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Yes, there is good cycling to be had at home, but with the busy British roads and far from certain weather conditions; sometimes it is worth venturing overseas in search of your cycling Nirvana.
Travelling with a bike IS stressful.
The first time we traveled with ours my head was swimming! Who should I fly with? How should I pack? What should I pack? Will it get lost? Will it get damaged?
Hopefully this simple guide to cycling travel can take a few of the ‘what ifs’ out of your bike transportation.
It is most likely that you will need to remove wheels, pedals and handlebars /tri bars, as a minimum, prior to your travel. It is also worthwhile to note that most airlines will ask you to deflate tyres (although leaving some air in them will protect the wheels rims from damage during the flight).
At the very least, have your bike bag/box ready to pack a couple of days in advance. Try to practice assembling and dissembling your bike a few times before you travel with it for the first time. This will remove the pressure to get it right first time, and potentially save you money for mechanical assistance when you arrive at your location.
There are several ways to pack a bike for transportation, some are more costly than others, but equally of course, some are more effective than others. Although you CAN pack a bike in, for example, a cardboard box from a bike shop, you might want consider, before you do this, the durability of the material you’re packing your bike in and, of course, the restrictions and guidelines of your chosen airline.
If you are going to travel regularly with your bike, or wish to have greater peace of mind while transporting your beloved bicycle, it may be worthwhile investing in a purpose made bike box or bag. The main advantage of this being that these cases have been specifically designed to transport a bike and, as such, will have straps, padding and protections built in to aid in your bike’s safe travel.
These bike cases also usually come with guidelines and instructions on how best to pack your bike to fit that case, which makes the whole process considerably easier.
There are a variety of options available when it comes to bike bags and boxes, the most obvious divide being either a hard or a soft case. The former potentially offers more protection, and arguably, more security for your bike, while a soft case is, usually, cheaper, lighter, and less bulky (especially for storage when not in use).
If the bike and case are under the maximum weight allowance, you can then add extra padding and protection for your bike i.e pipe lagging or bubble wrap (to save on baggage space we have also been known to put in light weight coats and towels, although beware that some airlines have restrictions on what you can and can not pack in with your bike). Remember to secure any parts that you have removed from your bike (i.e skewers, seat post, pedals) prior to travel, so that they do not move around inside your case and cause damage to your bike.
Baggage size restrictions and weight limits can vary massively from airline to airline, as can the amount of notice you need to give the airline before you travel. Even the airline policies on what does and doesn’t constitute ‘suitable’ travel packaging are not unified..
If in doubt, seek email confirmation of policies and keep the responses.
To help you in your research, below is a list of popular airlines and their policies as regards bike travel.
You can travel with bicycles of up to 190 cm (75 in) in length as part of your checked baggage allowance (allowance varies dependent on destination, but most common 23 kg) provided:
Baggage allowance: 32kg
Bikes with hydraulic suspensions or brake systems are also accepted.
Taking your bike on a FlyBe flight is subject to space availability.
Baggage allowance: 30kg
Bicycles – Items max weight 32kg – Max size 6ft x 3ft (182cm x 91cm) Bicycles must, as a minimum, be wrapped in stiff cardboard with the pedals off and the handlebars turned inline with the frame. Tyres MUST be partially deflated.
Excess Baggage fee – £12 per kg
Ryanair accept bikes on flights as Sporting Equipment items.
Bikes must be contained in a protective bike box or bike bag
You can bring your bicycle with you, as part of your baggage allowance – as long as it doesn’t weigh more than 23kg.
This applies to bicycles (including tandems), which should be transported in a protective box or bag – which you will need to provide yourself.
Emirates will accept sporting equipment as checked baggage and part of your standard baggage allowance. If you intend to take a bicycle as checked luggage, please contact the airline at least 24 hours in advance. Special packaging rules may apply.
Individual items with total dimensions exceeding 300cm (118 inches) cannot be transported as checked baggage, and must be sent as cargo or freight. There are no exceptions to this rule.
The total dimensions (length + width + height) of the bicycle must not exceed 300cm (118 inches). Any sporting equipment with total dimensions exceeding 300cm (118 inches ) cannot be transported as checked baggage and must be sent as cargo or freight.
Bikes can be included as part of your baggage allowance as long as they weigh no more than 32kg and do not exceed the maximum dimensions of 300cm.
If you are travelling with your bike, please ensure it is well packed and does not exceed the maximum size or dimensions per piece.
Make sure your bike is carefully packed in a specific protective case or bike box. Before you travel –and unless the instructions for your protective case state otherwise– please remove or fix the pedals inwards; the handlebars must be fixed sideways and tyres deflated to reduce the risk of damage.
Over-sized baggage charge = up to 60 USD per direction of travel.
Passengers wishing to take bicycles must ensure they are suitably packed. Additionally, the handlebars must be turned inwards, the pedals removed and the air let out of the tyres. The bicycle must be wrapped in a protective layer such as plastic foil or cardboard.
Baggage allowance: 23 kg
You can take a bicycle or tandem (non-electric) of max weight 23 kg (including the bike box) with you; provided that it is packed in a box, container or bag that is specifically designed for bike transportation. Because of limited space on our aircraft, you need to reserve for the transportation of special baggage as early as possible – no later than 48 hours before departure.
n. The maximum dimensions for this bike box are 176.5 x 23.0 x 101.5 cm (69 x 9 x 40 in). The best way to protect your bike is by using a hardcover casing. However, a softcover casing is also allowed if it includes an internal protective packing material.
Make sure your bicycle weighs no more than 23 kg / 50 lb (or 32 kg / 70 lb in the Business or La Première cabins) including bag/box/case, and that its total dimensions are 300 cm / 118 in or under. You will need to get prior approval from our customer services department in some cases. This approval is always required when traveling as a group (10 or more passengers). You must submit your request at least 48 hours before your flight’s departure.
Transportation of bicycles free of charge provided the weight of the bike (including bag/box) does not exceed your permitted free baggage allowance.
Baggage allowance: 23k
Register sports baggage up to 24 hours before departure via the reservation hotline (+49 (0)69 – 86 799 799)
Many standard travel insurance policies either do not cover, or will only offer minimal pay out for any damage incurred to your bike during transit, so it is worthwhile checking the specifics of your policy, and perhaps seeking out specialist insurance cover. It is a good idea to check the condition of your bike before you leave the airport, as the airline’s liability for in-flight damage may be limited if the damage is reported after you leave baggage claim.
REMEMBER flights can be delayed and baggage can go missing in transit. While these unfortunate events can usually be sorted in a couple of days, this might be too late for you if you are participating in an event or race shortly after your arrival. It could be worthwhile therefore, to pack a few race essentials (pedals, glasses, shoes, jersey and shorts) in your hand luggage. This way, if the worst comes to the worst, you can hire a bike at your destination and still take part in your event.
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