Products of the Year
WomensCycling.net has tested many items throughout the year, on our travels, at races, in races and training. All of the products have been purchased and used in the same manner as anyone else would do - nothing has been received for test from suppliers or manufacturers, the items listed below are therefore considered as serious contenders for something you might like to buy for yourself.
Sci-Con Bike Box
At £279, this bike box is not a cheap alternative to bike bags which you can pick up for anywhere from £50 - £100. However, the additional protection that this hard plastic case provides quickly proves that the extra investment is more than worth it.
The Sci-Con has a hinged bottom and small wheels indented into the bottom too. The wheels are partially protected from baggage handler's worst treatment, although they are probably the most vulnerable part of the box. There are two lockable catches on the top of the box and several others around the sides - these don't lock. Traveller's tip - tape over them before handing the box over to the airline - for added peace of mind that they won't be accidentally flicked open.
Inside, the bottom half of the box is foam padded and the top half contains recessed wheel fixings. All that is required is to remove the skewer, thread through the case and attach the wheel - firmly in place and, because the block / cassette faces outwards, there is less danger of getting bits caught on the teeth. (Another tip - if you're worries about losing the end of your skewer (even though they're recessed into the outside of the box), get a pair of cheap ones specifically for use in the box. Carry the others inside the box.
Handlebars need to be moved and saddle removed too. However, Sci-Con do provide straps for fixing the saddle to the underside of the Top Tube during travel. They also provide padded tube protection too. If pedals are removed, the whole bike fits a lot better. (Wrap them in a cloth, then drop into an old sock and place at the bottom of the bike box or place in your hand luggage (check with the Airline re. post 9-11 security - you don't get to get your pedals confiscated) with your shoes.
The bike is secured within the box via 2 straps which fix around either end of the Top Tube. Very little moves once the bike is packed. If you're going to put kit in the box too, keep it clean by packing in a bag and wrap the chain and chainset in a cloth. Loose articles tend to end up at the bottom of the case even if you try to wedge them into the main triangle of the frame!
www.ProBikit.co.uk sell Sci-Con boxes for £279 plus £5 P&P and delivery times are short - they got mine out to me in about 4 days and were willing to deliver to a work address.
The only downside to this box is its size - you need a big car to transport it to the airport - a hatchback which could take 3 bike bags would have squeeze getting 2 Sci-Cons in. Also, it is solid and does weigh more than a bag. However, most airlines are happy to allow it as part of your luggage without penalty as long as your other bag is light and you don't flaunt the limits......
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