Boxing up a bike to put on a plane

KnightOfTheLongTights
KnightOfTheLongTights Posts: 1,415
edited October 2011 in Workshop
Am going to be flying back from Nice in a couple of weeks' time and was thinking of just getting a disused bike package from a bike shop there to box it up.

What do I need to do? Remove wheels? Deflate the tyres? Bubble wrap the rear mech?

Thanks.

Comments

  • Herbsman
    Herbsman Posts: 2,029
    This is a really good guide http://www.condorcycles.com/june-2010/p ... e-bag.html - applies to both bike boxes and bike bags
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • rafletcher
    rafletcher Posts: 1,235
    You need to contact the airline you're going to use (or chaek their website) and see what THEY tell you to do. Other peoples experiences matter not a jot.
  • pilot_pete
    pilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    You can probably guess from my nick what I do for a living :wink:

    I see close hand the art of baggage handling and must admit that my finest crockery probably wouldn't stand a chance....

    So, depends how much value you put on your pride and joy. I personally treasure mine and as such rent a bike box when I travel abroad. I have used one of these http://bikeboxalan.co.uk/ which is about the best I have found on the market. They can be hired, or purchased. The hire option is cheaper from http://www.bikeboxonline.co.uk/HomeLondonandBristolHireHubs/tabid/627/Default.aspx Biggest plus is there is a metal pole between the two halves which protects against crush forces.

    Normally, one of these would be loaded last (after all the bags) and usually in the front hold of an aircraft (less bags in the front). Once all the bags are loaded, tethered nets are attached to prevent shifting of the bags in flight, BUT these can sometimes not be secured by the baggage handlers (more often than I care to mention!) which can lead to bags shifting around. Just to put this into context, if your box is loaded last it will be closer to the front of the aircraft (if loaded in the front hold). If the nets aren't all secured the bags tend to shift forwards on landing when we apply the brakes - the shorter the runway, the harder we apply the brakes, the more force behind this shifting mass of bags. A 737-800 (typical shorthaul around Europe type) can hold 2400kg of bags in its forward hold (although the worst case is if the hold isn't volumetrically full, as there is more room for the bags to move!) Now consider your precious bike having a ton or so of bags thrown at it in one go. Add this to the possibility of it being dropped from the hold door to the tarmac by a clumsy baggage handler and you can see the potential for damage.

    That's the worst case scenario, and of course that isn't going to happen every time you fly, BUT it only takes one such episode to spoil your day.

    Cheers and hope you found this helpful.

    PP

    p.s. Edited to add, check with the carrier regarding how your bike must be packaged. It should appear in the 'small print' when you buy your ticket under 'Conditions of Carriage' or some such guff!!!!! Be VERY careful, especially with the low cost outfits as they will sting you for excess fees if it doesn't comply with weight limits etc. There is technically no need to deflate tyres, but if they tell you to, just do it. If you hire a bike box like the one above it is all packed and inside - nothing hanging out like handlebars etc for them to worry about. It really is the best option (if not the cheapest) I am considering buying one as I travel once or twice a year with my bike.
  • nferrar
    nferrar Posts: 2,511
    One thing you don't need to worry about is deflating tyres, the hold will be pressurised.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Saw someone unloading the bikes from the back of a plane at Toulouse - out the hold dropping directly onto the tarmac 6 feet below!

    Get some frame packaging spacers from your LBS.

    Remove pedals, wheels, chain, turn bars and rotate downwards to loop through the frame. Fit spacers. Unscrew rear mech and attach to rear frame spacer

    Get some plumbing pipe lagging and cable ties to protect the frame tubes and any exposed bits. Cable tie the wheels to the frame, protected by the foam padding. You should have a quite compact, solid package. You can put it in a bike shipping carton or a heavy duty plastic bag.

