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  1. #1
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    Taking my bicycle on a plane for the first time

    UPDATED-
    Thank you for all of your advice!


    The day has finally come and she's all gaffer tape'd up and ready to be flown to Norway!


    http://i.imgur.com/EZzYT.jpg






    I'm beginning a tour completing part of the North Sea Cycle Route at the end of May. It involves taking my bike on a plane to Norway, however, the airline has requested the bike to be 'suitably packed in a box'. I've had a look online, all I can find are EXTREMELY expensive travel cases.

    I've heard that it is possible to just use the cardboard boxes bicycles came in, but I had a look at one today and it just didn't seem suitable. As the departure date is looming I'm getting more and more anxious about how on earth I'm going to get my bike to Norway.

    Has anybody had this experience? Could you tell me how you went about doing this? Maybe you even have pictures! Please bear in mind that I'll have to ditch the box when I get to Norway.

    Thanks,
    Matty
    Last edited by mattyfatty; 05-24-12 at 11:46 AM. Reason: updated

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Just use a cardboard box. I've taken flights all over the world (well ... back and forth between Australia and Canada, and Canada and Europe, and Canada and the US, and across Canada several times) with a cardboard box.

    I've got a picture here: http://www.machka.net/2008/2008_Australian_Tour.htm


    Which direction are you going on the North Sea Route, and starting where?

  3. #3
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    I want a box like that Where can I find a box like that?!
    All I seem to find is tattered old scrappy parts of cardboard.

    I'm starting in Stavanger, Norway, and finishing in Belgium. I'm actually carrying on into France, to Dunkirk, but that's not really part of the NSCR. (I am missing out Sweden by getting a ferry from Kristiansand to Hirtshals)

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I got that from a bicycle shop in Edmonton. It's a Madone box. But you should be able to find something similar at other bicycle shops. Ask around.


    You're trip sounds good ... we were looking at the North Sea Route, and may do part of it, but were disappointed to find that there are no ferries between Scotland and Norway anymore.

  5. #5
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    Did you pay for it? Or was it just a box that they were planning on throwing out?

    And yes the fact they discontinued that ferry is extremely frustrating. But what I've seen from planning the tour, the route looks very attractive. I'm looking forward to Norway in particular, especially due to the fact they have no laws about wild camping there, as long as it's not private land, you can pitch up wherever you like.

  6. #6
    Senior Member nubcake's Avatar
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    Just use a cardboard box from the bike shop, they should give it to you for free and you can even ask to take a look at how the bikes come shipped as it can be confusing figuring out how to get the bike in there if you have never done it before. I would even take a couple pics if it will help you remember.

    remember those bikes have came to the US over just as far as you plan to ship your bike with no issues. One really important thing is to make sure you put the spacer in the fork to keep from bending the legs in, ever new bike ships with one so if you ask nice the shop will probably just give you all the packing material off a new bike they are about to build and you should be set.
    Follow me as I prepare for the 2010, wait no 2012, maybe 2013 Tour Divide, ahh hell I will do it one day...
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  7. #7
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Bike box works just fine, I used one a few times with no problems.
    To fit the bike in in, you will need to take off your front wheel, take off pedals and turn handlebars. You also need to protect your fork and derailleur. I usually attach all small bits to the frame with zip ties, so nothing gets lost in case the box is opened or ripped.

    If it's your first time, I would ask at LBS how much they charge to box a bike for travel and if they can show you how to do it, so you can box it properly on the way back. I think it's worth the money. If you have a relationship with the store they may do it for free.

    Also, make sure to call ahead for a box at both destinations, sometimes they just don't have any.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Yea, just learn when garbage day is at the bike shop, so you don't find
    they got all the boxes the new bikes come in, picked up yesterday.

    advance notice and they should throw in some of the packing materials
    . .. that usually get discarded ..


    LBS here gives people a corner for the DIY boxing
    for those that have finished their trip.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-29-12 at 12:39 PM.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattyfatty View Post
    Did you pay for it? Or was it just a box that they were planning on throwing out?

    And yes the fact they discontinued that ferry is extremely frustrating. But what I've seen from planning the tour, the route looks very attractive. I'm looking forward to Norway in particular, especially due to the fact they have no laws about wild camping there, as long as it's not private land, you can pitch up wherever you like.
    It was free.

    Rowan and I just picked up 4 bicycle boxes in fairly decent shape from a shop not far from here (and we'll go back for more). Not quite as nice as the Madone, but they'll work.

  10. #10
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Bike shops have loads of boxes, their stock gets delivered in them. If you ask, you'll find they are happy to give you one for free - they'd just throw it away, otherwise. Reinforce the edges and, especially, the corners with duct tape. You'll be fine.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  11. #11
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Few years ago when we needed bike boxes in Paris for the flight back, LBS charged us for them. I guess it's best to be prepared.

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    When you get your box, get a second one and cut it up. Use the cardboard to tape up a few triangular "spacers" as long as the box is wide. These will be surprisingly difficult to crush and, slipped into the box, they will hold the walls of the box apart and will give at least some protection from damage from the side. They don't have to be any particular size, just slip them in wherever one will fit.
    joebike

  13. #13
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Check out some of the ideas on this thread: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...a-bike-oveseas

    Doug64
    Icelandair! Their box requirements are about the same as Amtrak's. The box is huge. It cost us $58 a bike from Portland, OR to Amsterdam.

