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Packing your bike for Air Travel

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Packing your bike for Air Travel

Old 03-07-19, 12:29 AM
  #1  
cyclezealot
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Packing your bike for Air Travel

In part, I bought my new Lynskey Touring bike because it came with couplers making it possible to fold it up into a suitcase. This way potentially passing up unreasonable costs airlines often charge. ( In my instance usually trans-Oceanic.)
Another time, Air New Zealand failed to unload my bike sending it elsewhere for the better part of a month. Meanwhile, not knowing if I would ever get it back and discovering their insurance is a crock.
This the story of my bad luck with bikes and airlines.
Part of my beef with airlines, twice they have caused either major and minor damage. A third time, TSA didn't have the consideration to open my bike box in a rational manner but opened the box by punching a gaping hole in the side of the box causing me to lose some minor accessories.
Now, I find out Qantas accepts bikes as regular luggage. All I need do is put it into a bike box.
My options. Still, tear it apart and put it into a small suitcase. 2. Use a traditional cardboard bike box.
The benefit: Saving time reassembling it when I get to my destination.
Being fussy, I'd likely have it reassembled by a bike shop to assure proper torque. Etc.
For sure, the luggage option would be most protective of my bike.
My question as to the cardboard bike option and considering my bad luck with the bike on planes.
. Should I take the cardboard bike box option,
Additionally , I've considered having it shrink-wrapped with plastic wrap. And placed into a bike box.
A friend suggested that option can so tightly wrap your bike as to cause damage.
Q. What is your luck with air transporting your bikes and what precautions do you take. ? Have you ever had your bike wrapped in plastic and would TSA consider that option interfering with their search requirements.? thanks.
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Old 03-07-19, 06:05 AM
  #2  
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I ship and fly using one of these:

https://www.crateworks.com/product/p...stic-bike-box/

I am lazy so I have a LBS pack it for me. They protect the bike with all sorts of bubble wrap and foam. Have a LBS re-assemble at the destination.
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Old 03-07-19, 07:23 AM
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Have flown many times with my bike and never had your bad experiences. Once Air France delayed it on a transfer flight, but got it to me on the next flight 1.5 hrs later.

If you could care less about the planet (and clearly you do), I'd go with the plastic wrap idea. Since you haven't stated where your trip is going to, how can we help? I'd sell the bike and just rent or buy one at next destination.
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Old 03-07-19, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by travelinhobo View Post
If you could care less about the planet (and clearly you do),
Is this a dig on air travel or a dig on being environmentally conscious? Am I even reading this right? Are you saying cares, but there could be less care, or is there a mistake in your post & you are meaning he could not care less?

That aside, the carbon emission per person for air air travel is about the same as making the same trip miles in an average automobile. The mode of travel doesn't change the total carbon foot-print spent getting there. Are you saying he should't travel at all?

Airplane carbon emissions have more to do with operating cost & economics of the airline than they do with the environment. The environmental cost is just a selling point for the carbon conscious. They are a big thing to be considered, for sure, but the talking point is like equalizing the energy cost of a bus vs a car. A full bus is efficient even though the bus itself gets 6 mpg. Air travel has the same dynamic.
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Old 03-07-19, 08:25 AM
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To the OP:
This is what my LBS recommends.
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Old 03-07-19, 08:49 AM
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I have a Bike Friday which has 20" wheels and is designed to pack into a hard-sided plastic suitcase which meets most airlines' current dimension maximums to avoid oversized baggage fees. It rides like a "regular" bike. I've flown with it and toured on it dozens of times and never had to pay any bicycle fees. So far, no damage in flight.

