bicycling tips

Bicycling Tips

Little else compares to the thrill mountain biking offers its lovers. More so when it involves international travel for any number of reasons- to attend a tournament or single race, revel in the buzz of exploring foreign trails or simply just shipping your precious newly purchased mountain bike overseas. However, this is bliss almost always goes together with a fair share of challenges. The hardships associated with transport of luggage by airplanes make this leg of a bike adventure be regarded as the most problematic. To demystify this misconception, this article charts a trusty strategy to air travel with your bike.   

Preparation

How you prepare for that trip with your bike will determine how successful it will be. Since various airlines have varying policies governing bike transit, you are better off checking them out to determine which best aligns with your travel needs. This is especially vital if your air voyage involves more than one plane. Some regional flights are served by small planes with cramped luggage bays so checking beforehand will doubtlessly spare you the frustration that would otherwise enshroud you in such a case.

Transporting a bike on a plane is regarded by most bike adventurers as the most irksome leg of a bike adventure. Their justifiable reasons include:


A bike is more likely to be damaged in transit than when being roughed up exploring aggressively challenging terrain

It requires partial disassembly of the bike. This is not only tedious and time-consuming but also costly when a bike shop is involved

Bike cartage chucks huge chunks off your pocket especially when you exceed airline luggage allowance

Airlines have inflexible bike transport policies. Most feature a luggage allowance of 62 inches (dimensions) and 50 pounds (overall weight). Exceeding this allowance attracts hefty excess baggage charges.

When preparing for that air trip with your bike, remember to ready all bike riding essentials including helmet, gloves, mountain bike shorts and bike maintenance kit as well as any miscellaneous provisions like a camera you may need.  

Take it apart

Until recently, some you would get away with wheeling your bicycle to an airport, acquiring a polythene bike bag, stowing your fully-assembled bike inside then checking it in. today, however, a majority of airlines require you to disassemble your bike at least in part before fully enclosing it in a cardboard box, plastic bag, bike carriage bag or hard bike transit box.

In this light, you’ll need basic bike disassembly/assembly proficiency if you want to spare some bucks that you’ll shell off if you take it to a bike shop. Here is the easiest and safest disassembly strategy for air travel with your bike:


Detach the front wheel from the bike to reduce its overall length. You can also bolt back the axle or use a dummy one to screen the fork from warping or breaking due to impact

Unhinge the handlebars and align them with the frame. This not only decreases your bike’s width but also protects handlebar tips (ends) from scraping against other luggage

Lower the stem and seat-post- this will diminish your ride’s height to the required 1m or, better, less

Put the bike in its lowest gear so the rear derailleur rises to its closest proximity to the frame or disconnect it entirely and cover it with generous cushioning (bubble wrap) for protection against damage

Secure the bottle and pump in their cages onto the frame using PVC tape. This not only saves you ample package space but also ensures the components are shielded from direct impact

Cover all pipe bike parts including the frame, stem and forks with pipe lagging to guard them from scraping. This will maintain your precious bike’s color and gloss finish in top-notch condition

 Wrap the bike’s saddle with a fitting cover to shield it from soiling and damage en route

Let some air out of your bike’s tires in line with airport provisions but be sure to leave them partially inflated to shield the rims from being kicked in the course of luggage handling.

Stow it away

Imagine the fracas that would ensue if airlines allowed transport of complete bikes and every passenger came with a bike in tow! Airlines require you to pack down your bike to a bare minimum in line with their cartage policies. There are various practical methods of packaging a bike.


Hard shell bike transport boxes

These are designed specially with dedicated slots for various bike components. Arguably the safest approach to transport a bike, they feature solid blocks that absorb impact shock to shield the bike within from damage. Their downside is their bulk and oppressive cost of purchasing.


Bike carriage bags

Usually made of fabric, bike carriage bags are the latest in bike transport supplies. They have devoted spaces for stowing bike supplies as well as biking essentials like mounting bike shoes thus ease customs clearance commendably and protect enclosed bikes through shock transmission. Made with roll wheels or shoulder straps, they are also exceptionally easy to wheel or whisk around.  However, they are also quite costly and bulky, requiring panniers for transport after bike reassembly.


Polythene bike transport bags

Definitely the most affordable way to package a mountain bike, plastic bags are also extremely easy to acquire and use. Clear polythene bags have been reported to offer extremely safe bike packaging as luggage handling crews handle clearly visible bikes more carefully in contrast with opaque boxes and bags. On the downside, they necessitate heavy cushioning to protect the enclosed bike from impact shock damage.


