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Hi.

 

I am really going crazy now, I need to take my bicycle with me on a plane.

I think bike bags and boxes are ridiculously overpriced, but then so is shipping a bike oveland or getting a new bike everywhere you fly.

Price aside, I still have not found a box or bag that would reasonably protect my bike and stay within 23kg luggage limit (box + bicycle - 8kg + accessories)

Does such a box exist?

Everything I checked wouldn't fit a thru-axle, or would not protect the discs on the wheels or the handle bars...

Ideally I'd like a solution with the least amount of disassembly or at least the least amount of tools.

Ideally, I would rather not remove the rear derailleur - I was told that they are not meant to be removed regularly and that can damage the thread in the frame. Is that correct?

Have I missed a bag under £400 that would tick all the boxes or you know at least do what it's supposed to do i.e. protect my bicycle against airline standard treatment?

 

 

 

12 comments

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Pilot Pete [190 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Bike Box Alan. I take my disc brake bike away every year using mine. 

You can’t expect to not have to dismantle some bits of a bike to fit it in a sensible sized box. And as for the rear derailleur, it’s just a thread like any other. Assemble it with an anti seize like coppaslip grease and torque it up to the correct setting and it will be fine when removing and re fitting.

All you need is a few Allen keys and it is simple to re-assemble your bike. Takes about 20 mins when you arrive at destination. I use a split link in the chain and also carry the tool to make undoing them easy, and with Di2 I take the tiny plastic tool to clip/ unclip the battery cable in the seat post.

The BBA looks expensive on first appearance, but they cost nigh on £100 to rent for a week. I first rented one for £60 and the price steadily went up each year. After two years I invested in one and I have used it half a dozen times and friends have borrowed it as many times. So, now it has worked out very cheap and each time I use it the cost per use is obviously coming down and down. They are rugged and last for years and they give you peace of mind.

PP

 

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Boombang [66 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Bike Box Alan is more than 10kg though isn't it?

Only bike boxes I can think of that meet the weight requirement are soft and not something I would even dream of taking a bike on a plan in (even those with metal frame inside).

For me, the only viable solution is a decent hard box and pay the extra to transport costs each time OR hire a bike the other end.

Cheapest hard case I found that was a decent size is the PBK bike travel case (when it's on offer - including cashback I paid about £160).

I managed to hit 22kg on it once (unintentionally!) by putting pedals and some other bits into my hand luggage. The ~15kg box had a ~7kg bike plus shoes, clothes, bottles, gels, tubes, multi-tool etc. inside.

Usually is 23-24kg apart from first time when I also tool a load of tools and spares to leave abroad. Was 32kg that time.

I take it you are flying BA or another carrier that doesn't limit you on size for the standard case allowance?

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xchaotic [5 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Boombang wrote:

I take it you are flying BA or another carrier that doesn't limit you on size for the standard case allowance?

I'm flying BA one leg and then returning with KLM from another country. It also rules out renting a bike (not that I want to really - I'm really used to mine...)

I guess if I knew for certain that a rigid box works well, I'd probably invest in one.

I have read many reviews of rigid boxes being crushed. I guess that's better than having the bike itself damaged...

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xchaotic [5 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I've also found this tidbit:

The maximum dimensions for this bike box are 176.5 x 23.0 x 101.5 cm (69 x 9 x 40 in).

Special KLM bike boxes are available at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for EUR 20 each. They are within the maximum dimensions. The KLM bike box weighs 4.5 kg - so I guess that will be my last resort for flying back and I also have a cardboard box (+ some inserts to support the structure) for flying out...

 

 

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. . [198 posts] 3 weeks ago
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IMO, this is best solution:  https://www.wiggle.co.uk/ctc-cycling-uk-plastic-bike-bag/

The theory is they can see it is a bike, so they treat it appropriately.  It works in my experience.

(I still use UPVC drain pipe on levers and bar ends, and foam pipe insulation on the frame for an extra bit of protection.  And lots of 'FRAGILE' parcel tape from eBay)

BA are no problem with bikes.  I haven't flown a bike with KLM, but they sound a bit more difficult:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/klm-flying-dutchman/1966731-travelling-b...

I love the "it's parts of a bicycle" trick

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Boombang [66 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Have seen the argument for clear plastic bags a few times but to me that is quite a risk to take. I have seen luggage handlers throw kids car seats and pile up cases on top of cardboard boxes with fragile tape/markings. Main issue for me would be everyone involved in transporting the bike being able to shrug off any damage or cause you pain throughout the journey.

Carriers, such as BA, have a clause to refuse any baggage not appropriately packing, could see that being used here if you turned up at the airport.
Their limit of liability in terms of damaged baggage is wording such that they would wriggle out of any damage to the bike unless negligence - and even then they limit themselves to £1k.
Also read any travel or bike insurance carefully to make sure they do not have specific packing requirements (mine says 'securely packaged in a bike box').

