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Shipping a bike overseas

Old 11-20-19, 05:47 PM
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Seu
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Shipping a bike overseas

I'm planning a End to End trip of the United Kingdon. What is the best way and cost to ship a bike to London from Portland, Oregon? Is it better to ship the bike as part of my airplane luggage? In the US, I ship the bike to my destination a few days ahead of my travel. I like not having to worry about the bike being with me on the flight.
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Old 11-20-19, 05:59 PM
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cardboard box in plane with you will be easiest cheapest
but you'll have to check with the specific airline to see bike costs, go to sports equipment/bicycles
a bike store can box your bike for you at a cost
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Old 11-20-19, 07:50 PM
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Shipping a bike internationally gets you into questions about customs duty, etc. They would be concerned that the bike will stay in the EU for longer than 90 days if you are not traveling with the bike, etc. (I say that assuming they will delay Brexit yet a few more times.) Best to take on the plane with you, then if there are any questions about the bike, you are there to answer them.

Earlier this year American and Delta both announced that they were waiving oversize fees for bikes, but I do not know if that applies to international luggage or not. A few years ago I flew Delta to Iceland, first checked bag was free and my bike was in the second bag which had a fee. But airline fee schedules change so often I have no clue what fees would be like these days for a bike to Europe. Do you think you would need a second checked bag or not? I met some cyclists in Iceland that checked their bikes but did not need a second checked bag, thus saved a lot of money. A luggage scale is the travelers best friend.

Some of the European airlines might not charge oversize fees for a bike, a friend of mine did not pay oversize fees for his bike to Ireland and back to USA, he flew a European airline, I do not recall which.
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Old 11-21-19, 03:22 AM
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I would want to be with the bike on such a flight. Accompanied baggage rates probably beat air freight rates every time but my info is old. I bought a bike abroad for a tour and brought it home after, then five years later took it with me for a second trip and return. Be aware that boxing might not be available on the return. I removed the pedals and turned the bars 90 degrees and the bike survived nicely both times (on the returns, boxed going), but I might just have been lucky. Good luck to you and enjoy your trip.
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Old 11-21-19, 05:05 AM
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I've shipped a bike to the US from Europe once for a forum user here. I think it was around $150 but that required the bike to be completely disassembled to fit into as small a space as possible.
Anything larger was around $250-300.

Most airlines will transport the bike for similar or lower prices than that.
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Old 11-21-19, 07:32 AM
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Flying to the UK from the US I've just taken my bike as luggage. I pack it in a soft sided bag and use my equipment as packing material and check it as baggage. Inside the US I've used Bikeflights.com and they have been very good. When I did the NT I used Bikeflights to ship the bike to a bike shop in Anacortes and had the shop put my bike together so it was ready when I arrived. It seems easiest to start at Lands End so you could try to find a bike shop in Penzance that will receive and build your bike or use these guys.

https://landsendcyclehire.com/cycling...john-o-groats/

Last edited by nun; 11-21-19 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 11-21-19, 11:58 AM
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Is your bike valuable?

If it is, there's a company that does nothing but ship bikes overseas. It's expensive, I used it when I went. They have good insurance, and a lot of experience. Make sure the first place you are staying know the bike is coming if you do.

I forget the name, shouldn't be hard to find.
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Old 11-21-19, 12:48 PM
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Domestically, I have used Shipbikes, Bikeflights or brought with me as checked baggage. Generally speaking, checked baggage is more expensive, although I have heard that Delta and American have discontinued their high fees for bicycles. Shipbikes and Bikeflights use UPS and FedEx as the shippers and were much less expensive. Ship to a bike shop or your hotel at your destination. Generally I make a box that I can throw away before starting my ride. Otherwise, you have to ship your empty box to your destination and that's another expense to deal with.

Internationally, I've always flown with the bike as checked luggage. It's expensive (~$200 per bike each way) but it's also the simplest as there's no questions about customs duties, etc. For international travel I always use either bags or boxes that are designed for packing a bike for air travel. Again, you have to figure out where to store your bag/box while bike touring, but with thought there are solutions. Some hotels will store it for a fee; on our last trip of three months, we shipped our bags to some friends at our destination and they stored them for us.

