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Quick "Di2 on a flight" question

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Quick "Di2 on a flight" question

Old 11-13-23, 09:25 PM
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Quick "Di2 on a flight" question

I'm packing my Di2-equipped bike for a flight shortly (first time, usually I take a different bike).

I have Ultegra 11-speed Di2 with the battery tucked in the downtube requiring BB removal if you wish to remove or unplug it. Annoying! To protect from shifting in-flight or draining the battery, would unplugging the front and rear derailleurs be enough? Do I need to do anything with the shifters or unplug the junction box?

I've double-checked the airline policy and the Di2 battery is well below their allowed watt-hour limit for in-equipment batteries.
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Old 11-14-23, 02:30 AM
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I believe unplugging front and rear derailleurs will be enough. Wouldn't worry about the shifters or the junction box.
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Old 11-14-23, 02:34 AM
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Does Di2 not have a flight mode then?
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Old 11-14-23, 02:41 AM
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As far as I know it does not have a flight mode. But I've found some info, that shifters should be disconnected."Even if you do not have to take out the battery it can be worth it disconnecting it anyway. At the very least, disconnect your shifters or simply unplug your junction A.

You do this to make sure the bike doesn't try to shift while on the plane - this could easily drain your battery during the flight. When you get to your destination you probably just want to ride your bike, not charge it first."
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Old 11-14-23, 06:11 AM
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Wouldn't remove it either, but I would disconnect it.

A friend of mine flew to Spain this year and his bike got beaten up by the staff & plane turbulence. His left shifter was bent and DI2 was in crash mode when he landed. Nothing broken, but it would certainly have been better if it would have been disconnected before the flight.
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Old 11-14-23, 04:49 PM
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Hmmm. Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll look into it. Maybe I'll just take the mechanical groupset bike instead!
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Old 11-14-23, 05:00 PM
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Disconnect the battery will prevent anything causing battery drain. Can you fly with a Lithium battery ?
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Old 11-14-23, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Disconnect the battery will prevent anything causing battery drain. Can you fly with a Lithium battery ?
It's airline-dependant. According to the airline I am flying with, I can have an in-equipment Lithium-Ion battery of up to 160Wh as checked baggage. Spares must be in carry on luggage. The Di2 battery is well below that amount of power.

Disconnecting the battery is a right royal pain, as it requires bottom bracket removal. I don't really fancy doing that level of work in my hotel room! 😐
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Old 11-14-23, 05:51 PM
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I'd take what some consider extreme measures. I don't care if in fact I can prove it is legal to travel with in a certain condition. Not everyone that works at a airport that you will be going through will know the proper answer. But if they have any authority at all and they disagree with you, then you will be on the losing end of the discussion for a time and might miss your plane.

And then as another mentioned there is the possibility of inadvertent damage. So pack the bike well. If you wouldn't drop it from a six foot height and be unconcerned, then it's not packed well enough.
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Old 11-14-23, 05:58 PM
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Last year I packed a Di2 Defy for air travel. Disconnected the shifters and derailleurs. Left note for receiving shop what was done. Customer called and said bike arrived and was working well.
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Old 11-14-23, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist
It's airline-dependant. According to the airline I am flying with, I can have an in-equipment Lithium-Ion battery of up to 160Wh as checked baggage. Spares must be in carry on luggage. The Di2 battery is well below that amount of power.

Disconnecting the battery is a right royal pain, as it requires bottom bracket removal. I don't really fancy doing that level of work in my hotel room! 😐
My Di2 batteries are installed in the seatpost with shims. Pull the seat post, then unplug the E-Tube cable off the battery.
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Old 11-14-23, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
And then as another mentioned there is the possibility of inadvertent damage. So pack the bike well. If you wouldn't drop it from a six foot height and be unconcerned, then it's not packed well enough.
I've got a BikeBoxAlan hard case. I reckon I could drop it out of the airplane and it'd be fine... 😂
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Old 11-14-23, 08:52 PM
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Yes, I thought most seat tube batteries were in the seatpost. There's a permanent battery sleeve glued to the seatpost interior and a C-clip to hold the battery in place. My Di2 has enough cable to pull off the saddle+seatpost and access the last few inches of the cable.

When I swapped my Di2 battery for a new one after 5 years, I made sure not to let the disconnected cable drop down into the seatpost. But I suppose just turning the bike upside down should allow grabbing the end of the cable again.

