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Old 03-14-17, 01:56 PM   #1
NoControl
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Advice Needed: Shipping or Bringing Bike With You to Starting Point?

So as some of you may have gathered from my previous posts, I turn 59 on 6/29 this year. I reckon that an epic thing to do would be to start off on the GDMBR to celebrate my 60th year on this planet. I've got the bike chosen (sort of) and the gear loosely gathered, but I'm a newbie to bike touring and have never had to ship a bike or check it at the airport terminal. I've spent all day researching, and pouring over ACA forums, CGOAB, and here. So here I am to tell you how I am thinking, and look for your advice and comments. Here goes.

1. Can I ship a bike? I was thinking of packing up my bike, fill the bloody box up with foam peanuts and shipping it to either a hotel in Banff, or a Banff LBS. I know there are services out there that will do all this for you. That way, all I need is to carry-on my seat pack and fly to Calgary, then bus/taxi/rental/hitchhike to Banff. Once in Banff, I reassemble bike in my room and set off down the trail on my new adventure.

2. All I've heard are horror stories about airlines beating the snot out of your bike container, bent frames, dropouts, wheels, etc. Am I wrong? How expensive will this be vs shipping it?

3. When I get to Antelope Wells, I may just ride to El Paso, and ship bike back home from there.

I'd love to hear from you guys. Anything you can suggest would be great. Yes, I'm a noob. I apologize if this topic has been beaten to death here, but my search-fu is weak. Please help!

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Old 03-14-17, 02:06 PM   #2
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You can often save money shipping the bike to a hotel or bike ship at your destination. You can either do this yourself or use one of the bike specific shipping services, which may come out cheaper.

However international shipping adds costs, so check with the various bike shippers for prices, then compare to the convenience of flying with it. I often prefer taking it with me, since that's simpler, and the cost not that different.

Since you're flying one way, you can't use a hard case, and so will want to get a box from a bike shop and pack the bike, or have a pro pack it. One advantage of packing yourself is that you're in control and know it's properly padded where it need to be, and I never let anyone else pack my bike.

Also, if packing yourself, you can use some of your other stuff, like clothing as packing material bringing the weight up to the maximum under the rules. In my case, that usually means I'm flying with the bike box and a carry-on, so some of the bike cot is offset by no other baggage fee.
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Old 03-14-17, 02:34 PM   #3
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I've taken a bike on a plane once. Absolutely no issues with it being mishandled. I'm taking it again this summer, and shipping it back in a plastic bag, if that is an indication about my level of worry about rough baggage handlers.

Remember the scorned person will tell their story a thousand times, while the thousands who have no issues rarely speak about their experiences. That said, there are also plenty of stories about careless package shippers. And, at the other end of my experience, a friend's dad did the actual race last year, and the airline lost his bike. Almost missed the start while he sorted it out. I really wouldn't worry though, deal with issues if they arise.

Cost varies by airline. Could be anywhere from free (likely not on your particular trip, but some Euro/ME/Asia carriers still are free) to $300 each way. Going rate seems to be in the $100-150 each way. If you can swing Air Canada on the outbound, it is $50, and they took competent care of my bike. I believe Southwest is $75.

Personally, if it were me doing this tour, I'd be tempted to take it with me on the outbound leg, and have a bike shop at the end box and ship it home for me, as it'd be domestic at that point.

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Old 03-14-17, 02:40 PM   #4
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So as some of you may have gathered from my previous posts, I turn 59 on 6/29 this year. I reckon that an epic thing to do would be to start off on the GDMBR to celebrate my 60th year on this planet. I've got the bike chosen (sort of) and the gear loosely gathered, but I'm a newbie to bike touring and have never had to ship a bike or check it at the airport terminal. I've spent all day researching, and pouring over ACA forums, CGOAB, and here. So here I am to tell you how I am thinking, and look for your advice and comments. Here goes.

1. Can I ship a bike? I was thinking of packing up my bike, fill the bloody box up with foam peanuts and shipping it to either a hotel in Banff, or a Banff LBS. I know there are services out there that will do all this for you. That way, all I need is to carry-on my seat pack and fly to Calgary, then bus/taxi/rental/hitchhike to Banff. Once in Banff, I reassemble bike in my room and set off down the trail on my new adventure.

2. All I've heard are horror stories about airlines beating the snot out of your bike container, bent frames, dropouts, wheels, etc. Am I wrong? How expensive will this be vs shipping it?

3. When I get to Antelope Wells, I may just ride to El Paso, and ship bike back home from there.

I'd love to hear from you guys. Anything you can suggest would be great. Yes, I'm a noob. I apologize if this topic has been beaten to death here, but my search-fu is weak. Please help!

You are from New Hampshire. If you want to ship a bike into Canada then I would only do it though a bike shipping service (if they will do it) and then get some assurance that your bike will not get tied up in customs.

