bicycling tips

Bicycling Tips

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How to Air Travel with Your Bike
18.09.2017 15:21

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.   

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