Flying with bike for first time

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  • Flying with bike for first time
  • pjm7
    Member

    Off to Whistler soon, any tips for taking the bike as painless as possible?
    Flying with air transat and have got the bike booked in and they did say i could have 1 carry on bag plus 1 personal item and said a helmet counted.
    Has anyone any experience of taking a ff helmet as carry on with this airline?
    They say to deflate your tyres, I run tubeless so figure just let some pressure out rather than let them go completely flat, what about suspension should you have that at lower pressure than normal?

    Premier Icon zippykona
    Subscriber

    I’ve only taken bikes to Australia but if your bike is spotlessly clean they will love you.

    I put new tyres on just in case

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Subscriber

    Flow loads of times with my bike, including to Van.

    I take my FF in it’s sack thing as carry-on, I just chuck my passport, book and whatnot in with it.

    Don’t worry about tyres, let some air out if it makes you feel better, but I never have, can make it a bit easier to squash them in I suppose.

    TBH the air pressure or lack thereof is the least of your worries, it’s the bag kickers that will ruin your day.

    Pack the wheel with the discs on the inside, or remove them, remove the rear mech and anything that hangs off and is fragile. MTBs are incredibly tough of course, but you don’t want to arrive and spend the first day looking for some odd bit or bob, if nothing else Whistler Bike shops are eye wateringly expensive.

    Oh and make sure it’s below the airport max weight limit, I was 500g over before and the guy winked and said “scales must be out” but you might not be so lucky.

    Oh, don’t put the helmet on for landing, they get funny about it… 😉

    Hob Nob
    Member

    Have flown Transat a few times. Never taken the helmet as carry on, just chuck it in the bike box.

    Never bothered to deflate my tyres. They do ask, just tell them you have. Never touched my suspension.

    Don’t worry about it. Will do the same with Air Canada later this month 🙂

    mrconners
    Member

    Hi there.
    As a veteran (old bas**rd) tourer i would agree with P-jay regarding most of the stuff. Is the bike in a bag or cardboard box? If possible leave the rear wheel on as it will stop someone bending the rear stays when it get stood on. Space out the front forks with an plastic spacer (from the LBS) to agin stop them getting bent, remove the discs as above, zip tie the crank arms horizontally to the stay through the pedal holes and pack out the chainrings with card. Tyre pressure is up to you but ive never had an issue, and contact the airline first regarding weight and charges as they are all notoriously flaky on these things.

    I’m taking the MTB to Mallorca with easyJet next month (family holiday but I found good trails there last time!) anything I need to know?

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Subscriber

    I’m taking the MTB to Mallorca with easyJet next month (family holiday but I found good trails there last time!) anything I need to know?

    Not much, baggage handling is bone by the airport not the airline so it’s all much of a muchness.

    Oh, one important thing I missed above.

    Get there early, you’re going to have to sort of check in twice – once with your hold luggage and then again at over-sized luggage, it can be a decent distance away and be busy as they’re not usually massive operations.

    Also, even if you pre-book, over-sized luggage is often taken on a best endeavours basis, so if you arrive behind Imelda Marcos and her 40 cases of shoes, you might be waiting until the next flight for your bike and you don’t want to do that.

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    I find that helmet bags, with helmets in, fit very nicely between the fork and downtube, then take my camelbak (other bike specific rucksacks are available) as the personal bag.

    Premier Icon kilo
    Subscriber

    Flown to Canada a few times with the bikes now, always chucked helmet and shoes in the bike bag. Haven’t bothered deflating either tyres or shocks and there’s been no problem. CO2 canisters seem to always be an issue and not allowed so remember to take them out of any backpacks.

    Lester
    Member

    if the bike box is carboard, take plenty of gaffer tape to repair or re pack just in case it gets damaged or opened,

    Premier Icon thepurist
    Subscriber

    if the bike box is carboard, take plenty of gaffer tape to repair or re pack just in case it gets damaged or opened,

    This, but I’d go for 3M mesh reinforced tape over gaffer tape – it sticks to cardboard better. We ended up folding our boxes flat for ease of transport during the trip. Oh and reinforce the whole bottom of the box as it will get dragged rather than lifted.

    Premier Icon vincienup
    Subscriber

    If letting air out of tubeless, don’t be surprised to find the sealant in the bottom of the the bag instead of inside the wheel when unpacking.

