2H4
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Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sat Mar 05, 2005 3:31 pm

I've been told it's very expensive to check a bicycle as luggage. Even if it's packed in a bike box, I understand it's far more expensive to bring along compared to musical instruments, skiis, etc. Doesn't really make sense to me, as my road bike is under 17 pounds, and can fit into a relatively small box when I pop the wheels off.

So what's the real scoop on this? What airlines charge the least to check a bike? Do any rampers here have any advice on how to pack one? Any tips in general?

Thanks in advance for any info.


2H4


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Leskova
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:03 pm

Not really sure where you got those infos, but it really depends on the airline (and, for the comparison, on the musical instruments...  Wink - keep in mind that quite a few musical instruments require the purchase of a second seat - won't happen for a bike).

There are a number of airlines that offer special rates for bicycles - the ones that I remember are EI and MH (although I really don't remember what the rates are right now), but even other airlines usually don't charge too much for them.

The usual idea is to pack the bike in a box that's as small and flat as possible (handle bar sideways, pedals off, air out of the tires) - the less space it uses, the better (obvious).

For the rates - sorry for stating the obvious, but I'd really call to check with the airlines that you're thinking of using to see who has the best rates.

Regards,
Frank
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kdeg00
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:17 pm

The going rate for most airlines seems to be $75 each way. The price starts to go up quickly if you add in the cost of a good bike shipper (ie something designed for protecting your bike in transit rather than the cardboard it arrived at the shop in). Spend the money ($100+) and get a hard-sided carrier with the little roller wheels on the bottom. Your bike will appreciate it and I would bet that the loaders will be much happier to lug around something well-designed with handles rather than tape and string. I picked one up from Colorado Cyclist but any good shop should have some. The nice ones are lined with foam, don't weigh much and really do protect the bike from almost anything short of being run over.
 
ha763
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:35 pm

If your bike when packed is less than 62 linear inches (l+w+h) and under 50 lbs, some airlines will include it as part of your free baggage allowance. However, an adult sized bike won't usually fall under this exemption. For basically all US airlines there is a fee that ranges between $50-80 each way. Also, airlines do not guarantee that your bike will make it on the same flight as you since it will be on a space available basis and will require that you sign a waiver relieving the airline for any damages or delay in delivery to your bike.
 
pogo
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sat Mar 05, 2005 8:38 pm

Not sure about charges, but from a ramp perspective, in the box is best. Also let air out of tyres and undo the handle bar nut so that the handle bar, wheels and frame are all parallel to each other, but if in box then there is no problem. This makes it easier to handle for the ramp boys and less likely to get damaged.
When in doubt give it a clout
 
pilotpip
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sat Mar 05, 2005 10:44 pm

2H4,

I worked at a bicycle shop for four years. We had a tour company that specialized in overseas tours so I packed a ton of bikes. Kdeg00 mentioned the best way to ship via the airlines. The hard cases provide much more protection but even those aren't invincible. During the presidential campaign I handled John Kerry's aircraft a number of times and there were a few bikes in the back every time in trico hardcases. I'm sure his serrotta was in one but those things looked like they had been through hell. If I was flying domestically, I'd ship with UPS or FX. It will save some money and chances are the bike will be in better shape upon arrival. Ship it to a local shop, they should sign for it. Pay them to build it back up or do it yourself. You'll have an excuse to go in a bike shop and get the scoop on the favorite local rides.

When I packaged bikes to be shipped, I did it in the same fashion that they were delivered to us from the manufacturer. Most shops should give you the materials free since they just throw most of it away. We would take the pedals and front wheel off. Depending on the stem set up we would take the handlebar off or the whole stem out. I really like detatchable face stems for this. Threaded stems with one clamp bolt make things more difficult. Pad the tubes on the frame and zip tie the handlebar to the top tube. Remove the skewer from the front wheel and ziptie the front wheel to the non drive (left) side of the bike. If using cardboard,LEAVE THE REAR WHEEL IN. Without the rear wheel, the chainstays and seatstays are weak and will bend/crack with little side load. Also, resting the crankset on the bottom of the box could damage it or cause it to punch through the box. The shop will give you little plastic pieces to put over the skewer on the back and a plastic cap to put in the fork dropouts. Use these to keep the box intact and maintain some lateral strength in the fork. As for the box, most shops recycle them so they should give it to you free as well. I'd try and find one from a high-end trek or other US made bike. Nothing wrong with the Asian or European bikes (I ride an Italian road bike), it's just that they get beat up a little more on the boat ride over here. It's not the weight so much as it is the bulk(Unless you're shipping a huffy). A bike box is tough to get in the pit of a smaller aircraft.

