Shipping vs flying- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Shipping vs flying

    Spending two weeks in Van BC and definitlely bringing my rig. Looked into shipping through UPS and FedEx but can't believe the rates are $200 plus for standard ground from Illinois. Any suggestions or ballpark estimates for price to bring on board or send advance appreciated. Already have a decent soft case for the plane ride should I choose that route.

  2. #2
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    If you're flying Delta, I know a couple folks who travel with their bikes all the time and use Delta Cargo. The bike goes on your flight and its apparently cheaper than shipping. Also check the details of your airline. I know a couple who allow a total size and weight between the checked bags and if you're within those bounds, you're okay.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2biker
    I know a couple who allow a total size and weight between the checked bags and if you're within those bounds, you're okay.
    Names?
    old fart cyclist

  4. #4
    ride like you stole it
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    I just did a trip to Van. and with the bike bag and flying costs it was $300 ($100 for the bike bag and $100 each way for the flight) the bike was a hassle to haul around the airport but that was the only problem I had. Oh, and I flew american airlines.
    I lubed my disc brakes because they squeaked.
    Man was that fun to work out

  5. #5
    Just hit it with speed
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    Tubeless on a plane, Suspension

    Hello, I was wondering if it is required to let the air out of your tubeless tires when flying with a tubeless set-up. Also is it required to let the air out of suspension? I'll be flying with a Fox F29 32mm RLC with Open Oil Bath.

    Should I just let the air out a little bit of both? Just enough to keep the suspension extended and enough to keep the beads of the tires on the rim?

    Thanks in advance!
    Don't hate on the minivan!!!!!!!

  6. #6
    ride like you stole it
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    I didn't let the air out of my suspension or tires when I flew, you'd be surprised how clueless the people at the airport are.
    I lubed my disc brakes because they squeaked.
    Man was that fun to work out

  7. #7
    Just hit it with speed
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    Thanks for the response. I am not worried about the luggage handlers, I am more concerned with having 30 psi and stan's in my wheels plus 55+psi in my suspension.

    Are there any ill effects of having the bikes in the storage hold with pressure in them or is it better to let some of it out?
    Don't hate on the minivan!!!!!!!

  8. #8
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    Your fork and tires should be fine, cargo holds are pressurized and heated so that Fido doesn't freeze and suffocate.

    The last few times I've flown I've worn my altimeter watch and registered around 5000 feet for most of the flight - just think of it as a trip to the mountains.

  9. #9
    Just hit it with speed
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    Thank you, awesome reply!
    Don't hate on the minivan!!!!!!!

  10. #10
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    Shipping UPS or FedEx Ground is only so expensive because you are shipping out of the country. Fly into Seattle and have the bike shipped to a local shop, who for a small fee should receive it and hold onto the case (if needed) for you while you get a rental car and drive three hours to Vancouver.

    Also, try the bus lines for domestic travel - I know a couple of people who shipped them that way for a very reasonable price - had to get the bike off a week ahead tho...

    A buddy of mine paid $750 with United for his bike (in a hard case) for a West-Coast to Europe trip. He was outraged, but had laready paid for the tickets some time ahead. This covered the return trip and also an additional leg in Europe, but that is still "airway robbery". For a trip he has planned this Fall, he shopped around a bit and also got some really high quotes with other airlines. He decided to drop a couple of grand on a Ti touring/travel frame with S&S couplers and figures in 3 years it will pay for itself, as it breaks down into a bag that fits within standard checked bag specs. I guess the thing to do is shop around and plan ahead with airfare these days.
    R.I.P. Corky 10/97-4/09
    Disclaimer: I sell and repair bikes for a living


  11. #11
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    Depending on type and size of frame, what about removing the fork and rear triangle of your FS so the main frame will fit a standard luggage, packed with clothes and other travel neccessities; the rear triangle, fork and wheels can be stored in a second checked luggage. based on recent restrictions, luggage able to hold a wheelstet will be considered "oversize" and sublect to an extra charge-
    flyMTBfish

