Traveling with your bike is almost never fun nor easy. Whether you already own a bike box, borrow from your buddies, or are in the market for one, there are multiple factors to consider when thinking about the safety of your trusty two-wheeled work horse. Of course, the Scicon's and the Evoc cases are nice but many of us don't have the space or need for such pricey solutions.
The two brands we highlight below caught our attention for wildly different reasons and we can't personally speak for their durability or cost-performance...but they're made in Japan and we're here to support the #buylocal movement. BTB bike boxes provide a solid temporary solution without the sticker shock. On the other hand, you'll need to mortgage your house for the carbon Z-Up Impact but there are more reasonable options for those less flush with cash.
If you can't tell, we're not huge fans of traveling with our bikes. It's manageable but it usually invokes a lot of mixed feelings for us. You can read about all the things we worry about here.
What else to say except that it's a $9,000 (¥925,000) carbon bike box. Yes, it's probably more expensive than your bike itself, but only the best for your two-wheeled baby, right?
Made in Japan and designed by Japanese age-group triathlete Kazu Iwasaki, this particular bike box measures 1200mm x 800mm x 400mm (2,400mm total) and weighs approximately 12KG. The price point makes the carbon Z-Up Impact unattainable for most but there is no denying the appeal of its sleek design - it doesn't look like your average bike box!
For consumers with less spending power, the Z-Impact 2030 series will be made available in December 2017. All three models of the 2030 series boast a solid aluminum frame with pricing variations depending on the paneling material. A firm plastic panel will set you back approximately ¥150,000, while aluminum paneling will cost ¥200,000 and carbon paneling is priced at ¥300,000 (all pricing tentative as of November 2017). These bike boxes measure 1070mm x 730mm x 230mm (2,030mm total) and weigh about 8KG.
Iwasaki san has decades of experience as an automotive design professional with computer graphic expertise. In 2002, he started Z-Up Research, a progressive consulting firm focusing on good design and consumer useability. To learn more about Z-Up Research, click here.
If you live in Japan and don't have your own bike box (or you're a loner with no friends to borrow from), you've probably been referred to BTB. Pretty self explanatory stuff here - BTB supplies those keen to travel with their bikes a box for transportation. With five different models ranging from a foldable firm plastic box costing ¥54,800 to ¥3,300 for the most compact cardboard box, BTB caters to a broad price point range.
The Standard and D-237 boxes are lightweight, made of a firm cardboard and can be purchased for less than ¥5,000. Both weigh less than 7KG and can be recycled. The D-237 Oritatami model is geared for one or two round-trips of domestic travel while the Standard is recommended for international travel.
Weighing in at a slightly heavier 7.6KG, the Premium is BTB's most durable - and most expensive at ¥54,800. Those wary of cardboard boxes but still seeking a bike box under 203cm will favor the Pro 203 model with its strong plastic construction available in four colors for ¥19,800.
Unfortunately, BTB services are not yet available in English but those who can speak/read/write Japanese can order a bike box online and have it delivered. You must disassemble and pack the bike on your own before a courier comes to pick up the bike box on a preferred day/time. The bike box is delivered to your destination, you reassemble the bike, and if necessary, schedule a courier for your bike (and the bike box) to be taken home.
Courier prices start at ¥3,300 one way; additional charges and time apply for Okinawa and select outer islands. For detailed courier prices (in Japanese), click here.
Cycle Mode is Japan's premier event for those interested in cycling - for fitness, recreation, or competition. Cycle Mode International 2017 took place at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture from November 3rd through 5th.