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Question about travelling w/ a bike(6 posts)

Question about travelling w/ a bikeCaetie
Jul 16, 2002 1:04 PM
I am moving to Switzerland for 3 1/2 months in the fall and would like to take my road bike with me, and I am seeking advice as to the best way to do this. Right now I know of two options: shipping it or taking it as a piece of luggage when I fly over, but I have done neither before. If anyone has any advice as to which of these would be better, or specific advice on the best way to do either of the two options, I would much appreciate it. Also, price is a factor for me, so I am looking to keep the cost down as much as possible. thanks--
Cheapest Routejose_Tex_mex
Jul 16, 2002 1:50 PM
Hi Caetie,
Oh how I wish I was going to Switzerland... Anyhow, I have taken my bike over to Europe a few times and here are the lessons learned.

1) Find out what the policy is for bicycles on your airline. If they are European they will probably be good about it. They might even let you roll it on up! If they are American than they probably suck. Many of the EU carriers I have flown on did not charge a dime for my bicycle suit case (which cost about $200). However, most of the US carriers will surcharge you $50 each way. USAir, Continental, and a few others are just idiotic about the situation.

This surcharge especially sucks because my case is smaller than their max size and lighter than their max weight. They surcharge you solely because it is a bike. Furthermore, the surcharge does not cover insurance.

So, call them up AND check them out on-line. Bring a copy of their policy. DO NOT take the word of the travel agent. If they do surcharge, I would buy a box (or go to your local bike store) preferably that does not indicate a bike is inside. Pack it with clothing and make sure it's not overweight or oversized. Take it on and do not say a word about the bike.

Finally, find out what the law allows per bag for coverage -breakage, loss, et al. Then figure out what that's worth compared to your bike.

There are places that rent cases. However, for the 3.5 months you'll be away - this will probably cost too much.

As for packing - it's quite simple. Remove the wheels, drop the seat post, and remove the handlebars (without disconnecting any cables), and you are set. All you need are some allen wrenches. Fill up the space and protect your frame by throwing in all of your clothing. Wrap the chain in a bag or sarran wrap and tape - you're set!
Best of Luck
re: Question about travelling w/ a bikeNeedSpeed
Jul 16, 2002 1:58 PM
Good news and bad news on this issue:

The good news is that since you are flying internationally, you can check your bike as luggage without having to pay the $75-$100 (each way!!) charge all US airlines charge for domestic flights. Before 9-11, you could try and skirt this domestic charge by saying the case contained camera equipment (after all, they don't charge for skis, hunting rifles or golf clubs), but now, they check EVERYTHING. So for you flight, you won't have to fork over any more money to the airlines.

The bad news is that you really should invest in a plastic hard bike case, such as an Ironcase. Those usually run around $325, but Performance and perhaps some other shops have versions that are less expensive. Bike bags or those carboard boxes you must by from the airlines really don't protect your frame. I took two bikes over to France on my honeymoon and had to replace a chainring because the loaders threw the bag and bent the ring. Plus, I had small dents on the frame. Trust me, it's best to invest in a hard case that truly protects your frame if other luggage hits it.

Lastly, if you go the bike box route (from the airlines) you have to get to the airport about 2-3 hours early, buy the box and tell them you are checking a bike. Then you have to pack your dismantled bike carefully and make sure you have your tools and tape with you. They might not offer you tape or scissors (Northwest didn't). I suppose you might be able to buy a giant ream of bubble wrap and surround your frame with it and tape it, but those bike boxes are NARROW. Probably only about 6-8 inches wide. You'd have to make it fit without it pushing past the shape of the box or else the box WILL tear.

You might want to call your LBS and ask how much it would be to have them ship it. It may be the cheapest route and they will know how to pack the bike to avoid any damage in transit. At the most, you might be waiting for your bike for 3-4 weeks depending on how much you pay and how soon you want it. The largest LBS in your area is probably a certified FedEx or UPS location and will know how to ship it.

Finally (sorry for the length) if you take your bike on the frame, once you land, high-tail it to the oversized luggage baggage claim. When we landed at Charles DeGaulle in Paris, we found several bike boxes just sitting there on a large dolly. NO SECURITY anywhere to be see. Someone could have decided they wanted my bike and just took off with it and no one would have noticed.

Hope this info helps ...
This site may be an over-kill, but it maycoonass
Jul 16, 2002 6:03 PM
give you some answers to questions that you hadn't regarded:
http://www.budgettravel.com/cycling.htm
re: Question about travelling w/ a bikeZvierBoy
Jul 17, 2002 3:37 AM
Caetie,

I have traveled several times (US to Europe, Europe to US and within Europe) with my bike and i tried the follwing: hard case, soft bicycle bag, and a bicycle carton (I got it form my LBS). I never had to pay for flying with the bike. However one time, Chicago to Krakow, they wanted to slap me with a fee (traveled with a carton from LBS), but since I had a business ticket that time I had no problems.

One thing, I have not traveled with my bike since the 9/11 in the States so a lot of rules could have changed as someone pointed out earlier.

- Hard bag: Protects the bike well, probably the best solution even if costly. You can squize helmet, shoes, and other various small items there. Durable but costly.

- Soft Bag: make sure you wrap something around the frame to protect it or else the frame may get SCRATCHES. After a single use the bag I have took a serious beating. Somewhat expensive (€75) and not so durable.

- Carton from LBS: Go to ur LBS and ask for a box they receive with bike shipments plus ask for all the extra stuff that comes with the box becaseu they may throw it away!!! These will include either soft carton or plastic wraps that will go around the frame segments, a plastic fork-insert, another plastic insert for the wheel axle, and a few plastic heavy duty bags these will be handy to store any parts of the bike (skewers, etc.) The carton is heavy duty enough to reuse it even. I used it on Chicago-Krakow(PL)-Torino(IT) trip all over a 6 months time frame and it held up just fine!!! In fact i stored my bike in the box during winter. Free and durable.

The time I traveled with a hard case at Chicago check in I did said I had computer parts inside for work when asked and had no problems, but probably not a wise white-lie this time around.

So how I would rate the 3 solutions?
1) hard bag
2) carton
3) soft bag

Don't discard the soft bag, I traveled with it on a train and it is usefull, certainly a better choice then the casket like hard case.

For the bike fee I think if you travel business class you should be fine, but call ahead and verify.

And if you get here before the snow we may do some riding together. I am a short distance from Switzeralnd, in Torino, Italy.

Hope this helps,
zvierboy
re: Question about travelling w/ a bikePMC
Jul 17, 2002 5:08 AM
Nashbar has the Trico Iron Case for $249.00 on sale. I bought mine from them a few years back with a 20% off coupon and including delivery paid less than $230.00

I've never had a bike trashed during shipping so I'd say it's worth it.

Good Luck