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Scicon AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box review

5 Nov 2018
Verdict:

The AeroTech still needs to be improved before it can be called the 'perfect bike box', but is definitely one of the best boxes out there

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£699.00
For 
• Nice design • Great quality of the plastic case • Lighter than the competitors • Easy to move around • Several well-thought-out features
Against 
• Pricey • Minimal cushioning and protective layers • The holding straps are not robust

When I had to choose between a bike box and bike bag for the first time, it was a no brainer: I went for a bike box. The news that Bahrain-Merida’s bikes were damaged because of the negligence of airport carriers at Glasgow airport after the European Championships (the bikes were secured in Scicon bags) only confirmed my fears about bags.

Of course, I've also been able to damage the rotors of my disc-brakes from inside a bike box too... but that’s another story.

When you need to pick out a bike box from the variety the market offers, the usual suspects are often Bike Box Alan, Bonza Bike Box, B&W, Thule and – of course – the Italian-made Scicon.

Buy the Scicon AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box from Pro Bike Kit

The luxury of travelling with a Scicon is comparable to riding a Colnago or a Pinarello. There is nothing wrong with all the other brands, but it's a matter of status.

Design and material

Even at a first look, the Scicon AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box immediately seems superior. The design is neat, smooth and cool, and if you placed it right next to a competitor, the Scicon line would always stand out as better looking.

But that, of course, is only one piece of the puzzle, because what you really want from a bike box is something else: for the box to be solid and long-lasting.

This is a test the Scicon also passed, hands down. Its plastic – a Patented Lightweight ABS thermoplastic – is polished, light and extremely robust.

All the brands that I have used in the past, including Bonza and Alan, were sturdy and survived several intercontinental trips with no issues.

But when you travel with luggage of these dimensions, even 1kg of weight matters, and if you can get both high quality and light weight it's a win-win (the Scicon weights 11kg versus the 12kg average of the competitors).

That alone is probably the feature that justifies the higher price of the AeroTech.

The details

There are several well-thought-out features of the AeroTech that need to be highlighted. The first are the integrated name-tag on the top and the built-in TSA key locks (Scicon provides two set of keys for these locks so you don’t need to buy extra TSA locks to secure the hooks).

But the most noticeable difference of the AeroTech if compared to any other box is its manoeuvrability. The Italian company has provided the AeroTech with a set of eight ball bearing wheels (four in the front and four in the rear) that all rotate 360°.

This option, in addition to the central handle on the top of the box, makes it easy to move 'the beast' even when fully loaded.

At the risk of being picky, I'd say that if anything, the AeroTech is too easy to be manoeuvred, and sometimes the box over-steers a bit.

Finally, the finest touch is a small hole underneath the handle where you can put the baggage tags through; simple and smart.

Find out more about the Scicon AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box: sciconbags.com

The downsides

Yes, even the Scicon has quite a few areas that need to be improved. The first thing that surprised me was the very minimal cushioning inside the box.

Compared to the two layers of foam that other brands offer (Alan and Bonza for example), the thin layers of the AeroTech are astonishing.

Not only that, but if you compare the 'Velcro straps bonanza' that you can find on many other boxes to secure the frame to the box, the fact that Scicon provides only three was a shock.

The company claims that this system (called Suspended Frame System, or SFS), is all that's needed to hold the bike firmly in place and that it 'provides extra stability and safety, just like a car’s seatbelt'.

That may be the case, but out of two trips I did with the AeroTech (where I travelled with two different bikes, one being a TT), two of the straps tore from their bolts.

'The SFS,' says a spokesperson for Scicon, 'is built so that the bike hangs in the case when upright [bike box standing on four wheels].

'The strap system is designed to absorb shocks and built to fail under extreme force to absorb impacts on the bike frame itself.

'The fact that the straps have broken may suggest that the box was subjected to some potentially damaging forces in transit, from which the bike was protected.'

Buy the Scicon AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box from Pro Bike Kit

This might be true, but the poor resistance of the straps and the minimal protection offered to the frame are still less than convincing features.

As for the rest, the internal space of the box has plenty of clearance if you’re travelling with disc-brakes wheels and you don’t want to remove the rotors from the wheels (although I always do after my first accident).

Oh, did I mention that the AeroTech also comes with a set of quick release adapters that work both with thru-axle and other quick release? That's also a plus.

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