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Flying with Bike Case For the First Time - Help Please

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Flying with Bike Case For the First Time - Help Please

Old 07-20-22, 02:50 PM
  #26  
ls01
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One tip I can offer. Print pictures of how the bike goes in the case so the tsa can repack it easily. Otherwise you risk having it damaged during or after inspection. Also print out the Airlines policy about how they charge for a bike box. I had a couple of bad experiences where they wanted to charge me for oversize baggage.

I also learned the hard way. Airlines will not cover damages to a bike in a soft case. Must be in a Hardcase.
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Old 07-20-22, 08:49 PM
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The riding in the big island of Hawaii is fantastic!

So glad I brought my bike. The wind is problematic, but the road quality and safety of the wide shoulders is the best!!!
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Old 07-21-22, 10:17 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
It was glorious to have my bike in a new vacation location.
+1

The very first time my wife and I flew with our own bikes -- this was back in 2010, when we went to Markleeville CA to do the Death Ride -- we learned two very important lessons:

1) it is so much nicer to ride your own bike than to ride a rented or borrowed bike when on vacation! That familiarity/comfort infuses every ride, and impacts your overall impressions of any cycling vacation.

But also...

2) It is so much nicer to have a manageable compact case for travelling with your own bike when on vacation! That first Death Ride trip was a comedy of errors since we were travelling with two enormous hard cases...dealing with oversized baggage check-in and retrieval at the airport, finding a taxi that could get us to the airport in the first place, discovering that the rental car we'd reserved at our destination wasn't large enough to accomodate these two enormous hard cases (and making that discovery at 1:00AM local time!), figuring out where to store these two enormous hard cases during our stay... We got home from that vacation and immediately started investigating new bikes that had S&S couplers. Now that is a gamechanger.

Glad you and your bike arrived intact, enjoy Hawaii!
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Old 07-21-22, 11:09 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
Looks a pretty tight fit! Good luck, you've packed it well with plenty of added padding. I'm sure it'll arrive unscathed.

Did you pack some scissors to cut the cable ties at the other end? 😁
Originally Posted by Symox View Post
wire cutters, yeah

it is pretty time consuming to ship a bike
That's why I use blue tape, and throw the roll into the case, instead of zip ties. In my experience it's strong enough for any need in packing a bike in a case.
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Old 07-21-22, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ls01 View Post
One tip I can offer. Print pictures of how the bike goes in the case so the tsa can repack it easily. Otherwise you risk having it damaged during or after inspection.....
I was lucky the last time we flew the TSA inspection was at some tables out in the open that we had to carry our bikes too. We stood by while they inspected and then I asked if they minded if I repack myself, they let me. OTOH, they were very reasonably careful poking around in the case and really didn't disturb it too much. I only put various size stuff sacks in with the bike to hold my cycling stuff, and in sizes that fit in the various open spaces in the case, so there really isn't much they can do to increase the chance of damage by how they re-pack it.

Originally Posted by Symox View Post
The riding in the big island of Hawaii is fantastic!

So glad I brought my bike. The wind is problematic, but the road quality and safety of the wide shoulders is the best!!!
So is the West Maui loop in.... Maui. I've been to Molokai several times and the riding there is also excellent.
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Old 07-22-22, 07:44 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
The opening of bike boxes must be a TSA / America thing.

😂
Iíve had mixed experience, flying in and from the US. One thing that I think triggers TSA to open your bike case is water bottles, which they need to look at to see whether something is in them, which I donít believe they can see on X-ray necessarily.

Waterbottles in the bike case, it usually gets opened( and not repacked correctly) no water bottle for me itís been much less likely to be opened.

So I donít put anything that hold liquid, including lubricants in the bike case. Rummage through my suit case, just please donít disturb a carefully packe d bike case.
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Old 07-22-22, 08:58 AM
  #32  
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Every time I have this thought and read one of these threads, I end up just renting a bike at my destination.

The thing that always seems to kill this idea for me is the ground transportation. You need a pretty big car to fit a bike box and other luggage inside, especially if you're traveling with others. The cost of renting a large SUV can be significantly more than a standard rental car, and isn't always guaranteed to be there when you arrive. I have no idea how people pull this off on European trips.
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Old 07-22-22, 12:04 PM
  #33  
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Inspection shouldn't be a problem for domestic flights. After checking in I take the bike box to the "special items" check-in; they'll open it and look through the contents, then close it up and wrap it in tape as a seal to indicate it has been inspected. You stand right next to them and if necessary can show how to close up the case (simpler is better obviously). Very similar to traveling with a firearm, if you ever have. (Except they'll seal those cases with the largest zip tie you've ever seen.) At the destination you similarly go to the special items pick-up counter after getting your regular checked luggage. International travel might be more complicated though...
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Old 07-22-22, 04:40 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Every time I have this thought and read one of these threads, I end up just renting a bike at my destination.
The ease of renting a bike, not worrying about travel dramas and case storage is not to be underestimated! I've used LIVELO.CC numerous times when I haven't wanted to bring my own bike.
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Old 07-22-22, 05:17 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I got a used Serfas hardshell case off of Craigslist for a good deal. I practiced packing it for an upcoming trip from California to Hawaii on Southwest airlines. It seems sturdy enough for the application.