Prior to buying my Bike Friday, I had a rear wheel pretzeled by an airline when my bike was in a large polytheylene bag. I also had a bike which was permanently lost by an airline.
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Old 03-07-19, 09:54 AM
  #7  
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After doing it a few times, I'm solidly on board with the plastic bag and nothing else method, at least on airlines that accept that.
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Old 03-07-19, 11:21 AM
  #8  
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I've traveled a number of times with my coupled bike in the soft-sided S&S case. It usually gets examined by TSA, but there has been no real problem otherwise. We got a bikeflights box for my wife's bike with the intention of shipping it, but the timing meant that we had to fly with it. The box was opened on the way there and and on the way back. The box was torn both times. Holes were put in the box. The straps I had around the outside of the box did not make the trip, with half disappearing on the way out and the remainder failed to make the return the journey. Didn't have normal luggage straps on hand, so I used my Salsa and Surly straps and am sorry to have lost them.

But, when we traveled with both of our bikes and had to reassemble them at the airport, her bike, only partially disassembled for the bike box, went together much faster than my bike. Still, I'd worry more about damage to the bike than I would about assembly time, so I think I'd prefer the S&S case still. I can also put the fork and small parts into my duffel bag, which also gets checked, and that way I don't have to worry about weight as much. Otherwise between my bike and the packing material, I can get too close to that 50lb limit.
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Old 03-07-19, 11:43 AM
  #9  
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We are a few weeks away from our trip to Italy & France. It is a one way ride so we will not be taking a case with us. We will get boxes on both ends from bike shops and carefully box with bubble wrap, fork protectors, and such. We have shipped our bikes many times by UPS with us or LBS doing the packing. So far, so good.
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Old 03-07-19, 12:12 PM
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I have only flown with a bike in the S&S backpack case. To me the convenience of being able to put my S&S case in the trunk of a taxi instead of trying to figure out how to get around with a full size bike box is just as important as the cost savings to avoid oversize package. I have even used the backpack straps to carry my S&S backpack as a backpack.

I would only carry a bike in a full size bike box if there was some reason that I could not use my S&S bike or my folding bike.

I also built up a DIY center support for that case, photo of my folding bike in that case with that support at this link. Built it with a couple wood dowels, small pieces of plywood and some wood screws:
https://www.bikeforums.net/20711320-post39.html

I worked in a bike shop years ago, I built up most of my bikes from the frame, thus I am very comfortable with disassembly and re-assembly. To me it is just lost time to do so. But some people are not mechanically inclined and I can see where they might not be very interested in that much mechanical work to pack or unpack it.
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Old 03-07-19, 08:59 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
In part, I bought my new Lynskey Touring bike because it came with couplers making it possible to fold it up into a suitcase. This way potentially passing up unreasonable costs airlines often charge. ( In my instance usually trans-Oceanic.)
Another time, Air New Zealand failed to unload my bike sending it elsewhere for the better part of a month. Meanwhile, not knowing if I would ever get it back and discovering their insurance is a crock.
This the story of my bad luck with bikes and airlines.
Part of my beef with airlines, twice they have caused either major and minor damage. A third time, TSA didn't have the consideration to open my bike box in a rational manner but opened the box by punching a gaping hole in the side of the box causing me to lose some minor accessories.
Now, I find out Qantas accepts bikes as regular luggage. All I need do is put it into a bike box.
My options. Still, tear it apart and put it into a small suitcase. 2. Use a traditional cardboard bike box.
The benefit: Saving time reassembling it when I get to my destination.
Being fussy, I'd likely have it reassembled by a bike shop to assure proper torque. Etc.
For sure, the luggage option would be most protective of my bike.
My question as to the cardboard bike option and considering my bad luck with the bike on planes.
. Should I take the cardboard bike box option,
Additionally , I've considered having it shrink-wrapped with plastic wrap. And placed into a bike box.
A friend suggested that option can so tightly wrap your bike as to cause damage.
Q. What is your luck with air transporting your bikes and what precautions do you take. ? Have you ever had your bike wrapped in plastic and would TSA consider that option interfering with their search requirements.? thanks.
the first time I flew I disassembled my bike and covered nearly every inch in foam and then wrapped the entire bike in plastic wrap, like the kind shippers wrap pallets in. (because I care less or careless about the planet?) put it in a cardboard bike box and checked it as luggage with virgin atlantic.

