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How to safely transport your bike by plane

The do's and dont's of transporting your touring bicycle by aeroplane. By Spinning South.

As we have seen quite some discussions on several blogs/social media on how to transport your bikes.
We made a small summary of how we did it.

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  • Try to book a direct flight, bit more expensive but less risk of damage or loss.
  • Check with the airline the way they need to be transported. Most airlines make it mandatory to use a bike box which you can get from a bike-shop or at the airport (check if available). We reused the one we got in Guayaquil last November. We recommend to use a bike box as it protects best, but we have had to use just cardboard, bubble wrap and lots of tape in the past, because there was no box available.
  • Pre-register extra luggage. Even if you would only take hand luggage you still have to register your bike. Most airliners will charge for transporting the bike. If you pre register it is often more economical and if you don’t the bike may even be refused. We paid 100 euro per bike from Amsterdam to Guayaquil.
  • Ensure to check the maximum weight. KLM allows 23 kg. Ours were 24.8 because we only removed the pedals. Next time we also take our saddle as carry on luggage. This time we were lucky as we did not have to pay extra, but remember once that we had to pay 200 euro extra for 2kg overweight!
  • Prepare your bike:

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  • Not always necessarily as shown in the picture, our boxes were actually too small for the bike, so saddle off, front wheel out, handlebar completely off.  Frank fixed the handlebar to the top tube, after protecting the tube with foam tube isolation.
  • If the box is big enough, you will still need to put the handlebar lengthwise. Note that a bigger box is heavier.
  • If you take out your seat-post pre-mark height before removing.
  • Reduce air in your tires.
  • Protect all items which could scratch. NOTE that your bike may be turned up-side down and things will be piled upon them. So pack it that the bike does not move inside the box and that loose items can’t float around.
  • Protect and secure loose items
  • We used this time as protecting material the material Santos is using to transport their bikes to their dealers. Later we re-used that material to reduce bumping of the front panniers and our lunch box. You can also use  a bubble wrap.
  • Remove as much as possible and take it on the plane with you when you think your bike will be too heavy.
  • Some sources suggest you have to remove the oil from a Rohloff hub, but we never did.
  • When closing the box make the box extra strong by using plenty of duck tape.
  • Be on time at the airport as you have to drop your bike at odd size luggage.

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Getting your bikes out of their travel box is as delivering a new-born animal.
You never know if it will be damaged or not. Also this time they came out without any damage! 


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