When it comes to bike boxes, there are two major things that really float our boat: the durability of the case and the ease with which we can pack and unpack it. At the end of the day, we want a box (or bag) to firstly perform its job of protecting the bike in flight, and be fundamentally easy to use.
The fact is that the Bonza Bike Box II meets these two key criteria with ease. Constructed of a hard-wearing plastic, it’s solid as a rock, while there are quality fastening bolts that, when clipped into place, do a great job of working together to keep the box securely closed, even when fully-laden with its precious cargo.
You don’t need locks to secure the clips, although the clips do feature small holes for a padlock should this put your mind at rest. We didn’t use any though, and the clips didn’t let us down. Besides, we know that baggage handlers reserve the right to search checked luggage, so often avoid making their job more difficult than necessary, potentially risking the box itself or the wrath of the authorities, who may irreparably damage it as they force their way in.
- Price: £475
- Weight: 12kg
- Colours: Red; blue; black
- Website: Bonza
You do need to be careful when closing the case to ensure the two sides are lined up properly. If you don’t, you tend to find that the plastic can cross over the wrong way, making fastening the case impossible. Annoyingly you don’t tend to notice until you’ve fastened the clips that easily go, and are left with the difficult final two that simply won’t anchor in place, so then you need to unclip it all, reopen the case and close it again. It’s a niggle though, that can mostly be circumvented by taking extra care when fitting the bike and closing the case up in the first place.
Speaking of fitting the bike, that’s remarkably easy too (if not as quick and easy as a bag like the Scicon Aerocomfort, where you can keep the handlebar and seatpost in place). I’m not the most dextrous person in the world, yet even I found the case easy to work out, with internal velcro anchor points showing the way. Bonza also provide a printed instruction sheet, while there are YouTube videos that easily demonstrate how to break down the bike and fit it.
It’s the YouTube video that I came to follow on my phone for ease, and it’s a simple walk-through process that anyone can follow. Remove the wheels and seatpost, detach the handlebar, and it’s ready to slot in.
First, you fit the wheels into the obvious recesses - front first, rear on top to naturally allow space for the cassette to sit in the gap - and fasten them using the provided skewers. You can then also choose to use the supplied support struts to add a little extra protection from the frame on the other side. The skewers screw into these to hold them in place.
The wheel recesses also leave enough space to keep tyres intact and fully inflated, although of course I deflated them a little to avoid any pressure issues in transit. However, there’s a serious limitation in that if your wheels use the thru-axle standard, you’re out of luck – the holes are skewer-sized only, so unless you’re happy to let your wheels free-float inside, this won’t be the box for you.
With the wheels in place, the foam cover slots over the top, and it’s time to fit the bike. With the seatpost removed and handlebar removed from the bike and hanging by the side, it’s a simple case of lying the bike down, drivetrain-side-up, onto the high-quality dense foam padding.
It’s a very snug fit, with my 56cm Canyon Ultimate just about slotting in. It’s so snug, in fact, that I found my rear derailleur came within a centimetre of being pushed against the side wall of the box, which in this case added a little extra personal consternation considering I’d only just upgraded my bike to a Dura-Ace R9100 drivetrain. The last thing I wanted was to present any undue risk to my fresh and shiny new groupset.
Given the tight squeeze, I decided to shroud the rear derailleur in bubble wrap to add extra cushioning, which in turn filled what little space there was. Luckily, with the Velcro straps tightly fastened around the tubes, there’s zero movement to worry about, so you’d need to have gotten that part pretty wrong for the bike to shift much in transit. Proof came when I reopened the box on arrival at my destination, finding the bike exactly how I’d packed it – cue much relief and renewed faith in the guys at Bonza – with the outside resiliently standing up to what appeared to be some sort of impact.
When packed up, there’s plenty of space inside leftover for a bag of spare parts as well as some cycling kit if you prefer. That’s on top of a dedicated velcro strap to fasten your seatpost assembly in place. One potential downside? There’s no real space for a track pump. At least, not without pressing against the cargo, at any rate.
The fact is though, that it took me 15-20 minutes to physically pack my bike each time (rather than the 30 minutes it took with the PRO Mega bag last year), with – to my estimation – far more secure results. Finally – and importantly – it’s also really easy to manoeuvre around the airport, with quality wheels that naturally guide you to pull the bike front-end first.
And, for the record, it’s a shame that the handles aren’t fully cut-out for easier grip when pulling, pushing or even lifting it about. For example, Easyjet themselves had an issue with fitting the baggage tags, but it hardly proved an insurmountable problem in the end.
To some, safeguarding your bike in flight transit is a priceless thing, but considering the overall quality and ease of use of the Bonza Bike Box II, it’s good value for the £475 asking price if you fly regularly with your bike. Yes, there are small niggles, but if you can live with those, it represents a safe, secure and reliable way of getting your bike on a plane.
- Good all-round build quality
- Provides a reassuring level of protection
- Very easy to pack
- Quality foam padding
- Snug if you ride a larger frame
- No thru-axle version
- Heavier than a bike bag