TSA opened the box with what appeared to be a hatchet and cut all the plastic wrap off with what appeared to be a chainsaw, causing minor damage to the bike. I think because I wrapped it so thoroughly it may have triggered something to cause them to inspect it.

now I disassemble as little as I can, cover parts that touch and sensitive parts(rear derailleur) and shove it in a box. I have not had box opened since and have not had any further damage.
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Old 03-07-19, 09:32 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
In part, I bought my new Lynskey Touring bike because it came with couplers making it possible to fold it up into a suitcase. This way potentially passing up unreasonable costs airlines often charge. ( In my instance usually trans-Oceanic.)
Another time, Air New Zealand failed to unload my bike sending it elsewhere for the better part of a month. Meanwhile, not knowing if I would ever get it back and discovering their insurance is a crock.
This the story of my bad luck with bikes and airlines.
Part of my beef with airlines, twice they have caused either major and minor damage. A third time, TSA didn't have the consideration to open my bike box in a rational manner but opened the box by punching a gaping hole in the side of the box causing me to lose some minor accessories.
Now, I find out Qantas accepts bikes as regular luggage. All I need do is put it into a bike box.
My options. Still, tear it apart and put it into a small suitcase. 2. Use a traditional cardboard bike box.
The benefit: Saving time reassembling it when I get to my destination.
Being fussy, I'd likely have it reassembled by a bike shop to assure proper torque. Etc.
For sure, the luggage option would be most protective of my bike.
My question as to the cardboard bike option and considering my bad luck with the bike on planes.
. Should I take the cardboard bike box option,
Additionally , I've considered having it shrink-wrapped with plastic wrap. And placed into a bike box.
A friend suggested that option can so tightly wrap your bike as to cause damage.
Q. What is your luck with air transporting your bikes and what precautions do you take. ? Have you ever had your bike wrapped in plastic and would TSA consider that option interfering with their search requirements.? thanks.
Some things I've found helpful: two or more layers of sturdy cardboard. Like you, I've had gaping holes — the baggage handlers can be rough. Closed cell foam pipe insulation (or swimming pool floats) are more protective than just plastic or shrink wrap. Removing pedals. Extra extra cardboard in critical areas. Lots of packing tape and a good dispenser. Marking with felt penned up arrows and "handle with care" seems to make some of them pay more attention. Good rope handles so the gorillas don't have to use something less chimp proof. Make their job easier.
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Old 03-07-19, 10:45 PM
  #13  
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Hard shell bike case for a folding travel bicycle
only way to fly, if you love your bike.

Plastic and carboard are for the $40 8 speed charity shop used bike crowd that spend more on beer than bikes.

Lynskey¿ So you payed at least $2,000? Or more¿
Get the hard case. If you are unable to take your bike apart and put it back together, learn before you fly, not that hard.

My coupled bike flys in a case damage free, my breakaway flys in a case safe and fine. My 95 Moongose flys in plastic wrap, they bent the hanger.
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Old 03-07-19, 10:46 PM
  #14  
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TL DR..

I flew several times from Pac Coast , but not since the 'Security Theater ' post 11 september 2001..

now I live where bike tourists gather or at least pass through...

