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Flying with your Bike

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Flying with your Bike

Does anyone have advice for shipping your bike? I odnt really want to buy an expensive case because i do not intend to keep it with me on my tour. can anyone offer suggestions? cardboard boxes?

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Travel by plane with bike

Hello Ashley

1. Find airline rules in writing and have them with you when you go to the airport.
2. Avoid flying in North America - airlines seem mostly bike-unfriendly.
3. Best method is to turn handlebars, remove pedals, protect derailleur, and put it all in a clear plastic bag. Many airlines accept this (except in North America?). It's easy, you can carry or replace packing materials easily, and get your bike operational fast on arrival. Baggage handlers recognise it as a bike and mostly give it due respect.

Other advice about travelling:
Look for these features in a bike:
Steel frame (resists damage better, easier to repair)
Flat MTB handlebars (you want to look around rather than focus on speed)
700C rims. (roll faster, absorb bumps better)
Clearances for wide tyres. (they give you ability to go more places)
No suspension (it just adds weight)
Hydraulic disk brakes (work better, highly reliable)
Mountain bike gearing with really low ratios and wide range (500% plus range) ( don't try to be a hero climbing hills in big gears)
3x9 better than 2x10. (more range). Rohloff hub gears or Pinion gearboxes nice but veery expensive.
Hub dynamo for lighting and charging (more reliable but hard to find outside Europe)(I've never had one, but good to have)

Use a mirror (take a look helmet mirrors are excellent and inexpensive)

Use a phone or tablet for navigation. Look at Also atlogis app (New Zealand maps pro works well worldwide). Can also use google maps.
Better than dedicated GPS devices, bigger screens, and useful for many other things.

I hope that's useful. Interesting for me to make a summary of what I think is important.

Best wishes

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Bike Boxes

Easiest way is to get a cardboard bike box from your local bike shop. A box for a 29" MTB will be bigger so have space for extra stuff. The bike shop may even pack the bike for you if you're not confident yourself. At the end of your tour pick up another bike box.for the flight home.

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I have done it more than 4

I have done it more than 4 times on international flights (Europe - Oceania, Oceania - America), I always use card board box from local bike shop. free and widely available.

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I'd rather wheel the bike

Nobody ever got sacked for planning on using a cardboard carton for a bike.

A bike and luggage are easy to move about when on the bikes wheels.

But a large carton containing disassembled bike, combined with separate containers of luggage, are difficult to manage.
And the bike is in many ways more fragile in a box.

Once you have a bike and a box, you will probably need to travel by special taxi or bus. Putting the bike in the box makes it even harder to move around. Be sure you have all the necessary tools and skills for both ends of the journey, and packing materials at the start. And think about how you'll move it all about. Luggage trolleys often can't be taken between airport terminal for example. Don't mislay any essential item.

It's all easier to do at your home base, with friends possibly able to help. In a strange city with bike shops far from the airport, it will be more of a challenge. In New Caledonia bike shops were hard to find and did not have many boxes.

Travelling with someone else will make it easier.

I have lived close to an international airport. Warmshowers guests often seem to need quite a lot of time to get organised at the start and end of their trips. And help with transport to airports.

Another strategy is to fly to your start point and buy a cheap bike there. Give it away before you fly again. Another warmshowers guest did that and it seemed to work well.

The other posters have obviously overcome the challenges of cardboard boxes. But like to be able to ride to and from the airport, and have the packing and unpacking processes short and unstressed.

Good luck with your travels. Enjoy.

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Wheeling the bike to the airport?

Hi Ed,
I like your suggestion of cycling to and from the airport as I previously battled with public transport and my big bike box.

I just want to make sure I understand you correctly ... So are you saying you ride your bike with panniers and luggage to the airport, then remove all the luggage and panniers, get the bike flight ready by removing the pedals, turning the handle bars, deflating the tyres I guess, protecting the derailleur, etc. and then putting the bike in a big plastic bag ?

Do you use a see through bag so the luggage handlers can see it as a bike?
And then where do you get such a big plastic bag, or what sort of plastic are you using

Regarding the panniers and other luggage pieces like tent sack etc, how do you check these in,?

Hank's for all your advice and help.

I am off to a 6 month trip in Japan on 1 May and busy planning all the logistics.... All advice is appreciated.

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Its the best if possible

Hello Christina

I use a plastic bag that once held a single mattress. Yes, being clear helps the baggage handlers treat it well I rhink.

In the UK, you can buy suitable bagsfrom CTC. I have never seen one, but using one may make your bike more acceptable.

