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Traveling with bike

Old 08-07-12, 08:13 AM
  #1  
pkaltx
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Traveling with bike

I am traveling to Lake Tahoe for the Tour de Tahoe and have never taken my bike on a trip where I have to fly. I have a few questions:

1) Is it better to ship my bike via FedEx to the hotel, or carry it on the plane with me as luggage? (I don't have to pay for luggage with my elite status)
2) The local bike store can box it in a cardboard bike box for me, but they really recommended buying a travel case for $350. I don't plan on flying with my bike any time again soon. Any suggestions?
3) Is traveling a Carbon Fiber bike OK on a plane?

Sorry, I am a newbie and this is my first post. Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-07-12, 08:57 AM
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Call the airline and talk to them. That way you will get more accurate information than you are likely to get on here.

Before I retired back in 93 the government would send me to schools and conferences regularly. On some trips I took my bike with me. They always let me pick which airline I wanted to use and I always went Delta. The reason I always tried to go Delta was because they were so bike friendly. The only thing they asked me to do was remove the pedals and loosen the handle bars so they could turn the bars in line with the bike. Delta would take my bike put it in a bike box and load it with my suit case. When I went to pick up my luggage they bought me the box. They told me I could have the box or to just leave it and they would throw it away. Delta never damaged my bike, not even a scratch. Back then there was no extra charge for this service. That was the good old days before high fuel prices and 9/11.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:56 AM
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Look up the baggage information on the airline website. Look for the baggage information that pertains specifically to bicycles ... different from oversized luggage, etc.

And know that they could very well change that baggage information tomorrow ... and again next week ... and again next month.


Just glancing at Grandaddy's post ... Delta might have been good back in 1993, but they are one of the most expensive choices for flying with a bicycle now. You can't get much more expensive than Delta. The OP might be OK if he can take bicycles on as luggage for free, but unless you're happy paying a fortune for the bicycle, I'd avoid Delta.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:27 PM
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I live in Houston, so my airline is United. It looks like if I remove the tires and pedals and put it in a box it is just counted as luggage. I get 4 free bags with my status level. So my question get back to a hard case or cardboard box.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:48 PM
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You can get free boxes from bike shops.

Remove the wheels, handle bars, seat, Place spacers in between the forks and chain stays.





It will be shipped on its side.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/h...0Box/htonj.jpg
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Old 08-07-12, 01:57 PM
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There's a lot of info on the web regarding packing a bike. Do a web search and also a Youtube search.

If you're really only going to travel once with it, just use a bike box you can pick up free at your LBS. If you have any doubt about packing it, pay them $25 to pack it for you. They unpack high end bikes every day and will know how to re-pack it as well as the manufacturer does when it's shipped from the factory.

When you unpack it at your destination, just remember how to re-pack it for the return trip. Keep all the padding and bring along a supply of large zip ties, you'll need them for repacking. Pack a scissors to cut padding or zip ties if needed when re-packing

The skills (and special tools) you'll need to unpack and repack: install and remove pedals, adjust handlebars and headset bearings, install and remove wheels front for sure and possibly rear as well, install and remove saddle, and maybe tweak brakes and derailleur/shifting. I can do almost all this stuff with my multi tool in my saddle bag, maybe have to bring an extra large allen wrench (or pedal wrench) for the pedals. .

Be sure they use spacers for the fork if the front wheel is removed. Ditto for rear wheel dropouts if it's removed. These are vulnerable areas and need support.

Also vulnerable are rear derailleur hanger and derailleur. I always remove the chain (quick link) and put it in padded envelope by itself, and then remove the RD and do the same. It's just easier than messing around keeping the chain from banging around on the crank and chain stay, and then the RD isn't out there exposed to every little bang on the box. It's about 3 minutes to remove chain and derailleur and about 5 minutes to re-install both.

But you don't have to do that, most people don't. Just make sure the chain doesn't do any damage, and that the derailleur is well padded (bubble wrap!) and secure.

