The VeloVault2 combines a robust plastic structure with quality fixings and an improved strut, all of which culminate in almost complete peace of mind when placing a bike in the hold. Reassurance comes at a price, in this case increased weight and a cumbersome package when lifting up and down stairs. However, once on a flat surface the wheels roll well and we were able to stay below airline weight limits despite some serious additional packing.
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When travelling with a bike, my default choice is a soft bike travel case - they're not as sturdy, but my justification has always been ease of negotiating the airport (and the 20 steps from the pavement to my front door) plus the lower weight which allows for greater lycra stuffing within baggage allowances.
However, on my most recent trip I was accompanied by Canyon's featherweight Ultimate Evo, and though I'm well aware that carbon is extremely robust, I decided to safeguard 'Evie the Evo' with the protection of a sturdy plastic box.
The VeloVault2, despite its name, is actually the brand's fifth generation travel companion. It's been upgraded wth a longer wheelbase (80mm), ideal for those carrying 29er mountain bikes, an improved central strut, new carrying handle and it's also 'roof box ready' for those who choose to mount it to the top of their car, if you invest in the extra fixings.
VeloVault is proud of its British assembly line - the plastic shells are produced near Manchester, Protex catches hail from Birmingham, whilst the hinge, webbing and foam all come out of the Peak District with final construction taking place in Yorkshire.
Packing and unpacking the box was quick and easy, taking easily under 20 minutes each way.
I removed (in order) the pedals, wheels, handlebars and seatpost. There's a handy diagram on the foam so you know you're on track, and velcro fastenings keep your machine in place. I always place the rear mech and chain in a padded bag, and secure it to the chainstay, and it's important to ensure your top cap is secure at the headset to save from losing spacers or bearings.
The level of disassembly was greater than has been the case with other soft bags I've used - and I would rather leave my handlebars and saddle on the bike to save measuring up the other side. However, with everything tucked away my peace of mind was left fully intact.
Next up, having deflated the tyres, I attached the wheels using the Through Axle fixing system (an extra £22), placed the padded foam over the top and lowered the lid so that the metal strut came into contact with the plastic cup in the centre of the box. There are additional struts available for those using solid disc wheels and the rotor recess ensures safety (with the rotors facing the outside).
The central strut was perhaps my favourite element of this box. There are competitors with a similar design, but it's not always easy to fit the pole to the hole when feeling around in the dark - whereas VeloVault's pairing connected with the plastic cup with ease.
The box uses Protex Catchbolts for closure. These have a click button and a claimed 400kg strength rating, per catch.
The VeloVault box has a moulded plastic handle at each end, with an additional holding slot at the bottom of the box. I still found lifting and moving the box to be quite a job, but I can't it was any more difficult when compared with competitors, the size of the unit means it's never going to be easy.
Weighing in at 12.5kg, VeloVault's creation is heavier than competitors. With my bike (plus enough cases of NamedSport nutrition to feed eight hungry 1904rt team mates for a week), my box came to 30.5kg, not far off EasyJet's 32kg limit. If I was flying with the likes of British Airways, who allow 23kg, I'd have had to plan ahead and find an alternative method of getting the "snack stash" to Spain. Arguably that's the price you pay for the protection of a sturdy hard box.
The VeloVault 2 rolls on a reliable set of wheels, and there are replacements available should they wear down. I did find that the box only moved in straight lines when I held the tall end and pushed it in front of me - but with this established, moving between check-in and oversized luggage areas of assorted airports became easy. Up until that point I looked a little like a harassed tourist trying to control a drunk friend en route to Benidorm but I can chalk that up to initial user error.
At £469, this is a box which comes in at a similar price to competitors. It's usually possible to hire a box when travelling, but after a few trips investing in your own tends to break even, and then it's just a case of working out where to store the case.
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