Taking your bike on vacation opens up all kinds of possibilities for fun activities once you arrive. You’ll be able to take on mountain trails or beach bike rides, all from the comfort of your own bike. Bringing your bike along also opens up commuting options, allowing you to avoid sitting in traffic while you zip around the city.
So what’s the best way to bring bikes for men or women with you when your destination is a plane ride away? Here are some tips for how to bring your bike on your next flight.
Most airlines charge a fee for checking your bike. Get out your measuring tape and find the length of your city bike, then compare it to your airline’s limits for checking sporting equipment. For example, Southwest charges a $75 fee for bikes measuring 62 inches or less that weigh less than 50 pounds. Bikes need to be non-motorized to fly. United Airlines allows larger one- or two-seat bikes for men or women for an oversized luggage fee.
Find the Right Case
Packaging that works for bringing a bike on a plane falls into two categories: bike boxes or bike cases. A bike box is what it sounds like – a cardboard box to contain your bike. This method requires some preparation, as you’ll need to condense your bike and protect breakable parts. Follow these steps to get your bike ready to pack:
- Remove the seat post and handlebars.
- Spin the pedals off and pack them in cushioned material.
- If you plan to remove the wheels, protect the fork by placing a piece of firm material between the two prongs. That will keep them from bending in transit.
- Use cardboard or bubble wrap to protect the fork and crankarms.
- Collect any small parts you’ve removed into a padded bag with several pockets, such as a laptop bag.
- Pack everything into a sturdy cardboard box and fill in any extra space with clothing, spare fabric or other soft materials that will keep things from shifting during the flight.
If you’re planning to fly with your bike often – say, if you’re a competitive racer or regularly take bike tours while you’re on vacation – you might want to invest in a bike case. Available in hard and soft models, bike cases for road bikes and ladies cruiser bikes range in price from a couple hundred dollars up toward $1,000. Hard-shell styles tend to use tough plastic on the exterior. They’re heavier than soft models and can tend toward higher baggage fees, but they’ll provide the most protection against potential damage. Soft-shell cases also offer considerable protection. Soft cases tend to weigh less and are easier to break down once you arrive. Look for a model with internal padding to protect your bike’s frame, as well as straps to hold everything in place.
With a little legwork, it’s possible to bring your bike along on your next trip. Bikes for men and women typically require extra fees when they fly, as well as careful packaging to prevent damage. Read up on fees for your airline and be sure to securely pack your bike before you board.