The Shokbox Premium is a tough box that comes with a tracking system for locating your bike during air travel, although it's a heavy option that might push you over weight limits with some carriers. It's not actually in stock until mid-December, but Shokbox is taking orders in the meantime and discounts of 30 per cent are available on both the Premium and the Classic (more details below).
The Shokbox is made in the UK from 'a unique blend of polyethene', according to the manufacturer. It's tough stuff. We have, of course, flown with the box as part of the review process and it has come through relatively unscathed. We can't be sure how much baggage handler abuse it was subjected to behind the scenes, so we dished out some of our own – lobbing it about and stacking other boxes on top just to check its strength. Don't tell Shokbox but we also gave it a whacking with a rubber mallet, which seems like a reasonable simulation of the sort of ill-treatment that's meted out in airports.
To cut a long story short, the Shokbox has survived all that with just a few little scratches here and there and no cracks or structural issues of any kind.
The edges of the box are built strong and are up to to 4mm thick, according to our vernier callipers – about 25% thicker than those of many rivals. A central pillar extends from each side, meeting in the middle to prevent the box getting crushed if it finds itself at the bottom of a heavy stack, for instance. I just can't imagine your bike getting squashed in here. In terms of safety, I don't see any worries at all.
Packing the Shokbox is pretty straightforward. I removed the pedals and seatpost from my 57cm bike, took the handlebar out of the stem and taped it to the top tube, and took off the wheels.
With that done, the frame fitted easily inside the box, held in place with adjustable webbing straps. The wheels go into their own very well-made zipped bags, each with a hole that allows the central pillar to slot through and hold them in place during transit.
Egg box foam sheets fitted against the sides of the box provide more protection and you get a third sheet that slots between the already bagged wheels and the rest of your bike. That really is a belt and braces approach.
I'd have liked some sort of bag for the pedals, quick release skewers, seatpost/saddle and so on, although any old plastic bag and perhaps some bubble wrap will do the job.
The Classic ShockBox — which isn't made from such a high grade of plastic — is secured shut with simple TSA locking latches, while the Premium version that we have here comes with the addition of two TSA combination locking latches. This means that you can lock the box but that the authorities at the airport can open it without causing damage if they want to check what's inside, and re-lock it afterwards.
The Shokbox rolls on four swivelling caster wheels, one on each corner. It's easy to push the box around on flat surfaces like airport floors, even sideways, with indentations moulded into the top of the shell giving you decent hold points. The casters sit in slight recesses in the body of the Shokbox so they don't protrude a great distance, making it unlikely that they'll get damaged or knocked off if/when the box is chucked about.
Unlike the Classic Shokbox, the Premium version comes with a LugLoc, which is a third party luggage tracker that you could buy separately if you wanted.
The LugLoc is a little device that measures around 110mm x 75mm x 12mm – so smaller than a typical mobile phone. It has its own little pocket inside the box.
You charge it up (the battery recharges via a Micro USB cable and lasts up to 15 days from fully charged) and download the LugLoc app to your phone (iOS or Android), register yourself and link to the device. Then you can start tracking the Shokbox thanks to the LugLoc's internal SIM card, Bluetooth (if you're within range) and GSM (Global System for Mobile communications).
Shokboxes come with 12 months connectivity included and thereafter USD4.99 for a single month.
The idea, of course, is that if your Shokbox goes missing in transit you can use the app to help find it. Bear in mind that GSM is entirely different from GPS, using mobile triangulation rather than satellites, so its accuracy can vary depending on signal strength and the number of mobile phone masts in a particular region.
LugLoc itself says, 'The LugLoc device is designed for air travel, and its purpose is to expedite the retrieval process when luggage is lost in airports. We do not ensure its effectiveness in other situations, but we guarantee it will identify the airport where your device is located.'