  12. #12
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    For our trip to Whistler we just got standard bike boxes from the LBS which they just throw away and which meet airline regs for bikes as sporting goods. Flying Airtrans, we got tickets to Seattle for $320 each roundtrip with a non-stop flight to Seattle and the bikes fly at $80 each/way so $1300 gets us and two bikes there and back. We plan on packing a bike rack in one bike box which will go on the rental(Jeep Compass), a Thule 910 which folds nicely.
    So at the airport we pickup the rental, hump our mountain of stuff to the nearest curb etc where we have a little space and time. There we unpack the bikes, mount the rack, the bikes then fold the boxes and stow the packing material in a garbage bag. The rest goes in the car with perhaps the boxes tied to the roof rails(not quite a rack) or under the stuff in the trunk. To go home, we just reverse the process with included packing tape. To protect the rental I have already visited a dealer with the Jeep to determine the precise fit. Where the strap hooks go we will place whats call "preservation tape" a tough vinyl like product intended to stay on for months and come off clean with no residue or damage. So the tape takes any scuffing etc and the rental comes back pristine.
    Since we also bringing two sets for full armor, we hope to pack most of it with the bikes as extra padding.
    Earlier experience shipping bikes indicates our full suspension AM bikes will need the forks and wheels off but we can pack them without disconnecting anything on the bars.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

  13. #13
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    Has anyone tried one of the cheaper bike bags on ebay? I think they are about $50. Doesnt look like they have any padding in them but are made from a thick nylon ripstop material. Seems like you could armor your frame up well with padding and cardboard and make it work.

  14. #14
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    I have shipped bicycles both ways and recommend flying.

    Just recently I shipped my bike out from the East Coast to Telluride, CO via UPS. Cost was about $90 (one-way). I arrived before the bike and recieved a message from UPS declaring there was to be an upcharge for an oversize package. UPS kind of added couple of inches here and there which brought the total just past standard shipping (131" vs 135"). After debating with them on that - they refunded the $60 surcharge.

    But wait!! There's more - Something about 1/4" in diameter went through the side of the box into the frame and caused a nasty dent. I was going to pursue damages, but just decided to live with the ugliness. I'ts right in the middle of the downtube - so I don't think it will cause any structural failure.

    Lesson: Shipping UPS ground is expensive & damaging unless you use a heavy-duty crate. If you think about it - your package is bouncing in the back of a truck for days on end vs scooting smoothly in the sky for a few hours. The potential for damage is much greater. Example: I took my pedals out - reversed them and threaded back in by hand. One of them came out during shipping. That should give you some idea of the continous abuse / oscillations your baby will have to withstand. Never again.

  15. #15
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    Just got back from Whistler and flying the bikes worked out great except good ole Airtran said the bike fee is on top of the second bag fee so another $100+. The inspectors opened both bikes both times but got everything back in place and we had zero damage/wear.
    While it was a hassle, we rented baggage carts at first to move bikes and luggage but on the return I just drug them both and carried our riding gear. Hard work but it was fast...the wife could barely keep up with our wheeled luggage bag as at BWI we only had to move the stuff 300' from pickup to curb side shuttle to parking.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

  16. #16
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    One tip- if you fly your bikes with the wheels off, put something in the brake calipers to prevent the pistons from moving so the disks go back in easy.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

  17. #17
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    Does anyone know if wheelbags big enough for 29" wheels are allowed as a carry-on? I'm thinking that they could be a carry-on and they would be checked right before boarding the flight.

  18. #18
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    I'd say no way, Jose. Airtrans is typical and carry on is limited to a 24" dimension, the largest IRC which makes even mounted 24" wheels too big for carryon. Carryon goes either under the seat in front of you or overhead and no flight I've been on has anything like the room for carryon bikes. Maybe first class on a the latest Airbus would have the room but forget 737-700/800 for sure.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

  19. #19
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    I'd say no way, Jose. Airtrans is typical and carry on is limited to a 24" dimension, the largest IRC which makes even mounted 24" wheels too big for carryon. Carryon goes either under the seat in front of you or overhead and no flight I've been on has anything like the room for carryon bikes. Maybe first class on a the latest Airbus would have the room but forget 737-700/800 for sure.
    Every time I fly I see people with bags that get thrown in with cargo just before boarding the plane. You see people with strollers, carseat and folks with large carry-ons doing this. I am not talking about an entire bike, just a wheelset.

    Since my wife and I will get a total of 4 checked bags for free, I guess I could just box up the wheels and check them for no additional charge.

