Bikes on planes

General bike chat that does not fit elsewhere
kippings
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Bikes on planes

Postby kippings » Tue Oct 16, 2012 18:52 pm

I am in discussions with a group about taking bikes on a plane for a trip next year. Some are concerned about the safety of their bikes, but I have travelled a few times without problems. What are you experiences with air travel and bikes?

Pilot Pete
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Pilot Pete » Tue Oct 16, 2012 19:21 pm

Good, if you pack them properly. I use a hard shell bike box, which are expensive to buy, cheaper to rent. It has an anti-crush pole in the middle too. If you check my nick, you can see what I do for a living! ;-)

With that in mind I wouldn't use a soft sided bag....

PP

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Cannock Chase
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Cannock Chase » Tue Oct 16, 2012 19:46 pm

What do you do with the hard shell type box when you arrive at your destination?
I'm not getting old... I'm just using lower gears......
Sirius - Steel Reynolds 631
Cove Handjob - Steel Columbus Nivacrom
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sunburntknees
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby sunburntknees » Tue Oct 16, 2012 20:09 pm

Have used a soft bag loads of times. No problems.

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Monty Dog
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Monty Dog » Tue Oct 16, 2012 20:40 pm

I gave up on hard-sided cases after one was trashed - baggage handlers don't treat big, heavy, overweight items with too much care. A well-packed padded bike bag is just as effective for everything but crush damage IME. I have a custom ti Ritchey Breakaway CX clone that fits in a regular size case - don't pay baggage charges and I know that the bike will arrive intact.
Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..

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meursault
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby meursault » Wed Oct 17, 2012 05:02 am

Is it the sequel to this?

Image
Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

Voltaire

lyn1
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby lyn1 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 07:16 am

Always used padded bags for many years and never had a problem. Nor have any of the lads while racing abroad. 50+ trips. We use the pipe lagging stuff on vulnerable frame parts and plenty of bubble wrap. Then put a cut down cardboard bike box (from local bike shop) inside the bike bag for extra protection.

mallorcajeff
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby mallorcajeff » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:27 am

I use a soft bag and have done many times. I remove the rear deraileur and put a short piece of wood with a hole drilled through to put between the dropouts and then clamped in place with the skewers. I wrap the whole bike with pipe lagging and then bubble wrap. then inside the bag i put two small kids lilos which i inflate. works great and is not tee heavy. I have an intergrated seat mast so couldnt get a bag/box to fit it.
looks like this when i travel. chuck a roll of tape and cable ties in the bag to do that same when you come home. takes about two hours but worth the effrt. I usually remove the fork too and strap it to the frame.
Image

Pilot Pete
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Pilot Pete » Wed Oct 17, 2012 16:33 pm

Cannock Chase wrote:What do you do with the hard shell type box when you arrive at your destination?


I leave it at the villa where I stay ready to pack my bike back into it when I'm done. :wink:

As for soft bags, well, you may get by unscathed again and again and again, but it only takes one ham fisted baggage handler to spoil your record. There are also hard cases and hard cases....some are better than others (significantly so). I use a Bike Box Alan which is about as tough as you can get. Many pros use these too. The beauty is they are very tough, it takes about 10-15 minutes to pack your bike, you don't need pipe lagging, cable ties, duct tape or anything else, just the tools to take your stem and pedals off. They also come with wheels and are really easy to manoeuvre around an airport/ car park, a bonus as most airports are now charging for using trolleys! With the anti crush post that fits in the middle of the box you are also safe from that potential problem.

I've seen baggage handlers throw bags, drop bags, drive over bags, drop bags off moving vehicles and generally abuse them. Are you sure your soft bag with cardboard will protect your pride and joy if it falls from a baggage cart cornering at 20+mph? It only has to happen once in your '50+' flights to ruin your trip....

Another point worth noting is how bikes and bags are packed in the hold of an aeroplane. Bigger, wide body jets tend to utilise ULD (unit load devices) where items are placed into these big containers that are then put in the aircraft. On shorthaul narrow body aircraft the bags are simply placed in the holds and restraining nets clipped in to prevent to bags shifting around in flight. Now, if your pride and joy is placed in the front hold last (which is fairly common) and the nets aren't secured properly (again an all to common occurrence) you can find that your bike can have several tonnes of baggage shifting forwards (usually after landing during braking) straight onto it. You willing to risk it? It is rare, but when all the links in the error chain join up you end up with a crushed soft case, cardboard and carbon fibre sandwich...

So it all comes down to attitude to risk just like insurance really. You may get away unscathed for a lifetime or your bike may be ruined the first time you travel. It's your choice.

PP

P.s. forgot to add, there is a good video on the Bike Box Alan website showing them shoving their box with bike out the bike of a fast moving Range Rover. Needless to say, it was unscathed.

cougie
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby cougie » Thu Oct 18, 2012 01:42 am

Done plenty of flights with a soft shell case. Packed properly it's as safe as anything. If you've padded it well enough - you can throw the bike down your stairs without risk.

Hard cases are good too but still secure the bike in it. Mate of mine didn't and bust his rear hanger off. Oops.

