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  1. #1
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    What to do with bike boxes?

    I am planning a European trip for spring, and was wondering what do you do with your hard travel case? If I end up doing a loop tour and fly out of where I started, I suppose I could find a place to check it until I return. But if I fly home from a different city, how should I get my case there so it's waiting for me?

  2. #2
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    oh, the never ending question.

    With respect, if your not touring with a million dollar carbon fibre frame, why not consider letting your carrier decide. My airlines say I should use a cardboard box or plastic bag (bars turned, pedals removed and tyres deflated).

    I use a plastic bag. I buy 2 and bike to the airport, legalize the bike by doing the above, and stick it in one bag. The other bag I keep for the return trip. They are nicely folded and only weigh less than half a kilo. They tuck in the pannier really easily.

    Until I did that I had to return from the same airport, hire someone to look after my box, and drag it through the airport. It's not worth the trouble!

    By the way, I have received some damage from using a plastic bag. Until I started to bungee the front wheel the the frame, I'd get wheel damage. After that I've got rub damage in the form of scratches and knicks in various places. I've always been able to bike away from the airport though.

    If you've got a touring beauty that you don't want a scratch on, then it will cost you in convenience and big time in money and time.

    My advice is not to tour with a show bike. A few battle scars make the bike more interesting.

    Now, you will hear from the other crowd.

  3. #3
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    and you haven't run into any issues with your derailleurs getting bent? if it seems to be just cosmetic damage incurred, that's fine.

  4. #4
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    From experience, a hard shell case is more hassle than it's worth. Cardboard bike boxes are free and plentiful.

  5. #5
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    niknak, have you ever run into an issue getting your hands on a cardboard box from a shop overseas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishigator View Post
    niknak, have you ever run into an issue getting your hands on a cardboard box from a shop overseas?
    No. The big airports you'd typically fly out of are almost always near a major city. Every major city has a bike shop. Some bike shops may request you give a 'donation' for the box they're going to throw away. In Europe, you shouldn't have a problem...

  7. #7
    Senior Member LindaB's Avatar
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    We've taken our bikes to Europe in cardboard boxes quite a few times. Bike store boxes from the US, but airline boxes on the way home. The airline boxes are typically bigger, but less sturdy, and we do usually pay a fee for them. Check with your airline and airport for what is available. We've gotten boxes in Dublin, and Paris (several times) that I can remember. In Budpest two years ago, we knew that boxes wouldn't be available, but had been told all that was required was turning handlebars and slightly deflating tires. They got to California just fine. I've been told that unboxed bikes actually receive better care - they look like a bike, so it's hard to pile a heavier box on top by mistake!

    Also, sturdy tape can be hard to find and expensive in European cities - we've been bringing a small roll along and making sure we have a scissors or knife handy when boxing at the airport. It gets added to the bike box at the last moment before closing.

    In September we'll be flying back from Santiago Spain where there is a bike shop which will pack your bike, and arrange a taxi to pick it up and you from your hotel and take you to the airport. Looking forward to such service! Perhaps this is also available in other cities??

  8. #8
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    If you're going to be insistent on using hard cases, you could plan your trip to fly into an airport that has a storage facility. I know that Amsterdam has one, in the basement. I forget how long you can store things, and, how much per day it costs. They are VERY strict on returning the goods to the owners; don't lose the ticket and any other documentation they give you!

    edit: I assumed that you'd be using hard cases. Same applies, they will store bike boxes. We packed our bikes the day before we left at the airport, stored them over night. We eliminated the question about "how long will it take to get there and pack the bike".
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  9. #9
    Senior Member tblendell's Avatar
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    i actually have a travel oriented ritchey breakaway bike and didn't bring it to europe because of the box storage issue. instead i brought my aluminum cannondale cross bike in box which i ditched at the paris airport (just finding a garbage large enough for the box was kind of a PITA. i ended up cutting it up and putting it into a small bin in the bathroom...anyway).
    i also brought along a bike travel bag from Performance. I took the plastic liner out from the bottom and basically rolled it up (an unfortunate extra few pounds and rack space) the whole trip and stuffed the bike into it for the return, unprotected, although if i had been more dilligent i would have scrounged up some cardboard before i flew home. i just didn't feel like spending a day trying to find some boxes taking them back on metro, blah blah blah.
    the are other, lighter, smaller bike carrying bags out there, but i found the performance/nashbar bag to be pretty rugged and ample enough to fit a bunch of other odds and ends, helmet, shoes etc. also it was WAY cheaper than other bags i saw online. one company from new zealand, i think, had a nice, but pricey bag.
    the bike was scratched up and a wheel need to be trued and the rear der. was pushed out of alignment, but no more damage that i was ready to accept after such a long flight. in fact, there were more like three legs of flights getting back and that's probably how the bike got scratched etc.

    pretty much the only real difficulties i had in my three week tour of france was dealing with getting the bike on planes, trains and automobiles.

    alternatively, you could look into Bike Friday with a travel trailer (mine will be here next week!!) and use that. [URL="http://www.bikefriday.com"]

  10. #10
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    I think this has been discussed many times before. You would get some ideas if you search.

    One of them is to spend the first and last night in the same hostel, B&B or hotel and get them to store your box.

  11. #11
    Two Tired Traveler
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    I've heard of hard-shell bike boxes that convert into panniers that you take on your ride, but have never seen them. Does anybody know where to get them?

    Also, if you use any other method you may have to remove your front wheel. Don't forget to prop something in between the forks. I got this little plastic dowel that fits perfectly--manufacturers use them when they ship bikes to the shop, and a local bike shop gave me one for free.
    Ride out and meet whatever limits you.

