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Shipping a bike vs flying w/ it

1170 Views 18 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  milehi
Someone recommended that instead of flying w/ my bike via the airlines I should just ship it a few days early via fedex or ups. I've flown with a bike before but now that I have some serious $$ invested in my bike and the treatment the boxes have recieved in the past this might not be a bad idea. I travel with my bike maybe once every other year so I don't want to drop the $$ for a real travel kit and in the past I've just used boxes from the LBS.
Anybody try this? I think I would rather have professionals at Fedex or UPS handle my bike than the baggage throwers and Chicago O'Hare and the other airports I'm going to have to bounce through.
Any experience on costs??

thanks
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muddywings said:
Someone recommended that instead of flying w/ my bike via the airlines I should just ship it a few days early via fedex or ups. I've flown with a bike before but now that I have some serious $$ invested in my bike and the treatment the boxes have recieved in the past this might not be a bad idea. I travel with my bike maybe once every other year so I don't want to drop the $$ for a real travel kit and in the past I've just used boxes from the LBS.
Anybody try this? I think I would rather have professionals at Fedex or UPS handle my bike than the baggage throwers and Chicago O'Hare and the other airports I'm going to have to bounce through.
Any experience on costs??

thanks
Sub $35 at FedEx locations, and fast delivery. Done it several times with my bikes and with bikes I've sold.
yeah, i know what you mean, i was shipping a cello from china, and even though it was marked fragile, they just threw it like it was niothing. luckyily nothing happened cuz the case held up...

i would let UPS handle it, the packages i've gotton from them were in alot better condition, but you should still get insurance and let them know you ahve a pricey package.
FedEx, not UPS

I would recommend FedEx over UPS if you decide to mail it. I shipped a bike from Boston to Durango, CO via UPS and they beat the frame up pretty good. Not just scratches but dents. I shipped the bike back home from Moab via FedEx and there wasn't even a mark on the box.

I talked to a bike shop about this and they recommended FedEx due to the fact that FedEx ships bike boxes vertically, where as UPS stacks them horizontally (with other cargo on top), hence the damage to my frame. FedEx was also cheaper, $59 versus $75.

The next time I travel with my bike, I will buy a hard case and fly with it. A hard case runs about $200. Some airlines don't charge if your bike is in an approved hard case and is one of your 2 pices of checked baggage. Best to check with the airline first.
In October I flew with my bike, out to Vegas. I used a Crateworks Pro-1 box. The box was a snug fit for my XL Blur, but the bike arrived with no damage, and the box had only minor scuffs on it.
I would try

Brown Santa or FedEx. Never have though. If you are a Norba member you can get a voucher. Maybe. I hope they still have this benny. Certain arilines except this voucher.

I have used the voucher but, had a hard case I found at a thrift store for, count em, twenty five dallers. One of the best bike purchases ever!
I don't know of any airline that doesn't charge for oversize luggage. Any normal (not folding) bike in a hard case will exceed the maximum size limit. If you know of an airline that doesn't charge for oversize luggage I sure would like to know because I usually fly twice a year with my bike and could use the savings.
for myself...I just ship it...I don't have to worry about dragging the thing through an airport or worrying about it not being there when I arrive (lost luggage)

for packing it......I get a big cruiser box.....I take the derailer, cranks, fork, handlebars and seat off. I wrap the frame in a moving blanket (tgreat got mine right now). I wrap the fork in a towell with duct tape...everything else is wrapped up in towels.....no metal exposed and a thivk blanket covers it all. The rear wheel is still on
Insurance

remember that the airlines limit their liability for lost/damaged/destroyed luggage, and for some items they accept no liability at all. However with FedEx you can declare a realistic replacement value, and be covered in case something does happen.

Also, keep in mind the airlines _will_ charge you. United charges $80, and I suspect most other airlines are about the same. If you don't have to have it overnight, FedEx is probably much cheaper. not to mention avoiding all the hassle of draging the thing through the airport.

DougG
The airport is such a hassle to begin with, do you really want to drag a bike box with you?

Go FedEx with a well packed bike box, I do!
I paid $80 EACH WAY to fly my bike back and forth to Moab. Bike was in an approved hard case....security cut all 4 locks off and opened the box,fortunately nothing was lost. Next time I flew I made sure everything (pedals,etc) that I removed from the bike were in heavy duty zip lock bags so they couldn't fall out if the box was searched by security. If Fed Ex is only $35, I would definately go that way. Plus, dragging that thing (even with wheels) thru the airport with my duffel and carryon was no picnic!! :rolleyes:
What about this . . .

One of my pieces of luggage is really large (the biggest size airlines with accept as not oversize). I have an Epic. Recently I took the rearend apart to clean and relube all the bearings. It looks like if I removed the fork and took the seat and chainstays off, the main triangle would fit easily. I'm pretty sure the wheels and the stays will fit, along with handle bars, seat and post. I could probably put the fork in my other suitcase.

