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Bike Box recommendation?

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Bike Box recommendation?

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Old 11-18-12, 11:52 AM
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radshark
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Bike Box recommendation?

Hi,

I'm thinking of doing some travelling and bringing my bicycle (road bike) with me. I've noticed in some touring pictures some savvy travellers using cardboard boxes. However, they are touring and can not lug around plastic cases. I've heard that plastic boxes are preferred (naturally) when travelling on air lines.

What is the least expensive and reliable way to ship your bicycle overseas?

Cheers,
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Old 11-18-12, 03:13 PM
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I would bet the cheapest and most reliable way is to bring it on the plane with you.
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Old 11-18-12, 03:46 PM
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Check with your carrier, some airlines make you sign a damage waiver with a cardboard box, so if they break it, they are not responsible for it.

For a road bike, if there isn't a problem with box storage during the trip, I would use a hard plastic case. I bought mine used on craigslist for half price.

There are soft cases available too, I haven't used one, people say they work, but they make me nervous.
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Old 11-18-12, 04:08 PM
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I learn how to pack a bike so It won't be very easily damaged..
last Trip I checked into SFO,with a 2nd hand Amtrak Box,
the Aircarrier wanted to sniff my empty MSR stove bottle and so forth,
and as a result gave me a fresh Box...

I have returned Via AMS and bought a box from KLM for about 20 Guilders
yup, PreEuro..

key, lots of packing tape and Zip tie things to the frame so If the carton Holes ,
nothing will fall out.

Roll up tubes of cardboard for cross braces.. and if you remove the wheels put a block
in the dropouts so there is not going to be a crushing of the dropouts.
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Old 11-18-12, 06:04 PM
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For cases I'd suggest looking on Craigslist. I got an older Serfas case (the one with padlock loops) and added a set of fork/dropout blocks. I've used this case for my road bike but I never flew with my touring rig, the only box it has been in is the Amtrak box.

The key to travling oversees is to find bicycle friendly airlines. Last time I went with KLM but they changed their sporting goods policy since then.
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Old 11-19-12, 06:44 AM
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The choice depends on a few factors. The biggest is how well can you deal with the case when you are traveling. If you always fly to and from the same location and travel frequently enough to justify the cost a hard case is probably a slam dunk.

If you will fly into one place travel some considerable distance and fly home from another a hard case suddenly becomes a huge problem. This will often be the case for many tourists, but may not be for you.

A cardboard box works fine as long as you pack the bike sensibly.

A soft case is kind of a middle ground since it could possibly be carried along on the bike or more likely be mailed ahead.
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Old 11-19-12, 01:05 PM
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1. What are you planning to do? Your original post seems to differentiate yourself from the cardboard box crowd that tours. As noted, you can travel and tour with a plastic case if you will be doing a supported trip that carries/stores the box or an unsupported loop. I have done both in Europe. For the loop, I started and ended at a campground that was willing to store my box for me without charge.

2. As noted, carboard boxes work fine if the box is properly boxed. Remember that there is a halfway decent chance that your bike travelled from a far away land to you or your local bike shop in a cardboard box via boat and then via truck and possibly even train as well.

3. If you are looking for an plastic case, CrateWorks makes a large, "semi-hard" case that's not as expensive as many hardcases. Despite its size, it is still under the max dimensions allowed by airlines such as Southwest. Saw lots of people using them on Cycle Oregon this year.
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Old 11-19-12, 11:41 PM
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Cardboard box works just fine. I boxed mine up 5 times this year in various boxes and had no issues problems whatsoever. The boxes are usually free from an LBS. I grab one from an LBS, fold it up as much as possible, shove it my pannier and cycle to the airport/train station where I do the disassembly game. Get the biggest box you can get ahold of too, box sizes do vary quite a bit.

Best tip is throw all your gear inside the bike box. Saves you a piece of luggage to check in and protects you bike
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Old 11-20-12, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by SparkyGA View Post
Best tip is throw all your gear inside the bike box. Saves you a piece of luggage to check in and protects you bike
Two reasons that might not be the best idea...
  1. Most airlines have a 50 pound limit for your bike box. It would be pretty easy to go over so be careful about that.
  2. TSA will be more likely to tear everything apart. I consider them a bigger risk than the baggage handlers, since all of the bike damage I have had was due to them.
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Old 11-20-12, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by SparkyGA View Post
Cardboard box works just fine. I boxed mine up 5 times this year in various boxes and had no issues problems whatsoever. The boxes are usually free from an LBS. I grab one from an LBS, fold it up as much as possible, shove it my pannier and cycle to the airport/train station where I do the disassembly game. Get the biggest box you can get ahold of too, box sizes do vary quite a bit.