Thin the rants to specific issues and double space the text..
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Old 03-08-19, 02:49 AM
  #15  
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chrisx. A friend more mechanical than I said putting it together was a pain in the butt. But, You get used to it. Why I consider plasticized wrap, should it be adequate protection, I want to have the bike ready to ride as soon as I touch down in Adelaide. When British Air did their best to shatter my bike, it took me two days to find a shop that would fit me in. Being fussy, will I feel comfortable or have the patience to find a shop and wait when I can ride right away.
Has anyone taken advantage of plasticizing your bike coming out looking like its been shrink wrapped? that and regular packing material, I'd hope would do the trick. Probably TSA would punch a big hole in the shrink wrapping. ?
Yeah. Lynskey's are not cheap. But, they are currently having some gangbuster sales. Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 03-08-19, 02:53 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Bikesplendor View Post
Some things I've found helpful: two or more layers of sturdy cardboard. Like you, I've had gaping holes — the baggage handlers can be rough. Closed cell foam pipe insulation (or swimming pool floats) are more protective than just plastic or shrink wrap. Removing pedals. Extra extra cardboard in critical areas. Lots of packing tape and a good dispenser. Marking with felt penned up arrows and "handle with care" seems to make some of them pay more attention. Good rope handles so the gorillas don't have to use something less chimp proof. Make their job easier.
Once I used a sleeping bag about my fork and wheels. That time the damage was manageable.
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Old 03-08-19, 04:52 AM
  #17  
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I flew with my bike from Amsterdam to Innsbruck with KLM which was effortless. Packed the bike in a cardboard box and it arrived without a scratch. Forgot to deflate the tires though, but also didn't have any issues with that.
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Old 03-08-19, 09:14 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by superpletch View Post
...
now I disassemble as little as I can, cover parts that touch and sensitive parts(rear derailleur) and shove it in a box. I have not had box opened since and have not had any further damage.
I also do not cover a lot of it in foam or wrapping, I bought a roll or two of some perforated soft plastic used for shelf liner at Dollar Tree, I put that between parts that I do not want to rub against each other and otherwise I do not cover up much else. In the past I tied parts together with double sided velcro to keep things from shifting around, I plan to switch to zip ties for my next trip. The velcro worked ok, but I think zip ties would be better.

It is a touring bike, it is not supposed to look new forever.

If you know how to true up a wheel, bring a spoke wrench just in case it needs a bit of adjustment.

But, that said, my Lynskey might never go by air travel, that one I am a lot more careful with. I got one of those super deals in spring 2017 when I built up mine.
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Old 03-08-19, 12:02 PM
  #19  
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Call it a dozen times I've flown with my S&S coupled bike in its S&S case (it might be two dozen). TSA can't for the life of them follow directions on how to re-pack the darn thing, but damage has been minor:
- scratches on the top of the fork
- kinked cable where getting the cables back in the box was too much for TSA
- one busted bar-end shifter

It takes me an hour to disassemble and pack, and an hour to unpack and reassemble. Except for a couple times I just could not figure how to pack it so the lid would close, and the one blessed time I was done in 45 minutes. Party!

OP, how long do you expect a bike shop to take to reassemble your bike? How will you get the bike from the airport to the shop? Have you contacted local Australian shops to find out if they'll guarantee you a service slot if you reserve it X days ahead of time? What happens if your flight is delayed? If you were to ride out of the airport, what would you do with the rest of your luggage?
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Old 03-08-19, 02:30 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by chrisx View Post
...Plastic and carboard are for the $40 8 speed charity shop used bike crowd that spend more on beer than bikes.
Describes me and my bike perfectly.
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Old 03-08-19, 07:12 PM
  #21  
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I like to print this out in color
http://www.sandsmachine.com/p_i_seq.htm

and also primt
bicycle parts
and
partes de bicicletas

in big letters, along with my full name so I can be paged to put the parts back if required.

The sandmachine web page will take hours to read, and days to understand.
Folding Travel Bikes using S and S Machine Bicycle Torque Couplings™

Well worth the trouble.

Tip: centerlock hubs are better because you might need to remove the rotor so the lid closes.

How easy is it, how many bags can be piled ontop of your bike before the frame bends?
Did you put an axle in the fork and rear dropout, while your bike was in the plastic bag with the wheels off?

Do you know how to straighten a rear triangle?

Ti frames are harder to bend back.

This could help the non mechanic ride without any adjustments
https://www.universalcycles.com/shopping/product_details.php?id=92021&category=2713

cable splitters also work, slightly less than perfect.