Use the inexpensive small plastic Di2 connector tool to disconnect or to reconnect a cable. It's effective.

MAKE SURE YOU FULLY RE-PLUG THE CONNECTOR. My Di2 has a soft click when I first push it into the socket, then a sharper click when it's fully seated. That second click takes a little more force than I expected. There's no electric connection until the second click. I spent way too much time trying to troubleshoot this after a reconnect, thinking I broke something. Now I know.

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Old 11-23-23, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf
Yes, I thought most seat tube batteries were in the seatpost. There's a permanent battery sleeve glued to the seatpost interior and a C-clip to hold the battery in place. My Di2 has enough cable to pull off the saddle+seatpost and access the last few inches of the cable.

When I swapped my Di2 battery for a new one after 5 years, I made sure not to let the disconnected cable drop down into the seatpost. But I suppose just turning the bike upside down should allow grabbing the end of the cable again.

Use the inexpensive small plastic Di2 connector tool to disconnect or to reconnect a cable. It's effective.

MAKE SURE YOU FULLY RE-PLUG THE CONNECTOR. My Di2 has a soft click when I first push it into the socket, then a sharper click when it's fully seated. That second click takes a little more force than I expected. There's no electric connection until the second click. I spent way too much time trying to troubleshoot this after a reconnect, thinking I broke something. Now I know.
Aero post bikes often don't have room for a battery. Lot's of bikes nowadays have the battery clipped in the downtube with an access port under the BB.

Seems like the easiest thing is to unplug the wire running from both shifters to the junction box. That will kill everything and require less digging than the shifters.


For traveling, I would much rather have a ti bike with ti dropouts and mechanical rim brakes and shifting. Less to get mangled, much easier to fix or replace parts on. Pressure changes sometimes cause hydro issues.

Last edited by Kontact; 11-23-23 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 11-24-23, 06:01 AM
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Interesting. Hadn't thought of fluid issues. I know the luggage compartment is usually cold, but it's pressurized and heated. I never heard of issues due to temperature or pressure.
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Old 11-24-23, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
Interesting. Hadn't thought of fluid issues. I know the luggage compartment is usually cold, but it's pressurized and heated. I never heard of issues due to temperature or pressure.
It is pressurized the same as the cabin. You know how your ears pop on flights? The cabin isn't kept at sea level pressure - more like 7000 feet. That can cause air in the system to grow, moving fluid around.
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Old 11-26-23, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist
It's airline-dependant. According to the airline I am flying with, I can have an in-equipment Lithium-Ion battery of up to 160Wh as checked baggage. Spares must be in carry on luggage. The Di2 battery is well below that amount of power.

Disconnecting the battery is a right royal pain, as it requires bottom bracket removal. I don't really fancy doing that level of work in my hotel room! 😐
I have been researching carrying batteries on aircraft and it's a mess. First of all, I don't think you can disconnect the battery and then put it in cargo. Batteries in cargo have to be "installed" and the equipment prevented from "accidental activation." That may be hard with Di2, much easier with eTap or eTap AXS.

The other thing I've found out is that the airlines themselves are seriously confused about this. The FAA regulations are pretty particular and complicated and then airlines tend to be more restrctive on top of this. Then there is the ignorance of most TSA and other airline personnel that while you may be right, you can be denied at check in time or - worse - at TSA baggage inspect time that is out of your ability to negotiate or observe. For example, I travel on Delta frequently and have considerable airline status. I was looking at a 160WH battery to go with me to the EU. That necessitates a Delta flight and a KLM flight. Delta was ok with the 160WH battery with permission from check in gate agent in my carryon and said they did not anticipate a problem. KLM, on the other hand, wouldn't even consider permission until I had booked (and I'm not going to book without permission beforehand, obviously) and then the gate agent has absolute power to prohibit on the spot despite permission gained before hand. All of that means a potentially expensive battery or equipment gets abandoned or a flight missed while it's resolved. Therein lies the issue - it's uncertainty and employee ignorance.

So.... This whole "battery on the plane" thing is evolving and is still going to take a bit for this to sort out. I expect that at some point the lightweight e-bike business will probably start to push the regulations to change but that isn't now and confusion reigns amongst airline employees. For example, if I have this right, both Trek and Specialized have bikes that can operate with the internal ~350WH battery removed and a 160WHrange extender battery installed in a bottle cage on the down tube. Not an accident that it's 160Wh, I think. Take two with you in carryon luggage and you have pretty much the same range as the factory installed battery albeit with some inconvenience.