    Some airlines have a fixed charge for bikes - you pay regardless.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Herbsman
    Herbsman Posts: 2,029
    rafletcher wrote:
    You need to contact the airline you're going to use (or chaek their website) and see what THEY tell you to do. Other peoples experiences matter not a jot.
    I think you'll find that other people's experiences can be very valuable when it comes to taking a bike on a plane. That is unless you're a complete ignoramus.
    CAPTAIN BUCKFAST'S CYCLING TIPS - GUARANTEED TO WORK! 1 OUT OF 10 RACING CYCLISTS AGREE!
  • satanas
    satanas Posts: 1,303
    The first time I went to PBP I saw some horrendous damage to bikes by BA between London and Paris. Always use spacers between the dropouts if wheels are removed(!), and consider using bubble wrap or pipe lagging around frame tubes, especially the top tube - if the bike is unboxed padding the frame tubes should be mandatory.

    Having said that, I have personaly only had minor damage like scratches as a lot of it boils down to luck. If you fly enough sooner or later sh1t WILL happen.
  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    I flew out to Majorca with Easyjet.

    Used a fairly cheap bike bag, packing spacers for front and rear forks, plus removed saddle, rear mech and taped it up.

    No problems at all ( there is a reasonable fixed charge you should pay in advance ).

    I have heard stories of rough treatment on other flights though.

    Transatlantic flights seem to be worse ( just the impression I have had ).
  • pilot_pete
    pilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    It has very little to do with the airline you fly with, other than price and terms and conditions of carriage. It has very little to do with the route you fly.

    What it does depend on is the baggage handlers. They are virtually NEVER employees of the airline. Most are employed by a ground handling firm, and if you are flying between two countries you will usually have your bike 'handled' by two different ground handling firms.

    Service level agreements are in place with these companies, usual based around 'on time performance' of flights, and often fines or clawback clauses are in place if delays are attributable to the handling firm. This leads to pressure being applied on the ground handling teams to 'get the job done', which can mean that corners are cut and bags are thrown!

    Take it from me, if you have used a soft sided case or bike bag and your pride and joy has arrived un-damaged, then you have got away with it and been lucky. This does not reflect the true risk in my opinion, and one day the inevitable WILL happen.

    Do yourself a favour and rent a hard case. You have been warned!

    PP
  • Somewhere (hah!) on Youtube is a video of two chaps testing a hard case bike box with someone's pride and joy inside. They throw it out of the back of a car at speed to prove the point. They ride away.

    Trouble is you can't cycle away from the airport with a hard-case box tucked under one's arm

    Ho-hum.
    2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Roadbike
    2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez broken
    1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/Shopper
    1980s Orbea project
  • pilot_pete
    pilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    You'll be talking about this video...http://bikeboxalan.co.uk/ halfway down the page.
    Trouble is you can't cycle away from the airport with a hard-case box tucked under one's arm

    This is very true, but it is just as hard to ride away from the airport on a bike that is in more parts than it was designed to be!!!! :lol: And if you use a soft case, what will you do with all your padding? Throw it away and hope to be able to find more at your destination for the flight home?

    If you are touring I can appreciate the problem. A bit of planning ahead may be of use. Perhaps consider getting the box shipped to your final destination and stored until your arrival? It ain't gonna be cheap, but it all comes down to how much risk you are willing to take with your pride and joy. The more expensive the bike, I suspect the less risk you will be happy with. You can usually find storage facilities near airports....

    PP
  • pilot_pete
    pilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    Forgot to add, check with the conditions of carriage with the airlines you are considering using. I think many cap the amount of damages they will pay if they make a mess of your freight...which may well be a lot less than the value of your steed...worth looking at additional insurance, perhaps your home contents policy before you travel.

    PP
  • Another idea; if the hardcase option really is not for you is to perhaps use a reputable courier instead - why not DHL the bike down to where ever? OK, for sure there are some logistics to deal with but it may be a cab or bus ride to the local depot is do-able.

    Down hereabouts they'll deliver, for example, to the local poste-restante which is a short walk from the railway station which is a bus ride from the airport.

    If the likes of mighty Rose Bikes trust DHL I'd prolly not rule them out.

    That said, although I've never done it, I do like the idea of landing someplace Ryan-able and just cycling away from the airport.....
    2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Roadbike
    2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez broken
    1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/Shopper
    1980s Orbea project
  • pilot_pete
    pilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    "like" and "Ryan" in the same sentance......not words that I would ever associate being used together!!!!!!

    PP