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Storage : storing or shipping surplus gear while on a long term stay in France.

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Storage : storing or shipping surplus gear while on a long term stay in France.

Old 12-06-23, 02:59 AM
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Storage : storing or shipping surplus gear while on a long term stay in France.

Completing bike tours overseas can be difficult in terms of what to do with extra gear during a long stay. My problem is shipping bikes overseas for a long-term stay when one does not have a single destination for multiple weeks. Three times I shipped my bikes overseas. Always France and in the past either British Air or Air Tahiti Nui. Two times British Air beat the heck out of my bikes. One time so damaged my bike, and I crushed the spokes and twisted the fork. That time caused me to have to find a bike shop for repairs while the rest of my group., started the tour and I had to catch up. The next time, less damage, still delayed our start a couple of days. The third time, Air Tahiti Nui failed to unload my bike, sending it to Tahiti. After long delays, I got it back.

I will be staying near Perpignan, Beaune, and La Rochelle for six weeks.

My situation. I do not trust cardboard bike boxes. Within those boxes, the box was so damaged, I am surprised my Accessories did not fall out.

Why do I take my bike, I am staying in three different locations over six weeks. Renting a bike on our tour is out of the question. Now, I travel with a hard case. ( While on tour, we won't have a car.) Last time, I paid over 500 euros to keep my hard case at the Paris Airport.

Has anyone found reasonable safe storage in Paris while in other parts of France. ? I could ship my hard case to friends in the south of France, where I will later be. Has anyone found shippers in France that will transport large packages the size of a bicycle within France at a reasonable price? Not all carriers will transport a package as a bike as a bike. I can't take my hard case to our first destination, Beaune, because it is a circle tour and we will not have a car. Ideas please. If only I trusted cardboard boxes, that would be my easiest fix. From My experience, I do not. My carrier to Paris this time will be Air France. An airline with which I have never shipped a bike.

Sometimes, I think of giving a cardboard box another try. Has anyone had Air France treat their bikes poorly?

Thanks.
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Old 12-06-23, 06:46 AM
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Have you tried asking hotels or hostels if they will store the case? Yes, you would be paying for a night there on each end of your trip, but you probably want to do that anyway. I make my requests by e-mail and I include dimensions. Then if they offer to do that by e-mail, you have written documentation that they will do so in case you need that when you arrive.

When I went to Iceland, the hostel quoted me a storage fee for four weeks in a storage area that only staff had access to that was about the same cost as one night of lodging, in addition to my lodging costs there. Maybe you could find something equivalent in France?

Some hostels will give you free storage for a cardboard box that is flattened, but not a hard case that is much bigger. On my Iceland trip, I took out the side pieces from my S&S Backpack case to flatten it, the hostel allowed be to store it for free where others stored their flattened cardboard boxes.

If you know of a bike shop in Paris that specializes in touring, ask them if they can suggest a good place to store the case for minimal fees. I sent an e-mail to a bike shop in Halifax Nova Scotia, they offered to store my case for free at the bike shop.
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Old 12-06-23, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Completing bike tours overseas can be difficult in terms of what to do with extra gear during a long stay. My problem is shipping bikes overseas for a long-term stay when one does not have a single destination for multiple weeks. Three times I shipped my bikes overseas. Always France and in the past either British Air or Air Tahiti Nui. Two times British Air beat the heck out of my bikes. One time so damaged my bike, and I crushed the spokes and twisted the fork. That time caused me to have to find a bike shop for repairs while the rest of my group., started the tour and I had to catch up. The next time, less damage, still delayed our start a couple of days. The third time, Air Tahiti Nui failed to unload my bike, sending it to Tahiti. After long delays, I got it back.

I will be staying near Perpignan, Beaune, and La Rochelle for six weeks.

My situation. I do not trust cardboard bike boxes. Within those boxes, the box was so damaged, I am surprised my Accessories did not fall out.

Why do I take my bike, I am staying in three different locations over six weeks. Renting a bike on our tour is out of the question. Now, I travel with a hard case. ( While on tour, we won't have a car.) Last time, I paid over 500 euros to keep my hard case at the Paris Airport.