I'm looking for tips to make the transport of the bike as stress free as possible. I will be letting out the air in the tires, removing the pedals, seatpost and wheels and bringing a mini hand pump. I have a few questions

1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no
2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course
3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?
4) Is Southwest generally good about taking care to not sit on the case or should I get additional insurance?
5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

Thanks for the help. I'm very excited to bring the bike for the first time on a flying vacation
I've traveled with a bike many times and I'm an engineer. I'm also a "million miler" with a lot of international travel experience on airlines. I hate renting a bike since something is always never quite right in the fit. I'd rather have my bike.

I'm not familiar with your case. I use a Orucase that requires a fair bit of disassembly but can often travel as just normal luggage. Anyhow, this advice pertains to a fairly dissembled bike and frame.

The numbers below should match your questions:
  1. Lock the case but use TSA approved locks. TSA has keys that open those locks. Locks also help prevent the case from opening inadvertently. Do this with *any* luggage you travel with no matter what.
  2. I'd put all the necessary tools in the case presuming they are not a whole lot. I travel with a small hex bit wrench set (I like Silca's), a few torque keys at 5nm, 8nm and 12nm to get parts torqued properly (I prefer prestacycles), a Wolf Tooth Pack Wrench traveling wrench with the bits to get off the disc rotors (which I package in cardboard), as a pedal wrench and then to help me get the crank off if I have a hard time fitting my large frame in the bag.
  3. I don't bring a tube of grease and carbon grit compound, I put a little in a screw top vials I bought online and take that. A little of both goes a very long way.
  4. Can't help you with Southwest, I haven't flown them much and I'm generally not a fan.
  5. Don't remove the RD hanger, but carry a spare - they are cheap and easy to deal with. You should have a spare anyhow. Do remove the RD.
Some additional advice:
  • Don't remove the RD hanger if that is where your thru axle mounts. By some PVC tubing at Home Depot that fits over your axles. Put the PVC over the axle between the dropouts so that the PVC maintains the separation on the rear triangle and on the fork. This will be a major help in protecting from frame damage from the baggage gorillas. Without this, your frame and/or fork is vulnerable. If the RD hanger gets damaged, it's a 5 minute process to replace it. You should have a spare anyhow.
  • Definitely take the RD off, wrap it in bubble wrap and then strap it in the protection of the rear triangle. I additionally have the SCION rear drop out protector that adds a hard shell around the dropouts and is the perfect place to strap in the RD still on the chain, in the bubble wrap. Works great. I don't know if that SCION drop out protector is made anymore, but you could do the same thing with some cardboard or sheet plastic and just velcro it in place.
  • You don't have to remove air from the tires. I never do. The maximum air pressure of the atmosphere at sea level is <15PSI. Just make sure your tires are down at least 15psi from the maximum and you will be fine. Having the tires inflated puts the rims under compression which adds to the structure. Besides that, it's a giant pain to pump up two tires from flat with a small hand pump. I run road tubeless and that would make an additional mess. I have traveled many times doing this and there is not a problem and will not be a problem. I do protect the valve stems with cardboard in a U shape that I wrap around the tire at the stem and then velcro it in place over the rim. The cardboard makes it harder for something to whack the valve stem.
  • Remove the disc rotors and put then into a double layer of cardboard that is taped shut so the rotor can't fall out. It's pretty easy to bend a rotor and they are a pain to straighten. I have direct mount discs so they come off super fast.
  • Get a silver sharpie and mark the seat post height so you can quickly replicate it. Also make measurements of your seat height from the center of the crank to the top of the seat, from the nose of the seat to the steer tube and the able of the seat. Save these so you can replicate them quickly if you have to. Take a picture of the spacers and and the way your stem is set up. You can refer to this if there is a question of how it was set up before you took it apart.
  • I have to take the fork out of my frame with my bag. I have two removable tie wraps so that I can strap the top of the steer tube pieces and the bottom of the steer tube pieces together. Then I don't have to spend time sorting them out.
  • Some good tips here especially for wrapping the frame (which I recommend). Orucase has a nice frame wrap set that I use and like. Definitely wrap the frame to protect it if things jostle in travel.
  • I mounted an AirTag in each of our bags. That way I know where the bag is not necessarily where the airline thinks it is. It's also easier to find it that way when you have to pick the bike up in the baggage area. Usually luggage like this that is odd sized is at some office for the airline in a baggage area that is almost guaranteed to not be near the luggage carousel for your flight. Using the AirTag will allow you to find it faster.
  • I also carry a small stand that weighs around 1lb. I use the Granite Designs Hex Stand which slots into the crank to hold up the bike. There are others. It just makes it go faster and the weight is minimal. This goes in the bike bag.
It takes me about 20-25 minutes per bike to pack them and that's not if I'm hurrying. I must made a checklist and follow that with my wife helping.