Anyone try this?
I have a road bike with S&S couplers that allow me to break the bike down and put it into a case that is the maximum size airlines allow as checked baggage without an oversize charge. Your luggage will almost certainly have to be square to get the wheels and everything else in (except the fork). I'd give it a dry run and see if you can do it. I've flown several times with my take down bike. Check out this site for info on packing http://www.sandsmachine.com/p_i_seq.htm
It's for a road bike but the packing should be similar for a mountain bike. It will give you some ideas. You'll want some anti-compression posts. I made mine from the large axle protectors manufacturers put on their wheels when they ship and some PVC water pipe. Your LBS throws the protectors out. Ask them to save you some, the larger the better. Make sure you pad all frame tubes very well. I used foam pipe insulation for padding and frame protection from the local big box hardware. Make double sure you really use some dense padding on the freewheel cogs, or better yet, take off the freewheel, pad it and put it in a separate bag(s) with other parts you might need to remove (pedals, seat bag, computer, etc.) It can do some nasty damage even through good padding. Believe me, I know.
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Fedex $35????

From New England to Moab is $90 each way.
Fedex $35????

Cevan said:
From New England to Moab is $90 each way.
Fed Ex Ground is a lot cheaper than Fed Ex Air. If you have the time, 5 days vs. 2 days.
it's been done.

Cevan said:
One of my pieces of luggage is really large (the biggest size airlines with accept as not oversize). I have an Epic. Recently I took the rearend apart to clean and relube all the bearings. It looks like if I removed the fork and took the seat and chainstays off, the main triangle would fit easily. I'm pretty sure the wheels and the stays will fit, along with handle bars, seat and post. I could probably put the fork in my other suitcase.

Anyone try this?
There are some past forums of people who took there bikes appart and put them into suit cases, if you do a search. The wheels didn't go into those suit cases and I don't think they would fit. Some people built seperate boxes for there wheels.

I thought about taking my bike appart and taking it on the plane but in the end decided it was too much work and time at the other end, plus I was worried I wouldn't get it together properly.I ended up getting a crateworks pro box and shipping fedex. At any rate here is what I was thinking of how to get the bike on the airplane.

If you are willing to take your bike appart it seems to me you may as well make yourself a box that is the maximum size allowed. The way the airlines restrict the size is the total of length,width and height cannot 62". So you could build a box that is say 26"x26"x10", which if you take your bike appart you may be able to get it the box with the wheels,but the height may be a bit small If you take the tires off the wheels and your bike fits in less then 26" you could make the box maybe 25"x25"x12.

As far as making the box I think the best way to do this is like crateworks(crateworks.com) makes the boxes. i.e. make an upper and lower part of the box where the upper part of the box just slightly larger then the lower, then the upper part of the box slides over the lower. then you can tape and strap the boxes together. For the dimensions we are talking about a single sheet of corogated plastic(I think 10mm is what you want) will make the entire box and will cost you about $30 dollars. You can find a place that sell the corrogated plastic in the yellow pages under plastic , or sign supplies.
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I had a box made for me out of corrugated plastic. I just had them cut it for me and I put it together using rivets, saved a fair amount of money (cost $20 plus shipping). Beats the heck out of trying to cut one yourself and is cheaper, too. The corrugated plastic is very durable. If you look on Colorado Cyclist they sell a box made of this stuff but it's too big to check as regular luggage. 26x26x10 is the normal size. You'll have to deflate the tires and make sure the frame will fit. Bikes with S&S couplers are packed this way. Works great. I've traveled twice with my S&S rad bike in this box and figure I've got about a dozen trips before it's too beat up to use. I will take some repair between trips but is very cost effective, IMHO.
Fed-Ex...

meloh1 said:
I had a box made for me out of corrugated plastic. I just had them cut it for me and I put it together using rivets, saved a fair amount of money (cost $20 plus shipping). Beats the heck out of trying to cut one yourself and is cheaper, too. The corrugated plastic is very durable. If you look on Colorado Cyclist they sell a box made of this stuff but it's too big to check as regular luggage. 26x26x10 is the normal size. You'll have to deflate the tires and make sure the frame will fit. Bikes with S&S couplers are packed this way. Works great. I've traveled twice with my S&S rad bike in this box and figure I've got about a dozen trips before it's too beat up to use. I will take some repair between trips but is very cost effective, IMHO.
If you decide to ship, I'd go with Fed-Ex for the reasons mentioned above. I shipped my DH bike to a bike shop in Hawaii and they had it built when I arrived to pick it up. After the race, I dropped the bike off, and for a small charge, they dissasembled it and shipped it for me. Completely painless. They used UPS though and the headtube was sticking out of the box :eek: Good thing the shop had completely wrapped the bike in foam. If you have to fly with the bike, you can rent a hard case from hammerheadbikes.com
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