Best tip is throw all your gear inside the bike box. Saves you a piece of luggage to check in and protects you bike
Worked great for me. Put my bike tools, bottles and panniers in the box for 44 lbs.

Bike shops throw out bike boxes everyday.

Plan on it being laid on its side in the plane.
Protect the derallier and place a spacer inbetween the forks.

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Old 11-20-12, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
TSA will be more likely to tear everything apart. I consider them a bigger risk than the baggage handlers, since all of the bike damage I have had was due to them.

+1. We caught a very early flight back from Portland after CO this year. Lot's of people checking bikes. When we brought our bike boxes to the 300 lb. (literally) TSA gorilla who looked like he had had a late night was in the process of forcing someone else's bike box lid closed, repeatedly forcing it down until he was able to secure the straps.
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Old 11-20-12, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Protect the derallier
Maybe even think about removing it. I usually take out the single bolt that attaches it to the drop out. I leave the chain and shift cable attached, slip a plastic bag over it, and use cable ties to attach it between the rear dropouts. I personally consider that even more important than the spacer between the fork dropouts.
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Old 11-29-12, 08:28 AM
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I have flown with cardboard boxes (touring bike and trailer) and with my carbon fibre bike in a Scicon AeroComfort Plus Bike Bag. I make my choice depending on my plans at the end of the flight but based on my limited experiences I would probably go the boxes over the bag.

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Old 11-29-12, 09:53 AM
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1. Choose your airline carefully. Some charge lots for bicycles, some charge nothing, and most charge somewhere in between.

2. Read this to get an idea of what each airline charges, then check the airline's website for more detail and any updated information: http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

3. Read the information about weight and size restrictions for bicycle boxes ... be sure to read the bicycle section, not just the oversized and overweight luggage sections.

4. Get to the airport very early, be happy, friendly, polite, helpful through the process.

5. Cardboard works just fine ... it can help to wrap the bicycle in foam or bubble wrap and to ziptie parts together. Also be sure to tape smaller items to some part of the bicycle, or put them securely into the panniers you're using as extra padding. There are holes in cardboard boxes and small items can drop out.

6. If you really want a hardshell case, rent whatever your local bicycle shop has. Mine had a $5 rental fee ... I could do a lot of flights before I came anywhere close to the full price of a hardshell case.
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Old 11-29-12, 12:53 PM
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I pick up a Santanna tandem box from a not so local bike shop, then cut it down to fit my bike. It is large enough that I can leave on no wheels, the rear wheel only or both wheels, depending on how big a box I can expect the airline to accept. When I have flown they have had a fixed price of $100 to carry a bike.
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Old 11-29-12, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
1. Choose your airline carefully. Some charge lots for bicycles, some charge nothing, and most charge somewhere in between.

2. Read this to get an idea of what each airline charges, then check the airline's website for more detail and any updated information: http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

3. Read the information about weight and size restrictions for bicycle boxes ... be sure to read the bicycle section, not just the oversized and overweight luggage sections.

4. Get to the airport very early, be happy, friendly, polite, helpful through the process.

5. Cardboard works just fine ... it can help to wrap the bicycle in foam or bubble wrap and to ziptie parts together. Also be sure to tape smaller items to some part of the bicycle, or put them securely into the panniers you're using as extra padding. There are holes in cardboard boxes and small items can drop out.

6. If you really want a hardshell case, rent whatever your local bicycle shop has. Mine had a $5 rental fee ... I could do a lot of flights before I came anywhere close to the full price of a hardshell case.
+1

This is your best advice...

A cardboard box, bubble wrap, duct tape, and zip ties, go a long way...

PS.