Has anyone found reasonable safe storage in Paris while in other parts of France. ? I could ship my hard case to friends in the south of France, where I will later be. Has anyone found shippers in France that will transport large packages the size of a bicycle within France at a reasonable price? Not all carriers will transport a package as a bike as a bike. I can't take my hard case to our first destination, Beaune, because it is a circle tour and we will not have a car. Ideas please. If only I trusted cardboard boxes, that would be my easiest fix. From My experience, I do not. My carrier to Paris this time will be Air France. An airline with which I have never shipped a bike.

Sometimes, I think of giving a cardboard box another try. Has anyone had Air France treat their bikes poorly?

Thanks.
your multiple experiences of damage could suggest that you are not packing your bike properly, and in general it is not a good idea to have loose items in the bike box along with your bike in case a small hole happens.
All I can say is that I have flown with a bike in a cardboard box many, many times over the last 30+ years, and choosing the right size box for the bike (so the bike is not able to move around at all) and studying and copying how a brand new bicycle is packed in a cardboard box to be shipped from country of origin to the eventual bicycle store to be sold-- this has meant that SO FAR (I emphasis this because I realize one day something will possibly happen to my bike) my bike has never been damaged.

I am really sorry that you've had problems, but my experience shows that usually it is ok

I cannot emphasis enough the importance of HOW one packs the bike in, using common sense so that if the box falls over, falls off a conveyor belt, heavy things are put on top of it while it is laying down (suitcases) it is packed in such a way to minimize the risk of one part smashing into another part, or whatever.

hey, there are no guarantees in life, but we can do the best we can to minimize the risks
-hopefully only having one leg of a flight, so bike box is not transferred out of one plane, into an airport baggage facility, then out into another plane--doubles the risk
-really being smart and packing your bike just like a brand new bike is packed (millions of bikes are shipped each year to stores, it is in everyones best interest not to have damage, so they have figured out the best way to pack them--copy this)
-reinforce all contact points and grab holes with lots of tape
-use foam bits as cushion (I put some under the fork)
-remove rear derailleur or at least put it in the most inward position, chain on largest cog at back
-use ALL the hard plastic bits to protect fork, rear derailleur, rotors, etc etc
-use a black marker to indicate "THIS WAY UP" if the box does not have clear words on it showing which way is up.

Last edited by djb; 12-06-23 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 12-06-23, 08:14 AM
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oh, I should add that I have always heard good things about Air France and bikes, but I realize that if you are flying from the UK, you will always still be dealing with probably Heathrows super busy airport, with baggage handlers who possibly give less of a rats ass about their job, and let's face it, how a bike is treated comes down to luck of the baggage handlers that day and if they are angry that day, and or don't give a shyte about anything.......

oh, I should clarify, when I mention the right cardboard box size, I mean so that the bike fits in with idealy very little space left in front of the fork, with the rear wheel up against the rear of the box--so that the bike is very securely fit in the box. I have old pieces of blue foam that I use under the fork to help with this. Some cardboard boxes Ive used already have some white pieces of foam glued into that area where fork touches the bottom of box--but that is easy for you to improvise.

at a bike store, I've had the owner remove a brand new bike from a box, and I took photos of how it was packed, and used this as a template of how to pack my bike
** buy a bag of zip ties, these are super important to keep things together and tight, so no movement.

good luck with your predicament, hopefully you can find an affordable shipping company to ship your solid case, you've got the darn thing, it would be great to be able to use it and not spend a fortune.
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Old 12-06-23, 08:20 AM
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Are you a member of warmshowers or couchsurfing? I've used both to find people who are willing to store a hard-sided bike box. I've also used hotels, as was suggested Tourist in MSN. I've never done this for 6 weeks, but I have done it for 4 without difficulty, though at one hotel in Vienna the employees were vocally relieved when I picked up my bike case!
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Old 12-06-23, 08:45 AM
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I've flown with bikes to France several times (10+) and never had damage. I simply wrap the bike(s) in either a padded flight bag or a simple Renko (thin nylon) bag. I use sleeping pads (foam) draped over the frame, and perhaps a few pipe insulation sleeves over tubing. Only once did I box my bike and my experience mirrors yours (because handlers have a difficult time holding the box, whereas bags make it easier to grab the bike?).