A word of caution: there is a company that claims that their bag allows you to disassemble your bike enough that it meets the airline baggage requirements and will not be charged the oversize fee. This is complete BS. Even with the bikes completely disassembled, the bags are above the size limits and we were charged the oversize bike fees for each leg. Don't be duped like I was.
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Last edited by schoolboy2; 11-21-19 at 12:50 PM. Reason: missing words
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Old 11-22-19, 06:27 PM
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My wife and I have flown with our bikes several times, 6 of those times where to or from Europe, plus a couple of domestic flights while in Europe. Thre are plenty of good Youtube videos on bike packing.

The biggest challenge that I faced is getting the packed bikes 120 miles from my home to the airport. On our last trip with our 2 daughters, the issue was getting 4 boxed bikes from home to the airport. None of my friends have pickups big enough to haul 5 people. I finally rented a 4-passenger pickup, and drove it to the airport. It worked well and cost about $100 for a one day rental. It would be a real hassle to take the train to Portland and then try to get the bikes boxed, and then get out to the airport. The night in the motel would cost more than the truck or van rental.

Getting back home after the tour is easy. After assembling our bikes at the airport we just ride from the airport to the train station, take a tain to Albany, and then ride the last 35 miles home. We have also ridden home from the airport.

We always use Iceland Air. the cost for a bike was $128 on our flight to Paris in 2018. We try to end our tours at airports where we know bike boxes are available. Schiphol, and Frankfort have boxes. However, Franfort is not bike friendly. The Netherlands is always a nice place to end a tour. I'd also suggest that if you have not used an airport before, arrive a day or two early and actually ride out to it, and check out the place where you purchase the boxes, find your ticket counter, and generally have a plan on how things should go on the day of the flight.

Make sure your bike is well packed. This will allow the bike to be transported and stored in any position without causing damage.


This is the best configuration for getting as bike through an airport that I have tried. It is easier to go through doorways, getting into and out of elevators, and navigating crowded terminals.

This box was on 4 different flights to get from Portland to Lisbon: PDX to Seattle, Seattle to Iceland, Iceland to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Lisbon. It looks a little beat up, but the bike was OK. Tape the box so that it is easy for the TSA/ security folks to inspect the contents. They usually do a better job of retaping that I would have done.


They are good folks! Put a lable on the box with your name and contact informantion. Also the flight numbers if you know them.


Last edited by Doug64; 11-22-19 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 11-22-19, 06:43 PM
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Doug,
That looks like Schipol airport! We flew from there in August after cycling from Helsinki.
We have used Iceland Air the last 2 years. We prepaid our baggage fees and got a discount. I like their generous bike box size. Plus we have used the plastic bag system.
Planning another Europe tour for next year and plan to go Iceland Air again.
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Old 11-22-19, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Doug,
That looks like Schipol airport! We flew from there in August after cycling from Helsinki.
We have used Iceland Air the last 2 years. We prepaid our baggage fees and got a discount. I like their generous bike box size. Plus we have used the plastic bag system.
Planning another Europe tour for next year and plan to go Iceland Air again.
It is Schiphol. We've flown into it once and left Europe from there 3 times. It is really bike friendly. We also took advantage of Iceland Air's free stop-over offer, and spent a few days in Iceland.
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Old 11-23-19, 07:12 AM
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This last time,with our bikes in bags, the Iceland Air rep made sure we deflated the tires. I mean she stood there over my shoulder watching!
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Old 11-23-19, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
This last time,with our bikes in bags, the Iceland Air rep made sure we deflated the tires. I mean she stood there over my shoulder watching!
That's standard, taking air out of tires is what we should always do. Reduced air pressure in hold will cause air in tires to expand, risking a blow out. Why risk damaging your tubes and tires?
I once drove from sea level to about 10,000ft for a back packing trip, and when we got to the trail head, our 1 litre nalgenes in the trunk looked like marshmallows, I'm still amazed that they didn't split, which would have ruined our 3 day hike....

I don't let all air out, but a good amount, leave some as cushion for rims and bike with rough handling.

Flying is serious business, if an aircrew heard an explosion sound in flight, they would rightly immediately detour to the nearest airport.

Have you ever heard a bike tire blow and it sounds like a gunshot?
I have and I'm sure we all have. I've been half a block away and its like a rifle shot.

