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  1. #1
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    How do I take a bike with me to Europe?

    Is it a good idea to simply use the original cardboard box? Should I buy one of those $300+ hardboxes? I was going to originally get couplings on it, but the guy at my LBS recommended I just get a hard box instead. What do people generally do with these boxes after they land?

    My plan is to fly from Los Angeles to Rome and then bike to Barcelona, when I will then fly around for a few weeks (probably not biking), then do another few weeks around the Greek isles where I will again probably(although not certain) not be biking, then fly to Bucharest and fly out of there. How would you guys recommend I deal with my bike during all that?

    Edit: Corrected an error in original post - we probably will NOT be biking after flying out of Barcelona/Ibiza for at least a few weeks. A major question is what to do with our bikes during this time. Do airports generally have storage facilities that would fit our needs?
    Last edited by virgilnilson; 05-26-08 at 05:33 PM.

  2. #2
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    I would recommend taking the train around Europe instead of flying. Way easier, less hassle.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
    Senior Member fadi's Avatar
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    Train+bike, we just love that, here in Europe

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal View Post
    I would recommend taking the train around Europe instead of flying. Way easier, less hassle.
    We are slammed for time which is why we'll be flying rather than doing the train thing. To be honest after a few 2 day+ train rides around Eastern Europe I never want to see a train again. (I understand conditions will be better in Western countries but once again it's about time)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by virgilnilson View Post
    We are slammed for time which is why we'll be flying rather than doing the train thing. To be honest after a few 2 day+ train rides around Eastern Europe I never want to see a train again. (I understand conditions will be better in Western countries but once again it's about time)
    Considering the speed of the high speed trains, the fact that most train stations are located in the heart of the cities (not the outskirts like airports) and the absense of overhead compared to flying (like getting there 3h before the flight), many routes are faster by train then they are by plane (i.e. Paris-Geneva).

    Unless of course, the train that precedes yours you catches on fire and you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in France on a Sunday night. Yeah, that happened to me.

  6. #6
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    This is like a Benny Hill sketch. My questions were about the containers, methods for shipping/storing the containers and recommendations/reviews on the various types available.

    I imagine we'll be hard pressed to find a train from Ibiza to Paris, for example. I appreciate the recommendations and we will consider train alternatives when possible, but for now we are planning with the assumption of flying.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Bike boxes are cheap and disposable. / Effective as long you stuff the box with packing. A warning. Security at the US airport will possibly rip it to shreds. They did mine. Its a wonder the loose parts , I had stuffed within a box , within the box did not fall out. Why could they have not resealed it? I taped the smaller box of parts to the wall of the box and somehow it stayed intact. I also wrap a sleeping bag about the bike. That should be adequate packing. / Careful. Do buy your box before getting to the airport. / One airline promised me a bike box. It turned out to be just a plastic bag. And, of course, they ruined several of my spokes and bent my handlebars. / Don't trust the airlines to give you what they say they will./ Also, bikes and trains work quite well./ But, you put your bike on the fast TGV trains. Many will require your bike be boxed. - You travel on the local trains, you usually can just take you bike on as is. Boxing and disassemblying your bike every time you get on the fast trains is not worth it . I take the slow train. They are not that much slower.
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  8. #8
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    Be aware that luggage allowances on intra European flights can be quite small -- had a trip planned for last year (that got canceled) that involved flying from London to Frankfurt with my Bike Friday -- packed into non-oversized suitcase -- and the surcharge was on the order of $100 (weight + 2nd bag)
    '07 Bike Friday New World Tourist www.TheMadBrewer.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    ^. For a small bike Friday as compact as they are. Designed for travel. That is terrible. Check ahead.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living









    ^ Since June 16, 2011

  10. #10
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    > many routes are faster by train then they are by plane (i.e. Paris-Geneva).

    Yes, but that presupposes a TGV, and bikes aren't allowed on TGVs. I did it once in desperation (my scheduled bike-friendly train went on strike!) for one stop and nearly had my head bitten off by the conductor.

    To answer OP's question, I once took my non-fragile MTB from France to Australia on the plane, protected by nothing more than a cardboard box and some masking tape. It was ok. That was long haul international though, obviously, not Easyjet or the like.

    Your itinery, if I understood it was this:
    - Fly to Rome with bike.
    - Ride to Barcelona
    - Lots of irrelevant stuff
    - Fly to Bucharest then home.
    - Have bike at home.

    So you really just need to take your bike on the plane with you to Rome, then ship it back home from Barcelona? Doesn't sound too hard.