I personally, first duct tape over any sharp edges or protrusions, before I start with any bubble wrap!
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Old 11-29-12, 07:35 PM
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Remember you might use the box for in country travel too. Check the dimensions of the box you intend to buy against UPS / Fedex or what ever you use in your country. I picked up a used Team case and it is about 1 inch over the oversize limit for shipping companies.
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Old 11-29-12, 08:08 PM
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Remember you might use the box for in country travel too. Check the dimensions of the box you intend to buy against UPS / Fedex or what ever you use in your country. I picked up a used Team case and it is about 1 inch over the oversize limit for shipping companies.
Airlines also have size limits. It pays to do your homework. We FEDXed our bike on our last tour. My bike cost $100 more to ship than my wife's bike because I exceeded the seemingly arbitrary size limit. Her 47 cm bike fit in a much smaller box than my 58 cm.

I have had pretty positive experiences with TSA. I don't put much tape on the side I want them to open it from, and if possible talk to them while they are looking in the box. Machka's advice about smiling and being friendly is good advice.



All of the above suggestions plus a few.


Cardboard works fine for one-way travel. This box was on 5 different flights to get us to the start of our tour. While it looks beat up , the bike was just fine. The empty pannniers and helmet go inside the box.


Don't forget the tools to put it back together at your destination.

Last edited by Doug64; 11-29-12 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 11-29-12, 08:48 PM
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I have taken to using saren or cling wrap to put around stuff like the front wheel, the seat, handlebars, pedals, and other odds and sods.

I figure that cling wrap, as the next best thing to shrink wrap, is what a LOT of freighted stuff has around it, and it works. It protects items from rubbing directly on each other, and is easier to seal off than bubblewrap -- just rip it off the roll, and that's it!

+1 on checking the size of your box, too. I picked up two from an LBS for our bikes before this trip, but didn't check them for fit until the night before leaving... which presented some problems because the bikes wouldn't fit.

Fortunately, some airlines sell boxes at the airport, and that fixed the issue...
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Old 11-30-12, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Fortunately, some airlines sell boxes at the airport, and that fixed the issue...
Last year I was doing some research on that, apparently fairly common some years ago but not so much nowadays even in EuroLand. I guess one could arrange for a bike shop to box up the bike for return trip, involves some planning & perhaps language skills. Would be nice if airlines had a co-operative arrangement to share sturdy plastic bike crates for a rental fee.
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Old 11-30-12, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Last year I was doing some research on that, apparently fairly common some years ago but not so much nowadays even in EuroLand.
Thankfully here in Australia both Qantas and Virgin Australia sell boxes. IIRC they are $15.00 each. I used a Qantas one recently: they are a decent size.





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Old 11-30-12, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Aushiker View Post
Thankfully here in Australia both Qantas and Virgin Australia sell boxes. IIRC they are $15.00 each. I used a Qantas one recently: they are a decent size.
It may depend on the airport (but I don't think so), but our Qantas boxes cost $20 each at Tullamarine. At Heathrow, similar boxes cost 24 pounds each (which works out to around $36 each, IIRC), from the left luggage business there.
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Old 11-30-12, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Maybe even think about removing it. I usually take out the single bolt that attaches it to the drop out. I leave the chain and shift cable attached, slip a plastic bag over it, and use cable ties to attach it between the rear dropouts. I personally consider that even more important than the spacer between the fork dropouts.
This is exactly what I do too.
I do use drop-out spacers as well. Most any bike shop will give you a pair. New bikes come with drop-out spacers and even round plastic things that fit into the hub ends preventing them pushing through your cardboard box. Bike shops just throw these things away.

If you have a¨closed-cell sleeping pad, you can wrap that around your bike as well - another layer of protection.

Last edited by imi; 11-30-12 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 11-30-12, 10:20 PM
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Some airline's boxes are as large as Amtrak's boxes, allowing you to just loosen the stem and remove the pedals and roll your bike into the box.

My bike in the background is just the way it came out of the box. No protective wrap or other protection. The bikes were packed this way on a return trip from Europe. They arrived late, but in good shape. We were a little concerned, as we had another 125 miles to ride from the airport to our home.

The Portland, Oregon Airport has a bike work station on the lower level of the airport. Other airports have similar place where bikes can be packed and unpacked.
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Old 11-30-12, 10:28 PM
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But you do have to be careful with the really big boxes. I got one from United Airlines when I flew from Sydney, NSW to Los Angeles, CA which was huge. I pretty much just rolled my bicycle in. But the box was really too big, and very difficult to transport around the airport ... and then kind of collapsed in the middle and developed a hole. Nothing too bad happened (broke an expensive light), but by the time I collected the box in LA and then transferred it to a flight to Calgary and collected it there, the box was really hard to handle because it was well on its way to disintegrating.
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