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Transporting a bicycle by air

19 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi all,

 

I need some advice on transporting a bicycle from Ireland to Germany. My bike is a road bide, so quite delicate, and I need to know how to keep it safe during transport.

 

As I see it I have two main options: a shipping company such as DHL or bringing it in the hold of an aiplane. So if anyone has any preferences there please let me know. The airplane seems cheaper to me (I'll be flying anyway) and there doesn't seem to be a big safety (for the bike) difference.

 

Does anybody know how should I pack the bike? Should I wrap individual parts in bubble wrap? What should I detach and carry separately? I've seen online some suggestions to put the whole bike in a suitcase and not tell the airline that there's a bicycle inside. People say the bike is safer in a case and also you don't pay an extra fee to the airline.

 

Any advice will be appreciated.

Dave.

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Posted

My suggestions are 2nd hand but... my husband takes part in a lot of races, and he always sends his bike by airplane, in a bike box. And it has never arrived in a damaged condition. With a bike box, he just removes the front wheel and saddle, and wraps the mechanisms in a layer of bubble wrap.

 

I dont remember it being hugely expensive to do. And you are in control to some extent in that you check it in and pick it up, same as regular luggage (although usually at a different point in the airport terminal).

 

If I were you, i would make enquiries of the airline first, find out how much they charge for it, it might be cheaper than you imagine.

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Posted

It's €40 to check in a bicycle on the only airline that flies my route. I think that's probably cheaper than shipping it with DHL. But when I was searching for instructions on how to pack the bike I came across a lot of cyclists who are quite militantly against that charge. They all insist if the bike is in a suitcase they should be just allowed to check it in as normal luggage; it is after all lighter than most people's luggage.

 

Thanks for the advice. Would I get a bike box in my local bike shop? I'll have to get bubble wrap somewhere too but obviously it's worth the expense.

 

Does anyone know if a front fork spacer is really necessary? It holds the front forks appart in case they get squeezed during transit.

 

Dave.

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Posted

If you get a rigid bike box you shouldnt need a spacer.

Best have a look on the internet for bike boxes, as well as checking your local shop, they might be able to recommend or order you one, and get you a good deal, if you have a good relationship with them :-)

Or look in the classified ads in bike mags, someone may be selling theirs.

 

I would guess that the airline charge is not for the bike, its for the special handling of the outsized luggage item- the bike bag or box, ie check in at a separate desk, and drop off at a separate point. So if you are cool about dismantling your bike to get it in a normal size rigid suitcase (assuming you can get the frame in), then you just check it in as normal luggage. And dont pay extra.

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Posted

remove pedals

loosen handlebar and turn 90°

remove wheels

remove seat

use the spacers front and rear

think about removing the derailleur, if it gets bent you are out of luck

bubble wrap chain but do not tape up the chain, pain to remove

 

I also remove bottle cages and use pipe insulation to protect the frame then bubble wrap.

Do not put anything loose in the box that can rattle around.

 

You can go to the local bike shop and get a good box for a one time trip -- if they do carbon bikes these boxes are better.

Or you can order a real bike bag or carrier from chainreactioncycles.com or elsewhere.

 

Go take a look at roadbikereview.com for more info on traveling with a bike.

 

DHL - you can insure to the value of the bike,

Airline - travel at your own risk...

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Posted

trico ironcase

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Posted

yes, well. An excellent solution -- I prefer soft cases.

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Posted

I've been doing the bike on airlines thing for years.

 

All you need is a bikebox which can either be an official box sold by the airline or any box a bike arrives at the bike store in. Bike stores will usually disassemble and pack the bike fir €20-30 and throw the box in for free.

 

Make sure you at least halfway deflate your tires as they ride in the uncompressed cargo bay.

 

Pick up a bike wrench and pack it as well as any Allen wrenches you need as these thing are pricy in Germany. (a bike wrench is a special tool for removing the pedals and putting them back on)

 

also you may have to remove the handle bars. If you do this, make sure you put a spacer on the stem to protect your bearings.

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Posted

Some excellent suggestions posted here.

 

I get my boxes from local bikestores for free. They are usually more than happy to supply an extra one. They also give me fork spacers as well as other plastic bits to protect my bike when I take the skewer out of the front wheel.

One thing that I wanted to add was that rather than use bubble wrap I put extra clothes in plastic bags and use them to wrap my bike up with. It allows me to protect my bike and carry one less piece of luggage.

 

In order to fit my bike in the box I take my stem/handlebar, pedals, seat post/saddle, and front wheel off and place them in the box.