    Steve

  11. #11
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    Oh, just saw your edit. I doubt many airports will allow you to store an object as large as a bike for a few weeks. Many have luggage storage, but usually shorter term, and not so bulky. There have been threads on this forum about storing bikes - two solutions are to book it into a bike shop for a service, and see if they mind storing it for a few weeks, or stay in a youth hostel, and ask about same. Many youth hostels allow storage of all kinds of things for a long time.

    Steve

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1) Most airports removed their storage facilities after that little situation in the US a few years ago. Good luck finding one with a storage unit.

    2) Read and enjoy: http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

  13. #13
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    >Most airports removed their storage facilities after that little situation in the US a few years ago. Good luck finding one with a storage unit.

    In France, many of them (well, particularly at train stations) were shut down under "Plan Vigipirate", but then reopened 6-12 months later with security screening.

    The logic of the whole thing totally escaped me: terrorists hijacked a plane, therefore no luggage storage at train stations, or parking in front of primary schools?

    Steve

  14. #14
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    I'm planning a cycling trip in Europe (mainly France) and I'm going to use a Crateworks box to bring it over on the plane. Once there, I have a "bicycle bag" to take my bike on trains, and I'm going to ship the bike back in the Crateworks box [FedEx?] when the cycling part of the trip is over.

    See: http://crateworks.com/merchant.mvc?S...FSQqagod-zcgCA
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  15. #15
    Senior Member sherbornpeddler's Avatar
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    I've used both bike crate (rented) and used box from my LBS. Never had a problem with the crate; had to re-true my wheels once using the cardboard box. Both worked. The crate is more convenient. Now I have a S&S conversion (bike restoration by Bilenky) and have no problems. They did check and not repack my S&S well but all was there.

    As for storage, I'd ask a friendly hotel or local bike shop to hold it for you rather than leave it at the airport. Shipping companies are all around airports and a few Euros to someone might work.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

  16. #16
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    As for how to take it, since you're flying out of a major airport, just buy a box at the airport. Try Air France or Northwest or KLM for bike boxes. They cost between $10-15. When you arrive at your destination, take the bike, leave the box and hope they recycle. Only one poster on here seems to be aware that you can't take your bike on the bullet trains of Europe. So even if you had the time, that option is out. Quite frankly, I'm wondering why you don't just take your panniers and buy a bike when you get to Rome and the islands. Doesn't sound like you're biking much past the initial stage. As for storage... you could try contacting bike shops in the towns you want to store it at, or go to the free accomodation sites and contact local bikers that way.
    I am the Forest Gump of biking.

  17. #17
    Senior Member filtersweep's Avatar
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    While luggage allowances are smaller, many off-brand European airlines, like Ryan Air, have made a business model out of offering practically free tickets to passengers, while charging obscene prices for luggage.

    I miss the days of free bikes on international/intercontinental flights on KLM/NWA, etc....

    As for storing a bike, take it to an LBS for some minor repair (like changing a cable) and pick it up a week or two later. Or leave it at the airport as "lost luggage" and pick it up later (a bit more riskier).

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMadBrewer View Post
    Be aware that luggage allowances on intra European flights can be quite small -- had a trip planned for last year (that got canceled) that involved flying from London to Frankfurt with my Bike Friday -- packed into non-oversized suitcase -- and the surcharge was on the order of $100 (weight + 2nd bag)

  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bccycleguy View Post
    I'm planning a cycling trip in Europe (mainly France) and I'm going to use a Crateworks box to bring it over on the plane. Once there, I have a "bicycle bag" to take my bike on trains, and I'm going to ship the bike back in the Crateworks box [FedEx?] when the cycling part of the trip is over.

    See: http://crateworks.com/merchant.mvc?S...FSQqagod-zcgCA
    Please let me know who you find to ship your bike . I called Fedex, UPS. The cheapest quote I got was over 500 dollars. You could almost buy some road bikes for that. I'd like to know who and how much it costs. / Possibly a shipper might be the best bet.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Here's what some of the airlines that operate in Spain charge for bikes. Might be useful to you if you'll be flying in this country:

    Air Europa Gratis
    British Airways Gratis
    Lufthansa 40€
    Ryanair 30€
    SAS 30€
    Spanair 30€
    Vueling 30€
    Iberia 150€

    Bikes (except, perhaps, folders) are not allowed, unfortunately, on the high-speed AVE trains.

    I was reading on this blog about an American cyclist, Sue Knaup, who is a member of something called the Thunderhead Alliance. She comes to Europe every year to attend cycling conferences. When she gets to the country the conference will be held in, she buys a cheap bike, either new or second hand, and rides it around while she's over here. When she's ready to go back to the States, she looks for someone who looks like they could use a bike and gives it to them.

    Some of the people who've received bikes from her have showered her with kisses and nearly been moved to tears.