    Premier Icon P-Jay
    Subscriber

    This, but I’d go for 3M mesh reinforced tape over gaffer tape

    Word, this stuff below is the Cadillac of Packing Tape. Fibreglass reinforced 3M, it’s got a number code but I don’t recall it.

    pjm7
    Member

    Thanks all. Ive got an evoc bag and will definitely remove rear hanger and discs. The weight limit is 32kg which seems pretty generous but I’ll make sure i dont go over. I thought the air out of the tyres sounded far fetched.

    JonEdwards
    Member

    Body armour makes really good padding – even comes with straps to attach it to the bike! I tend to put an elbow pad on each rear dropout, tie knee/leg pads around the forks to protect the stanchions.

    Offcuts of copper plumbing pipe slips over through axles nicely and can be used for spacers in the dropouts to stop them getting crushed.

    As above, mech/hanger, discs, pedals all come off. Bars/stem possibly as well depending on how the bag fits. Never bothered deflating MTB tyres or shocks.

    GolfChick
    Member

    All as said before and echo the co2 plus wd40 pressurised canisters that you’ll get asked about. The oversized baggage queue on Monday took an absolute age to get through not helped by a blockage somewhere. You’ll find when you go for check in because of your bike bag they’ll let you push to the front or at least they let us on Monday. Pretty hard to steer them through the queue otherwise. Bring waterproofs as it’s currently raining and according to the TV isn’t set to dry up again until the end of the month…. bloomin typical!

    100mph
    Member

    If you’re going to Whistler take some spares with you too as they cost a fortune out there!
    I always take at least 1 Mech hanger, spare rear brake, (that can be used at either end), spare shifter, spare mech.
    Don’t take too soft a rear tyre as you will shred it in the first week.
    A couple of spare tubes too, I have gashed tyres there that latex wouldn’t seal.

    Basically fill your bike bag to the 32kg max.

    Don’t bother putting a lock on it either, they will just cut it off if they want to inspect bike. I just zip tie the zip ends together.

    pjm7
    Member

    Just loaded the bike into the bag (need to weigh it properly as it’s close to the limit). I’ve found a slightly cut down renthal grip makes the perfect spacer for the forks, and found something ideal for the chainstays once cut to size, in the shed (probably get abused when the missus needs whatever it was, hey ho).
    Got mech hanger and new tyres if they don’t last I’ll get more out there, it may be expensive but lets face it nothing about this trip is cheap!
    Good point about inner tube, i do carry one in my kit bag in case of a tyre slash, so will throw in.
    I’ve done the same with zip ties, enough to keep things closed but easy replaceable.

    corroded
    Member

    My procedure (most of which is covered above):
    – remove discs (learnt this the expensive way having had two bent discs over the years)
    – slide spacers into callipers
    – disconnect and wrap derailleur in padding
    – let some but not all air out of tubeless tyres but more so I can fit 27.5+ wheels in bag
    – offer sustainably sourced sacrifice to the airport gods

    My bike didn’t make it onto the BA flight home from SF recently so I assumed it was gone for good but BA delivered it the next day. I’m still wary of flying with carbon as there must be some great forces somewhere on the case to bend rotors etc but hey ho. A carbon Tallboy makes it under 23kg quite easily.

    andrewh
    Member

    Tip (learnt from a friend who found out the hard way) Carry helmet, shoes, gloves, lights and as much kit as you can in hand luggage, then if your bike doesn’t show up at the other end in time you don’t have to do a 24hr race in borrowed shoes 2 sizes too small and with only 3hrs worth of borrowed lights, on a bike which doesn’t quite fit, you would only have to find a bike…
    .
    I have always let the air out of my forks but it seems to be the consensus above that this isn’t required? Off in about a fortnight, a week after the forks get back from TF Tunes so don’t want to fiddle with them if I don’t have to. Flying with BA and then LATAM if that makes any difference, changing in Madrid and Sau Paulo

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    If you’re going to Whistler take some spares with you too as they cost a fortune out there!

    Not really. It’s comparable to your lbs here, the exchange rate isn’t amazing at the moment mind.

    tjagain
    Member

    To stop the dropouts being squashed I use a piece of threaded bar with 4 nuts and big washers to space them apart.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    The only damage I’ve ever suffered is a bent disc, so I generally take them off and wrap them separately in stiff cardboard. I’ve never let my tyres down either, it’s a bit stupid.

    My advice, get there early and be v polite.

    gribble
    Member

    Well, a thread about flying out to ride in Whistler does not make me at all jealous. Nope.

