Small wheels ARE better!
Checking in a Tandem on flight
I'm considering getting a tandem but am concern naturally about transporting it on commercial planes. I have checked in a normal bike without a box and some airlines are quite happy to accept it - with handle bar straightened, pedals remove and tires deflated.
Does anyone has any experience checking in a tandem as is? I'm about to take the plunge into the world of Tandem. Grateful for your help!
Formerly Known as Newbie
Maybe you should consider getting a tandem with S&S couplers if you consider hassle-free check in important right from the start.
S&S and airline travel.
Check the Tandem@Hobbes archives (http://search.bikelist.org). There's a person named Piaw who has put his uncoupled tandem on airline flights and swears by it.
I've tried a non-coupled tandem & one with couplers. In my experience (though others strongly disagree), couplers make this MUCH easier. Flying & using ground transportation on the other end with a non-coupled tandem can be a real logistic hassle.
Each airline seems to have a different set of rules . . . and depending on who you talk to, the rules are different. When ariline folks tell you over phone the rules, get their name!
Years ago flew tandem without boxing it several times; took off pedals,turned the bars, left air in tires, panniers on rear rack with helmets, etc. to protect back wheel.
Also shipped it in tandem (cardboard) box . . . you guessed it,they didn't handle it as well and they bashed up the rea wheel . . . they did pay for new rim/spokes.
If they can see what it is, seems tandem got better treatment.
However, nowadays, with S&S and hard cases for the tandem, it is easier. Although have heard inspectors (Homeland 'In'Security?) have opened up the cases, could not get things back in proper place and messed up the bike/paintjob.
I researched this exact question. Check out a few of these:
This shop http://www.bicycleoutfitter.com/ does a lot of tandem trips and could also give you more info about transportation options. Also check with Erickson Cycle Tours (ecycletours.com) as they have lots of tandems on their trips.
With that in mind, we opted to rent a bike for our European adventure and were very very glad we did so.
After spending two summers on an uncoupled tandem, we spent the money and had a coupled one made up. Its simple, its elegant and works so well I can see why they have been a success. You can uncouple, put it in the back of a small rental car, or put the parts in a regular bike box, its so simple. My only comment is that when you start to travel with your tandem the chances are good that it will pick up odd scratches, pack it well and live with the results, our builder suggested black so that its easy to match the scratches. The S&S couplings sure beat renting a truck to move your tandem.
Small wheels ARE better!
Many thanks for the useful tips..... Mucho gracias!
You can read Piaw's write-up...
Originally Posted by Don Aumann
...in his blog.
But what you won't find in the BLOG is...
Originally Posted by gregm
Context that helps to frame Piaw's point of view as a cyclo-tourist who prefers to ride to and from departure & arrival airports with all their luggage stowed in their panniers.
Or this more recent exchange...
A few probing questions by yours truly regarding Piaw's S&S experience.
Piaw's candid and frank answers to yours truly's questions
My follow-up and some observations
Please note, I have been corresponding with Piaw for many years on Hobbes and have the utmost respect and admiration for how he approaches cycling, touring, life-in-general, and can easily appreciate why couplers are in his view, an expensive and complicated solution looking for a problem. If we were more adventurous and had the inclination to do fully loaded, unsupported tours we'd probably agree that couplers are more trouble than they're worth. However, given that we don't ride to and from airports and prefer to do supported tours or destination events that allow us to ride our tandems sans any luggage aside from a trunk bag, a travel tandem has proven to be a good choice for us as travelling with and checking in four pieces of luggage is still easier than two pieces of luggage and a tandem-sized object in any configuration. Then again, I could probably assemble our tandem blindfolded so YRMV.
Last edited by TandemGeek; 02-02-07 at 07:54 AM.
pan y agua
Having taken an uncoupled tandem to Europe and dealt with issues like the size of cargo hold openings on smaller planes, taxis, trains, rental cars, I will never do it again. Anybody want to buy a slightly used Bike Pro USA Tandem Race case?
In the context of the 'Piaw' discussions that TG quotes directly above, I think am seeing a real split in approaches to "tandem travel". These seem to be the characteristics of each approach:
Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
1) Go on vacation, and bring your tandem; vs.
2) Get on your tandem, and go on vacation.
Piaw apparently loads up the bike at home, they roll out to the local airport, buy some disposable boxes, and they're off and running. I'll bet they never fussed with renting a car.
If your vacation doesn't really center around your tandem, and you're wanting to have your tandem follow you around as "dead weight" that's available to ride for parts of your vacation that call for cycling, then you'll probably be served really well by being able to put your tandem into a couple of smaller cases.
I was listening the other day to people talking about traveling in Italy and France. "Yes, rent a car! It gives you so much freedom." Hm... buying gas? looking for parking? map in one hand, steering wheel in the other? pick-up/return logistics? flat tire? mechanical troubles? insurance? Hm... I feel freer on a train any day, even at home here in the U.S.!! Plus I take my tandem on the local trains, no sweat.
Well, at least we all agree that vacations should be spent cycling.
The originator of the thread didn't say where they live, but in Canada, at least one charter airline will take your tandem for free. This makes it a great deal, especially when that same airline will get you to Paris and back for just over $500 plus taxes. The same airline only requires the bike to be in a plastic bag with the handlebars turned and pedals off.
We contemplated S&S couplers before we had our bike made. The extra cost was bad enough, the extra time spent at the airport dis-assembling and re-assembling made us choose not to bother.
There also appears to be a variety of ideas about what constitutes tandem touring. I see riding the bike and using public transport as being acceptable practise. I'm not sure about taxis or rental cars as I don't use them when I tour.
This only goes to show that everyone has their own standards.
"My only comment is that when you start to travel with your tandem the chances are good that it will pick up odd scratches, pack it well and live with the results, our builder suggested black so that its easy to match the scratches."
We have flown with our coupled tandem 3 times, I think. I pack it very carefully and we haven't had any travel related scratches.