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  1. #1
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    Taking bikes on planes.

    Wife and I have finally decided that our main vacation this summer is to take our bikes to Tuscany for 2 weeks riding. Getting them there is the problem. There are different types of bike bag on the market but can you recommend some of the better ones?

    What experiences (good and bad) have you had transporting by plane and what tips do you have to improve the odds of getting it to destination without damage. One thing I read is to use a spacer to protect the dropouts for example. Other suggestions?
    If your bollocks ain't sore, yer ain't on yer boike!

  2. #2
    Dances with Rocks Dirtgrinder's Avatar
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    Took mine to New Mexico last year. Expensive! Depends on the airline too. Go the the hardware store and get some of that foam pipe insulation. Comes in 10ft. lengths and it's cheap. Also comes in several different sizes. You can put pieces around differents parts of your frame, seat tube, etc.
    If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough...

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  3. #3
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    Too much money!

    I flew Air France last year to Italy, and it was something like $75 each way (maybe a little more). I bought the performance bike carrier luggage, and not only did I have derailleur (sp?) problems, but the airline also broke the luggage locks- I had locked the bike up, and silly me for doing so, because the airlines broke it open for some reason or another. Money lost....

    I'm thinking this year, if I do get to go back to Italy, I will try for Air Canada. Apparently, they don't charge a bike fee, but I have to stop over in Toronto. It's a good trade-off, I think.

    Koffee

  4. #4
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Congrats on your decision.
    Packing a bike is not easy. Each airline seems to have their own policy. Check out yours.
    Also, whatever system you decide on, consider the recovery. I usually use an old cardboard bike box from a retailer. If I have to leave it at the airport, not much is lost. These days not every airport offers to store or hold luggage for security reasons.
    Buying an expensive bike bag means that you will have to go from the airport to a destination where you can store your bag until your return and it also means you have to do a round trip, that is starting from and returning to the same location.
    Let me know how it goes.

  5. #5
    where's the summer!? cabledonut's Avatar
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    hello!

    i've taken a bike abroad several times to mallorca, to france and to australia. when i first took a bike abroad i used one of those cardboard boxes that bikes/frames come in from the manufacturers. you will need to take the wheels out, skewers out of the wheels. sometimes, depending on the size of the box, you can leave the rear wheel in. make sure you deflate your tires!take the rear mech off also so if the box gets a clout it won't bend your rear hanger. take the seat post out. undo the handlebar pinchbolt on the stem. turn the bars sideways and underhook the bars under the top tube then ziptie the bars to the toptube so it's secure. i always covered every tube in foam pipe lagging (available from b&q etc). also buy plenty of bubble wrap (available from all garden centres). take off your pedals. i also took off my chainrings. put something between your rear drop out (if you have to take the rear wheel out) and in between the forks to prevent the rear dropouts getting crushed. i used a piece of wood cut to size and taped it in place. ziptie the rear mech to the chainstay on the inside of the stay. take off the bottle cages also. everything you take off the bike, wrap in bubble wrap plentifully. the bike should now be a secure unit with nothing flapping about. pop the bike into the box. place all the bubble wrapped parts in with the bike and tape the box up!

    if you want to buy a bike bag, they are plenty around to choose from but i've never fancied them myself. i did, though, buy one of those a.b.s plastic boxes to take my bike to oz. these are the creme de la creme but also weigh about 13kilos. when your weight limit is around 22 kilos this takes up alot of your baggage allowance. although the abs plastic box was nice and is the ultimate protection the cardboard box has been the best way for me personally. especially as i was charged 80 extra by british airways for excess luggage when i went to oz then on the way back got charged AU$300 by singapore airlines to bring the bike back to UK!

    if i go abroad again with a bike i will be using a cardboard box!

    cheers,

    cabledonut.

  6. #6
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    I would recommend against using a bag. Bag means soft and the airline will not give you anything back if they bash your bike inside of a soft bag. Use a box of some sort. I use an ABS plastic box between Europe and the U.S., with no ill effects, other than the additional cost of shipping. Different airlines have different cost structures on same, so make sure to check. Using the spacers in the dropouts, even in a hardcase, is highly recommended. The foam pipe insulation is also highly recommended, as is insuring that you tie/tape everything down well within the box. The cardboard box someone above recommended is good. Can usually get your LBS to supply one for free and pack your bike properly in it for $20, or so. Removing the RD from the hanger is very important for the reason stated. Just make sure it well secured so it doesn't bang around against the bike/wheels. Make sure everything is is well secured. If the airline can shake it loose and bang it around, they will. On one of my trips back from Europe my bike got here several days late. It came home via the Dominican Republic. Don't give the airline an opportunity to screw up. For they surely will.

    You might see if you can find an LBS where you are going to ship your bikes to ahead of time. That way they are there and ready to go when you get there. Then give back to them to package for the return trip. That has worked well for me on two trips over.

    Good luck and have fun! You have chosen a great area to ride/visit.

  7. #7
    cycling wordsmith uncronopio's Avatar
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    I completely agree with cabledonut's experience. I took a mountain bike from Gainesville, Florida to Santiago, Chile in a cardboard box. I used similar preparations and arrived without any problems. The box looked pretty bad at the end, but the bike was intact.