  20. #20
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Someone said once, You can sort of trick the airlines. Disassemble the bike Put it into a smaller box. And call it bike parts. I don't like to buy a cheap bike. While on tour, I like my bike the way I have had it built. EU bike tours are just not one day things. Last EU tour, was about 600 US miles. Cheap bikes would not suffice.
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    ^ Since June 16, 2011

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
    Someone said once, You can sort of trick the airlines. Disassemble the bike Put it into a smaller box. And call it bike parts. I don't like to buy a cheap bike. While on tour, I like my bike the way I have had it built. EU bike tours are just not one day things. Last EU tour, was about 600 US miles. Cheap bikes would not suffice.
    Okay, good points. I've reread the original post, and I see he'll be cycling from Rome to Barcelona, so you're right, a beater wouldn't do.

  22. #22
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Looks like BA might be my first choice from now on. Careful one one goes to Hawaii. There i'd rent a hotel bike. I found out the hard way. My airline charged 100 dollars per island hop. Two islands. Four ways . That is again almost the cost of a new bike. Let alone carting it from the mainland. That will be extra. So in Hawaii, more than likely , its soley a water sports vacation .
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  23. #23
    Senior Member fadi's Avatar
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    Guys
    Sorry to contradict you, but you can go on TGV in france with your bike without putting it in a box.
    You just have to buy a ticket for it for 10€, the place is limited to 4 bikes, so you need to get the bike ticket in advance.

    I've always done it on the TGV from PARIS to LUXEMBOURG.

    If you pack your bike in a box, and carry it in the TGV as a luggage then the bike travels for free.
    Note that some TGV are still not so equipped though.

    Please check this link: http://www.tgv-europe.com/en/Passeng...n%20%2B%20Bike
    Last edited by fadi; 05-27-08 at 06:08 AM. Reason: adding link

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Fadi. You are probably right. I know old literature once said out of Paris, you could not take along a completely assembled, but that is not current information. Is this site current. ? It says 'some lines,' on the TGV you can take your bike. I have not tried it of late, since the TGV line ends just short of where we live. Visually, it seems storage on a TGV is limited? Seems for current information , one need contact the SNCF website.
    ***

    2. Trains in France carrying assembled bicycles:

    From Paris, you may bring your fully-assembled bike with you on certain trains to Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Berlin, Basel, Geneva and Zurich. Within France, to many destinations, according to SNCF literature, there are one or more long distance trains a day which carry assembled bicycles—even some TGVs (high-speed trains often running at 180 or more miles per hour). All TGVs require passenger reservations and bicycle reservations, and the payment of additional fees for both passangers and bicycles.) A number of night trains that carry assembled bicycles also require a reservation and payment of a small fee.

    Ironically, although many TGV high speed trains do carry bicycles, it is impossible at this 2006 writing to find out about these by looking at timetables or consulting the Internet. Rail Europe (the authorized US, Canadian and British agent for the SNCF) is not in a position to help you. Only ticket offices and travel agents in France tapping into the SNCF computer system can do so.

    Your first step in planning a trip with your assembled bike is to determine whether there are trains to your destination that carry assembled bicycles. For a copy of the 2006 information on my site, click here. For later information, navigate to the Internet page http://www.voyages-sncf.com/guide/vo.../TrainVelo.htm . Or, if this URL doesn't work, go to http://velo.sncf.com, and click the link "Transporter son Velo". Now, in either case you will need to click "En savoir plus sur la transport de votre velo", which brings up a table of major destinations in France (Grandes Lines) which have transport of assembled bicycles. If your trip is to a smaller town, you will have to consult as well the regional timetables, as explained below.

    An important destination or train-change location that doesn't have assembled bicycle service is Lyon (confirmed with the SNCF in 2006—check the TrainVelo URL for subsequent years ). The TGV trip takes about 2 hours. By linking up several regional trains (use the German Railway site for research (bahn.de, click "English), several itineraries that take 6 to 7 hours were
    http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_tr...kes.htm#France
    Last edited by cyclezealot; 05-27-08 at 06:43 AM.
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    ^ Since June 16, 2011

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
    Fadi. You are probably right. I know old literature once said out of Paris, you could not take along a completely assembled, but that is not current information. Is this site current. ? It says 'some lines,' on the TGV you can take your bike. I have not tried it of late, since the TGV line ends just short of where we live. Visually, it seems storage on a TGV is limited? Seems for current information , one need contact the SNCF website.
    ***
    Yes, you can take your bicycle on some lines of the TGV. Rowan and I did that last August when we were in France. In fact, it took me by surprise because I thought the TGV did not take bicycles, but there we were shooting across from Lille to Paris. If I'm not mistaken we were also on a TGV from Strasbourg to Lille.

    They had room for the bicycles so storage was not a problem, and we did pay a little bit for each bicycle.

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