How to travel by air with your bike

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

Bike box or bike bag?

The more protection we can afford our bike the better, so a rigid bike box makes perfect sense. They’re also very expensive. This works if you’re a frequent flyer with your bike or can afford it, but be careful when selecting your bike box.

Does your bike have an integrated seat post? (Mind you, this is an awkward situation for any bike bag) do you have a large frame?

A bike bag is more affordable and often roomier than a box, but offers less protection (Pic: Colin Dennis)

Check the dimensions of your frame against any prospective box before purchasing. A standard size road bike (say, 56cm) shouldn’t have any problem fitting in, but double check first; anything larger might just be a tight squeeze. You really don’t want to be squeezing anything in.

One major pro for the rigid bike box is, aside from the obvious Armadillo-like protection, is that you don’t need to unscrew the rear derailleur from your bike. Although not an onerous task if you’re careful, but it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Bike bags are generally lighter in weight than bike boxes but the fact that they’re soft means that they don’t offer as much protection – though some have more padding than others.

Here’s a thought, though. A luggage handler might just take more care of a soft bag, rather than slinging a fully protected bike box on and off the trolley. Bags tend to come in larger sizes, too – great for bigger frames and bikes.

Some bike bags, like the EVOC Travel Bag, are available with an internal frame mount for the dropouts to fit securely into and this is a great benefit, providing additional support and protection for your frame. Wheels will slot into their own compartments within the bike bag and the bag itself should come with reinforced sides to help to protect the wheels.

Whether you opt for a box or a bag, don’t trust it to a wing and a prayer, prep your bike first and enjoy the flight. Here’s what you need to do the job…


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