    Check with the airline(s) involved in your trip. I remember that I paid almost US$50 from Gainesville to Miami (really annoying inflexible US Air people), but got Miami - Santiago for free. If you take just a small amount of luggage (without considering the bike), people tend to be nicer in the airport, and sometimes don't charge you for taking the bike.

    The good thing about cardboard boxes is that you can dispose of it (recycle please) on arrival. Then, when you need to return to your country, go to a bicycle shop and get another box, either for free or a very small cost.
    'Quote me as saying I was misquoted'
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  8. #8
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    For securing the dropouts, I've had luck cutting a 1x1 inch piece of lumber to the dropout width and drilling a hole lengthwise for the QR skewer. You can also use a pair of old hubs if you have 'em lying about in your used parts bin. I've also used lengths of cardboard - cut to the inside width of the bike box, rolled up, and taped in place - to reinforce the cardboard box at strategic locations.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

  9. #9
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Long time no see, Cabledonut! How's it going overthere?

    In answer to the original question, I took a bike on a plane for my tour of Western Victoria last year. I bought a "body bag" from Groundeffect (http://www.groundeffect.co.nz) and was able to pack the bike into that without too much dismantling, nor did I get charged anything extra for it. However, if you're going to take this option, you'll probably need to pack some other things around it (clothes etc) to protect the bike from the things that airline baggage handlers tend to do.

    Also remember that whatever option you use needs to be able to be used again for the return flight, and probably carried around with you during the tour. The bag I mentioned weighs about 900g. I don't know about some of the others.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  10. #10
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    Firstly, try and avoid Heathrow airport, its hard to get you and the bikes there, and the bikes get treated badly.
    Ive had good experience at Stanstead, which is easier to get to, and has better staff.
    I usually ride my machine to the train station, and then roll the bike carrying all the panniers. This is much easier than carrying the bike yourself.

    I try to keep my machine looking like a bike. If it looks like a suitcase, it gets treated like one, and thrown around.
    I cover the tubes with plumbing foam insulation, lower the saddle, turn the bars, remove the pedals. I put the chain on the small ring/large cog

    At the other end, I reasemble the bike and ride out from the airport. It helps to arrange a morning flight, so you arrive at midday.

  11. #11
    where's the summer!? cabledonut's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L
    Long time no see, Cabledonut! How's it going overthere?
    hello chris!

    i haven't been on here in a while, not sure why to be honest. things are going ok here. have just booked my next flight to oz. girlfriend and i will be there for the month of october this year. fly out on oct 2nd and back here in UK on nov 4th. planning on an initial stay in burleigh (booked in at regency on the beach at burleigh - check it out for me! south side of burleigh head near the tallebudgera slsc. looked ok on the website.) for 7 nights then off up north hopefully to cairns then whitsunday islands. hopefully going to do some scuba diving on the barrier reef. then across to see uluru for a couple of days then back to the beach! not taking my bike this time though. just hope my girlfriend likes as much as i do as i'm hoping she'll want to immigrate to oz too! how's things with you? seen anything of allister? am missing oz alot!

    cabledonut.

  12. #12
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    in the few times i have travelled domestically, i made arrangements with my LBS to UPS my bike to a pre-arranged bike store on the other side. the costs were minimal and everything was great. LBS's do this for their teams that they sponsor for races, etc.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  13. #13
    Marathon Cyclist MediaCreations's Avatar
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    On my recent trip to India I took my MTB in a cardboard box both ways. No problems and no charge.

    Singapore Airlines were very good to me. I had told them when booking the flight that I was travelling to India for a charity ride and so they waived the fees.

    I think if you are travelling with your bike, you should let the airline know when you book and then arrive at the airport well before the time you would normally check in. If you make life easier for them they are usually more inclined to make things easier for you.

    Hey Cabledonut!! Stay in touch. I'll be on my way from Perth to Hobart around the time you're down under. We might be able to catch up this time around.

  14. #14
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by cabledonut
    have just booked my next flight to oz. girlfriend and i will be there for the month of october this year. fly out on oct 2nd and back here in UK on nov 4th. planning on an initial stay in burleigh (booked in at regency on the beach at burleigh - check it out for me! south side of burleigh head near the tallebudgera slsc. looked ok on the website.)
    Sorry I missed your reply, I was away last weekend (cruise on Sydney Harbour). I'll check it out on the ride to work tomorrow. I didn't even realise there were any hotels immediately on the south side of Burleigh. Get in touch when you're here!


    Originally posted by cabledonut
    how's things with you? seen anything of allister? am missing oz alot!
    Well, it's finally decided to rain here, so I'm about as happy as I can be! You should have seen the waterfalls at Springbrook last week! I haven't seen much of Allister around here lately myself, although he's still posting on the bike-qld list.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  15. #15
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    BTW Rodney,

    It looks like I'll be unable to be in Hobart at the time you're there. My professional studies this year mean that I'll be unable to tour Tasmania until mid-November at the very earliest.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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  16. #16
    Marathon Cyclist MediaCreations's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L
    BTW Rodney,

    It looks like I'll be unable to be in Hobart at the time you're there. My professional studies this year mean that I'll be unable to tour Tasmania until mid-November at the very earliest.
    That's a dissapointment. I was looking forward to catching up but I guess it'll have to wait.

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