    Get the biggest box your LBS will give you. A 60cm frame will be a challenge, but I have done it with my 58cm quite easily. Also ask for a fork protector and a rear derailleur protector that come on all bike shipped to the shop from the factory. They also have other plastic protection goodies that they will probably be glad to give you. They usually have a box of this "stuff" sitting around. Our local shop is great to work with. Remember that the box will get inspected at security, so do not use too much tape on the top.



    Pad things well because the boxes will take a beating. This one was put on 4 different flights, and came through OK. Put a label with your name, address, phone number, flight numbers, and destination on the outside of the box.


    Check out Adventure Cycling's website for some hints on packing a bike. I usually put the 4 empty panniers and my helmet in the box. Pipe insulation does a good job of padding and protecting the bike's finish. I did have to take my front rack and fender off to make it fit in a used bike shop box. Place the pedals in a zip lock bag and tape in one of the water bottle cages. Remove quick release skewer from the front wheel, and zip tie to seat tube. The bike is always packed better when leaving from home than on the return trip.


    It is a relatively easy matter to reassemble your bike when you get to your destination.


    My bike in the background is pretty much the way it came out of the box. The empty panniers were on it during shipment. I only had to remove the pedals and remove the bars and stem to make it fit. The large box is from Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands. Icelandair accepted the box with no problem. This was at PDX getting ready to ride the 120 miles home from the airport.
    Last edited by Doug64; 04-29-12 at 11:17 PM.

  14. #14
    Bike rider alexaschwanden's Avatar
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    ^that's awesome.
    2013 Felt 960 29er MTB. 1,368.4 miles
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  15. #15
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    LBS usually have loads of nice bike boxes for you to have. Pretty sure they like you taking the boxes, saves them from the hassles of recycling them.

    A few things to mention is you might have to go to your LBS a few days in advance and let them know your looking for a box to use. You may be looking at a time right after they took out the old boxes and they'll need to save one for you the next bike they build or is suitable enough to package a touring bike. Another thing is get the biggest box you can get that is OK for the airline. My last boxing up job was hell as I had a box a little small for my bike (90% of the bike had be disassembled)....Also don't forget you can throw most of your touring gear inside the box. Panniers can be used as protection for your bike

  16. #16
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    you don't have to use a "bicycle" box. stop by the motorcycle dealer and pick
    up one of the boxes that electric scooters come in. much larger than a bike
    box, easier to fit your large frame bike...just cut to size. you can also use
    fridge/freezer boxes from the appliance dealer. unless the airline quotes
    maximum dimensions, you should be okay. most only quote max weight.
    [they carry surfboards and tandems...]

  17. #17
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    Not sound flippant, but how do you think a made in Taiwan bike makes it from there to your LBS via boat then truck with possibly a train trip in between? In one of those cardboard bike boxes LBS recycle or throw away. If you need more peace of mind, pay a shop to professionally pack it.

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1) Bigger is not always better. I paid $15 for a United Airlines bicycle box and thought it would be really good because it was huge. I was able to roll my bicycle in. But I've never seen such a badly damaged cardboard box as that one when it came off the plane at my destination. It was too big and didn't have the support and stability it needed.

    2) First look up the bicycle baggage information which will be a different location on the website than other baggage information ... then look up oversized baggage information for the max size. Many airlines do have a max size these days.

    For example, here's what it says on the United Airlines site regarding baggage size ... and believe me, some bicycle boxes are awfully close to that limit.
    "Baggage in excess of 100 pounds (45 kilograms) or 115 linear inches (292 cm)(total length + width + height) will not be accepted as checked baggage."
    https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/tra...ageExcess.aspx

    With Air Canada, anything over 115 linear inches goes Air Cargo ...
    http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelin...e/checked.html

    With Qantas, other baggage seems to be limited mainly by weight, but for bicycles ...

    Qantas bike pack dimensions are:
    Length: 140cm (55in)
    Width: 30cm (12in)
    Height: 80cm (32in)
    http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airl...lobal/en#jump0



    So be sure to check. Read all the baggage information you can for the airline with which you intend to fly. And if you change airlines mid-flight, take special care because the two airlines could have different rules.

  19. #19
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    If all else fails big screen television boxes are sometimes about the right size. I've always used bike shop boxes or in one instance a soft case with lots of cardboard inside of it. The case I used was from Performance Bike, but the Tardis Ground Effects bag looks even nicer.
    20-2097-BLK-ANGLE.jpg

  20. #20
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    Thank you for all of your advice!

    The day has finally come and she's all gaffer tape'd up and ready to be flown to Norway!

    http://i.imgur.com/EZzYT.jpg

  21. #21
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Have a great trip!

  22. #22
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Tape type lore: You got Duct tape, Silvery color is the clue.
    but it will do the job, just great..

    Real Gaffers tape is a lot more expensive. dense fabric.
    they use that stuff to wrap the cables on film and TV sets.
    A part of the big bucks spent producing entertainment.

    Mylar packing tape being transparent is useful .. on the tour itself.
    I put some on the folds of my big panel paper maps, as I bought them
    so after numerous re-folds I could still see the stuff on the crease..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-24-12 at 12:12 PM.

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