Either that or go with your plan to ship on this side of the border. You could either ride in or rent a car for the rest of the trip or maybe take a bus.

I don't know what the rules are in Canada for traveling on a bus with a bike. Any time I have entered Canada with a bike I have ridden in. But I can well you when I took the train to both Switzerland and Austria from Italy, we were told we could not have the bike on the train when we crossed the borders. We had to get off the train and ride across. Both instances were fine with me as they were incredible rides.

So if you decide to take a bus in, be sure to check with the bus company before doing so.

I would not be overly concerned about flying with your bike. The same issues can occur in shipping too. Fedex bent my dropouts. Thankfully it was on the return trip.
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Old 03-14-17, 02:44 PM   #5
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Air Canada has cheap bike fees if memory serves and they have not changed anything.
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Old 03-14-17, 03:02 PM   #6
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Foam peanuts are not going to protect your bike. You need cardboard and tape on anything that could be damaged. A fork spacer and wheel hub protectors work well. Your LBS probably has them lying around.
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Old 03-14-17, 03:19 PM   #7
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So far Delta appears to have the best seats, and fastest flights out of Logan. I hope that does not change for the worse over the next year. I think I'll be going the take it with me plan.
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Old 03-14-17, 03:50 PM   #8
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For sure just take the bike with you. I would get a taxi and a motel in NW Calgary and ride from there. Ride to Canmore for the first night. Hopefully the west wind won't be howling. The first 30 miles will be drudgery, oh well.
I took my huge bike to Vietnam and another box and a carry on pannier besides. Wrap the front wheel in it's own box within the main box. Also make little boxes to hold parts, fill gaps and prevent the sides caving in when it gets laid on it's side. Get a thick layer bike box. Their official policy will be no other stuff in there.

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Old 03-14-17, 04:48 PM   #9
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Why not ride you bike from Calgary to Banff? I've ridden from Banff to Calgary twice as parts of 2 different tours. It is only 85 miles, and not a bad ride. That way you can take your bike on the plane with you.

We have flown with our bikes about a dozen times times with only some minor damage. It was probably more my packing than the airlines mishandling that caused the problem. We've had more problems with train travel. I've never had a problem with TSA. On the contrary the TSA people I have dealt with have been friendly, and have done a good job of repacking. Just pack you bike so that it is easy to look in the box without pulling a lot of other "stuff" out to inspect it.

Ask you LBS if they have any packing material; they will probably give you fork spacers and other protective items that come on the bikes shipped from the manufacturer. Look on the ACA website for an article on how to pack a bike.

Foam pipe insulation and zip ties are handy items to use for protecting your bike.


Zip ties work better than tape. Put your pedals in a plastic bag and secure in waterbottle holder. Front quick release skewer is taped or zip tied to the seat tube. I like to keep the tools required for reassembly with me as checked or carry-on.




The bike above was in that Specialized box. They were on 5 different flights to get us from Portland, OR to Lisbon, Portugal. Put the empty panniers on the bike, they will offer good protection. Put all the rest of your gear in a lightweight duffle, and check it. The rest should be manageable as carry-on.

All boxes are not created equal. Look around and find one that will fit your bike. Also pack your bike so that the box can be tipped on end, or you can't get through lines and doors. Marking the back end of the bike on the box will help; it is the best end to have down when tipped. The gear in the back of the cart is carry-on, and the bike and duffle on the front are checked. This make it pretty easy to handle all the gear.



Useful sites for packing a bike:
http://citybikes.com/how-to/how-to-box-a-bike-pg120.htm

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...icle-section-1

https://www.adventurecycling.org/res...-your-bicycle/

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Old 03-14-17, 05:27 PM   #10
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Calgary-Banff, just ride. I lived 55yrs in Alberta (3 in Calgary). Like others have said 85 do-able miles.
I flew last Aug with West-Jet. Boxed my bike in a discarded new bike box from a local bike shop. It flew as sports gear, included as my baggage. No extra cost. I phoned and talked to a lady, tape measure in hand. It was well with-in the total combined dimensions, when she asked how heavy the sealed box weighed, my guess 60lbs, she laughed, so well under a hundred. Sounded as if that was the cap on baggage. I did not fly international, Edmonton - Thunder Bay.
I sure would fly with my bike, and assemble it in Calgary. And, use West-Jet again.

P.S. use your panniers, gear, etc, as stuffing around your bike. I even used an old blanket.

Hope this helps, oldtimer !
My goal is to be able to claim I have ridden across Canada by the time I reach 60. Did the Prairies last year, Atlantic this summer (57).



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Old 03-14-17, 05:53 PM   #11
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My goal is to be able to claim I have ridden across Canada by the time I reach 60. Did the Prairies last year, Atlantic this summer (57).



