No we haven’t invented a new adrenaline sport – but we are going to tell you how to stay calm when you want to take your bike on holiday with you!
Whether you’re heading off on the pro European circuit, planning a leisurely week-long cycling tour of Tuscany, or simply answering the call of the open road, there are times when no wheels will do except your own. While you can usually hire a bike at your destination, there are many benefits to having your own, familiar equipment. And if you’ve got an impressive bike to show off, that’s all the more reason!
Leaving on a Jet Plane
When you’re flying with a bike, one of the first things you need to put in place is your airport transport at your destination. The best airport shuttle companies are well set up to transport both you and your bike, but you must let them know in advance (at the time of booking) in order for them to provide the appropriate vehicle. It can also take longer than usual for a bike to be unloaded, so the driver will need to know to wait. This applies to whether you’re booking a shared or a private vehicle – it’s simply a matter of space, logistics and common sense.
Packing Your Bike: Choices, Choices
If you’re serious about getting your bike to your destination in the same pristine condition it leaves, much of the onus falls on you. Despite the horror stories of damage at the mercy of foreign baggage handlers, in fact, statistics show that in most cases, any damage sustained has actually been incurred before it gets to the other end.
An hour or so spent packaging your bike properly can save you many hours (and costs) at the other end.
You have three basic choices: cardboard box; soft shell case; and hard shell case. And you’ve probably guessed that your decision primarily boils down to budget.
Cardboard box: This is just what it says on, well, the box! It’s cheap and sometimes even free from a bike shop. You should still pad the bike with bubble wrap and tape up the handles (or dismantle).
Soft shell case: The padded soft shell case is moderately priced and you can also pad it even more with towels or bubble wrap to ensure complete safety. Some cyclists swear by packaging their bike in a clear plastic soft case. There are a few speciality brands on the market and the theory is that if the bike (and all its components) is visible, baggage handlers are more likely to treat it with care. Whether you feel inclined to test that theory is entirely a personal choice!
Hard shell case: Most professionals use hard shell cases as they offer the best protection, but on the negative side they are expensive and also the heaviest (which can be a concern in terms of cost).
Keeping it All Together – Or Not
Regardless of which kind of packaging you choose, you’ll also need to consider whether to dismantle your bike or transport it intact. The key is to keep the weight down as much as possible in the case, as being overly heavy will make it harder to manoeuvre and easier to damage. Some people dismantle their bike then just toss all the components in the case and hope for the best. This is not only foolish, but can be damaging to your bike (causing scratches and chips) and anyone handling it.
Make sure that the bike is enclosed in the case entirely; if you are leaving the tri bars on, make sure they’re securely taped in place. The best option is to remove both the tri bars and the pedals, as these can pierce a box or bag. The rear derailleur needs to be either removed from the frame or taped securely in place for transit.
If you’re dismantling the bike before packaging, ensure all pieces are padded, secured and taped – and don’t forget to keep the tool handy for reassembling it at your destination!
At the Airport
It bears mentioning that every airline has different rules when it comes to transporting bikes, so you’ll need to check beforehand to ensure you comply and you know what charge, if any, you’ll be up for. Some have weight restrictions and some may prohibit transport of battery-powered bikes due to dangerous goods restrictions, for instance.
Get There Early
It’s a very wise idea to get to the airport early if you’re travelling with a bike. The check in process can take longer and you may have to go to a different part of the terminal. If you arrive with plenty of time to spare it also means check in staff won’t be stressed and your bike will probably be taken away by hand rather than put on the luggage belt.
Keep Calm and Cycle On
The logistics of taking a bike with you on a flight abroad might seem daunting to the uninitiated but, in fact, it’s probably a lot easier than you think – as long as you invest in a little preparation and research beforehand. The most important factors are packaging it correctly, making sure you’ve got the right insurance, and advising your airport transport provider your bike is coming along for the ride!
Shuttle Direct at Your Service
At Shuttle Direct we’re proud to be able to cater to all your specific baggage needs. If you’re travelling with a bike, we can take the hassle out of all your arrangements with our fast, friendly and efficient airport transfer service. Our user friendly system allows you to make an immediately confirmed online booking, and we’ll have you and your bike on the road in no time – wherever in the world you choose to go.
Help Us to Help You
It’s vital that if you’re planning on bringing your bike with you on holiday you let us know at the time of your service booking request. Our Customer Care team will be pleased to advise you, so please contact us here if you need assistance. Knowing your baggage requirements ahead of time ensures the right vehicle can be dispatched for your transfer.