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Packing your bike for Air Travel

Old 03-21-22, 04:33 PM
  #51  
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Personally, on modern drive trains where drivetrain alignment is critical, you can knock a derailleur hanger out of alignment by just having your bike fall on the drive train side of you hit it right. Sending your bike through the airlines in a plastic bag is just asking to damage it. There is no such thing as gentle baggage handling.
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Old 03-21-22, 05:46 PM
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ryan van duzer just put out a vid on packing his bike for air travel
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Old 03-22-22, 01:25 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Personally, on modern drive trains where drivetrain alignment is critical, you can knock a derailleur hanger out of alignment by just having your bike fall on the drive train side of you hit it right. Sending your bike through the airlines in a plastic bag is just asking to damage it. There is no such thing as gentle baggage handling.
The person that commented that he used a bag, if I recall correctly, he used a seven speed freewheel bike for touring. It was not very modern.

I am not disagreeing with you, but a lot of us intentionally tour on older equipment that is more robust. My derailleur touring bikes are eight speed, but when I fly with a bike for a bike tour I take my Rohloff bike that has S&S couplers, no hanger to bend. The one time that I flew with a derailleur bike, the derailleur was not attached to the hanger.
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Old 03-22-22, 04:55 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Personally, on modern drive trains where drivetrain alignment is critical, you can knock a derailleur hanger out of alignment by just having your bike fall on the drive train side of you hit it right. Sending your bike through the airlines in a plastic bag is just asking to damage it. There is no such thing as gentle baggage handling.
depending on the size of your derailleur, a 1.25 or 1.5-liter plastic pop bottle can easily be surgically sliced so's you can slip it over the component in question and ducky tape or zippy-tie it securely to the chainstay for a bit more protection.
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Old 03-22-22, 07:42 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
depending on the size of your derailleur, a 1.25 or 1.5-liter plastic pop bottle can easily be surgically sliced so's you can slip it over the component in question and ducky tape or zippy-tie it securely to the chainstay for a bit more protection.
When I bought my road bike, it came in the factory carton packed at the factory. Derailleur was attached to the frame (steel, no separate hanger), there was a plastic fitting attached at the skewer that stuck out further than the derailler did, so an impact from the side on the box would hit the plastic spacer instead of the derailleur.

Not the best photo, this was cropped from a much larger photo, but you get the idea. Photo was from when the bike was pulled out of the carton, but packing materials not yet removed.



If I was going to transport a bike on a plane, if for some reason I decided not to remove the derailleur from the hanger, I would see if any bike shops had any of these that they had not yet discarded.
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Old 03-22-22, 07:43 AM
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Oops, duplicate post deleted.

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Old 03-22-22, 07:45 AM
  #57  
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Oops, duplicate post deleted.
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Old 03-22-22, 09:43 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
depending on the size of your derailleur, a 1.25 or 1.5-liter plastic pop bottle can easily be surgically sliced so's you can slip it over the component in question and ducky tape or zippy-tie it securely to the chainstay for a bit more protection.
sorry, thatís a canard. A plastic bag and a pop bottle is not adequate protection in baggage handling - itís just not.

I'm a million miler and Iíve flown all over the world. Iíve had skis bent at right angles due to baggage handling issues (imagine the forces in that). Iíve had duffles made of truck tarp material shredded. Iíve seen suitcases fall off of baggage carts, pop open and pages upon pages of manuscripts blow out in the wind.

Baggage handling is not a gentle business where the norm is to throw things around and handle them with power equipment. Itís just not a reasonable expectation to presume that a bicycle will be handled with any finesse.

Your bike needs solid protection for air travel if you want any any assurance itís going to be in good shape when it arrives.
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Old 03-22-22, 09:57 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
sorry, thatís a canard.
incorrect.
a canard is

Originally Posted by Mr.Google View Post
a small winglike projection attached to an aircraft forward of the main wing to provide extra stability or control, sometimes replacing the tail.
Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
A plastic bag and a pop bottle is not adequate protection in baggage handling - itís just not.
one feller on here is looking at plastic bags. not great, heavy box preferred, but better'n nothing. if he's decided on plastic bagging it, adding something around the derairreur to add some cushion, better still.

not a great option, but it's a thing. i've done it on a couple inter-asian flights.
an anecdote, shirley, not a canard.