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Cannock Chase
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Cannock Chase » Thu Oct 18, 2012 07:43 am

Pilot Pete wrote:
Cannock Chase wrote:What do you do with the hard shell type box when you arrive at your destination?

I leave it at the villa where I stay ready to pack my bike back into it when I'm done..

Yes that's fine but supposing you're on a touring holiday, different stop every night...?
I'm not getting old... I'm just using lower gears......
Sirius - Steel Reynolds 631
Cove Handjob - Steel Columbus Nivacrom
Trek Madone - Carbon

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Chinley Churner
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Chinley Churner » Thu Oct 18, 2012 07:56 am

mallorcajeff wrote:I use a soft bag and have done many times. I remove the rear deraileur and put a short piece of wood with a hole drilled through to put between the dropouts and then clamped in place with the skewers. I wrap the whole bike with pipe lagging and then bubble wrap. then inside the bag i put two small kids lilos which i inflate. works great and is not tee heavy. I have an intergrated seat mast so couldnt get a bag/box to fit it.
looks like this when i travel. chuck a roll of tape and cable ties in the bag to do that same when you come home. takes about two hours but worth the effrt. I usually remove the fork too and strap it to the frame.
Image


For travelling out to races I'm firmly in the Bike Box camp.... it takes 5 minutes to get the bike packed and 5 minutes to unpack... 4 hours spent faffing with bubble wrap, zip ties and tape??? No thanks, life's too short.

fish156
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby fish156 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 08:08 am

I take the middle ground. I use a soft bag that has a rigid base which the frame clamps in to.

4 hours faffing with tape, zip ties & bubble wrap? 1/2 hr tops for me to break down and pack the bike. I use large sheets of bubble wrap around the entire frame, rather than individually wrap each frame tube.

The advantage of soft cases is the weight. I pack my cycle kit (shoes, helmet, clothing, etc) in the soft bag with the bike and it comes within the 23kg limit, so I only need to check in a single case (plus hand luggage). With BA this means no extra luggage expenses.

As Pilot Pete says, it's down to your attitude to risk. I don't ride a £2.5k frame.

ManOfKent
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby ManOfKent » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:54 am

I took my bike to Mallorca earlier in the year. The Massi hardshell box it was in had one set of semi-recessed wheels punched through into the inside of the box on the outbound journey, as though the box had been dropped onto that corner, and lost another set altogether on the way home. Fortunately the damage was at the same end as the carry handle so I could still use the box; unfortunately it contributed to my not noticing until I was clear of the airports - no claim against EasyJet.

Mine was the only case/bag from my group of a dozen, to sustain any damage. (An identical box was unscathed.) One box was too big to fit into the X-ray machine at Palma though, and had to be carried the length of the terminal to a freight scanning machine.

It just seems like the luck of the draw. One piece of advice I was given: if you're going to a place where it's possible to hire bikes, carry your helmet and pedals in hand luggage; that way if the bike is lost or trashed en route you still have a chance of doing some cycling.

mallorcajeff
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby mallorcajeff » Thu Oct 18, 2012 21:16 pm

Its seems a lot of faf but i only travel with the bike once a year tops from mallorca to the uk and i stay at my parents so im not in any rush. I am flying this tuesday coming and will be doing it the same way. Maybe a bit mad on a bike that retialed at 7k but with an intergrated seat post I dont find anything else that fits and bike box alan i find once packed out seems to be over airline limits no? something like 14kilo empty?

Pilot Pete
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Pilot Pete » Thu Oct 18, 2012 22:08 pm

Cannock Chase wrote:
Pilot Pete wrote:
Cannock Chase wrote:What do you do with the hard shell type box when you arrive at your destination?

I leave it at the villa where I stay ready to pack my bike back into it when I'm done..

Yes that's fine but supposing you're on a touring holiday, different stop every night...?


Well that wouldn't work then would it! Like I said, depends on your attitude to risk. You can't have it all ways. Either you pack your bike in a very strong hard shell case and minimise the risk, or you compromise in some way. I personally wouldn't put my pride and joy in bubble wrap and a bag on a plane. Remember, I do the job day in day out and am only passing on my considerable, informed opinion on the subject.

Jeff, the Bike Box Alan is heavier than a bag etc, but that's what gives it the strength and means it is able to protect your bike. I personally put the bike, bottles, tools and seat pack in it and it doesn't come over the limit. If you start trying to pack shoes, clothing, helmet and other belongings in it I am sure you would easily reach or exceed the limit.

Sending bikes in the hold of an aeroplane is still a fairly infrequent occurrence. If more cyclists who did it complained about the weight limit, the respective airline may consider revising its policy. Having said that, if you are travelling with a low cost carrier, this is the sort of area where they make their money, they certainly don't make much out of the headline ticket price of £29.99!!! I still think I is cheap for the distance I travel. I have just booked Squeezy Jet to Faro for a cycling trip and the return ticket with bike box is only £160ish. Bargain. Hire of the bike box for a week is £80 delivered and picked up. Mates villa costs us nothing, spending money on beer and food a couple of hundred quid and that's a week cycling on fantastic roads, in nice weather in November for under £500 all in. Can't complain.

PP


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