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Pilot Pete [190 posts] 3 weeks ago
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BBA weighs in the region of 11kg. I think you are over thinking it if 1kg makes all the difference. Surely your bike doesn’t weight much over 8kg does it? That makes circa 19kg, so gives you 4kg to play with. Just pack it to 23kg and put the rest in a normal bag/ suitcase/ rucksack. If you can put cumbersome but lighter weight items like helmet in the bike box any heavier but smaller (by size) items can go in your suitcase. I really can’t see the issue and being so hung up on getting a box that is sub 10kg - you either want to protect your bike properly or you don’t.

I have posted on here, on BikeRadar and elsewhere in the past about baggage handling at airports. You may be able to see from my forum name that I fly aeroplanes all over the world for a living alongside being a keen cyclist and BC Coach. I choose the BBA due to my experiences ‘airside’ with baggage handlers. Many pro cyclists do the same. It is a hard shell, durable box with an anti-crush pole which holds the two sides apart so your pride and joy is as protected as it can be in transit.

As an aside, I insure my bikes with PedalCover which covers them at home, whilst out riding, against theft and/ or accidental damage, including when overseas AND in transit and covers everything from my bike, to my Garmin, to my lights and kit, everything.

It all comes down to how willing you are to have a trip ruined by taking a chance with a plastic bag (I can’t believe anyone really thinks that EVERY baggage handler both here and overseas who comes into contact with your pride and joy will treat it with the respect you would hope it would get). I’ve seen bags ripped apart, dropped off belt loaders (up to 15 feet off the ground), flung around in the hold, and onto baggage dollies. I’ve also seen them fly off baggage dollies as the driver who doesn’t give a toss drives around a bend too quickly. I’ve seen them end up under a following van/ truck. You confident your cardboard box or plastic bag would protect your bike in such circumstances? Remember, everyone has an anecdotal ‘Ive always used blah, blah, blah and never had a problem’. Fact is they travel once or twice a year and have so far not been unlucky. It WILL happen one day to their bike and then they won’t be posting about that on a forum...

PP

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xchaotic [5 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Thanks all.

 

I went with a rigid box after all a bit heavier than a bike box box alan, but then it's half the price.

It's got some downsides like poor latches, but I will fix them with velcro and duct tape.

I only plan to fly 2 return flights with a bike, so I am not yet investing more in a box that will inevitably get scratched and possibly damaged anyway.

Will keep you posted after my travels...

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Plasterer's Radio [546 posts] 3 weeks ago
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A cardboard box that every bike is delivered in.

Or if you live in western europe and have a job...Bike Box Alan. lol

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maviczap [381 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Bit late to this party, but these are virtually identical to BBA, but a lot cheaper!

https://www.probikekit.co.uk/cycling-accessories/pbk-bike-travel-case/11437202.html?affil=thggpsad&switchcurrency=GBP&shippingcountry=GB&variation=11437205&shoppingpid=TOP10_070318_&gclsrc=aw.ds&&thg_ppc_campaign=71700000008963581&gclid=CjwKCAjwzJjrBRBvEiwA867byuA05Nxl_kjrAylXX_I-cHuhSWqqt20gWxuuKx9XEvDU4tfWwlsayhoC-IAQAvD_BwE

I wouldn't fly without a rigid box. 23kg is still a good allowance, although quite low compared to Ryan Air and Easyjet who have a 30kg limit

Or get an S&S or Breakaway frame, and use a suitcase sized bike box

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Dangerous Dan [11 posts] 3 weeks ago
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We have flown quite a bit with our tandem.  It is a Ritchey Breakaway, so it fits in a couple of large soft bags and have had no problems.  I was using one from a discount store.

It has flown from Winnepeg to Glasgow with a couple of stops, so the luggage handlers have had a go at it several times on each flight.  It even flew in a Twin Otter 16 passenger plane a couple of times with no issues. 

The catch is that everything comes off.  Derailleur, disks, cranks, brake calipers and levers, everything.  The frame came with protective closed cell foam and a couple of spacers for the fork and rear triangle.   You could substitute a piece of wood that can be fastened between the frame and forks.   Pack it well and it will fly without issues in a soft bag.

I imagine that if I didn't pack it well it would be trashed unless I had a hard case.  The biggest issue with the cases is where to store them and/or how to get them to the end of our trip.  It makes a cardboard bike box sound very attractive.

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Boatsie [389 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Wiggles have a low price Lifeline box.
Maybe carry flat ended bolts to attach wheels to box. Box weight about 8 kg.

I ordered 1 to fly a bike I bought home. But ship happened, it was returned before I was able to grasp it, money returned and I gifted the bike to my friend. 14.3 kg bike yet would've been under 23kg protected and ready to sail had box arrived without couriers tax, 2*governments taxes. Every other scab on scars I don't see. Lol.