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BikeBox Online's VeloVault2 bike box is a sturdy, easy to pack and easy to transport option for keeping your bike safe when you fly. It is made from high-quality components that should stand the test of time. If you don't want to stump up the cash to buy one of these, they're also available to hire.
We reviewed the Bikebox Online VeloVault (still available) here on road.cc three years ago and were impressed by its roominess and the quality of construction. The VeloVault2 – actually the brand's fifth generation bike box – retains many of the original design features while accommodating several updates.
The VeloVault2 is a little longer (122cm versus 116cm), for example, giving more space to take a 29er or downhill mountain bike. I've used it to carry various different 57cm and 58cm road bikes and there has been plenty of room to spare.
As usual, you need to whip the pedals and wheels off your bike before packing, and either remove the handlebar from the stem or take the stem off the fork steerer. You might also need to take the seatpost out of the frame, depending on the height of the saddle. I had to and I have a saddle height of 81cm, measured from the centre of the bottom bracket.
You fix your wheels to one side of the shell either with quick releases (which you feed through the box wall) or with Velcro straps that are attached to the inside; 29er wheels fit fine and you don't need to remove disc brake rotors.
Your frame fits to the other side of the shell with a load more Velcro straps, as do your saddle/seatpost (if, like me, you've had to remove them) and pedals. It's simple to get everything sitting securely and a sheet of foam down the middle ensures nothing gets scratched by your wheels when you close the box.
You'll have loads of remaining space for stuff like your bike helmet and shoes, assuming your airline allows you to put them in (some say that you're not allowed to carry anything but your bike in a bike box). You might need to be careful with regard to weight, though. If you're hoping not to pay additional baggage charges on British Airways, for example, the box and all of its contents can't exceed 23kg. We weighed the VeloVault2 at 13kg, so that gives you 10kg to play with – fine for most road bikes, but you won't be able to fit in much besides (don't forget to check the weight allowance of your airline before you fly).
The two parts of the plastic shell are joined by a piano hinge that runs almost the full length of the base and the four catches are excellent. They're super-strong and it's pretty much impossible for them to open accidentally in transit. They sit in recesses in the shell so it's highly unlikely that they'll get damaged if/when the box gets lobbed around by baggage handlers. One of the catches can be secured shut with a padlock although you wouldn't want to leave it locked while flying or customs might just bust the box open to check what's inside.
There's some flex in the walls of the shell but an aluminium strut fixed to one side mates with a receiver cup on the other side to stop the box getting crushed if it finds itself at the bottom of a pile of baggage (the VeloVault we reviewed previously had half an aluminium strut on each side, the two parts meeting in the middle). I've travelled with the VeloVault2 several times and the only signs of wear are a few little scratches to the shell – nothing remotely structural.
I've used the VeloVault2 with various different bikes and I've always found packing simple without any of the enhanced persuasion methods needed with some other options I've tried in the past – no wrestling or jumping up and down on the top required.
Once closed up, it's simple to push the VeloVault2 around on its four wheels, the two at the back fixed, the two at the front able to swivel. The wheels behave nicely, going where you want them to rather than doing their own thing, and they don't squeak. Like the catches, they sit in slight recesses in the shell to reduce the chances of them getting knocked and damaged in transit.
Handles moulded into each end of the shell make the box easy enough to pull/push to and from your car or around the airport. Bike boxes are never particularly easy to carry because of their bulk, and this one could do with some sort of shoulder strap for lugging it over anything but the shortest of distances. That said, the VeloVault2 is no more unwieldy than any other bike box I've tried. As mentioned, it's pretty large, measuring 122cm x 90cm x 30cm at the widest points, but it'll fit into the back of most cars, usually with the rear seats folded down.
If you'd rather save space inside your car, the VeloVault2 is "roof box ready": it can fit to car roof bars with T-track slots if you buy a roof bar integration upgrade at a price of £100. Go for this option and the box will come with integrated aluminium rods and sliders that fix to BikeBox Online's aluminium roof rack brackets. The brackets include QR skewers that allow you to remove the box from the car without the need to open it.
