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Old 01-10-13, 12:15 AM   #1
lev1234
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flying out of JFK/packing questions

Hey guys! Plan is to do a touring trip in late May/early June in the Baltics. First time flying overseas with my own bike. Im planning on simply packing the bike (Specialized Sirrus 2009) in shrink wrap/bubble wrap and then putting it in a large mattress bag or an official CTC plastic bike bag. Obviously will remove pedals, turn handlebars parallel to frame and deflate tires. Ive flown like this several times from outside the US to other countries but never from the US.... Should I be anticipating any problems? Tried doing some research and everyone seems to be flying with their disassembled bikes in cases from here. In Europe plastic bags are pretty common actually so that the bikes arrive fully assembled and youre ready to go right from the airport. Anyways any info you guys may offer will be highly appreciated. Thanks.

P.S. Have some prior experience with touring. Done some in Laos, Thailand, Gothenburg-London, and most recently Berlin-Prague. This trip is either going to be Vilnius-Tallinn or Berlin-Tallinn.
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Old 01-10-13, 09:04 AM   #2
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Check with the airline on how the bike should be packed. Most will require a box. The issue flying from the USA is TSA. They will want to inspect the inside of your nicely shrink-wrapped bike making a big mess. The fear would be ending up with a new wrapping that will make your bike vulnerable to damage. Virtually all airlines will either make you sign a waiver or have a policy of $0 damage liability on bikes. It's up to the passenger to make sure the bike is well packaged. I would not take any chances in ruining a planned European bike tour. I would box the bike.

There have been several threads on this topic before. Do a search so you can read about other people's experience at U.S. and international airports. Here is one.

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 01-10-13 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 01-10-13, 09:24 AM   #3
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The key issue is not the airport but rather the airline you will be flying. If you will be flying BA, you might be in luck:

http://www.britishairways.com/travel...t/public/en_gb#

But as noted, the TSA my very well make a mess of your nice wrapping. And technically, you cannot handle your bag once it's been checked, so repairing the damage with sometime like duct tape might not be an option.
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Old 01-10-13, 03:28 PM   #4
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I did not get the logic behind "deflate the tyres to reduce the risk of damage" at the BA web site. How would an inflated tire be damaged or damage something else?
I think that the wheel will be more likely to be undamaged from the rigidity of an inflated tire.
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Old 01-11-13, 05:46 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ak08820 View Post
I did not get the logic behind "deflate the tyres to reduce the risk of damage" at the BA web site. How would an inflated tire be damaged or damage something else?
I think that the wheel will be more likely to be undamaged from the rigidity of an inflated tire.
I believe the reasoning is that at high altitude the lower pressure causes the air in the tires to expand and maybe causes tire blowout (or rim damage?)...

That the air in a closed packet of crisps expands I can testify to, so the theory seems sound (pretty scientific huh!), but whether this is really a concern I will leave to greater minds... Airlines however always stipulate that the tires should be deflated... and as we have learnt, nowadays it is best to rigorously follow all and any airline recommendations

As to packing, this is how I do it:
Get a cardboard box from bike shop as well as drop-out spacers and hub protectors (round plastic things). Bike shops will give you these if you ask nicely, they come with new bikes and are thrown away.

Remove , quick releases, pedals, lights, bottles, pump and anything else that isn't fixed to the frame.
Turn handlebars - but be careful if you have a wired computer not to break the wire when lifting the stem.
Unmount rear derailler, pack in bubble wrap and zip tie to chainstay.
Bubble wrap around dropouts, brake levers, crankarms, chainrings, and anything else that sticks out...
Deflate tires
If you have a closed cell sleeping pad, it can be folded around everything inside the box.

Reinforce the box handles with packing tape... the weight causes them to rip otherwise when carried.
Write name, adress, tel nr in big letters on the outside of the box.
Have packing tape handy in case security want to open the box. Stay with your box during this procedure and repack it yourself if necessary.

Pray to any and all gods you may worship...

Last edited by imi; 01-11-13 at 05:51 AM.
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Old 01-14-13, 04:40 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
I believe the reasoning is that at high altitude the lower pressure causes the air in the tires to expand and maybe causes tire blowout (or rim damage?)...

That the air in a closed packet of crisps expands I can testify to, so the theory seems sound (pretty scientific huh!), but whether this is really a concern I will leave to greater minds... Airlines however always stipulate that the tires should be deflated... and as we have learnt, nowadays it is best to rigorously follow all and any airline recommendations
That makes sense. If a tire blows due to high altitude expansion, it may sound like a small explosive and cause undue commotion and an possibly an early flight termination, too!
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