hmmm... Perhaps get in touch with one of the hotels in Roissy and ask them if you could leave your cases there. We find the CDG Ibis to be quite convenient (no need to take a cab to reach it; the nearby Novotel is a bit nicer, and there's the Sheraton right at the center of terminal 2) and were able to leave our bikes in their storage room the night before our flight. Not obvious that they could provide long term storage, but definitely worth asking. There are many hotels in nearby Tremblay-en-France that you could also try, but I'd dread the logistics (shuttles won't take your boxed bikes, and IIRC taxi-vans charge very high preset fares).

So... since you've once paid 500 euros to ship your hard shell cases, perhaps ask the Sheraton first, and then the Novotel and the Ibis. Or consider using soft shells.

Have a great trip (Beaune is very nice
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Old 12-06-23, 01:26 PM
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Djb mentioned the way manufacturers pack bikes. At this thread I have photos of how my bike was packed by the manufacturer when they shipped it, I was the one that took it out of the box, I took photos before I did any unpacking of it.
Help!! Need to pack my bike to 62" linear inches to avoid high oversize fee
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Old 12-06-23, 01:34 PM
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Thanks all

Some good ideas here The time my bike suffered the most damage, I had my bike encased in a thin sleeping bag. This trip is currently in the planning stage but our actual one week Burgundy tour is paid for . Why shipping the hard case to friends near Perpignan has appeal, I might return via Barcelona
The mail service, I doubt accepts parcels that large.
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Old 12-06-23, 01:35 PM
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I doubt if thereís any difference between how airlines treat baggage, as the handling is done by the airportís staff.

Iíve never done it, but using two cardboard boxes, one inside the other, would increase protection considerably.

Campsites are often willing (and have space) to store bikes and boxes.

Once, some twenty years ago, I sent a bike in a box with the regular french postal service.

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Old 12-06-23, 02:14 PM
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Nice

I was at baggage at the Nice airport, where I found score of spokes bent. At the baggage, there were a couple of Italian cyclists waiting for their bags.
They witnessed my ripped cardboard case ,/ amazing how many Italians speak English /. Their comment to me, I'll never forget, " British Air". ). They shared with me. They had seen packages fall off of the conveyor belt, loading the plane. Guess, just my bad luck.
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Old 12-06-23, 02:34 PM
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I brought back two mountain bikes from Bangalore to Austin via a four-hop flight (Bangalore to Frankfort to Washington DC to Houston to Austin).

I tried having the baggage handlers at the Bangalore airport wrap them with that plastic (they thought it was a lot more interesting than doing suitcases because they could do it by hand). After that also wrapped with cardboard pieces. I made my four hops, but one of the connections was tight and my bicycles were delivered several days later.

I wouldn't recommend this as a packing approach and below is a picture of how the bicycles looked on delivery . However, despite the picture below showing the packing material, I assembled the bikes without other damage. Similarly, I've flown with my bike 20+ times and had an aluminum top-tube dented once but otherwise not had damage to the bikes on flying with a cardboard box. I generally pack only the bike in the box and don't put other stuff in there. I've used zip ties or duct tape to hold things like the seat post+seat against the frame or the handle bars once removed.

It does sound like you are less lucky than some of us in having bicycles damaged while flying.
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Old 12-06-23, 02:54 PM
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The simplest solution may be to fly to Perpignan near your friends. Leave the case at their place. Then take a train with your bike to your first starting point. Of course, you're going to have to get your case to your departure airport, too. Another reason to fly roundtrip to Perpignan. You wrote that you "might return via Barcelona", which implies you haven't purchased a plane ticket yet.