I asked someone to stick the Shokbox in the back of their car and take it around with them for a few days. Sometimes I was able to use the app to find out where it was, sometimes I wasn't. On the other hand, when they flew the app was able to tell me the airport at which the Shokbox was located, and that's what LugLoc promises.
The LugLoc could help out if your Shokbox gets packed onto the wrong plane and shipped to the back of beyond, but if it doesn't sound valuable to you the Classic version of the Shokbox comes without it (and a few other minor differences) for £499.
My only real issue with the Shokbox is its weight; at 13.8kg it's a little heavier than many rivals (bear in mind that the weight does include those wheel bags I mentioned, and you could make do without them if you were really pushed on your weight allowance, because there's already a sheet of foam down the centre of the box protecting your frame).
You can take a bike box (the bike box itself plus contents) as standard luggage on British Airways flights, for example, if it weighs 23kg or under. In this instance, that would leave you 9.2kg for your bike. That might be enough, or it might not. easyJet gives you an allowance of 32kg (you have to pay for it, of course), which would leave you 18.2kg for your bike.
Priced at £599 (UK shipping is included), the Shokbox is over £100 more expensive than the Bike Box Alan Premium Bike Box (£438), the Bikebox Online VeloVault2 (£469), or the Bonza Bike Box £475. As mentioned, though, it's largely the addition of the LugLoc that accounts for the difference; the version without costs £499 – still a little more than any of these bike boxes, but not by a massive margin.
The Shokbox Premium is out of stock (at the time of writing) until mid-December 2018, but Shokbox is taking orders in the meantime with 30% discount available until 14th December (discount code: 'PRE-ORD30').
Overall, the Shokbox Premium is a little heavier than most rivals but it's a sturdy option that offers plenty of protection for your bike when you fly. The LugLoc tracking system doesn't particularly appeal to me but it will tell you which airport your bike's in if it does go missing in transit. If that's not something you want, save yourself £100 and go for the Shokbox Classic instead.
Sturdy bike box that'll protect your bike well, but a little heavy and the tracking system is of limited benefit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shokbox Orange Premium
Size tested: 120 x 33 x 91cm
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?
Shokbox says, "Shokbox is the ultimate cycle protection system, manufactured from a unique blend of polyethene which provides a high level of strength and security when transporting your cycle either by plane, train or car.
"Designed, engineered and manufactured for cyclists, by cyclists, the new Shokbox has been developed over the past 2 years providing a highly manoeuvrable, easy to pack, lightweight transport case. With features, such as integrated handles, TSA approved locking system and GPS tracking system (optional) for added security and peace of mind.
"There is also the option to personalise your case either by choosing from a range of colours or adding a name plate."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shokbox lists these features:
Integrated Anti crush system
Multi directional Castor wheels
Integrated Pull Handles
High impact protection Zones
Colour coded GPS Plate
Intelligent polyurethane protection system
TSA Locking Latches
Life Time warranty
GPS tracking system standard [it's actually GSM]
Moulded Shokbox Logo plate
TSA Combination Locking Latches
Available in any of 7 colours
Dimensions 120 x 33 x 91cm
The box (including wheels, latches, straps, hinges and LugLoc) weighs 12.9kg. The wheel bags add a further 900g (although Shokbox says that it has sourced new materials that will bring that figure down to 480g), taking the total to 13.8kg
It's easy to manoeuvre around.
The Shokbox Classic, without the LugLoc, is far better value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It protects your bike well. The LugLoc will tell you which airport your bike is in if the Shokbox goes missing in transit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The strength of the box.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's heavier than other bike boxes I've used and I'm not totally convinced of the value of the LugLoc.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a little more expensive than similar boxes from the likes of Bike Box Alan, Bikebox Online and Bonza, but not by much once you take the LugLoc out of the equation.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd rather go for the Shokbox Classic, priced £499, without the LugLoc.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend the Shokbox Classic over this.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a really solid box but the weight brings the overall score down a touch and I'm not a massive fan of the LugLoc either.
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 pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.