how to get my bike to tokyo
I'm going to tokyo for two weeks in May, and I must have a bike. My bike. So, should I invest in a hard travel case (I will it use once or twice a year), or should I have my lbs box it up for me? It looks like all bike cases have total linear dimensions slightly in excess of 80 inches (so ANA will require advance arrangements), but my frame is only a 51. I wonder if my little track bike would get lost in there--maybe my lbs could stuff it into a small box and I could save money on the case and on bulky baggage fees. On the other hand, if my lbs boxes it up I'd have to save the box and reuse for the return trip. So any recommendations on a hard case?
Direct Hit Not Required
Since you're riding a 51cm just buy a used keirin track bike when you're there. Then just ship it back. You'd probably make a profit selling it here.
I agree about getting a bike there. By the time you pay shipping (both ways) and hassle with the airlines and insurance company about a busted bike (likely), you could probably replace it. I'd never consider putting the airlines in charge of a good bike no matter what it was in. If it got opened in a security check, I doubt if they would repack it like you would.
I have a hard shell case that I bought from Nashbar on sale for under $200. I travel with my bike all the time, never overseas, but I've never had a problem with the airlines state side. I always explain at the ticket counter what is in the case and they allow me to stand and watch them check the bike over, and that way I make sure the bike remains packed as it should be. After they have checked it over, I either hand them the locks or lock it myself and don't worry about it again.
As long as you pack it properly, I don't think you should not have any problem with damage to the bike in the hard shell case. You should check with the airlines about the cost of bringing your bike with you to make sure it is cost effective, but I love having my own ride with me when I'm gone for a week or more.