BTW, have you asked your friends in France for suggestions? They'd probably be a better source of ideas and information than us random bikeforums folks. Have you looked at the websites of shipping companies such as DHL & UPS? I believe that both of those companies do domestic shipping within France. The DHL website has an estimator where you can enter the weight, dimensions, shipping location, & destination.
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Old 12-06-23, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by imi
I doubt if thereís any difference between how airlines treat baggage, as the handling is done by the airportís staff.
....
Perhaps that is the case in Europe, but in USA the airline employees load the luggage onto the plane and off of the plane. Exactly where airport employees and airline employees meet in the process I do not know.
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Old 12-06-23, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
The simplest solution may be to fly to Perpignan near your friends..
I don't think that there are flights leaving from Paris CDG to Perpignan/Rivesaltes (PGF). Flying to PGF is done from Orly, but CDG > ORY with bikes brings images of the Darien Gap
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Old 12-06-23, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins
I don't think that there are flights leaving from Paris CDG to Perpignan/Rivesaltes (PGF). Flying to PGF is done from Orly, but CDG > ORY with bikes brings images of the Darien Gap
You're right, no direct flights from CDG to Perpignan. So the OP can either take the RER from CDG to Orly (admittedly a shlep), or take the TGV directly from Terminal 2 at CDG to Perpignan, with a transfer that's probably easier than the RER trip. Anyway, I don't think there's any magic bullet for the OP's dilemma.

A friend & I once flew on Air France with our bikes from CDG to Tunisia. My bike was a Bike Friday in a suitcase, so no problem. My friend had a hard case. Also no problem, but I don't recall if he had to pay extra. I had contacted a hotel in Tunis and asked if they could store my suitcase and my friend's hard case. Yes, they could, and they did so for no charge. Of course, we stayed at the hotel at the beginning and end of the trip.

BTW, I flew with my bike in a box many times before I bought a Bike Friday. Like djb, I never had damage when my bike was in a box. The one time I had serious damage was when my bike was in a clear polyethylene bag issued by an airline. That airline no longer exists.
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Old 12-08-23, 09:08 AM
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  • I flew from Rome to Shanghai with my beater college commuting Colnago frame (Mexican Colnago) wrapped in cling wrap from the airport wrapping service. The derailleur hanger arrived bent, an easy repair.
  • I flew from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar withy bike packed in an S&S backpack case. One of the fork canti studs arrived loose. I had it welded at a truck repair shop.
  • I flew from Newfoundland to Toronto with a bike shop packed cardboard box. The box arrived with one side torn wide open. My pedals and small parts were missing. Luckily the saddle and seatpost didn't fall out.
  • I flew from Singapore to Shanghai with my bike totally unpackaged. The airport staff simply rolled my bike away. The bike arrived unscathed.
  • When I had to store a bike box in Taiwan, I gave it to a random Taiwanese passenger I met at the airport. He was a priest and a fellow cycling enthusiast, lived near the airport.
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Old 12-08-23, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
  • I flew from Rome to Shanghai with my beater college commuting Colnago frame (Mexican Colnago) wrapped in cling wrap from the airport wrapping service. The derailleur hanger arrived bent, an easy repair.
  • I flew from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar withy bike packed in an S&S backpack case. One of the fork canti studs arrived loose. I had it welded at a truck repair shop.
  • I flew from Newfoundland to Toronto with a bike shop packed cardboard box. The box arrived with one side torn wide open. My pedals and small parts were missing. Luckily the saddle and seatpost didn't fall out.
  • I flew from Singapore to Shanghai with my bike totally unpackaged. The airport staff simply rolled my bike away. The bike arrived unscathed.
  • When I had to store a bike box in Taiwan, I gave it to a random Taiwanese passenger I met at the airport. He was a priest and a fellow cycling enthusiast, lived near the airport.
my take on things is to control things to the best ability we can--so for pedals and small parts, it's a no brainer to NOT have them in the bike box as it's just increasing the risk of losing them if the bike box gets caught on something in the conveyor process and a hole appears (or left on wet tarmac and cardboard gets softened, increasing risk of a tear). This is why I really tape up the two bottom corners, as it is logical that the box may very well get dragged on rough pavement, also tape layers help with less tear incidents--especially around the four "grab" hand holes. Taking a few minutes and tape is totally worth it.

re pedals and skewers, I have always just logically put them into my baggage, either carry on or checked luggage--why not do this?
I do often put my tent in with the bike, but strapped to the top of my rear rack, and my seatpost and seat on my frame luckily just clears the top of the box by lowering the seatpost all the way.
I also use zipties to solidly hold any bits in place, like the handlebars, and of course the front wheel held solidly in the middle of the frame triangle, using small foam pieces and zip ties to tightly hold it up against the frame in two places, with the mostly deflated tire up against the crank and bb area----again, this is how new bikes are shipped, so just copy their tried and true technique.