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  12. #12
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    forget the hardcase.
    go to your lbs and get a cardboard bike-box that a bicycle manufacture originally used to send their product to the local bike shop (lbs). this is a form called "recycling"!
    when you are leaving europe (or your tour is over) go to a lbs and ask for another cardboard bike-box (did i mention recycling?). call ahead of time helps to reserve a box specific to you size needed!
    have a good tour!

  13. #13
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    well you guys have just saved me a substantial amount of cash. instead of buying a case for myself and one for my wife, we'll be using cardboard boxes. it looks as though we may be able to pack the bikes with the racks still attached too. thanks.

  14. #14
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    When I fly I put my tent, helmet, rack bag etc etc in the cardboard box too, saves weight allowance in luggage.

    Lots and lots of Duct tape around the box, but only after you have checked it in , in case they want to look inside

    george
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  15. #15
    Senior Member LindaB's Avatar
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    Since you've decided on cardboard boxes, thought I'd share a few more tips: Pipe insulation (from the hardware store, quite cheap) cut to fit your bike tubes is extra insurance against damage. We secure it with some masking tape. Not usually a option on the return trip, but we've used a cheap foam beach mat cut into strips as wrapping, or just some newspaper, or nothing.

    Someone mentioned the plastic fork spacer (often found in the bottom of those free lbs boxes - these are essential. Also good are the round plastic disks which keep the front wheel from punching holes in the box once the skewer is removed. Zip ties work great to attach any loose pieces to the frame. Use a ziplock bag to hold the skewers, pedals, any extra bits and pieces. And make sure it all gets into the box! (Had a friend arrive in Geneva last year short his skewers and pedals- not fun!) Protect greasy seat post with another plastic bag, secured with a rubber band. We usually get helmets, and sometimes other bike equipment in the box, depending on box size. Be careful of getting it too heavy, though, depending how much schlepping around you'll have to do.

    We save the spacers and plastic disks and carry them in the panniers for the return trip, tossing all the other packing stuff.

    Now that I've written all this, I've realized this site probably has many threads full of these sorts of tips - I'm pretty new here! I'm off to search for more tips, since we'll be packing up soon, too!

  16. #16
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Frankfurt airport has bike boxes. Ya don't even need to remove the wheels, just roll the bike in and good to go.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  17. #17
    Got an old Peugeot kipibenkipod's Avatar
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    Its ok to write those tips again. I'm new to the forum and don't go searching for this things usually. So if it comes with new thread that I read, its very good.
    You can also post those tips in the tips thread. I didn't see those tips there.
    nJoy your stay here.
    Tnx
    On the bike I feel like a conqueror ;)
    4 months touring trip from England to Spain http://www.underadometent.com

  18. #18
    Got an old Peugeot kipibenkipod's Avatar
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    There is a way to package goods that are fragile. You spray some yellow foam inside the box, and then put on it nylon. Then you put the fragile object, and stuff it in the foam. Then you put another nylon sheet and spray foam until the box is fool.
    Maybe it could be used for bike shipping.
    On the bike I feel like a conqueror ;)
    4 months touring trip from England to Spain http://www.underadometent.com

  19. #19
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishigator View Post
    well you guys have just saved me a substantial amount of cash. instead of buying a case for myself and one for my wife, we'll be using cardboard boxes. it looks as though we may be able to pack the bikes with the racks still attached too. thanks.
    Don't listen to the same advice someone told me and that is to just let the rack stick out the top of the box and just fold the flaps of the box over. My box suffered damage because of this. Probably a handy lift point for the luggage monkeys. Do what you have to so it is below the lip of the box.

    Pad anything that is fragile. If you have STI shifters, pad them with foam or spare clothing. Protect your deraillers.

    My plan this year is to secure long thin strips of wood in the areas where the box is lifted. Another point of damage to the box.

    If the box can make the trip out and back then it is far less hassle, as long as you find someone to store it for free.

  20. #20
    Senior Member LindaB's Avatar
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    I went and pulled out the ancient (well, 1987) photocopy of some bike packing directions given to us the first time we packed up. A few more hints from my notes on that page:
    1. Bubble wrap around the rear derailleur, with a extra sheet of cardboard toward the box (taped onto the inside of the box for reinforcement). Pipe insulation around tubes, plastic spacer on forks and plastic disks fit on wheel axels.
    2. Rear wheel left on, back racks disconnected from front attachment, front wheel put on opposite side of bike to rear cogs, up near the fork. All depends on box size, of course.
    3. Front bag mount, bell removed (necessary to fit everything - this wasn't a big box!).
    4. Handlebars parallel to top tube, drops hook through the front wheel spokes, with bar ends pointing up.
    5. Tape an easily visible name-address-phone label (also with info for your destination!) INSIDE the box, and well as labeling every side of the box with your name and address in LARGE letters. I also put UP labels and big arrows pointing to the top. No idea if it helps, but it makes me feel better! I know some people feel you shouldn't make your name and address so visible, but I've never worried about it. And nothing beats the feeling of sitting on a plane and watching your bike being loaded - you know it's going with you !

    We don't bring a pedal wrench for replacing the pedals, but have a very lightweight regular wrench that suffices. I also have a note to be sure to check the tightness of screws holding cleats to the shoes - these are VERY hard to replace in Europe, we've found!

    We usually reinforce all the edges of the boxes with packing tape before we start packing. Probably would be fine without, but every little bit helps, I think.

  21. #21
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    When you label the outside, place a sheet of paper over top with "Remove for Identification" on the paper. Thieves like to show up at airports an look for local addresses on luggage. A pretty good sign that no one will be home for a while.

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