Last edited by saddlesores; 03-22-22 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 03-22-22, 11:35 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
incorrect.
a canard is
You used the second definition of "canard." The first definition is "an unfounded rumor or story." For example "a pop bottle is a canard in it's ability to provide any real protection to a rear derailleur." If you're going to be the self anointed vocabulary hall monitor, precision matters.

one feller on here is looking at plastic bags. not great, heavy box preferred, but better'n nothing. if he's decided on plastic bagging it, adding something around the derairreur to add some cushion, better still.

not a great option, but it's a thing. i've done it on a couple inter-asian flights.
an anecdote, shirley, not a canard.
For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would pay thousands for a bike and then put it in a plastic bag with a pop bottle as it's sole protection. At least go and make your own disposable bike crate with cardboard and padding. It's not hard (there's a lot of DIY videos on youtube) and there is pretty much no where on the planet you can't come up with sufficient scrap cardboard and a roll of tape. It's ubiquitous.

J.
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Old 03-22-22, 03:05 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would pay thousands for a bike and then put it in a plastic bag with a pop bottle as it's sole protection. At least go and make your own disposable bike crate with cardboard and padding. It's not hard (there's a lot of DIY videos on youtube) and there is pretty much no where on the planet you can't come up with sufficient scrap cardboard and a roll of tape. It's ubiquitous.

J.
Long story as to why, but when I finished a hard, 7 week tour around Andalucia I ended up flying my bike back to the states in a plastic bag. Three flights in total. Other than a slightly tweaked rear wheel, the thing was fine.
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Old 03-22-22, 04:31 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Long story as to why, but when I finished a hard, 7 week tour around Andalucia I ended up flying my bike back to the states in a plastic bag. Three flights in total. Other than a slightly tweaked rear wheel, the thing was fine.
pure luck.

Notice, even when Iím sure theyíre being careful, you bike still took a shot. If that had been to the RD hanger, youíd not be riding that bike without a significant repair.

Then thereís the skis I have bent in literally a right angle and destroyed. So, your point?
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Old 03-22-22, 04:53 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
The person that commented that he used a bag, if I recall correctly, he used a seven speed freewheel bike for touring. It was not very modern.

I am not disagreeing with you, but a lot of us intentionally tour on older equipment that is more robust. My derailleur touring bikes are eight speed, but when I fly with a bike for a bike tour I take my Rohloff bike that has S&S couplers, no hanger to bend. The one time that I flew with a derailleur bike, the derailleur was not attached to the hanger.
Pretty much any bike - robust or not - is no match for the heavy equipment used to rapidly move baggage. When you get outside of that material flow, youíre hoping that someone finds a spot where it wonít get backed into, or that other baggage doesnít fall on it or that any one of a hundred other things doesnít happen to it. All one has to do is stand at a gate window and watch all of that happening down on the ramp and imagine a bike on the loose in the middle of that.

so yeah, obviously itís possible for all to come out ok, but thatís a long odds bet in general. The reason airlines, in the not too distant past (and some still do), had hefty charges for bikes was because theyíre a pain in the ass to deal with compared to regular baggage and an aircraft cargo hold is not a hospitable place for a bare bike. Then when one gets damaged itís a royal pain for the airline to deal with an irate customer.

we all stand a better chance of having airlines be more amenable to low cost bike transport if we take care to fit into their material flow instead of making them spend a lot of extra time and care with our bare bikes. And, for the cost of a bike and the associated vacation, properly packaging your bike is pretty minimal.
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Old 03-23-22, 05:06 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
pure luck.

Notice, even when Iím sure theyíre being careful, you bike still took a shot. If that had been to the RD hanger, youíd not be riding that bike without a significant repair.

Then thereís the skis I have bent in literally a right angle and destroyed. So, your point?
I can tell that thereís no point in trying to make a point with you. But try to understand that the practice is much more common outside the US. If it meant a death sentence people wouldnít do it.
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Old 03-23-22, 06:36 AM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
You used the second definition of "canard." The first definition is "an unfounded rumor or story." For example "a pop bottle is a canard in it's ability to provide any real protection to a rear derailleur." If you're going to be the self anointed vocabulary hall monitor, precision matters.