What's really important is to find out the airlines rules in writing and take a copy with you. Best to know rhe rules before you book.

If you can choose Singapore Airlines, it's very good. I have had no problems with the bike.
They are otherwisegood to fly with. Singapore is agood stopover airport to. The baggage allowance is normally 30kg, perfect for a bike and panniers. They don't count the number of pieces so you can send 4 panniers as four items I rhink. But I pefer to use one of those stripey polyethylene bags for all my bags other than the bike.

Remember there is no good reason for deflating the tyres. Modern plane holds are pressurized. And even if not that only adds 1 bar 15psi to the pressure in the tyre. A good plan is to deflate them a little, so you can say yes if they ask. And leave the valves easily accessible in case they decide to drflate further.

This method is sooo much easier, it's worth a little trouble, an even choosing a more expensive fare.

I don't know where your home is, but have a good trip.



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Its the best if possible

Thanks for all the valuable information Ed.
Really appreciate your time to share

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u could rent on, find a company that has many branch an see if u could drop it off at ur end.

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If you don't want to keep it

If you don't want to keep it with your during the tour, get a cardboard. Done!

If you are planning for short trip, get a cheap bikebag/box (e.g. Scicon Aerocomfort soft bag), there are really good and easy to pack.

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The cardboard box is the only

The cardboard box is the only option, most airlines will not take the bike unpacked. Also, get as much in the box as possible as 'padding'. We have done this countless times and it works.
The airline will make you sign a 'waiver', if you don't sign it they won't let you fly. Effectively, it says if they damage your bike they are not liable, but, with a bit of a struggle, and lots of negative publicity on social media they will pay. Easyjet crushed one of my bikes, but paid my claim in full (it did take 6 months and a lot of shouting at them), and I am currently fighting Emirates for damage caused on a flight last week.
Don't let this put you off, we have flown several times a year for the last 6 or 7 years, usually without any problem.
Also, North America will cost you $ 100 each way, whoever you fly with (it is a cyclist tax). The rest of the world is usually free if you fly with major airlines. And make sure you check the size limits, western built planes have bigger cargo doors and holds, eastern built planes can have limited access to the hold, meaning your box may be too big.

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flying with your bike

check with your specific airline. I ususally box my bike when leaving from home (cardboard box -which i recycle/abandon at airport). Recently flew iceland air home from France = they provided a bag (for FREE, even, though charged me for bike as extra luggage). All I had to do was loosen/turn handlebars and remove pedals. HOWEVER, they encouraged me to do that on one side of the airport, then I had to get my bike (with non-functional handlebars, now) to the other side of the airport - all while carrying my panniers in tow ;(. What a feat. Be sure to dis-aasemble your bike where you ultimately "hand it over." I was impressed - no scratches or concerns, despite transfers, etc. and much easier than putting it in box (and taking an expensive taxi to the airport!). best luck!

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flying with your bike

Thanks Lauren, very useful. Will keep it in mind.

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good luck

Where are you riding in Japan? I'll be there in July, and while I won't have the luxury of touring, am looking into getting a fold-able just to ensure that i WILL have a bike for the 14 days away from home - lol!

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bike shipment by air

Hi, I just brought a bike back from New Zealand on United Airlines. I disassembled the bike just enough to pack it in a standard cardboard bike box I got from a bike store. Handle bar off and zip tied to the frame, seat post removed, unfastened the rear derailluer to move it under the frame, remove the pedals and zip tie them to the tire. Also added some extra cardboard around the frame for added protection. You can also pack your helmet, panniers, bags and other gear up to the weight limit, check with the airline for that. I reduced the tire pressure to half for expansion during flight. United charged $100 extra as oversize luggage. Some countries like New Zealand require sports equipment to be very clean to prevent invasive species from entering the country.

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Flying your bike

Flying your own little bike is always a bit stressful, as already mentionned, I use a box with my half dissambled bike and set it back. The only problem is carrying the box if you don't set it straight at the airport (sometimes you'll have to take a cab that charge you 10 extra box for the bike, quite expensive if you fly often. You can use CO2 recharge for pumping tires.
I use my camping mattress on one side and my paniers refilled with bike clothes & sleep on the other side for extra comfort!
You can fill the box up to 32 kg with some cie

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German Lufthansa would ship

German Lufthansa would ship your bicycle without having to dismantle it-just as it is. 100 Euro for one-way trip between Europe and another continent, 50 Euro within Europe. I used that service between Bulgaria and Japan-perfect service, especially on the Japan side.

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