Cardboard boxes

This is most convenient way to pack up a bike for an air lift for various reasons. It’s not only the cheapest in bike packaging but also the most readily available and the most environmentally conscious- you can easily get a cardboard box from a bike or retail shop then discard it upon arrival. However, like polythene bags, cardboard box bike packaging calls for extra spending in purchasing bubble wrap.

Upon arrival, you can either reassemble your mountain bike yourself or take the package to a reliable bike shop for assembly and truing of parts like brakes and wheels.

In conclusion, it’s important to look into your preferred airlines’ bike-luggage insurance policy beforehand to steer off inconvenience in the uncalled for event your bike is damaged, lost or stolen en route. Hopefully this article has been a beacon to the right way to air travel with your bike.   

Comments

Will you be travelling internationally soon? Are you feeling anxious about flying with your bike? It is understandable. Travelling with your bike exposes it to damages and in the worst case scenario loss. Aside from all the time and energy that goes into packing the bike, flying with your bike can be quite expensive. This articles aims at making travelling with your bike more manageable with an easy and cheap method of packing your bike in a clear plastic bag.

Packing the bike in a clear plastic bag may sound counter intuitive when seeking to offer you bike the optimal protection. Many people are skeptical about using plastic bike bags to pack their bikes on international travels fearing that the bike is more prone to damages. 

Naturally, you may tend to think that bike cases, bike bags and cardboard boxes do a better job. Indeed, bike bags and cases do offer optimal protection to your bike. However, they are expensive and hence may not be a good option when you are looking for a cheap method to pack your bike. On the other hand, although cardboard boxes are a cheap option, they are more prone to mishandling and damage.

 

Advantages of using clear plastic bag

  • It is cheap. There are well designed plastic bike bags in the market at an affordable price range of less that $20. However, you can make your own using readily available and cheap plastic sheets and duct tapes. The plastic bags are foldable for when you are not using them and reusable.

 

  • The plastic bike bag is an easy packing and unpacking technique.  It will take you less than 15 minutes to remove the handle bar and pedals as the better part of the bike remains intact. You only require basic level bike assembly and dissembling skills which will save you the cost of hiring a bike mechanic if you were to dismount the whole bike.

 

  • It is light. Compared to bike bags and bike cases, plastic bike bags are generally lighter significantly reducing your weight related baggage fees at the airport.

 

  • The transparent clear bag is actually going to be treated more carefully as the baggage handlers can see what is inside. Since the bag does not have handles, it will require atleast two baggage handlers to carry the bike each holding on one end. Your bike will therefore not be carelessly tossed around and stacked with hundreds of pounds of other luggage.  Since the bike is for the most part intact, it is more sturdy and easy to carry.

 

How to pack your bike in a plastic bike bag

Many airline carriers will accept a bike packed in a plastic bike bag. The only requirements are that you turn the handlebars parallel to the bike, remove the pedals and partially deflate the wheels. It is recommended that you take extra precautionary measures to protect the bike from damage. Add padding to the front derailleur, remove the rear derailleur from the frame, secure the front wheel to prevent it from flopping about and lower the saddle.

 A cheap and easy method to protect the rear derailleur from damage as you fly with your bike is to use a disposable water bottle to cover it and use duct tape to secure it. Put the bike in the plastic bag, fold over the top and secure it with a duct tape.

How does using to fly with your bike save you on travel costs?

  • Plastic bike bags are cheap. As state earlier, at a price range of 10-20 dollars you can get a professionally made bag or make your own.
  • Plastic bags are light. Therefore, this packing technique significantly reduces cost of transporting the bike as there is no additional weight caused by heavy packing materials such as bike cases.
  • Bikes packed in plastic bike bags are likely to be handled more carefully by baggage handlers reducing the chances of damage and ultimately the extra cost incurred in repairing on transit bike damages.

 

Conclusion

When travelling internationally, you can fly with your bike without breaking the bank to ensure it gets to your destination safely. Plastic bike bags are cheap, the offer an easy and quick bike packing and unpacking technique and they require of the baggage handlers to handle the bike with extra care. 

Due to their lightness, they will save you any extra luggage weight related costs. While many airline carriers accept plastic bike bags, some have restrictions on bike packaging. Before travelling, check in with your airline to find out whether they have specific regulations on travelling with a bike packed in a plastic bag. Also check for their rates for flying with a bike and enquire about any additional costs to anticipate so that you are fully prepared for your travel.

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