For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would pay thousands for a bike and then put it in a plastic bag with a pop bottle as it's sole protection. At least go and make your own disposable bike crate with cardboard and padding. It's not hard (there's a lot of DIY videos on youtube) and there is pretty much no where on the planet you can't come up with sufficient scrap cardboard and a roll of tape. It's ubiquitous.

J.
"an unfounded rumor or story." didn't really apply here. all groovily founded.
bikes are a thing, planes are a thing. unboxed bikes are a thing.
plastic bike bags, zippy ties and pop bottles are things as well.

here in asialand its not that uncommon to check in with boarding agent, get a courtesy plastic bag, then roll your bike over to the big door where the nice gentlegorilla in stained overalls will accept your bike for transport. heck, some don't even require the bag. less common nowadays, but still possible.

sure, i normally pack in a box, but i think this one was returning from vietnam a decade or so ago for a short hop to northern thighland. arrive in hanoi in the afternoon, ride to the airport in the morning, check in and get a baggie, land in chiang mai for lunch. late at night in the hotel packing, thought heck, i should put some padding or something on the derailler. bikes fly in bags often, but who knows, so why not? i got ducky tape, zippy ties, and hey! a pop bottle. .....the german guy at the airport decided to spend $5 to get the suitcase lady to put his bike on the saran-wrap spinner and passed on the plastic bag.

if you watch the show out the big windows while waiting to board, you can see boxed, bagged, and even completely neckit bikes riding in tiny flatbed trucks or their own cart, usually separate from the other luggage. at smaller airports, you can watch the gorillas walking your bike across the tarmac from the loading zone below you to the plane 50 meters away. really not that much different from showing up at a train station, buying a ticket, then rolling your bike over to the luggage room or directly to the baggage car. prolly not as safe though, as baggage cars then get filled with sacks of grain, motorcycles, crates of live chickens.....

For domestic flights, Nok Air (and Thai Airways) allows you to load your bicycle whole. Bicycle tires must be deflated and bicycle can be Ďrolled oní to aircraft without packaging. No need to remove the wheels and the pedals or adjust the handle bar. Nok Air will ask you to pay a special handling fee of 200 baht for the bike, and its staff will take care of the rest. The weight of the bike is not added to your normal baggage allowance.
.................
(the special fee works out to about US$6)
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Old 03-23-22, 06:57 AM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Pretty much any bike - robust or not - is no match for the heavy equipment used to rapidly move baggage. When you get outside of that material flow, youíre hoping that someone finds a spot where it wonít get backed into, or that other baggage doesnít fall on it or that any one of a hundred other things doesnít happen to it. All one has to do is stand at a gate window and watch all of that happening down on the ramp and imagine a bike on the loose in the middle of that.

so yeah, obviously itís possible for all to come out ok, but thatís a long odds bet in general. The reason airlines, in the not too distant past (and some still do), had hefty charges for bikes was because theyíre a pain in the ass to deal with compared to regular baggage and an aircraft cargo hold is not a hospitable place for a bare bike. Then when one gets damaged itís a royal pain for the airline to deal with an irate customer.

we all stand a better chance of having airlines be more amenable to low cost bike transport if we take care to fit into their material flow instead of making them spend a lot of extra time and care with our bare bikes. And, for the cost of a bike and the associated vacation, properly packaging your bike is pretty minimal.
We get it; airlines can damage bikes during transport. Since you seem to have a very rigid point of view about what not to do, what/how would you suggest packing a bike IF a bike box of any type is just not available and you have to fly home, i.e. overseas, so you can not rent a car? This would include not just shipping a hard shelled bike box to you at the end since your end point may not be known.
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Old 03-23-22, 07:41 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by John N View Post
We get it; airlines can damage bikes during transport. Since you seem to have a very rigid point of view about what not to do, what/how would you suggest packing a bike IF a bike box of any type is just not available and you have to fly home, i.e. overseas, so you can not rent a car? This would include not just shipping a hard shelled bike box to you at the end since your end point may not be known.
Use the search tool on YouTube and pick the one that is most appropriate for your bike. Thereís a lot of examples. Basically, the algorithm is to get a discarded box or boxes that produces enough cardboard and make your own and package it accordingly. Itís not hard. Iíve done it several times.

this isnít hard. You might have to actually think about it though.
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Old 03-23-22, 07:49 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Use the search tool on YouTube and pick the one that is most appropriate for your bike. There’s a lot of examples. Basically, the algorithm is to get a discarded box or boxes that produces enough cardboard and make your own and package it accordingly. It’s not hard. I’ve done it several times.

