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