/ Bike bags and air travel
Can anyone please advise on the wisdom of putting a rather nice carbon frame and wheels in a soft bike bike (Planet-X or similar for c. £100) and putting it on a long haul flight? Am I more than likely to get a bag of crunched up bits at the other end? Is this why people sell hard boxes for £300 plus?
If a soft case is perceived to be sufficent I might go with that and buy one, else I'll go on the scrounge for a hard case - if I were to buy a hard case I'd get 'One Of Those Looks' and I really don't need that!
We've been running cycling holidays in the South of France for 11 years and in that time we've had one bent wheel and two broken rear mech hangers so don't worry too much.
However, Where are you based? If I was going long hall I'd hire a hard shell case - the Bike Box Alan ones seem to be bombproof. Have a look on tinternet and see if your LBS hires boxes. It's not worth 300 quid for one trip.
If you do go with the padded bag option, make sure you remove the rear mech hanger and put something in the front and rear dropouts - i use a short length of copper pipe clamped in with a skewer but and old hub will do although this will be a bit heavier.
Long hall - I'd even consider removing the big chain ring, or even pulling the cranks out.
Let me know if you need more info.
Who are you flying with? We discovered BA treat a bike bag as a standard piece of luggage, as long as it's within weight limits. This meant we could use a soft bag and pad the frame with clothes and other kit to help protect it.
We've flown a few times with a bikes. Each time I've gone to the local bike shop and procured, for free, a cardboard bike delivery box. If you are staying in one place you can keep the box, if not you can ditch it at the airport or wherever is handy. For the return I generally ring a bike shop near where I'm staying prior to departure and get new boxes from them. Usually they're free, recently the Giant shop in Nice charged us 20 euros for two boxes but that's no big deal.
A few years ago I ditched our cardboard boxes in a skip at Matabiau station in Toulouse, went on a three week tour of the Pyrenees then came back and excavated one of the boxes back out of the skip (we got the other one from a bike shop)
Last year we watched a lot of bike boxes being loaded onto the plane for an Edinb-Geneva flight. Our boxes must have been easier for the baggage handlers as they placed them down much more gently than the slightly alarming chuck the other cases got.
I have the Probox from these dudes;
Used it a few times now so getting my monies worth. After use options... you could hire it out afterwards - I have several offers ATM. Local cycle shops in my charge about £50 - £60 per week for box hire. So £25 a go should it used a few times. Potentially you could get your money back - hire it out a few times then ebay it if you're not going to use it again.
Thanks all - I certainly won't use it enough to warrant buying a hard case, but I'm sure there are a few owned by club members that I could borrow. Failing that, a soft case looks viable - cardboard boxes aren't by virtue of the dearth of bike shops in the intended destination.
Taking the derailleur hanger off is a good call - I recently had a scare when it got bent and I couldn't find a new one anywhere (including the specialist web sites). I managed to get two spares (one second hand) from the distributor in the end.
I've done a number of transatlantic flights with a touring bicycle over the years (6 round trips since 2000), mostly with BA. I found that, if the bike is in a soft case, the handlers will treat it like just another piece of luggage, piling other pieces of luggage on top of it, slinging it around, etc. If I brought the bike up to the counter unboxed, with handlebars sideways and pedals off, the handlers were much more careful with the bike, since they could see that they were dealing with a relatively fragile object. Putting the bike in a clear plastic bag, like the one CTC sells, works just as well. If you're not comfortable with the "naked bike" approach, then I would suggest renting a hard case, or buying one and selling it on later (or renting it out a few times).
For the record, I found BA to be very reasonable about transporting bikes, both with their policies (bicycle is treated as piece of checked luggage, like Liam M said) and the way their baggage handlers treat the bikes.
You could wrap up the frame in bubble wrap, you can get a roll for under £15. then put it in the bike bag. Also, pack out your bag with clothes as this adds to the padding.
The baggage handlers aren't associated with the airline, they are airport staff.
I've only ever taken my MTB on a plane, they always survived fine, but I'd be a bit more concerned about a road bike. As enty says, fit dropout spacers (I used the spacers that came with the bike) and take the rear mech off and you should be fine.
How long will you be using the bike for when away? Considering all the costs and hassle would it be worth arranging a rental while out there? You can rent some really nice bikes in some places and could try out a few different models.
I think bubble wrap, a soft padded case, spacers, rear mech and hanger off is probably the way to go - after some local enquiries around the club. I'm rather in favour of keeping the package as light as possible - lands with less of a crunch on the first point down.
Sadly, bike hire is not an option: last time we were there I totally failed even to find a shop - Barbados - mostly lovely roads, lots of hills, not too much traffic and that's mostly sane (bar the cane lorries).
Next question - let some air out of the tyres?
CO2 cylinders - acceptable or not? No doubt the same volume of CO2 discharged into a tyre would be fine, but rules is rules.....
Tricky one this. We tell our guests not to bring them but we have a box full here and guests can take them and put them back at the end of the holiday - in the unlikely event of a puncture they just give us a couple of Euros for the used canister.
Obviously this doesn't help you but the reason we recommend you don't fly with them is if someone spots them on the x-ray they can make a right mess of your packing to remove them. Having said this it only happens about 30% of the time so you can take a chance if you feel like it.
Probably best to leave them behind then - I have a tiny pump so all is not lost. Just need some patience.
Of course, big cans of flammable hairspay and deodorant are fine.......
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