this isn’t hard. You might have to actually think about it though.
Thanks for the response. So if I understand you correctly, you have nothing new to offer on how to safely transport a bike on an airline other other than say airlines will mangle your bikes. While I I have used bike boxes probably for 50 flights over the decades with only 1 minor issue, I was hoping you would have something new to add on how to prevent damage. We all know bikes may get damaged. I was hoping you had a unique solution due to your million miles affiliation. Thanks again.
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Old 03-23-22, 08:27 AM
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I'd like to offer a counter to the "pack it to the max" approach, based on flights with an S&S coupled bike in a hard case. You'd think between the hard case, the frame padding, taking off the rear derailer, etc., things would be airline gorilla-proof, wouldn't you? Not so, unfortunately.

I've had a bar end shifter cracked. How'd they do that? I've had spokes in a wheel kinked, apparently because they managed to slam something on the top of the case hard enough to bend the spoke around the frame. (Thank goodness for the frame padding!) The airline even managed to pop the case latch off the case (simple enough to repair, longer mounting bolt and some small washers) and my case has a permanent dent along the rails on the side.

I sort of get it. The case is big (though airline-legal 62"). It's heavy (though under the 50 pound limit). It's awkward to handle, and it looks tough, so baggage handlers figure it won't get damaged. But it does.

Contrast that to a bike wrapped in plastic. If an airline cares about keeping its customers happy (not something that's obvious on most American airlines), the baggage handlers will see this apparently fragile package. It weighs 17 pounds less than the bike in the hard case. So they'll treat the "package" with appropriate care.

Bottom line, two points. First, if an airline will accept a plastic-wrapped bike as baggage, there's a fair chance (though not a guarantee) they'll handle it appropriately. Second, a hard case is not a guarantee that the enclosed bike will arrive unharmed, either.
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Old 03-23-22, 08:53 AM
  #70  
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Old 03-23-22, 09:07 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Bottom line, two points. First, if an airline will accept a plastic-wrapped bike as baggage, there's a fair chance (though not a guarantee) they'll handle it appropriately. Second, a hard case is not a guarantee that the enclosed bike will arrive unharmed, either.
Similar to a blog post (I forget where from, but was from someone working in the industry) making a similar argument.

We've flown several times (> 20), with bikes stored in padded bags, and a few times in plastic/synthetic (unpadded bags). No damage to report. This summer we plan to fly our bikes in Rinko bags (i.e. disassembled, no padding) because we'll have to take public transit during our trip. Plus, riding an open jaw rules out hard shell cases and we find boxes to needlessly complicate airport logistics (finding the box, transportation from boxing location to hotel/airport, etc. -- we always ride out of/into airports. Part of the fun)

We ride Surly's steel beasts (LTH, Trolls) which seem, so far, to be handlers proof.
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Old 03-23-22, 09:12 AM
  #72  
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For years Air Canada and SwissAir allowed the use of plastic bags for bikes. They even encouraged bag use by selling them at the ticket counters. They actually made a bike easier to carry. The handler would just lift it by the top tube through the bag and carry it with ease. Like Saddlesores, I'd watch mine being loaded from the terminal window. Conspicuously a bicycle, it may have been less likely to have been abused than a large box. Several round trips to Europe and one to Calgary with no problems.

Perhaps problems arose (?) as those two airlines now require boxes. SwissAir says they'll give you a free box at Geneva or Zurich! Icelandair still allows bags.

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Old 03-23-22, 10:43 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by John N View Post
Thanks for the response. So if I understand you correctly, you have nothing new to offer on how to safely transport a bike on an airline other other than say airlines will mangle your bikes. While I I have used bike boxes probably for 50 flights over the decades with only 1 minor issue, I was hoping you would have something new to add on how to prevent damage. We all know bikes may get damaged. I was hoping you had a unique solution due to your million miles affiliation. Thanks again.
transporting bikes on airlines properly is well understood - your snark aside.

I take exception to promotion of transporting a bike in a plastic bag (ie all but unprotected) on the vast majority of airlines and am advocating for doing what is proven. My experience in travel informs that notion. But you do you. You donít like it, then do what you want. So will I.
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