Bottom line in your case, I'd take the battery out (yes, it's a pain) which is the safest means and without reproach by the airline, or leave it connected and figure out how to keep it from turning on. The last thing you want is either an argument at check in and a bag refused or worse the ignorance of TSA to shut your trip down. Wolftooth makes some nice tools for taking the bottom bracket out that travel really well. That's what we've done in the past. The same tool can be used to remove direct mount disc rotors and possibly your bottom bracket too. We travel internationally with our bikes a fair amount and that's what we carry.

Another tip for air travel with a bike - put an AirTag in the bike bag so you know if it makes it on the plane with you. Gives you a heads up if there's going to be a problem. It's saved us on more than one occasion.

J.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 11-26-23 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 11-26-23, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80
I have been researching carrying batteries on aircraft and it's a mess. First of all, I don't think you can disconnect the battery and then put it in cargo. Batteries in cargo have to be "installed" and the equipment prevented from "accidental activation." That may be hard with Di2, much easier with eTap or eTap AXS.

The other thing I've found out is that the airlines themselves are seriously confused about this. The FAA regulations are pretty particular and complicated and then airlines tend to be more restrctive on top of this. Then there is the ignorance of most TSA and other airline personnel that while you may be right, you can be denied at check in time or - worse - at TSA baggage inspect time that is out of your ability to negotiate or observe. For example, I travel on Delta frequently and have considerable airline status. I was looking at a 160WH battery to go with me to the EU. That necessitates a Delta flight and a KLM flight. Delta was ok with the 160WH battery with permission from check in gate agent in my carryon and said they did not anticipate a problem. KLM, on the other hand, wouldn't even consider permission until I had booked (and I'm not going to book without permission beforehand, obviously) and then the gate agent has absolute power to prohibit on the spot despite permission gained before hand. All of that means a potentially expensive battery or equipment gets abandoned or a flight missed while it's resolved. Therein lies the issue - it's uncertainty and employee ignorance.

So.... This whole "battery on the plane" thing is evolving and is still going to take a bit for this to sort out. I expect that at some point the lightweight e-bike business will probably start to push the regulations to change but that isn't now and confusion reigns amongst airline employees. For example, if I have this right, both Trek and Specialized have bikes that can operate with the internal ~350WH battery removed and a 160WHrange extender battery installed in a bottle cage on the down tube. Not an accident that it's 160Wh, I think. Take two with you in carryon luggage and you have pretty much the same range as the factory installed battery albeit with some inconvenience.

Bottom line in your case, I'd take the battery out (yes, it's a pain) which is the safest means and without reproach by the airline, or leave it connected and figure out how to keep it from turning on. The last thing you want is either an argument at check in and a bag refused or worse the ignorance of TSA to shut your trip down. Wolftooth makes some nice tools for taking the bottom bracket out that travel really well. That's what we've done in the past. The same tool can be used to remove direct mount disc rotors and possibly your bottom bracket too. We travel internationally with our bikes a fair amount and that's what we carry.

Another tip for air travel with a bike - put an AirTag in the bike bag so you know if it makes it on the plane with you. Gives you a heads up if there's going to be a problem. It's saved us on more than one occasion.

J.
If batteries need to be installed and prevented from activation, why are you saying to remove it? Just yank the wire going to the control box.
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Old 11-26-23, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
If batteries need to be installed and prevented from activation, why are you saying to remove it? Just yank the wire going to the control box.
because that’s not “installed.” That’s leaving conductors attached to the battery terminals available to be shorted. “Installed” means into the electronics not into the bike frame. My point is there is zero doubt if you remove it and carry it on.

That may or may not actually be the case if it will short or not but I’ll bet you that’s exactly how TSA looks at it and probably the airline too. And the reason they look at it that way is there have been fires and resulting catastrophic crashes with loss of life from lithium fires. So, for them, there’s not a lot of leniency.

But my point is this - there is a LOT of confusion and bad information with the airlines policies and their understanding. And the same is true by TSA. Neither of them are going to sit and think about whether it’s installed properly or not when they have a plane to load. If they have any doubt, they’re going just say “no” and not permit it. That’s going to happen at the airport and then you’re screwed.
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