-Snuts-
Where and when are you starting? My wife and I are trying to complete our ride across Canada this summer. We will probably start east in Winnipeg, where we left off last summer before heading to Fargo, North Dakota . The other option is to start in Detroit, MI and ride to Montreal, then to Halifax. We'd catch Winnipeg to Montreal later. Might just see you on the road

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Old 03-14-17, 06:03 PM   #12
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IIRC, shipping north of the border is costly.

Post lots of photos from the trip.
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Old 03-14-17, 06:03 PM   #13
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When I've travelled with my bicycles, I've always packed them up in a box and have taken them on the plane. I've lost count of the number of times I've done this ... 30+ times. Within North America a bunch of times, back and forth to Europe several times, back and forth to Australia several times, within Australia a bunch of times, up and through Asia ...

Only once so far have I had an issue ... a light broke. My fault, I should have removed it and packed it.

But you've got to do your research. Some airlines charge a lot, some are really good.

Delta is one of the worst for bicycle fees ... Air Canada is one of the better ones. Australian, New Zealand, and British airlines are even better.


You can read this page about the history of travelling with your bicycle on a plane ... or continue right to the chart that gives you the prices and regulations for each airline.
Airline Baggage Regulations For Bicycles

But don't depend on that chart ... look up the baggage information on the actual website for the airline.
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Old 03-14-17, 06:06 PM   #14
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Where and when are you starting? My wife and I are trying to complete our ride across Canada this summer. We will probably start east in Winnipeg, where we left off before heading to Fargo, North Dakota. The other option is to start in Detroit, MI and ride to Montreal, then to Halifax. We'd catch Winnipeg to Montreal later. Might just see you on the road
Canada Day, 2017 (July 1st)

Lots of variables still. But this is solid. P.M's as the time gets closer.

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Old 03-14-17, 06:55 PM   #15
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Delta is one of the worst for bicycle fees ... Air Canada is one of the better ones. Australian, New Zealand, and British airlines are even better.
Delta is more expensive to ship a bike, but their fares from Boston to Calgary are fare, fair especially the first-class fares. I know, I know. 1st class, but its my 60th and I'm treating myself. Besides, I can't find a non-stop, and Delta offers the quickest flights. The layovers in the other airlines are long - sometimes stretching the whole trips into 12-13 hours. UGH!

If you folks only knew how many flight hours I have in the line of duty, just sitting on my arse in a military cargo plane, with nothing to do, you would be astounded. Ugh! Boundless boredom. I loathe flying anywhere even for a couple hours now.

So yeah. I think I'll suck up the Delta $$ and travel in relative comfort.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:02 PM   #16
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I have 100,000 miles and have done both.
By airline baggage - once my bike was damaged - once it was lost for 2 days.
That really can be a bummer at the start of a special trip.

There is only one drawback to shipping to a LBS - the advance time.
You have to ship your bike a week or so in advance - but you do get guaranteed delivery.
And with the ridiculous airline fees for bikes, it may be cheaper.
Anyhoo, most of us have another bike to ride before we head out.

There is nothing so wonderful as traveling light - then getting to the bike shop.
Your bike is ready, folks are friendly, wishing you a great trip.
If you contact the shop in advance, many times you can ship gear, too.
Any last minute issue can be dealt with easily.
You load up and head off - sweetness.

PS - Your chance of something going wrong increases with connecting flights.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:14 PM   #17
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PS - Your chance of something going wrong increases with connecting flights.

If you've got connecting flights, it is a very good idea to make sure you've got at least 2 hours in between flights to work with ... preferably 3 or 4 hours.

When we fly to Canada, we'll often fly to Sydney or Melbourne or maybe this year, Brisbane, and spend the night there because we know that there will be a connecting flight with a different airline at that point. Spending the night gives us time to make the connection, as well as to relax and get a good night's sleep in preparation for the long flight. It just reduces the stress level.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:23 PM   #18
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If you've got connecting flights, it is a very good idea to make sure you've got at least 2 hours in between flights to work with ... preferably 3 or 4 hours..
I have a simple rule that spares me headaches (ot at least some of them) on international flights,

If it's at all possible I route so all the connections are in the "leaving" country, and I enter the country in my destination city. Ie. hypothetically for the OP's flights. Boston, Chicago, Calgary vs. Boston, Toronto, Calgary.

By not connecting after the Port of Entry, your bags can be checked through to the destination. Otherwise, you have to claim your bags, pass customs, and recheck to the final destination. That means lost time, and possibly the need to unpack for an inspection and missed connections if anything goes wrong.

If you do have to continue beyond the Port of Entry, be sure to allow PLENTY of time for customs/security/BS delays for that connection.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:44 PM   #19
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I have a simple rule that spares me headaches (ot at least some of them) on international flights,

If it's at all possible I route so all the connections are in the "leaving" country, and I enter the country in my destination city. Ie. hypothetically for the OP's flights. Boston, Chicago, Calgary vs. Boston, Toronto, Calgary.

