How to travel by air with your bike

Step-by-step guide to make sure your pride and joy arrives in one piece

Come fly with me...

With the training camp season ready to swing into action, air travel with your loved one (bike) can be a risky and stressful experience.

But with a little forward planning, patience and electrical tape, you can reduce the level of uncertainty that comes with travelling overseas and expect your bike to arrive in one piece.

Traveling by air with your bike can be a stressful experience (Pic: Colin Dennis)

What is out of your control is the way your bike is handled at the airport once it’s left your side. There’s also a good chance that you’ve heard of or experienced bike travel horror stories yourselves, and this doesn’t help alleviate any anxiety.

Luggage handlers don’t always get a good press, but on the whole – and it has to be taken across a broad scale – bikes generally do arrive quite safely and in one piece. The idea of your beautiful and painstakingly-prepared carbon steed stuffed away at the bottom of the luggage hold may not be a pretty thought, but unless you’re an airport employee, you might just be harbouring the wrong impression.

So, what do we do? We hope for the best, but we also plan for the worst by protecting a bike the best that we can.

Before travelling abroad for your winter training camp it might be the ideal time to get your bike serviced, so let’s start at your local bike shop. While you’re at it, does your friendly LBS have a suitable bike box for hire? Many shops are cottoning onto this service and if you are an infrequent flyer simply hiring a bike box or bag can save you money.

The bike shop is also the place to pick up some frame savers, a seattube bung and some protective packaging. Bike shops will always be glad to get rid of any packaging, but it’s the frame savers that are really important as they protect the frame and forks at the dropouts. You can’t have too much protective packaging at your disposal: bubble wrap, pipe lagging, cardboard and clean rags all have their place.

Now it’s time to answer a key question… should you use a bike box or bike bag? More on the next page.


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