It would be devastating to find after training for months for an event and travelling at great expense that your bike has incurred damage.
Some people will rely on insurance to cover the cost of any damage not prevented by a lower cost bike box while others are looking for a transit solution that will protect their pride and joy. For most people some form of convenient, manoeuvrable protective container is desirable if you are travelling by anything other than car with its rack options.
Alan bike boxes are a hard case that offers very good protection for your bike. The case is a tough composite ‘suitcase’ style box, with reinforcing ribs moulded into the sides to increase structural integrity. Alan’s website has various videos showing how tough the boxes actually are, including a comparison where the Alan and a knock-off replica box are dumped off a high bridge onto the road below…the Bikebox Alan came out unscathed while the replica was almost completely demolished. The composite formula and construction of the Alan is clearly very strong and able to withstand forces well beyond what your bike could be expected to endure during transit.
Tough castors are bolted to the base of the box. The front units swivel while the rear wheels are fixed position. This means you steer by the front but can’t shove the whole box or just the rear of it sideways. The wheels are recessed reasonably well front and back and robust enough to withstand knocking around. Stairs pose a reasonable impediment for the case especially while it is loaded as there is no shoulder strap option. The handles of the case are moulded into the shape of the box, a deep well each side of the front and rear top of the box provide decent grips for larger hands but may cause some fatigue for those with smaller hands if carrying the box is required.
The closures are sturdy chromed metal riveted to the plastic casing, with two on each end and one on the top of the box. The rivets are pulled against a washer on the inside to spread the load across a larger area. The hinge is a long piano style unit also riveted to the case.
Packing your bike requires removing the pedals, wheels, seatpost and the stem from the steerer, and deflating your tyres. All the removed components are positively secured in space around the frame with velcro straps.
The bike box is lined with thick, dense foam and your frame is secured with cushioned velcro straps to the body side of the case. Wheels are secured to the lid side of the case using your quick release axles threaded through the hub and then lid skin and secured by the wheel nut on the outside of the case. There’s a moulded recess to accommodate the wheel nut and prevent it snagging. The rear wheel retains the cassette while packing. There are also a couple of straps to keep the lid from falling back.
An ‘anti-crush post’, effectively a metal tubular spreader, fits between the sidewalls of the case and maintains its full width, so even if someone were to stand on the case when it’s lying flat, the sides would not deflect inwards to let your frame be crushed.
Between the wheels and the bike there’s another thick layer of dense rubber foam.
Accessories can be packed around the frame with extra velcro straps to keep things in place. Track pump, helmet, and shoes can all be tucked away keeping your bike gear all together, and if flying, leaving you with more room in your regular and carry-on luggage.
The box is a snug fit for frames with a seat tube up to 80cm but would accommodate integrated seat tube bikes with length of up to 90cm if you were to remove the crankset.
Storage of the box while not in use should be a consideration. A hard case is a relatively large object, and with this comes storage concerns, not only at home but at the other end of your transit when you begin to ride your bike. Soft cases are available that will fold down to offer some solution here, but they will very often not provide the level of protection offered by a full hard case.
At around $800 the Alan is one of the higher priced hard-case bike boxes on the market. It is strong and tough on the outside, and full of cushiony comfort on the inside. It’s like first class travel for your bike.