    Have flown a bit with the bike and it is all covered above – only thing I would add is that if you want you can use cheap pipe foam lagging to protect frames/forks, if you don’t have pads to do this. Also, if you have a weak sided bike bag I have successfully used a bit of bike box to act as bracing, although some would argue this is unnecessary and adds weight.

    I always take discs off, but my elder brother used to just pretty much lob the bike into the bag, leaving discs on the wheels etc.

    Have fun.

    pjm7
    Member

    I’m really pleased I bothered to ask the question as there’s been some great advice.
    Discs are off, axle and caliper spacers in place.
    As suggested I’ve placed the helmet between forks and dt and used a piece of polystyrene to prevent movement.
    Also placed body armour strategically to provide protection.
    As at least 3 of you have mentioned arriving early due to oversized luggage, I’m now planning to get there an hour earlier.
    I have also thrown in a waterproof as Golfchick says the weather’s a bit moody currently, fingers crossed it improves!
    My first attempt weighed in at 34kg, second one is bang on 32 but will double check at the airport as no doubt there scales will be more accurate than my bathroom ones…
    Thanks all.

    mrchrispy
    Member

    pictures. take pictures of it packed, makes repacking much easier.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    MTBs are incredibly tough

    They are in some directions but as said the dropouts can be sqaushed together really easily, so you need the spacers to protect them. You could ask a bike shop or just whittle a piece of wood like I did once. An old hub is also perfect.

    Basically fill your bike bag to the 32kg max.

    .

    A carbon Tallboy makes it under 23kg quite easily.

    is it 23 or 32?

    off to Morzine next week, first time flying. Bike is 14.5kg (alloy trail bike), bag is 6kg, add in the pump, shock pump and other metal tools that I assume will not make it through the hand luggage metal detector; plus the lube and suncream and shower gel (liquids) and I’m pretty much at the 23kgs.

    A weeks clothes, pads etc in a wheely carry-on is the next challenge to work out. (Helmet will be my ‘personal item’ / put it on if they question it.)

    johnx2
    Member

    flying with bikes is a total ball ache so I hire when I can. I’ve done it with borrowed posh cases and cardboard box lashups. Prefer the latter to be honest, over a hard plastic box as it just seems easier to make things fit. Bike shops are always happy to give you a box. Regular gaffer tape is fine, use it to make handles looping through the holes in the box. Pro tip: clingfilm wrapped round a few times to make it look a cut above. Pro tip #2 – tape a plastic tray or strips of plastic to a the bottom near the rear corner, handles to the front. Makes those kilometer long drags round the airport a lot easier.

    Idiot tip: remember how big the bloody things are. I remember one particularly fun time in bilbao when I and my wife had to travel to the hotel in separate taxis. Obviously I travelled with my bike, and my wife arrived on her own a few minutes ahead of me. That got things off to a rollicking start I can tell you. Also meant we had to upgrade the hirecare to a VW Toerag. It would have been cheaper and easier, a lot less hassle and better for harmonious relations to have hired. Which I think is where I came in…

    Premier Icon Akers
    Subscriber

    is it 23 or 32?

    Depends who your flying with and what class you are flying. Eg. BA Economy Plus is 23kg as your one checked in item, or one of your 2 x32kg items if flying Club. Easyjet if you are paying for bike carriage is 32kg.

    andrewh
    Member

    Most airlines 23kg is the allowance, 32kg is the limit for H&S. So 23kg is fine, 23-32 you usually pay excess baggage, and above 32kg you have freight.

    Flown with mine a few times and had the unfortunate pleasur of sitting by the window watching the Geneva handler literally throw all the bike boxes and bags off the luggage trolley onto the conveyor. I filmed him as I was sure there would be damage when unpacked.

    As an aside, echo the above but I also put in a couple of width spacers made from the feet of plastic pallets, zip tied end to end. My logic being that if the bags are stacked on their side, the spacer should take the weight more so than crushing the bike.

    You might be able to get a relatively light, yet rigid plastic box the same width as your bag from a diy/ the range/ pound world etc that you can fill as well and give it a bit of strength sideways.

    gribble
    Member

    Really unhelpful but I note BA 1st class is 3 x 32kg. I will never have the issue of worrying just what I could take to make that much up that much luggage allowance.

    Honestly though, if you can keep the bike bag under 23kg, it makes the airport/travel hassle a lot less of a ball ache.

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