The roof bar integration upgrade is only becoming available about now, so we've not had the chance to use it, but you can see it in action here.
The VeloVault2 is a mid-price option, pretty much splitting the difference between the Bike Box Alan Premium Box (£438) and the Bonza Bike Box (£499). It's quite a similar proposition to each of those, to the point that it's difficult to choose between them. The Bike Box Alan is a little lighter, which might come in handy, whereas I prefer the VeloVault2's meaty catches and you might be attracted by the roof bar attachment system (if you're happy to pay for the upgrade).
Overall, the VeloVault2 is well made and puts in a strong performance. It's roomy, easy to use and provides plenty of protection for your bike.
Strong, well-made bike box that's very easy to pack
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bikebox Online VeloVault2
Size tested: 122cm x 90cm x 30cm
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 bike box for transporting your bike, primarily for air travel.
Bikebox Online says, "The Velovault2 is the 5th generation Velovault bike box, design for ease of use for the widest range of bikes whilst protecting your bike to the max. The Velovault2 has been upgraded in many ways, at a glance these include:
New carrying handle
Improved support strut design
Roof box ready
We are very proud to say that our bike box is British made and we mean proper British made! The Plastic shells are produced near Manchester, the Protex™ catches from Birmingham and the piano hinge, webbing and foGot a questionam are made either side of the Peak district, even the weight saving aluminium washers are made in England. Assembly is carried out in the UK at our factory in Yorkshire."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bikebox Online lists these features:
Universal wheel fixings and larger wheel moulding – Velovault2 bike box can fit all conventional wheel sizes, including the new 650b and 29er mountain bike wheels. No need to fully deflate your 29er tyres just to fit in the bike box.
Innovative wheel mount design – two mounting holes mean your big 29er wheels can now fit without the cassette from one wheel rubbing against the 2nd wheel.
Disk Brake rotor recesses – We have also built in protection for disc brake rotors so you no longer have to remove them when travelling.Large diameter central support strut – An upgrade from the original Velovault bike box, the Velovault2 has one central support strut fixed to the roof of the box which self locates into a receiver cup mounted in the base, providing great crush resistance so an adult can stand on the centre of the box. Best of all, as the strut is integrated into the box, and will always be in place even if customs open up your box.
Extra length – Our bike box is 80mm longer than our competitors which accommodates the longer wheel bases now found on modern 29ers and downhill bikes. To keep our overall dimensions (Length + Height + Width) the same as our competitors we have lost a few mm of width and height.
Quality fixings – A Bike box is only as strong as its weakest point. Why spend £400+ on a box to protect your £10,000 bike and accept cheap Chinese catches which don't even have a strength rating, or a box using cheap piano hinge. We only use UK made Protex Catchbolts with a strength rating of 400kg per catch. If they're good enough for Formula 1 teams they're good enough for us.
Sensible handle position – By not having our main handle in-line with the seat post and saddle, we can accommodate the full chain-ring to saddle measurement. Put another way, many other boxes position a handle where the saddle would go, adding to the overall dimensions of the box but also reducing the internal space at the most important point.
Velovault2 side handleAdditional carrying handle – Another upgrade, the Velovault2 has an integrated handle moulded into the bottom of the box to make it much easier to lift and move the bike box even when it's fully loaded.
Roof box ready (additional cost) – We are proud to be the first company to design a bikebox which is specially design to fit car roof bars. By adding this option to your Velovault2 you will ensure that your box is equipped to attach to the majority of roof bars with T-track slots. The integrated aluminium rods and sliders are bolted to your bike box which in turn will fix to our unique aluminium roof rack brackets. The brackets include quick release skewers, secured by a pin to prevent movement turning transit, this means that the box can be removed from the car without you having to open the bike box or mess with your bike.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs well – strong and easy to use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Strong, easy to pack.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a little heavier than some rivals.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is about a middling price for a bike box of this kind. The Bike Box Alan Premium Box is a little cheaper at £438 while the Bonza Bike Box is a little more expensive at £499. If you want the roof bar integration upgrade, that'll cost you another £100.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It puts in a top performance and the price is good compared to the rest of the market. That makes this a very good buy.
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 been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.