Two weeks ago I arrived in Seoul starting a one year contract to teach English at a brand new elementary school. Thinking Seoul's burgeoning fixed gear scene would be similar to what I experienced in Chicago I brought along my Cannondale Capo. What I have discovered since is that Seoul's streets are not in fact designed for fixed gear bikes - let alone anything with tires narrower than 40mm.
There is glass and gravel at every intersection's corners. Every sewer grate seems to perfectly sized to swallow anything under 35mm and double pinch flat you. Side streets have grades as high as 20 degrees. Curbs are cut but don't reach street level leaving a sharp granite corner for you to dent your rims on. Even if your bike handling is max - eventually at that bunny hopping is going to break a spoke or screw up your frame.
That's all not to say Seoul isn't a great biking city. Laws are in cyclists 'favor' as any kind of collision with an automobile is by default faulted upon the driver. There is national healthcare. The Han River cycling paths go on forever allowing you to travel some 30 or 40 miles.
Anyway, I've decided to sell my brand new Capo and pick up a mountain bike (the 'Em-Tee-Bee' scene in Korea is great, 70% of the country is mountains with amazing downhill, single and double track all over the country, usually no more than 10 miles away from where you live). Shops being what they are here (not great but certainly not bad) I'd prefer to buy a bike from home through the shop I used to work at, receive an employee discount, then have it shipped here to Seoul.
Before I left I had taken some bike boxes to FedEx for shipping to California and asked an employee to hypothetically quote one of the boxes for a flight to South Korea. Total shipping cost was nearly $800.
I read a post about the USPS services being okay but could anyone suggest comprehensive instructions on other shipping methods I could look into? Also, I have access to a family friend's APO box - would this reduce the cost of either USPS or FedEx/UPS/DHL?
Thanks ahead for any answers - I desperately need a bike that can handle these streets.