Sorry this is so long and in detail, but it's pretty important to do this right. If your road bike is 17lbs, it's probably pretty high-end. Don't hesitate to email me with additional questions. The only thing that rivals my passion for airplanes is my passion for bicycles. I figure I'm just keeping in line with Wilbur and Orville Big grin
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:18 am

Excellent writeup, Pilotpip!
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kdeg00
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:28 am

Great advice from Pilotpip, I have just one significant dissent. One of the main reasons I have for a hard shell box over the cardboard is protection of the wheels with uninflated tires. Had one of my nice wheels essentially destroyed when some unexplained force banged in the end of a cardboard box. Now I use a hard shell case with an insert between the fork dropouts and another in the rear dropouts to protect the frame. Keeps the wheels in a bit safer place in my opinion.
 
eyesinthesky
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:37 am

Hello All
I know that SAS and Austrian do not charge extra on International flights as long as it falls with in the allotted baggage allowance. The pedals have to be removed so that no luggage is damaged and handle bars must be parallel to the bike. Or you can ship it in the box.

brgds

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pdxtriple7
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:40 am

A few summers ago my dad transported his road bike all the way from PDX-LHR/CDG and back to do tour with the Tour De France. He brought (or rented?) a hard shell covered, and it worked well, although we had some major issues getting a big enough taxi for the bike box and all our luggage. If I remember correctly, it was free on AA, but his flight was canceled and he was put on BA, where it cost him $75. The bike arrived in perfect condition, although he forgot to put in a part when he put it back together. Also, a hard shell with wheels is really easy to roll around.
 
LRGT
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 10:14 am

I brought a full-sized bike on US Air without any fees in 1998. It was partially disassembled in a box.
Don't bring up the NW DC9's unless you have to!
 
F9Animal
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 10:19 am

It really depends on the airline as far as the charge. Most charge $50 for a checked bike.

I thought pilotpip had a great piece about how to pack it. If you do go with an airline issued Bike Box, I would suggest removing the pedals too. I have found in the past that the pedals pop out of the box, and get all scratched up.

Just what I have run into during my ramp rat experiences!
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Lemmy
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:38 am

To get around the exorbitant fees some airlines charge to fly with a bike, I've had some luck offering the SkyCaps $40 in cash to get two bikes onto the plane. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but a pair of $20 bills can be pretty persuasive. The guys at Midway were more than happy to oblige, but I guess that's just Midway ...

Some shops rent Trico hardshell cases, and they're definitely worth it. Kind of expensive to buy if you're just going to use it once, but the wheels alone are a lifesaver.

Finally, if you're flying international and your bike is worth more than $500, definitely get insurance. A co-worker of mine had a $5,000 bike stolen out of the hardcase somewhere between Frankfurt and LAX (replaced with a cheap bike someone found in a dumpster), and he only got a few hundred dollars from the airline. Extremely lame.
I am a patient boy ...
 
pilotpip
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:34 pm

Don't get me wrong. After a round trip those bike boxes looked like a pack of wolverines had their way with them. But if they are packed right it will be ok. In four years, and about 10 international trips with around 30 bikes going on each one I can think of only one bike that was damaged. I've shipped numerous bikes I've sold and purchased on Ebay via UPS with no problems. I would still prefer this method over the airlines in any capacity becuase of the lost luggage factor. It shoud cost less than airline fees, and it's one less thing you have to worry about during your trip. The hard cases are nice, but they are expensive. Some shops rent them. If you travel a bunch or have a nice bike it might be an option to look at. Many shops do rent them.
DMI
 
2H4
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:47 am

Thanks to everyone for all the great info.

