Traveling with your bike?

I was planning on taking a month long trip over to japan this summer, and I was wondering if anyone has had any experiences with traveling with bikes.

I’m thinking about getting a softcase and throwing tons of extra padding and shit in it to keep it fairly padded, but I don’t know if that would be enough to keep it safe.
Anyone have any experience in this area? I’ve thought about getting a box, but a bag would definitely work a lot better, especially since I’d be traveling quite a bit within Japan itself…

Any input would be hugely appreciated!

going to europe this summer and flying with a bike is ~150 USD both ways.

Yeah, I’m pretty down to put some cash down to put my bike on the plane, just worried about whether it’ll get there in one piece or not.

pull the cranks for the trip is my advice. any damage done to the bike will be cosmetic, so just make sure there’s no metal on metal.

You can fly for free with a bike depending on how the lady behind the counter is feeling that day. I’ve had two free bike flights so far—just show up with your bike box and play it by ear.

I just use a box. Within Japan, you should look in to alternatives for getting your bike around anyway because it’s a minor PITA to pack it in any box-like configuration.

mander’s right actually. box it, then keep it built up. if you’re gonna take a longer train and don’t know if you’ll get charged for the bike, take the wheels off.

im planning on designing a suitcase for my bike because i would love to take it with me when i travel.
pull the cranks for sure

Like others have said, you can check your bike depending on how the airport employees are feeling that day. Ive had a few friends thell them its ‘art’ and they have let it slide. If you tell them its a bike they will charge you the fee (most airlines have a predetermined for bikes, some are only fifty, others are well over a hundred).

Ive always chosen the safer route and shipped bikes out of shops to other shops. Most, if they operate on a large enough scale, get shipping breaks. Last time I travelled I shipped my bike from Wisconsin to Portland, round trip was less than $80. I pulled the cranks and had the tubes covered in foam insulation.

Man, the more I think about bringing my bike, the more of a pain it’s becoming.

I was thinking about taking it in a box, then using like a nylon travel bag to move it around in Japan, leaving the box at a friend’s house, but that might be just as big of a pain in the ass.

I can’t imagine a cardboard box being that much more protection than a padded nylon case though… what if I put like cardboard on the walls for protection?

you aren’t gonna get any real protection without a plastic hardcase, but your bike will only be cosmetically damaged through flying anyways, as ong as you pull the cranks. then it’s a matter of wrapping parts so they don’t rub each other.

I know in Tokyo they have a luggage delivery service from the airport to wherever you will be staying. I flew into Narita with a bike in a wheeled case and had to lug it on the bus and through the streets to my hotel and it was a huge PITA. I would have tried the service had I known about it at the time. Also I flew JAL on that trip and they didn’t charge me until I was leaving the US to return to Korea through Japan.

i went to japan a few years ago with my bmx bike. I put it in a frame box and put the wheels in mysuitcase. that being said, you’d have to have a big 'ol suitcase to fit some 700s in there.
oh, and i flew it for free. i thought it was gonna cost me, but i was told bikes fly internationa for free.

it needs a hardcase, with lots of padding.

without those things, i wouldnt be surprised if you have a bent rear triangle or a tweaked dropout

I took two bikes to Chile, the first in the ghetto box, all duct taped up. The bike got there ok, but did NOT look like it was exacly handled with care: pieces I thought I’d padded well poking through the cardboard, but no structural or functional damage.

The second time I bought a bicycle hardcase for about $300, and this is one of the better bicycle investments I’ve made. If you plan on doing much more traveling, I think it is so worth it to have one of these. Minimal disassembly means quick put together upon arrival, and piece of mind is priceless. I’ve seen these come up on CL and local classifieds as well, so check around.

Never any problems putting it on busses or trains, but I’ve always gotten stuck with a flat $100 fee for putting it on an airplane.

i have been wanting this flight case from freight baggage as i think it is still considered under over sized.

i HATE traveling with a bike. And since i’m pretty much homeless i have to do it a lot. I have gotten into so many arguments with airline, bus, train people because of it. The worst was when some bitch at united threatened to call the security on me IN AN AIRPORT when i refused to pay for 2 check in items even though my air ticket was part of an international flight.
Different countries have different rules when it comes to charging you for over sized baggage. Flying out of the USA is always the worst as companies now are all going broke and they need to squeeze every last penny out of you. Which is why i got into that argument with that lady because the rules about baggage check in have been changing around so much the past 2 years that some of that staff don’t even know their own airline’s regulations.
Depending on the bike friendliness of the country and how many domestic flights you are making after you land in the country i would say a lot of times it really isn’t worth the hassle. 175 usd each way for an over sized box for domestic US flights. come the fuck on.

If you think flying with a bike in the US is hard, try flying with a gun. You never know whether the airline representative is going to simply accept your baggage or have you arrested when you try to check in.


I was looking at my bike today, and it seems like it’d survive in a soft case no problem… haha.

You think it’ll still get tweaked if I put those spacers in the dropouts and everything?

A friend of mine has flown with his bike in a well padded bag all over the place with no problems. Last year, I brought my bike in a cardboard box. They charged me $125 on the way over. China Air tried to charge me again in San Fran when I transferred from delta even though the ticket agent in Atlanta had assured me that the $125 would take it all the way through. I eventually convinced them not to charge me. Going home, I had only a frame and some parts. It was still an oversized box, but they didn’t charge me at all.

Last summer I bought a travel case to bring my road bike back over with me. The ticket agent in Atlanta wanted to charge me over $300. And she would have, but I had bought my ticket before the price increase went into effect, so I got away with paying $150. China Air tried to charge me again in San Fran, but it was dropped again. My friend gave me the padded bag he used to use, so I’m going to put my bike in that to take it home. The case is going to get shipped with all my other stuff in it. I think prices have gone down since last summer since the price of oil is 1/3 what it was. Hard-sided cases give you a lot of protection, but they are going to cost a shitload to get on a plane. I’d go with a well padded bag with blocks to keep the fork and stays from getting crushed. A threaded rod or an old axle with a few nuts to keep it secure usually works well.

A agree with tzsuing’s sentiment on flying with bikes, but for me, the hassle is far outweighed by the joy of being able to ride my own bike in another country.

That’s strange. I have travelled that route with bike several times (mostly using Lufthansa) and never had to pay a dime. Usually it was a typical frame box.