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Old 06-28-12, 02:39 PM   #1
mcallaghan
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To box or not to box...

The only time I went on a tour, end of HS, I believe I had the LBS pack by bike into a cardboard box suitable for taking onto the plane.

Today, at my LBS (not the same one - different states) the guy suggested I buy a $350 Bike Box.

I've had my bikes shipped cross country in the cardboard boxes. Am I really risking things by going the cardboard way again to take my bike on a plane from the US to the UK? I don't forsee another overseas tour in the near future so am not sure its worth shelling out $350 for a proper bike box (I don't have use for a wallet right now since i have virtually no money) but at the same time, I don't want to arrive in the UK and find that my bike has been damaged.

Thoughts/Opinions/Suggestions?
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Old 06-28-12, 08:01 PM   #2
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I've taken a fully assembled, unboxed touring bike from Denver to Europe and back (Scotland, Tuscany, Sicily, Ireland, Tuscany) 5 times since 2004. 4 times involved a British Airways flight from Denver to London. No problems on any of those journeys. Turn your handlebars sideways, take off the pedals and lights, lower the saddle and show up at the check in counter early, and you will probably be fine. Strictly speaking, BA requires you to have a "protective box or bag", so it might not hurt to have one of these: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/ctc-plastic-bike-bag/ handy in case they get sticky about the rules. On my last journey I got the bike on the plane for DIA-London without the bag. For the next 3 flights (London-Bologna, Pisa-London, London-Denver) when they said anything about a bag I just said "but I flew here from Denver without a bag, why do I need one now?". They might get sticky about making you deflate the tires, sometimes I can get around that, sometimes not. There's no real reason to deflate the tires, but try telling that to an airline employee. I figure it's not a good idea to argue too much with an airline employee right when I'm handing them my bicycle, so I usually don't press my luck too hard on deflating the tires.
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Old 06-28-12, 08:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mcallaghan View Post
The only time I went on a tour, end of HS, I believe I had the LBS pack by bike into a cardboard box suitable for taking onto the plane.

Today, at my LBS (not the same one - different states) the guy suggested I buy a $350 Bike Box.

I've had my bikes shipped cross country in the cardboard boxes. Am I really risking things by going the cardboard way again to take my bike on a plane from the US to the UK? I don't forsee another overseas tour in the near future so am not sure its worth shelling out $350 for a proper bike box (I don't have use for a wallet right now since i have virtually no money) but at the same time, I don't want to arrive in the UK and find that my bike has been damaged.

Thoughts/Opinions/Suggestions?
I have used cardboard boxes for two international trips and will again next year. I do take precautions though.
These are listed in...
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=124052&v=1N
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Old 06-29-12, 01:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mcallaghan View Post
Today, at my LBS (not the same one - different states) the guy suggested I buy a $350 Bike Box. .....

did he try to sell you the undercoating, too?
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Old 06-29-12, 09:07 AM   #5
mcallaghan
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Its a bit of an uppity store - very small showroom, they like to order pretty much everything. But they were the only Surly Dealer in town. I liked the other LBS better and might stop in there to see what they can do. Should I, in general, trust them to pack everything right? I don't have the tools to disassemble my own bike myself. The last thing I need is a bent front fork upon arrival in the UK. The LBS I have been using does not seem to be willing to use bike-boxes. I was in there getting a brake checked out when another guy came in asking for a bike box - the LBS told him to look in the dumpster as he likes to keep the good boxes himself. That is when I brought up my own bike box issue and was recommended the $350 box ^-^

I have a friend who works in a LBS down valley. With a little luck, a 6-pack should entice him to come out here and package the bike for me here (no car, so transporting bike in said box from an LBS should be interesting).
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Old 06-29-12, 09:27 AM   #6
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People who race put their treasured bikes in those hard cases,
which get used many times
in their racing career.. & they stay in a place as a base when they get there..

As a tourist, I've abandoned cardboard cartons at the arrival luggage .
then Rode off from the airport.

Like: leaving from Shiphol AMS, ride the bike paths right up to the terminal,
KLM has boxes FS..


LBS here does both receiving and shipping of tourist's bikes
being at start /finish of a couple popular tour routes.

sometimes hard cases , sometimes boxes.

LBS have a touring rider's hard case, after assembling the bike,
in preparation for departure,
the empty case is being picked up by UPS.
returning to point of origin/ end of ride for repacking..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-01-12 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 06-29-12, 09:35 AM   #7
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Countless new bikes are shipped to bike shops around the country each day in carboard boxes. In fact, if your bike came from Taiwan, which it very well may have, it was packed in a carboard box, trucked to a port and loaded on a ship for the journey to the U.S. It was then put on at least two other trucks and maybe even a train in transit your home or LBS.

Packed properly, your bike should be fine. I even flew home from Spain via three separate flights with my bike unboxed. The rear wheel was a little our of true, but that was it.
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Old 06-29-12, 11:10 AM   #8
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Those hard boxes have two problems. They are expensive and they are heavy. But they are wonderful. You are almost certain that your bike will arrive in one piece.

To use one or not is going to depend on the airlines. Some aren't real picky about the weight others are. You should also check the dimensions of the case. Some are within Fedex / UPS limits others aren't. Mine is not but then again I only paid $60 used and it has already paid for itself.

But the advantage of cardboard is that you can just toss it at your destination as others have said.
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Old 06-30-12, 10:56 AM   #9
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Those cases are heavy and are a PITA since you have to store them somewhere. I package the bikes in cardboard, then at the end of my tours I find a bike shop for a new box. I usually give them a few bucks so they're happy to help the next person.

B
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Old 06-30-12, 03:00 PM   #10
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Those cases are heavy and are a PITA since you have to store them somewhere. I package the bikes in cardboard, then at the end of my tours I find a bike shop for a new box. I usually give them a few bucks so they're happy to help the next person.

B
Most bike shops I know are more than happy to give away their boxes. A tip to the folks setting you up with a box is a nice gesture but not really necessary. It's one less box to have to break down and haul to the trash.

Now the Madone boxes usually go for $30 or so a box.
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Old 07-01-12, 09:41 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Countless new bikes are shipped to bike shops around the country each day in carboard boxes. In fact, if your bike came from Taiwan, which it very well may have, it was packed in a carboard box, trucked to a port and loaded on a ship for the journey to the U.S. It was then put on at least two other trucks and maybe even a train in transit your home or LBS.....
You're correct about that - but those bikes were shipped in lots by ground and ship on pallets and in containers. Individual items shipped by air are a different story. Lots of people have no problems, but every air carrier has a well staffed department for dealing with lost and damaged items. I've had items show up (found and delivered) six months later and several bags and contents damaged by 'homeland security' in Miami taking shortcuts and piercing luggage with probes because it was faster than opening the bags. Just make sure you have lots of insurance, a backup plan and check everything over carefully BEFORE you leave the airport.
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Old 07-02-12, 01:06 AM   #12
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I don't have the tools to disassemble my own bike myself.
You will need the tools and skills to assemble your bike upon your arrival.
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