Pilotpip...it's nice to know there are other shop guys around here. I'm on my 9th year (get me out!), and your packing advice is 100% spot-on. I was mostly interested in the checking and payment procedures, and it still sounds like FedEx or UPS is the way to go. My road bike is a Klein Q-Carbon frame with Bontrager Race XL wheels and DA. What are you riding?


2H4


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pilotpip
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:34 am

The road bike is a Gios Compact with a mix of Record and Chorus 9 speed. Open pro wheels on DA hubs. The wheels that were on the bike were crap so I used an old set I built for my last bike. They were my first build, and have nearly 5,000 miles on them mainly commuting. I've beat the crap out of them.

The mountainbike is a Kona Hot with 9.0 and an old Sid XC, the hydra air one. That one has raceface turbines and Bontraeger Mustangs on XT hubs. I hope to add a King Kikapu this summer because as much as I love steel, I think it's time to go to a full suspension. I was buying new bikes every year and selling the old ones but I got to a couple I liked. Now I'm starting to feel old school at 23 because both are over four years old.

I wish I still worked in a shop. It was much more fun than the job I have now. One thing I was riding aluminum or carbon is carry an extra der hanger when travelling. One of the bonuses with steel is that I can bend it back and fix it to get home. I used to carry a spare hanger in my camelbak when I rode an aluminum trek.
DMI
 
Chugach
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:38 am

Talk about a perfectly timed thread for me. I will be going PDX-SEA-ANC on Horizon and Alaska next week and will attempt to take my mountain bike with me. I am on the Q400 PDX-SEA...do any of you think there would be issues checking my bike? I'm planning on taking it to the Bike Gallery in Portland and having them break it down and properly pack it into a box. UPS or FedEx would likely be a very expensive idea since they offer no ground services to Alaska.
 
2H4
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 4:57 am

Quoting Chugach (reply 16):
I'm planning on taking it to the Bike Gallery in Portland and having them break it down and properly pack it into a box.


The folks at Bike Gallery really know their stuff. Just pack the bike like Pilotpip suggested, and it'll survive the trip. Maybe write "I Love Rampers" in HUGE letters, all over the outside of the box...  biggrin 


I know what you mean about feeling old-school, Pilotpip. My mt. bike is a Litespeed Obed with a Kinesis aluminum rigid fork. It's got an original Coda Magic crank, back when Alex Pong was building them at Magic Motorcycle, and it's topped off with King hubs/headset, 517 ceramic rims, and Marinovative Cheap Trick brakes...the original V-brakes. Hell, the thing is becoming a museum of the early '90s MTB industry. I love it, but am planning on building up a rigid Fisher 29er when they introduce carbon stays for '06.

Topping my wish list is a Pace carbon fork for 29" wheels. Pace doesn't sell their stuff in the US for fear of litigation (can't blame them), so I'm going to have to get one in Canada or Europe.


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bristolflyer
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:42 pm

When I've packed mine before I took off the wheels and replaced them with some threaded rod which kept the forks/stays from bending in case of side load. It beats keeping the wheel(s) on as you the box can be smaller.

I wonder about taking pressurised hydraulic suspension forks/dampers in the hold of an aircraft - it's just the sort of thing they don't like.

BF
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2H4
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:24 pm

Quoting BristolFlyer (reply 18):
I wonder about taking pressurised hydraulic suspension forks/dampers in the hold of an aircraft - it's just the sort of thing they don't like.



I believe....and correct me if I'm wrong, Pilotpip....that an extremely overinflated air shock will simply leak through it's O-rings rather than explode.

Now, as far as sealed hydraulic dampers and sealed hydraulic disk brake systems in unpressurized cargo holds, I don't know. Any idea, Pilotpip?