I still say that there is always a "hit and miss" thing going on with the actual individuals actually manhandling your bike box, or bike in a plastic bag if you want to go that route (which I have never done, not comfortable with that personally)

so no guarantees at all, we can just properly pack in the smartest way we can, and then just cross our fingers as soon as the bike goes out of our sight down the conveyor belt (I have also tended to look up a few bike stores in the city where I am arriving in case I ever unfortunately need to deal with any damage, just to save some time and hassle).

touch wood touch wood touch wood.
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Old 12-08-23, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
my take on things is to control things to the best ability we can--so for pedals and small parts, it's a no brainer to NOT have them in the bike box as it's just increasing the risk of losing them if the bike box gets caught on something in the conveyor process and a hole appears (or left on wet tarmac and cardboard gets softened, increasing risk of a tear).
It wasn't packed by me. It was packed by the bike shop. The torn box wasn't their fault but it wasn't the only problem. Didn't remove the derailleurs so both bikes arrived with hangers bent inward. Unbolted the dynamo lights, but didn't secure the lights and just left them dangling by the wire freely inside the box. That's just asking for the wire to be ripped out of the bottom of the light. Thankfully it didn't happen. Didn't remove front fenders. Front fenders are lower than the fork dropout. If you don't take the fender off, the bottom of the fender gets mangled. But it wasn't the mechanic's fender, right? It was my fender, not his, so why should he care? "Not his problem" was his attitude, because he only cares about getting home. Didn't put dropout spacers in the dropouts. The fork ends were just sitting on the floor of the box. That's probably what started the hole that eventually tore. And if my dropouts are crushed? Again, not his problem because I flew away right? So how am I going to go back and yell at him?

A certain bike shop in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I said Newfoundland before, my mistake. Only bike shop in town so it's not hard to figure out which one it is, and it's not like you have a choice to go anywhere else anyway. Left them a review on Google Maps and the manager apologized under my review, so there's that. Hopefully they'll improve their procedure going forward.

Last edited by Yan; 12-08-23 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 12-08-23, 10:04 AM
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We purchased Bike Friday folding bikes this year and they have been a revelation. Makes flying and riding so much easier - no need for bigger vehicles to go to/from the airport, no special handling requirements at the airport, secure hard suitcases with packing materials to protect the bike, and quicker assembly/disassembly than break-apart frames. And most importantly, they ride great, like a good steel bike.

If you are starting and ending in different places, you still have the challenge of getting the suitcases to your point of departure, but I'd imagine the logistics of shipping suitcases to your departure hotel or post office not prohibitively challenging.


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Old 12-08-23, 11:44 AM
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Yan, unless you arrived at 16h30 and expected the job to be done by 17h , that's an entirely unprofessional job. Basic common sense stuff.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I save and carry the key plastic protective bits, fork dropout brace, rear derailleur protector, front wheel disc protector with flat part that rests up against the inside of the box.
Ive carried these parts for my bike on trips, also for my wife's bike on trips together.
This is where panniers are handy for road trips because it's easy to have a bit of room for light things like these--crucial to have after sourcing a cardboard box for return flight.
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Old 12-08-23, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
We purchased Bike Friday folding bikes this year and they have been a revelation. Makes flying and riding so much easier - no need for bigger vehicles to go to/from the airport, no special handling requirements at the airport, secure hard suitcases with packing materials to protect the bike, and quicker assembly/disassembly than break-apart frames. And most importantly, they ride great, like a good steel bike.

If you are starting and ending in different places, you still have the challenge of getting the suitcases to your point of departure, but I'd imagine the logistics of shipping suitcases to your departure hotel or post office not prohibitively challenging.
...
Yup. That is why I got S&S couplers on one of my bikes. I have to spend a few more hours for assembly/disassembly than you do with your Bike Friday, but I have all the same advantages that you cite.