Be responsible and take air out of your tires.
It's unlikely a blow out will happen, but how would you feel to miss a connecting flight or miss a days vacation or a business or family meeting or a funeral,

Last edited by djb; 11-23-19 at 07:31 AM.
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Old 11-23-19, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
That's standard, taking air out of tires is what we should always do. Reduced air pressure in hold will cause air in tires to expand, risking a blow out. Why risk damaging your tubes and tires?
...

Be responsible and take air out of your tires.
It's unlikely a blow out will happen, but how would you feel to miss a connecting flight or miss a days vacation or a business or family meeting or a funeral,
Nice theory but if you put the numbers in it makes very little sense. If you pump your tires to 70psi that is the difference between the pressure in your tires and atmospheric pressure at the ground level. At cruising altitudes cabin pressure drops from about 14 to about 11.5 psi. If you think extra 3.5psi can cause your tire to blow don't seat on the bike as the extra load of your weigh will give a comparable increase.
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Old 11-23-19, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
That's standard, taking air out of tires is what we should always do. Reduced air pressure in hold will cause air in tires to expand, risking a blow out. Why risk damaging your tubes and tires?
...,
I think it is not a concern, if your tire has say 60 psi in it, at airline elevation it will probably be 65 psi.

I deflate my tires for air travel because I have to to fit the wheels in the S&S case, but if I had a choice I would not.

That said, some airline security personnel will deflate them if they do an inspection because no compressed gasses are supposed to be on an airplane.
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Old 11-23-19, 09:18 AM
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I admit I know nothing of the actual pressures involved in baggage areas, and its probably a super precaution, as TMSN says about the general rule about compressed gasses.
I do always think of my nalgene example, and figure, hey why not, reduce the pressures as its required and Im always asked at bike box inspections if I have deflated tires (I nearly always have had to take my bike box myself to the oversize section, and as it doesnt fit into their x ray machine, they physically open and inspect box) then its done and all goes smoothly with the inspectors.
A few minutes of pumping doesnt concern me post flight, so in the end, its not an issue for me.
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Old 11-23-19, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
... and Im always asked at bike box inspections if I have deflated tires ....
I have never been asked and only once was my S&S case openned up for inspection. Since mine were deflated for the time they were inspected, I have no clue how much of a concern it is, but if they ask you about tire pressure then it probably is a good idea to deflate them so they do not think you are trying to sneak something else past them.
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Old 11-23-19, 12:41 PM
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I don't believe that I have ever been asked about tire pressure on the bikes when flying. However, I do reduce the pressure, just in case I'm asked.

In my brief racing "careeer", my wife, kids and I drove up to Seattle the day before the race. At the motel that evening I decided to inflate my tires (sew-ups,120 psi) before going to bed to save some time in the morning. I leaned my bike against the wall with the front wheel close to the heater register, and about midnight I heard the explosion that djb mentioned. So much for saving time, but who knows, it might have failed the next day
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Old 11-23-19, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
, I have no clue how much of a concern it is, but if they ask you about tire pressure then it probably is a good idea to deflate them so they do not think you are trying to sneak something else past them.
That's pretty much my take on it, do as asked so that all goes smoothly and friendly.
And I've been asked every flight for the last three or four trips.
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Old 11-24-19, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I do always think of my nalgene example, and figure, hey why not[...]
The problem with the analogy is that we are not talking about just the tube but the tube and the tire. The latter is designed for one reason, take the outward pressure of the tube and transfer it to the rim. It can handle the pressure up to the max pressure written on the side wall and then some and if you don't get to within 3psi of it you will be fine. If you do, you will be fine as well as max psi have at least 10-20psi tolerance to account for the weigh/load. If it was just a tube (which is on many ways resembles the no nalgene example, it will be a different story...

But I agree, why not... Just don't tell us it is our moral responsibility...
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Old 11-24-19, 10:31 PM
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Riceowls, fair enough.
I was simply trying to imagine why we get asked to take air out of the tires, and figured my perhaps wrongly imagined scenario could happen.
But I could be completely wrong, sure wouldn't be the first time.

For the person asking about taking a bike, certainly doing a proper job boxing your bike to avoid damage is way more important.
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