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Bike Boxes

Old 01-04-07, 07:17 AM
  #1  
AndrewK
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Bike Boxes

Hi All

Does anyone have a recommendation on bike boxes/carriers - hard case or soft case?

I am riding on a tour in Northern Italy and want to take my bike from Melbourne, Australia.

Protection is paramount but not sure that the Sci Con hard cases are worth the $$$$.

Advice greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Andrew
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Old 01-04-07, 02:11 PM
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Rowan
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Just how much protection do you want for the bike, and how much other air travel in Europe are you doing?

The reason I ask is that I have always travelled with plain old bike boxes. The ones from Virgin Blue are excellent, much better than the lighter ones from Qantas. I also have used extensively boxes from bike shops that are free, but you do need to be careful that you get a box that will fit your bike -- I have been caught out a few times.

The problem with hard cases is that you have to find somewhere to store them, or on-send them if your trip is linear. Some people ask their first hotel to store them, but that is on the assumption they will be returning to the same hotel at then of the trip and there is almost an obligation to stay at the hotel then, too. Unless you have friends to leave the case with, you would have to pay commercial storage, and that's not really cheap.

With bike bags, the issue might seem less important, but you still have to carry it, if you don't store it, and that adds bulk and a useless something to you bike for the trip (it can't really double up for any other uses).

At least with cardboard bike boxes from bike shops, you can dump it at the airport (dismantle the joins and roll it up), and irrespective of your departure point from the country, you can get another box from a bike shop. I've done this in France and Canada without a single problem.

I don't think airlines are amenable in Australia to simply rocking up with the bike and putting it in a plastic bag... it might be possible, but most airlines I have researched are specific about boxing or bagging.

Bagging does not appeal to me at all. It leaves the bike open to having other luggage being piled on it without any resistance (at least with a box, it is big enough to create its own space, and usually that are manhandled on their ends rather than the bottom, from what I have seen). You are also limited with the gear you can include in a bag, whereas with a *robust* bike box you can go to the luggage limit with panniers, tent and other camping gear.

In addition, whatever method you use, obtain from your bikeshop the plastic spreader to go in the dropouts of the front forks (it helps prevent the forks from punching through the bike box, case or bag), the plastic derailleur protector, and the discs that go in the axles of front wheels with quick releases (also to prevent punch-through).
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Old 01-04-07, 03:33 PM
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http://www.crateworks.com/
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Old 01-04-07, 03:45 PM
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You can try going to a bike shop or REI and ask for a discarded bike box. I figure if they can ship an Italian bike to the US via that box then why not ship your bike over there or elsewhere?

Just a thought if you're broke like me...
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Old 01-04-07, 05:05 PM
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There are two schools of thought in transporting bikes. Put it in very strong case and it will be fine and use a soft case or box and hope for good handling. In general, if airlines see a hard case, they are inclined to put it on the BOTTOM of the cargo and even a strong case can be damaged. Soft cases or boxes are usually handled better and put ON TOP of the cargo. We are going to Italy next year and plan to use a well packed bike box and hope for good handling. This is what was recommended to us by the tour operator. They have done it both ways and the soft approach has better results.
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Old 01-04-07, 06:21 PM
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I travel with a trico hard case and have had my bike scratched (no structural damage). Because no matter how well you pack the darn thing, some TSA agent opens up the case, items shift around, and get scratched.
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Old 01-04-07, 10:34 PM
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My Ritchey BreakAway has its own specific bag. My wife uses a CrateWorks corrigated plastic box for her Orbea. Regardless of the box, I would recommend 3 things:
  • Remove the rear derailleur from the frame. Don't disconnect the cable; just wrap the derailleur and tie it down. That way it cannot be crunched and broken or bend the hanger.
  • A chain like the Wippermann with the Connex link or the Sachs one (SRAM now?) that can be removed without tools works wonders. You remove the chain and pack it separately. It contains the mess from the lubricant and keeps the chain from bouncing against the frame.
  • Tools: a set of short L metric hex wrenches, small Phillips and flat blade screwdrivers, pedal wrench and a small crescent wrench. The pedal wrench if more for my wife's bike. I have pedal extenders which require a crescent wrench to remove.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by flatlander_48
My Ritchey BreakAway has its own specific bag. My wife uses a CrateWorks corrigated plastic box for her Orbea. Regardless of the box, I would recommend 3 things:
  • A chain like the Wippermann with the Connex link or the Sachs one (SRAM now?) that can be removed without tools works wonders. You remove the chain and pack it separately. It contains the mess from the lubricant and keeps the chain from bouncing against the frame.
Or clean the chain. Taking off the rear derailleur and chain is just more work to do at the airport. The plastic protector I mention will do its job without the hassle. Remember, there are thousands of brand new bikes a year shipped around all countries in their original packaging -- by air and by road with all sorts of handlers... not many of them end up being damaged.

Actually, also remember to wash your bike well before returning to Australia. The Customs people may well ask you if you have been near or on a farm in the previous three weeks, and if they do decide to open your box/bag to have a looksee, and it's dirty, they will take it away, wash it, then charge you for it.
Incidentally, a gang of baggage handlers at Toronto Airport has been arrested and charged with a baggage theft scheme -- they didn't just rifle through the luggage, but took the baggage home with them! Another gang, I think in Texas, also was caught recently, one of them after snitching $30,000 in cash from a suitcase that had been planted by police. The warehouse of goods the Toronto gang took did include largish boxes, so I suppose a bike box wouldn't be immune to theft, let alone a bike bag.
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Old 01-06-07, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Or clean the chain.
I do clean the chain, but that still doesn't get you around possible damage to the frame from the chain movement. Best course is to REMOVE it. Also, when you are traveling, you would need to find a solvent (wiping doesn't do enough) and something to hold the chain while soaking overnight. You would also need to carry lubricant to reapply after the bike is reassembled. That's a lot of effort compared to removing a chain and putting it in its own plastic bag.

Originally Posted by Rowan
Taking off the rear derailleur and chain is just more work to do at the airport. The plastic protector I mention will do its job without the hassle. Remember, there are thousands of brand new bikes a year shipped around all countries in their original packaging -- by air and by road with all sorts of handlers... not many of them end up being damaged.
The derailleur is removed at home. It is one screw. I never take anything to the airport unpacked. Ritchey has its own piece of luggage and is packed in a very specific way. The airport is not the place to do that.

The lug on the main body of the derailleur was broken off (it is a rotational limit as designed by Campagnolo). It was broken because enough vertical load was placed on the bag to break the plastic stiffener in the periphery of the bag. With the bag about 1.5" shorter than it should be, the derailleur came in contact with the solid part of the bag and the vertical load broke the lug off.
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