By not connecting after the Port of Entry, your bags can be checked through to the destination. Otherwise, you have to claim your bags, pass customs, and recheck to the final destination. That means lost time, and possibly the need to unpack for an inspection and missed connections if anything goes wrong.

If you do have to continue beyond the Port of Entry, be sure to allow PLENTY of time for customs/security/BS delays for that connection.
Really good point! We have been there and done that; it is a PITA. It actually happened once coming back home. We landed in Seattle, and had to go through customs, and recheck our bikes on the flight to PDX. We knew by the timing that our bikes were not going to be on the same planes as we were on. Our bikes arrived the next morning
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Old 03-14-17, 07:50 PM   #20
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Delta bike charges are amongst the highest around. You'll want to include their bike charges in your cost compare. We've carried bikes in shipping boxes (Aircaddy) on Delta once and British Air twice. Delta charged us about as much for the bikes as for us, British Air was free.
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Old 03-14-17, 07:51 PM   #21
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Delta is more expensive to ship a bike, but their fares from Boston to Calgary are fare, fair especially the first-class fares. I know, I know. 1st class, but its my 60th and I'm treating myself. Besides, I can't find a non-stop, and Delta offers the quickest flights. The layovers in the other airlines are long - sometimes stretching the whole trips into 12-13 hours. UGH!

If you folks only knew how many flight hours I have in the line of duty, just sitting on my arse in a military cargo plane, with nothing to do, you would be astounded. Ugh! Boundless boredom. I loathe flying anywhere even for a couple hours now.

So yeah. I think I'll suck up the Delta $$ and travel in relative comfort.
I would skip the first class, instead apply that part of your budget to a motel room on occasion. A night indoors at the end of a rainy day on a bike can be pretty nice compared to a tent.

At least a Delta flight should be a bit quieter than listening to the engines in a C130. But, three of my last four airline flights had a small screaming child in the row immediately behind me, something you probably did not have to listen to on a military flight.
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Old 03-14-17, 08:48 PM   #22
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Just use a service like https://www.bikeflights.com/

I used them to ship a bike across the country to a Skagit Cycle in Anacortes. The shipment was $50 and the bike shop reassembled my bike and kept it safe for my pickup for another $50. I used a box that I got for free from a local bike shop.

I've also travelled with my bike as luggage with it packed into a Ground Effect Tardis softsided case like this

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Old 03-14-17, 08:59 PM   #23
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1st class allows more baggage, so I would expect no charge for the bike.
Actually my total load was like 70 +39 +21 + 14 lbs. Outbound was free, WestJet and Cathay Pacific. Coming back I left too much weight with the bike and paid $150. They only allowed 23 kg a bag. I flew out during the first snow and besides the pilots got screwed around by being past their day hour limits, 2 hour delay. Got a free glorious day in Vancouver using the hotel BMW bike.
Tools not allowed in carry on.
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Old 03-14-17, 09:27 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
Delta is more expensive to ship a bike, but their fares from Boston to Calgary are fare, fair especially the first-class fares. I know, I know. 1st class, but its my 60th and I'm treating myself. Besides, I can't find a non-stop, and Delta offers the quickest flights. The layovers in the other airlines are long - sometimes stretching the whole trips into 12-13 hours. UGH!

If you folks only knew how many flight hours I have in the line of duty, just sitting on my arse in a military cargo plane, with nothing to do, you would be astounded. Ugh! Boundless boredom. I loathe flying anywhere even for a couple hours now.

So yeah. I think I'll suck up the Delta $$ and travel in relative comfort.
If money is not a big issue I'd definitely ship the bike and gear ahead to a bike shop and have them assemble and have the bike ready for your arrival.
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Old 03-14-17, 09:47 PM   #25
FBinNY 
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
If money is not a big issue I'd definitely ship the bike and gear ahead to a bike shop and have them assemble and have the bike ready for your arrival.
Keep in mind that this is an international shipment, which makes shipping a full order more complicated by the customs rules and processes.

For example, you cannot ship personal effects from the US to Canada on Bikeflights, except by using a premium service (air). So what might have cost $160 or so, now costs $480, or 3x s much.

If you knew somebody there, you might be able to ship it a a sale, and pay duty and VAT, which would cut deeply in to the rate savings.

Another way, might be to ship to someone who lives near the border, you ship to the US side, they enter it into Canada, and forward it to Calgary or Banff. This requires a willing or friend somewhere near the border, but may be the cheapest way.

Possibly a forum member living in Windsor or somewhere else along the border could be your bridge, but I suspect that when all is said and done, this will become an example of the wisdom of the straight and narrow path, namely flying with the bike.
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