2H4


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mrniji
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:33 pm

Quoting Leskova (reply 1):
There are a number of airlines that offer special rates for bicycles


I took bicycles very often with me, since I love to bike.
LH charges a very fair rate of EUR 30 per way.. you just have to bring the bike, and they deplete the air and arrange everything tehmselves. I boughht bicycles in India and took them to Germany with AI years ago... they told me on the phone that the KGs will be treated like regular luggage.. at the airport, they took the bicylcles, and as usual, they did not overcharge me for excess luggage - so it was free Big grin

It all depends, as said, on the airline. Inquire while booking, and male necessary arrangements. It's day to day business for them, so I am sure your problem can be solve dwithout hassle  Wink
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pilotpip
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:38 am

Hydraulics wouldn't be a problem. After all, every major control is actuated by hydraulics on transport category aircraft. Fluids don't expand like gas. Make sure you bleed the system first. As far as forks, I don't know. I would imagine that a high pressure rear shock or a fork like the sid would be more of a problem than say, a Marzocchi.

2H4, after I get my dually, I'm putting a rigid fork back on the kona. The shop I worked in sold C-dale. The first clipless pedals I had were some Coda M-500s. I had a spare bike that I put some old Onza cantis on. Memories Big grin
DMI
 
2H4
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:41 pm

Quoting Pilotpip (reply 21):
Hydraulics wouldn't be a problem. After all, every major control is actuated by hydraulics on transport category aircraft. Fluids don't expand like gas.


Good point...I can't believe I didn't think of that. I'll chalk it up to staying up too late.  Wink

I remember the M-500s. God, why oh why couldn't Cannondale just pay Shimano a few bucks and license the SPD design?  Smile

If, by chance, you need an Onza canti brake to complete a bike build, let me know. I have one broken one and one intact one floating around somewhere that you're welcome to.


2H4


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qwerty
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Tue Mar 08, 2005 2:32 pm

I second the Skycap method. Use a hard case. Explain the situation outside and offer Skycap $20 to help you get around the inside fee.

Quoting 2H4 (reply 22):
The first clipless pedals I had were some Coda M-500s


Remember those white Looks that Hinault and LeMond rode for La Vie Claire? Those were old and I guess I am old considering those were my first clipless.
 
pilotpip
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:32 am

The pedal was made by wellgo, along with Ritcheys, and about 10000000 other SPD knockoffs. As far as the onza brakes go, it's cool. I'll stick to my Avids.

Hey, remember those Onza pedals with the elastomers in them? Now those were junk!

As far as my flying with a bike, I have yet to do it. I usually incorporate hiking and some camping into my cycling trips so I like to drive. The jeep has more storage space and costs alot less than flying. And besides, I fly enough. Driving is an adventure.  Big grin
DMI
 
daumueller
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Wed Mar 09, 2005 5:01 am

on my uncounted trips between DEN and FRA (direct/via ORD/via IAD; on LH on UA) I was never charged for my bike. don't know about domestic trips and other airlines.

maybe that helps  Smile

cheers,

ben
 
2H4
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Wed Mar 09, 2005 8:03 am

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 24):
Hey, remember those Onza pedals with the elastomers in them? Now those were junk!


Ha, yeah....who needs to release when the temperature is below 40 degrees?  Smile




Quoting Qwerty (Reply 23):
Remember those white Looks that Hinault and LeMond rode for La Vie Claire? Those were old and I guess I am old considering those were my first clipless.


Reminds me of a funny story, Qwerty...Last spring, I got to meet and hang out with Greg Lemond (got to fly his plane, too, but that's another story altogether). Anyway, he was signing some stuff for employees of my shop, when someone brought out an old Giro aero helmet for him to sign, like the one he wore in the Tour:




Upon seeing it, he laughed and told us about how badly it sucked. Giro designed it to be very efficient when worn in an exact position....a position that was different than how Greg preferred to wear his helmets. He explained this to Giro, and they told him to simply ride with his head tilted differently. He said he'd try, but the position turned out to be so uncomfortable, he ended up riding as he normally did.

Afterward, testing revealed that the pointy, aerodynamic, horribly expensive helmet actually ended up costing him time over a regular helmet.  biggrin 


2H4


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British767
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RE: Bicycles As Luggage...Need Some Tips

Wed Mar 09, 2005 8:08 am

easyJet charge GBP10 each way for a bicycle, and you can book it on their website. £10 isn't too bad really, in my opinion.

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