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Posted

All good advice. It's worth getting two boxes and using one for packing - in particular, pack the area around the hubs to prevent them punching through the box. Otherwise, I can't improve on the previous suggestions much, maybe suggest you put spacers in any disc brakes to prevent over-excursion of the pistons.

 

For tours where you have to fly to the start, you can discard your packaging at the airport and get a new leftover box wherever you fly home from.

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Posted

I used DHL to ship a bike from the UK to Germany in December, and it was not very expensive -- the bike plus a box of files was about £60. But I used Transglobe for the rate. I've also flown with it several times -- flying with just a cardboard box from the shop can be risky as some airlines (let's just say Air Canada at Pearson, for instance) will just toss them around, no matter how many fragile labels you put on. But if you are touring and riding from your landing point, a cardboard box is pretty much the only option. I don't know that I would put my road bike in just a cardboard box for flying. After several trips with damage, I purchased a soft bike bag to fly to the UK. Must say that it is a lot faster to pack the bike in the bag than a box. Had it back together and out on the road in less than 10 minutes. No damage, but wheels were a little out of true.

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Posted

I've never had damage to a mountain bike while travelling by air - this is testament either to how tough MTBs are, or else my utter paranoia in packing the bike to the nth degree and to hell with weight limits. Either way, I have taken a road bike on a plane twice without incident, but I did add folded cardboard cross-braces to protect the bike (basically layered cardboard columns) to brace the box when laid on its side. Add enough of those and the bike box is virtually impregnable.

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Posted

I just wanted to say a belated thanks for all of the replies.

 

For those who are wondering in future, I ended up using a cardboard bike box from my local bike shop. I supplemented some extra cardboard to prevent the hubs from punching through. I removed the front wheel (didn't use a spacer for the fork), rotated and dropped the handlebars but left them fixed so I didn't need to worry about ball bearings. Similarly dropped the saddle. And as a last step, before putting it all in the box, I bubble wrapped much of the frame and especially the delicate parts. I also affixed the loose front wheel to the frame with cable ties so it wouldn't move about. It wasn't a perfect solution but it worked.

 

One thing I found out at a very late stage was just how big a bike box really is. I couldn't fit it in a large saloon car with the back seat down. I ended up folding it and putting the bike in the boot loose then reassembling the box in the airport carpark and dropping the bike into it before sealing the box. On the German end I picked up the box, brought it to a carpark and unpacked the bike, illegally dumped the box and reassembled the bike so I could push it onto public transport. There wasn't really any room to spare in this box (at least length ways) so I imagine this is a common problem.

 

Dave.

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Posted

I brought a bike on a long-haul flight once, from memory a Lufthansa / Singpore Airlines codeshare.

 

Wrapped it securely in a cardboard bike box provided by the airline, which I was told I didn't need because of the care they gave oversized items.

 

Upon arrival in MUC, there was no sign of the bike, and it ended up getting delivered two days later. No sign of the box, it was completely disintegrated, and parts of the bike were missing.

 

Will be using hard cases in future.

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Posted

Don't tell me that QH moonlights as an air freight handler ...

 

*This is starting to sound like Peter Griffith and the chicken*

post-4788-12810055176092.jpg

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Posted

Has anyone used a bike box on KLM? Any advice would be really appreciated.

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Posted

I've used bike boxes on many airways - Not sure if theres summat about KLM thats different? :)

Up until recently you could take one for free with BA as your 'sporting goods allowance' (sneaky way to double your hold allowance) - Most recently I used Easyjet, much as I hate the company, I booked the bulky luggage in advance and experienced no problems.

 

You should be able to specify when booking what you want to take with you, worst case give them a bell. :)

 

As for the box itself? I usually scrounge an old one from my local bike shop and semi-disassemble, pad and ziptie the bike together, then reseal the box with gaffertape.

There are also bespoke bag options from people like Chain reaction if you want to splash.

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Posted

I brought my bike to the U.S. last summer for 3 weeks in a cardboard bike box on British Airways. The box counted as my single piece of luggage (the full bike, with box, my cycling shoes and assorted other goodies still weighed less than 23kg).

Definitely check on KLMs website. Some of these airlines charge you up to 250€ EACH WAY for a bike. That's crazy.

 

But, the cardboard box was good enough - remove the front wheel, pedals, saddle, turn the handle bars, and pack bubble wrap around the delicate pieces and more cardboard on the wheel hubs. It will be fine.

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Posted

One thing to remember is to reduce the tyre pressures!

Have unhappy memories of having to replace inner tubes at LHR!

BA transported our bikes no problem - but as stated - you have to strip them down a bit.

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