Cable splitters for S&S Coupled travel bikes

Security Net used to protect your bike if TSA opens the case
once you learn how to do it right,



beer is bad

Last edited by chrisx; 03-08-19 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 03-09-19, 08:56 AM
  #22  
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Co-Motion Cycles recommendation is for soft shell cases:

https://co-motion.com/faq/faq_entry/...e-should-i-buy
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Old 03-11-19, 01:34 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post

It is a touring bike, it is not supposed to look new forever.

If you know how to true up a wheel, bring a spoke wrench just in case it needs a bit of adjustment.

But, that said, my Lynskey might never go by air travel, that one I am a lot more careful with. I got one of those super deals in spring 2017 when I built up mine.
Tourist. In my case, a spoke wrench won't repair a set of spokes that have been smashed in like straws in a windstorm. Just one's bad luck with baggage handlers. Super, you had good luck. We say three times and you're out.
As to my Lynskey. I insure it for travel through a special policy with my insurance agent. I bought it with couplings for travel.. But, since I'd like it to be set up for bike travel as soon as it's unloaded; I'd take the bike box option in an instant. Should I find out Qantas ' baggage handlers respect bicycles unlike my experiences on BA.
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Old 03-11-19, 05:08 PM
  #24  
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Sounds like you need a bike repair class, of which there are many.

https://www.rei.com/events/9999/trai...orkshop/235475

Join a bike coop, take a repair class at your local bike shop, pay a bicycle mechanic to tell you how to put the bike together, instead of pay a mechanic to do the work... ..

Not that hard, the bicycle is a fairly simple machine.

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Old 03-11-19, 09:13 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
... I bought it with couplings for travel.. But, since I'd like it to be set up for bike travel as soon as it's unloaded; I'd take the bike box option in an instant. ....
Everybody has different priorities. I am retired, so I do not mind the extra time to set up the bike and at the end of a trip re-pack it. And since I built up most of my bikes from the frame, I am very comfortable doing the mechanical work. If you are limited to a week or two for vacation, I can see where you would rather get going immediately. The next trip I am planning, I anticipate being there for five weeks, thus no rush.

Since I have one bike with S&S couplers that is a very capable touring bike, I saw no reason to get couplers added when I bought my Lynskey as I really felt that a second bike with S&S couplers was excessive. Friends of mine have had great luck shipping bikes by BikeFlights.com, thus if I flew somewhere domestically and wanted to use my Lynskey, I would likely use BikeFlights instead of taking the bike on the plane. But International travel, you pretty much have to take the bike on the plane so that it goes through customs with you. Thus, if I want to take my Lynskey somewhere domestically, I will use BikeFlights. Foreign travel, I will limit that to a coupled bike or a folding bike so that it goes into an S&S case.

I find that the S&S couplings and having a case that fits in the trunk of a taxi has great non-monetary benefits, a full size bike box would be a lot more troublesome to get to the airport and return from the airport later. Most of the taxis in my community are Prius cars and the S&S case fits fine in a Prius.

And my next trip, logistics are even more complicated as it will be almost impossible to get from the airport in my community to my destination. So my next trip is:

1. Take taxi from home to near downtown.
2. Take a bus over 100 miles to a bus transfer station.
3. Take a smaller bus to an airport. But my flight would be very early morning next day, so ...
4. Take a motel shuttle bus to nearby motel.
5. Next morning (really early) take a motel shuttle bus back to airport. Check bags and fly to next airport.
6. Pick up my luggage, go through customs. Check my bags again for next flight, which of course means one more round of security personnel looking at my bike.
7. Arrive at final airport. Take a bus to a city center.
8. Somehow move my luggage about two city blocks to where I am spending that night, there is where I will assemble my bike.

This would be an enormous hassle if I had to take a full size bike box instead of an S&S backpack case.

Photo has my luggage from my last trip like this. And second photo is me on my bike later.

I hope you have a great trip.



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