Tips for Traveling with Your Mountain Bike by Hans Rey for Bicycling.com. You can take it with you, but is flying with your bike worth the hassle? World traveler Hans Rey shares his advice.
Hans Rey (GT bicycles) retired from competition in 1997, but he’s been dedicated to exploring the world by bike ever since. Rey spends about half the year on the road, flying with his bike to destinations most of us wouldn’t think of tackling (the Arctic Circle and the Amazon are on his radar for 2013, as are visits to African countries that have benefited from his Wheels4Lifecharity). While you might never take your bike to such unusual locations, Rey’s hard-earned experience applies equally well to shorter trips, too. Whether you’re jetting off to Whistler, or visiting family in another state, Rey has a few tips worth following.
Bring vs. rent. Rey says bringing your own bike is a must in developing countries, but your options are more open otherwise. “If you’re going to a bike park in the U.S., Canada, or Europe, it’s convenient and easy to rent good equipment,” Rey explains. “But if you’re going for a longer tour or plan more XC/all-mountain riding, bring your own bike—it’s like sleeping in your own bed.”
The “ship-ahead” option. For domestic locations, shipping is an option—but you need to plan ahead, arrange for where your bike will be delivered (hotel or local bike shop), and pay for the shipping costs, which might be more expensive than flying with your bike. International? Bring it with you.
Ah, those airline fees. “Every airline has a different policy,” Rey says. “Some charge more and some less and others are still free (Virgin Atlantic doesn’t charge for sports equipment).” Rey’s advice when it comes to airline baggage fees: 1. Don’t pay airline fees for the bike in advance—sometimes they won’t charge, especially if you fly to and from places where they don’t see much bike traffic. 2. Be friendly—it can help with the check in person. 3. Put “Fragile” stickers on your bag/box.
Box beats bag. Rey’s bike recently got lost on the way to Africa, and when it reappeared the box was in tough shape, but he still prefers using a standard bike box (like those manufacturers use to ship bikes to retailers) over a bike bag or case. “A sturdy cardboard box is often easier to handle and pack, and it’s lighter so it’s cheaper,” Rey says. “Plus, you can leave your back wheel in the frame inside the box so your bike is better protected.”
Pack it tight. In the box, pad your bike well—surround it with some extra gear or clothes, but don’t make it too heavy. Use foam pipe insulation to pad the frame tubes and fork stanchions. He also recommends removing your rear derailleur, derailleur hanger (you can let both dangle on the cable), and disc brake rotors (they bend easily). Extra parts to bring: Another derailleur hanger, a rotor, and some packing tape (in case the airline folks open it and don’t have tape, or for the flight home).
Go—you’ll love it. Rey thinks more people should travel the world by bike. “It’s the best way to get around and bikes are universal—everybody can relate to them,” Rey says. “A bike is the perfect ice breaker, even if one doesn’t speak the same language.”
If you do a lot of traveling with your bike, Higher Gear recommends investing in a Trico Iron Case. The ultra-strong Iron Case was designed and created to take the worry out of traveling with your bicycle – period! Learn more about Tico cases here.
For further information about traveling with your bike, check out the following articles:
- Tips for Traveling with Your Mountain Bike by Hans Rey for Bicycling.com.
- How to Avoid Excess Baggage Fees by Sonya Looney for Bicycling.com blogs. Flying with your bike isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t cost a fortune.
Tips and videos on how to pack your bike are available:
- How to Pack Your Bike from BikeRadar.com
- How to Pack Your Bike for Travel or Shipping by Georgia Gould, four-time elite mountain bike national champion, for USA Cycling.
- How to Pack your Mountain Bike video on Velosmith.
- How to Pack Up Your Bike video by TriSports.com
- Trico Iron Case Extreme Testing – Part 1 video by WeKeepYouCycling.com
- Trico Iron Case Extreme Testing – Part 2 video by WeKeepYouCycling.com
- Trico Iron Case Extreme Testing – Part 3 video by WeKeepYouCycling.com