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Flying Bikes

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Flying Bikes

Post  Spindoctor on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:50 am

Nothing to do with speed this thread, if I want my bike to be flying I'll need to lend it to someone better then me ....

No, this is cycling logistics, as I am aware the summer break is coming up and some of you may be planning your European tours, or an acquisition trail, and as a cycling nomad I have acquired plentiful experience of flying bikes with various airlines. Sharing some of this with you may help you both in the selection of a bike bag or box, and in the preparation and packing, so you have your pride and joy undamaged and ride-able at the other end.

This year alone, my bikes have been in UK, UAE, Oman, and France. On vans, in cars, on trains and planes, including the spectrum from Etihad to (Oh My God) Easyjet! So I have either been lucky or been doing the right thing. So here’s a guide:

Boxes

A huge range and some may say a cardboard box and loads of packing. Well good luck, but I never would, and what about the return journey? Hard cases are great, they offer reassurance to you, and a real challenge to the luggage handlers, I have had one, I it is comforting to have your bike in a hard case, but they do tend to use up 75% of the baggage allowance, and are bulky things which don’t always fit in a boot unless you have a 4x4 or Yank Tank.

Tips:
Get one with wheels, and a pull handle and they are great around concourses
Your bikes outer shell is pretty robust, but they will trash a car’s interior.
They do tend to be a bit wobbly when open because of the large clam shape, so an outer strap and locking side catches are essential.
Consider the size – they are fine for regular bikes, but XL frames can be a challenge, and in my case an ISP (Integrated seat post) rules them out. For value try the Big Bike Box Company http://www.thebikeboxcompany.co.uk/, or the very top of the range BoxAlan, which was the only ISP sized hard case I could find http://bikeboxalan.co.uk/


Bags

Almost as wide a choice and budget range here as with boxes. The big advantage is weight, and their car friendliness. If you have a regular frame, and don’t fly too often, or with dubious airlines this is a real option. They don’t protect from crushing or spike damage, and can easily be opening up by a thief – but if you’re going to steal a bike in transit, steal the whole bag, it’s less obvious.

Tips:
For a lightweight all-rounder look no further than Chain Reaction’s own brand: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=15325 – it has good capacity and shoulder straps which mean you can wear it like rucksack if larger spaces, leaving your with 2 hands free.

Pockets are great – for pedals, skewers, and the essential hex key set
Pick a bag that makes specific provision for wheels and their side impact protection – separate wheel bags alone don’t do this.
Watch how the bike mounts in the bag – especially if the chain ring teeth or rear mechanism are prone to impact damage
Consider the frequency of flying – I fly a lot, and have this tall frame issue, so stumped up the extra cash for the EVOC http://www.evocsports.com/en/evoc-bike/bike-travelbag.html - and all in all think my bike is as well protected in this as it was in box


And finally....
There is the money no object Bikind http://www.biknd.com/index_en.html, impressive but very expensive, and in actual fact all the cushions generalise pressure, when wads of bubble wrap squeezed around the frame can be just as effective. But you have to have the bike to go in it, which justifies the £425!

Other things to consider:
See the other thread on bike packing & CO2 gas cylinders on planes – always a difficult one!
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Re: Flying Bikes

Post  MNSlingerland on Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:46 pm

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