most airlines allow 30-32Kg for sports equipment.  I can only think of Aer Lingus that offer 23Kg limit.

Throughout my travels I've seen how luggage gets treated. I wouldn't go with a softshell. To each their own  1

Avatar
CXR94Di2 [1858 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Bike box Alan, is the one to get.

 Ive rented before, worked ok, a bit of a faff, when far away from depot, also not as cheap as you may think.  If you go abroad 5 times in one week stints, it doesnt take many trips at all to own a box in cost.

Avatar
sethpistol [90 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Oh look, another fake Scicon...

Avatar
richjones [1 post] 7 months ago
0 likes

Agree with BikeBoxAlan as the one to get, recently hired a Bonza (5wks ago) – here's my main gripes (your mileage may vary):

Hinges
Specifically the closing latch, two fell out on my departure leg. Looks like where the metal is split (to get onto the actual latch, presumably in assembly) it's not pushed back together very well, therefore they're prone to coming loose/falling out. Wouldn't normally be a problem, but it' such a crucial part, when they come out - it renders the latch useless (zip ties to the rescue!)

Solution: Please tighten latch hoops so they can't come out. And/Or redesign that particular part of the latch.

Anti-Crush Stand-Offs
These seemingly are new, and attach to the end of the skewer holding the wheels on. Which is fine in theory, but when you shut the lid its very difficult to see if the stand-off will foul any part of your frame (you end up lying on the floor trying to see where its hitting) – this takes a while to get the frame in the correct position, before the lid will close properly. Cue lots of frustrated shouting and scraping of stand-off on frame.

Conversely, the crush pole in a BBA has a locating hole top and bottom, so you can be sure of where it will go.

Solution: Mark in the box/foam, where the likely place the anti-crush stand-offs will end-up so you can position the frame well away.

Size of box/location of rear-mech
May only be my bike, but when putting the frame in and leaving the rear mech on, it was so close to the edge of the box, I took the rear-mech off. As mentioned in the review the case is very thin in parts, it could have easily damaged the mech had I left it in place.

Solution: Look to beef up the box in that particular area and/or make it clear in instructions/video that you should be removing the rear mech.

Avatar
cycleworx [1 post] 1 month ago
0 likes

The problem I can see with this product is you can't fit bolt though axle wheels. With these becoming more common even on road bikes that is a real issue.

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2911 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

cycleworx wrote:

The problem I can see with this product is you can't fit bolt though axle wheels. With these becoming more common even on road bikes that is a real issue.

That's a problem 'if' your bike has bolt through axles. So for most of us it isn't a problem and if it does become one I'd guess there will be a fairly easy bodge to get round it - what do mountain bikers do?
I've used one of these - in fact the one in this review - a lot, and so far it's survived some right budget airline hammerings pretty much unscathed - in fact more unscathed than I thought it would. All the bikes I've carried in it have come through unmarked - which has not been the case with other boxes. 
I agree with the comment above about the rear mech being close to the edge of the box - it is with my frame too, but shifting up the block does bring it in a fair bit + I then wrap it in bubble wrap so far I've not had an issue and I have had mech's bent in other boxes. 

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2911 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

danthomascyclist wrote:

simonmb wrote:

A bit of a p-in-the-a removing seat post and handlebars, don't you think? <snip> And for those many airlines with a 23kg lmit, at a starting point of 13kg for just the box even weight-weenies are getting close to the limit with box + bike alone.

 

No, I don't. Seat post takes 10 seconds, handlebars take about one minute. From my experience most airlines allow 30-32Kg for sports equipment.  I can only think of Aer Lingus that offer 23Kg limit.

Throughout my travels I've seen how luggage gets treated. I wouldn't go with a softshell. To each their own  1

You can take bikes as part of your standard 23kg baggage allowance on BA - and presumably (though who can fathom the vagaries of airline luggage policies) some other Star Alliance carriers. I've taken my bike - Kinesis Gran Fondo Ti Disc + track pump and some tools in this box on BA and been under (just) the standard baggage limit then taken my clothing etc on as hand luggage, the BA allowance for which is more generous than Ryanair or Easyjet.