Consider packing a floor pump. It's a drag inflating tires to full pressure with a mini-pump and it is sometimes difficult to travel w/ CO2.

Be sure to bring your normal road tools (i.e. your normal saddle bag and frame/mini pump if you use one).

Consider packing the bike in a smaller box that would require both wheels to be removed. This can be advantageous in several ways:

1. You are less likely to be charged "oversized" baggage charge w/ the smaller box. By the way you should check with your airline on "oversized". Even airlines that give customers free baggage might charge if it's oversized, and that in iteslf can be expensive. But the smaller box is much less likely to attract attention and a measuring tape! It might even fit within normal baggage size limits if they bother to measure it.

2. You can put the wheels in a separate box and since you have a liberal baggage allowance, it won't cost you anything. You definitely won't get charged oversized for that box (it will be well within normal baggage size), and you can pack a bunch of other stuff in with them (clothes, shoes, saddle, etc., etc.). If you were limited to two bags, I'd be willing to bet you could pack everything you need for your trip in with the bike box and wheel box. Maybe a carry on suit bag if you need it.

3. Easier to pack the bike iteslf since you won't have to deal with the wheels in the same box and the added need to securely pad and immobilize stuff.

The small bike boxes are the ones that, for example, smaller MTBs, kids' bikes, etc. get shipped in.

Hope that all makes sense. It's really less complicated than I make it appear, especially if you're comfortable with doing the mechanical stuff.

Last edited by Camilo; 08-07-12 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 08-07-12, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by pkaltx View Post
I live in Houston, so my airline is United. It looks like if I remove the tires and pedals and put it in a box it is just counted as luggage. I get 4 free bags with my status level. So my question get back to a hard case or cardboard box.
Check and double-check that. Don't just assume.


And here ... have a read through this article about baggage regulations. And then be sure to look up the website for your airline of choice, and find out for sure.
http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm
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Old 08-07-12, 02:52 PM
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Before I would go through doing all the stuff that Camilo said I would look in to renting a Bike after I got there. The Trek shop where I live rents high end carbon frame road bikes for $50.00 a day (a little less if you get it for the week).

My, how times have changed. We old people like to use the phrase, “Back in the day”. Back in the day, all I did was take the pedals off, loosen the handle bars and roll the Bike up to the Delta counter. I didn’t even have to box the bike, they did it. But then also back in the day, you could buy a new Pontiac GTO for $3000.00. One of the advantages of getting old is that you get to say, “Back in the day”.

Last edited by GrandaddyBiker; 08-07-12 at 02:57 PM. Reason: Change a word
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Old 08-07-12, 07:33 PM
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Thanks for all of the great information everyone. I will call the airline now.

It appears that everyone is suggesting I fly with it rather than send it fedex or UPS.
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Old 08-08-12, 03:29 PM
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Giving the ride is only 72 miles I suggest you rent a bike, it is much easier than traveling with one.
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Old 08-08-12, 04:41 PM
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Interesting to find this, as I'm making advance plans for a trip to N.Dakota (Maah Daah Hey, baby!) next year. The cost for flying with my Kona is almost the same as my plane ticket!

There is a company, www.shipbikes.com, that will set you up with a sturdy box for the bike, shipping labels, and a discounted FedEx price. (Of course, their fee eats that up....) They guarantee shipment in 1-5 days. I'm looking HARD at them!
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Old 08-08-12, 04:56 PM
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Shipping it to a Bike shop, and adding the labor charge,
and being re assembled by the shop, it will be ready to ride when you get there.
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Old 08-09-12, 09:32 AM
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My wife and I fly fairly often with our high-end carbon bikes using Aerus soft cases. We used to use hard cases but they're heavy and bulky. The total weight of the bike in the Aerus case with helmet, shoes and riding gear is under 35lb and the soft case is much easier to maneuver on shuttle buses, rental cars, etc. Here's an article on them written by a frequent traveler.

http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2011/02/h...h-my-bike.html
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