Take your pedals, your shoes, helmet and cycling kit as carryon. That way if they trash something irreparably you can still rent a bike and have a great time. That's never happened to me, but it's easy insurance to make sure you can go for a ride.

If you follow this, I think there is an excellent chance everything will be fine. That said, make sure everything is insured because when you ship a bike this way, it's out of the normal baggage flow for the airlines. That means it gets manhandled, tossed onto pickup trucks etc... When there's power equipment involved and the ramp crew is in a hurry, there is the opportunity with serious power equipment to trash a bike. We've got countless flights with our bikes under our belt without a problem but I did have a friend who was traveling with me have the tip of his ski bent in a 90 degree angle. That probably happened with the ski bag being backed into the loading dock in the back of a pickup. So it can happen but if you have it insured properly, it just means you get a new bike.

We're off to Arctic Norway to ride for two weeks later this summer. That will require three flights each way and two airlines. We're both taking our bikes using this method above and I'm sure it will be fine.

Have a great trip and have fun riding in Hawaii when you get there!

J.

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Old 07-23-22, 03:52 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post

We got home from that vacation and immediately started investigating new bikes that had S&S couplers. Now that is a gamechanger.
+1

if you travel to bike somewhat regularly, an S&S coupler bike is a great idea. I had my Merlin retrofitted with S&S couplers for this reason. The parts, labor, and case cost about $1000. I’ve easily recouped that in saved airline fees.

im going to race the Haut Routes Alps in France in August. The whole trip with some riding in France before the race, and Switzerland after will require a lot of moving around in planes trains and automobiles. Even though the Merlin with couplers is a few pounds heavier than my Willier Zero 7, the convenience of transport in a standard sized suit case makes it a no brainer
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Old 07-23-22, 04:22 PM
  #37  
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A few years ago I bought a fairly inexpensive used Bianchi steel frame bike and had S&S couplers installed. I have since travelled many times with the smaller case and the lower airline fees. It was definitely a good use of my money. The bike fits me perfect and I have gotten to even look forward to riding the steel frame bike. I also geared it for bigger mountains than I would normally ride on my carbon home bike. It takes me about 10-15 min to put it back together at my destination. The case easily fits into rental cars. It also is fairly easy to wheel it around airport terminals.

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Old 07-23-22, 07:31 PM
  #38  
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Before the airlines got better about bike fees, we bought Orucase Airport Ninja cases. They are only a few inches larger than the airline spec and they fit a fairly large frame with no couplers. Weíve put the cases through the normal baggage flow with no issues Ö. And no airline charges. We paid for those cases on the first trip to Europe. No baggage attendant even blinked.

my bike is essentially a 60cm frame which is difficult to fit in the large Orucase bag but it does fit with no issues if youíre careful. When I got a new bike frame made in stainless I had couplers put in. Now my wifeís frame fits in the large bag easily. Mine fits in the small bag with the couplers opened.

anyhow, I guess the Orucase bags are worth a look.
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Old 07-26-22, 04:10 PM
  #39  
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So far Iím glad I brought it

Itís been amazing having my bike so far (Iím waiting in the airport for the return flight) but it IS a hassle. I would say it takes two hours to pack/unpack each time. If I wasnít so careful with foam coverage I could cut the time down, but I like my bike too much. The biggest hurdle is having transportation to/from the airport. UberXL to/from home and SUV rental at destination has worked great.

I also paid $150 total to ship on the plane. This is compared to about $400 to rent a similar performing bike for the same amount of time.

I wish it were easier. In the future, if there are good rental options I will seriously consider it. However, it is REALLY nice having your own bike. It felt soooooo great bombing down hills on a bike I knew the capabilities of.
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Old 07-27-22, 07:15 AM
  #40  
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Made it back home

Bike is fine but UberXL cost $120 to get home ($45 is normal). That made me angry as I felt ripped off
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Old 07-27-22, 06:03 PM
  #41  
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Trip is over, bike is reassembled. I had NO issues with damage to the bike or anything in the case. Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions.

Love this forum and the bicycling community
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Old 07-27-22, 06:28 PM
  #42  
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Glad to hear you had a good trip and your bike made it safely through all the journeys.

The time it takes to pack and unpack will decrease over time. I think it takes me around half an hour, being really careful. Now you've flown with a bike, you can see the benefits of hiring! On shorter trips or if I fancy travelling light, I'll hire a bike (as long as I know I can get a good one). Livelo even drop a rental bike off at the hotel so it's waiting for me on arrival. Too easy.

Longer trips, or if I really want to ride my own bike, I'll pack and take it. You get better at travelling with it, knowing the best way to transport, store, etc...


Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Bike is fine but UberXL cost $120 to get home ($45 is normal). That made me angry as I felt ripped off
Damn! And I felt ripped off when the taxi charged me an extra $14 because he had to put the rear seats down!
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