I have the S&S Backpack, that is a soft case, but with a DIY center support and some extra coroplast on the large panels, it is essentially a hard case.
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Old 12-08-23, 12:08 PM
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It was a same day job but by no means end of day. We picked up the packed bikes at 4pm. They charged us $90 per bike due to the same day job. I don't mind the price, it's nothing for us, but if they're taking money they should do a proper job.

More and more I'm finding there is simply no point in going to shops for service. Shops can't afford to take the proper amount of time for jobs, so the jobs end up getting rushed. The whole business model needs a rethink.
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Old 12-08-23, 12:16 PM
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Certainly sounds like a lack of pride of workmanship, or some teenager with no clue, and not proper supervision.
I do as much work on my bikes as possible, and make a point of fostering a good relationship with the mechanics who do stuff for me
Tough as you say with a customer you'll never see again, but still a real surprise.
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Old 12-08-23, 01:38 PM
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If a bike shop charged enough per hour for mechanic service to pay a living full time wage and also provide the paid time off that most full time employees expect in other occupations, (and insurance, etc.), the cost for a lot of things that a bike shop does would shock most customers. So, you often get the part timers that had minimal training and erratic craftsmanship. In my part of the world, most bike mechanics only have a half year job and get cut at the end of summer, thus you are getting itinerant labor or summer students. My experience as a bike shop mechanic was the summer before I started college, I was one of those itinerant labor mechanics, I am very happy to have learned the skills that I did that summer. Later in life it saved me a lot of money.

When I built up my rando bike, I do not remember what I paid for headset cup installation, that was the only bike shop service that I paid for. It was a lot of money for only a few minutes of work. Their head mechanic did the work, but that shop is a bike charity and has lower prices than most. At another shop it would have cost much more and I would have had a part timer that might not have known how to do it right.

Those of us that have the knowledge and skill to do most of our own work on a bike are quite fortunate.
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Old 12-08-23, 04:21 PM
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I found Yan 's list quite interesting, where I see no obvious relationship between the type of packaging and damage. mev 's is somewhat similar.

1. My current understanding is that risk factor #1 is, by far, delayed/lost luggage. No evidence on the relationship between packaging and hazard rates. My personal decision rule is to give the highest priority to direct flights, or at a minimum to connectors operated by the same company. I also use BT trackers (eg. airTags)

2. My current understanding is that significant damage (i.e. bent frame, trashed wheels) happens when the bike falls off the belt on its way to/from the hold (and, worst case, is run over by the tractor). In these situations, bags/boxes do not provide enough protection. And instances of major damage to hard shells can be found. In addition, I came across a post written by a baggage handler (I can't locate the post, sorry) saying that hard shells were more slippery than bags and therefore more likely to fall to the ground. Without good data, I can't estimate the hazard reduction provided by hard shells vs boxes vs padded bags vs unpadded bags. I'd bet on a small net reduction. Something like -- a bike flown in an unpadded bag has a 1% probability of significant damage vs a bike flown in a hard shell as a 0.1% hazard rate (i.e. ten times better). Great, but perhaps not great enough. Would be another story if the thin bag rate were 80% vs 8%. But it is not the case. As can be inferred from the numbers below (taken from The Guardian), the probability of delayed luggage is (approx) 1%. The probability of damaged luggage is (approx) 0.1%.
  • Mishandling rates were considerably worse for airlines operating in Europe, with a rate of 15.7 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, compared with 6.35 in North America and 3.04 in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Of the 26m mishandled bags in 2022, 80% were delayed, an increase of 9% on the previous year. Damaged bags accounted for 13% of mishandled bags, while 7% were lost or stolen.
3. I have yet to be denied boarding because our bikes are in flight/renko bags. My understanding is that in case of damage, my bike would not be covered by the airline. However, regulation packed bikes are subject to a liability cap (approx $2000). Exposure differential is not a deciding factor.

4. Hard shell / boxed bikes present a significant logistics hurdle. We ride in/out of terminals, which wouldn't be possible with either alternative. Riding in/out means not wasting one day each way. We also routinely use high speed trains, requiring protective (for others) cover (i.e. a thin bag), so we already have these with us.

Last edited by gauvins; 12-08-23 at 04:40 PM.
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