The PBK Bike Travel Case is easy to pack and it's strong enough to keep your bike safe on flights, although it is heavier than some rivals.
- Pros: Simple to pack, good protection
- Cons: Heavier than some rivals
The PBK case has walls made from 3mm-thick plastic which have stood up to several flights and associated baggage handler abuse just fine. There are a few little scuffs to the exterior, which are to be expected, and that's the extent of the damage to the shell; there are certainly no cracks. The only issues have been a bent catch, caused by a cack-handed customs officer (it was easy enough to bend back), and a torn internal Velcro strap (more on those in a mo).
Packing the PBK Bike Travel Case is a lot like packing many other bike boxes – indeed this is a very similar design to that of the Bonza Bike Box that we reviewed a couple of years ago (we couldn't say for sure, but they look like they've come out of the same mould). Essentially, you remove the wheels, handlebar and pedals, and you'll need to take out the seatpost unless you have a small bike and it is set low. Some people like to remove the rear derailleur as well, although the bike is suspended off the floor of the box so, as long as everything is secured inside, there's not much danger of it being damaged if you leave it in place.
You attach the frame to one sidewall via Velcro straps, fix the wheels into the recesses on the other side with the skewers provided (disc brake and thru-axle wheels work as well as rim brake wheels with QR skewers) and separate them with a sheet of foam. Then you fasten the seatpost/saddle, pedals and any accessories with spare Velcro straps, and that's about yer lot. You'll probably want to commandeer some pipe lagging and/or bubble wrap to make sure that the handlebar doesn't rub against the frame or fork during transit and to keep the chain from scratching the chainstay, but the whole process is straightforward enough.
Sturdy anti-crush poles are a neat addition. These screw to the ends of the wheel skewers and reach to the opposite side of the case, so you need to position your bike frame (and anything else you put inside) to avoid them. I didn't find this difficult but it'll depend on the dimensions of your bike. They're a smart idea to prevent any damage if your bike ends up at the bottom of a heap of luggage. road.cc reviewer Jez found one of the long skewers slightly bent after a flight to Italy, suggesting the box had been at the bottom of a pile, but you'd rather that than damage to your bike.
The Velcro straps mentioned earlier are held to the side of the case with pop rivets and washers, but one of them (out of 10) was torn in use (the rivet wasn't positioned in the centre of the strap during manufacture) and came adrift of its mooring. You could drill out the pop rivet and bolt a new strap in but it would be a bit of a faff. Making the straps wider and/or tougher would improve overall durability.
We've used this case for 58cm bikes with had plenty of space to spare, and PBK says that time trial bikes will fit fine as well. If you want to put clothing, helmet and shoes inside there's likely to be room, although some airlines state that a bike box must contain just the bike. You might need to consider your airline's weight restriction too (check the terms and conditions). Our box came in at just over 13kg; if your limit is 23kg and your bike weighs 8kg, say, that only leaves you a couple of kilos to play with.
Four catches keep the PBK Bike Travel Case closed, each of them slightly recessed so unlikely to get knocked. As mentioned, one of these was damaged in use, the tongue that guides one side into the other having been bent sometime between check-in at Bologna and the baggage reclaim area at Heathrow. It had clearly been opened and then not closed correctly. Thankfully, it bent back okay. To be fair, when you close the box the tongue on one half of the latch can occasionally go outside rather than inside the other half, in which case you need to adjust it before applying pressure.
There are higher quality latches out there such as the ones used by Scicon, but these are similar to many others we've seen over the years and they're unlikely to come undone accidentally. It is a slight possibility, though; you could always fasten them with zip ties or invest in TSA luggage locks (which can be opened by airport authorities) if it worries you.
The long piano hinge that connects the two sides of the shell looks like it'll last and the recessed wheels – two fixed, two swivelling – are robust and roll well.
A moulded-in handle at each end helps with manoeuvrability and you could improvise a strap to make the case easier to pull by feeding webbing through the hole in the front handle, or even make a shoulder strap to carry it up steps or across gravel. A strap included in the package would be welcome, along with a dedicated anchor point.
I'd have liked a couple of other features too: a permanent fixture for an address card and somewhere to thread a baggage tracking label through because sticking the label to the outside of the box never fills me with confidence.
At £474.99 (currently on offer at £189.99), the PBK Bike Travel Case is the same price as the Bonza Bike Box that we reviewed a couple of years ago. The shells of the two boxes look indistinguishable, although Bonza now has a Bike Box 2 that is slightly different in that it has moulded-in logos, and a price of £499.99.
The Bike Box Alan Premium Bike Box costs from £425 to £438. It's a vaguely similar design that comes with a steel anti-crush pole in the centre and is over 1.4kg lighter than PBK's box. It's certainly worth considering.
The PBK Bike Travel Case isn't the lightest option out there but it provides plenty of space for road and time trail bikes, it's sturdy and offers good protection when you fly. And it's currently reduced by £285 to £189.99.
Easy-to-pack bike box that offers a good level of protection during air travel
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: PBK Bike Travel Case
Size tested: One
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?
PBK says, "The PBK Bike box brings you innovative features as well as being one of the most stylish ways of transporting your pride and joy. Compatible with all road bikes, including time trial bikes.
"Our premium cases go through rigorous testing and scrutiny, and are up to date with the latest baggage handling restrictions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
PBK lists these features:
High quality lockable catches
Velcro retention straps to firmly keep your bike safe
High density protective foam liner
Anti abrasion outer finish
Anti crush technology
High-quality wheels so you can transport easily
We measured the shell at 121 x 89 x 32.5cm - but the 89cm height increases to 94cm if you include the wheels.
One Velcro strap tore next to the rivet point on first use. After several flights there are only a couple of superficial scratches to the box's exterior, which is to be expected.
We gave the 13.4kg Bonza Bike Box an 8 for weight, but since then we've had the 11.6kg Bike Box Alan Premium Bike Box in for test, and that changes the landscape somewhat.
It's pretty simple to move around via the handles but a strap would be useful.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Despite a couple of little hiccups, it puts in a solid performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's easy to pack and it provides a good level of protection for your bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
One of the Velcro straps tore away from its mounting during an early trip. That's annoying rather than a massive problem because there are plenty of others.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's the same price as the Bonza Bike Box that we reviewed a couple of years ago. The shells of the two boxes look indistinguishable although the latches are different. Bonza now has a Bike Box 2 that is slightly different in that it has moulded-in logos. This one is priced £499.99.
The Bike Box Alan Premium Bike Box costs from £425 to £438. It's a vaguely similar design that comes with a steel anti-crush pole in the centre and is over 1.4kg lighter than PBK's box.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Perhaps, but there are plenty of other good options too.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Despite a couple of small issues, it's a solid box and a good buy, and that equals a 7.
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 worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, 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 past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.