  20. #20
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    copied from the Airtran website:

    Carry On

    For carry-on baggage, all customers traveling on AirTran Airways will be restricted to one carry-on item and one personal item. Personal items include handbags, umbrellas, walking sticks, coats, cameras, reading matter, infant food, briefcases, and laptop computers.
    Assistive Devices

    Canes, walkers, crutches, and other assistive devices capable of being collapsed small enough to fit in overhead bins or underneath a seat are welcome inside the cabin and will not count toward your carry-on limit.
    Baggage

    Dimensions

    * A carry-on bag must not exceed 24” long + 18” wide + 13” tall for a total combined linear measurement of 55 inches.
    * For a personal item, such as a briefcase, laptop, purse, or camera to fit under the seat in front of the customer, it must not exceed 17” long + 12” wide + 8.5” tall.

    All carry-on items must fit under the seat or in the overhead bin. Any heavy item must be placed underneath the customer's seat. Any item with inflexible surfaces must be placed underneath the customer's seat or flat on the floor of an overhead bin.

    On aircraft operated by SkyWest Airlines, most roll aboard bags are too large for overhead storage. Carry-on baggage too large for overhead storage will be valet checked to the next destination and returned to the passenger at the gate.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

  21. #21
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    I flew back home for two weeks with my GF from Burlington, VT to Santa Monica, CA. I packed the bikes myself and shipped via UPS. Ridiculously expensive. 1 hardshell case 1 softshell case. Also jammed all extra gear into softshell case (GF's bike & much smaller than mine). My bike was a new Yeti 575 XL with 5 rides on it. I wrapped it in bubble wrap, duct-taped towels all over sharp edges. The shipping for each bike was $300 one way also insurance was an extra $300 on both bikes. When I arrived in LA my bike had a large dimple in the down-tube. I thought to myself "Thank god I purchased the insurance" I contacted UPS immediately. Set-up an inspection for when I arrived back in Burlington. I decided to have my bike shop down in Santa Monica to box and ship for me $300 total for both bikes and insurance (I have known the manager there for 10 years). What I didn't realize is that they shipped the bikes via Fed-ex back to me. UPS denied the whole claim because of that. Even though I had called immediately, taken photographs, and had my local shop vouch for me that the frame was in brand new condition (BTW my derailleur hanger & new shadow XTR RD were destroyed). My fault in all of this is my Yeti is a 22" frame and was a tight squeeze in the box, I figured that I could save money doing the boxing & shipping myself before researching bike shops.. But still with the amount of packing, wrapping, and protection that I did I wonder how many times they threw that box. So moral of the story on shipping bikes:

    Go to your local Bike Shop & have them pack and ship (Either bring your own case or have them box it) They get a huge discount on shipping and if anything happens to the bike they & shipper are the one's responsible.

    If you pack your bike and ship through a bike shop you are screwed. UPS requires that it be professionally packed either by a UPS store or a bike shop with the condition of bike documented ahead of time by the person who boxed the bike. Also because of this most bike shops will not accept a bike for shipping if they did not pack it themselves,

    If you ship and box on your own purchasing the insurance only covers you against loss of bike or complete destruction (ie a 2 ton box falls on it or the plane explodes in mid air).

    The earlier poster who mentioned shipping through the airlines freight carrier is a good idea that i wish I had thought of. I did research shipping by Greyhound but the price was basically the same on a 3,000 mile trip.
    Yeti SB95C
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  22. #22
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    I'm thinking of shipping my bike vs flying from Ontario to Moab. We're flying Air Canada, and I have a bike box.

    If I ship using Air Canada, can I get the bike shipped to the LBS in Moab or will it just get to the airport?

    Thanks!

  23. #23
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    I flew a Cannondale F300 to Frankfurt from JFK a couple years ago, I believe I flew Air Signapore or Lufstansa. The process from the airline was to remove front tire and pedals and turn the handlbars all the way so that the bike was essentially flat. Then took it to a the shrinkwrapping kiosk at JFK where they put the front tire against the middle of the frame and wrapped it all together. They spun it around enough times, there must have been 40 layers of thick plastic wrap around the bike in every direction. Total process costed about $150 with the wrap and oversize bag fee.
    When I got the bike in Germany the front dropouts were banged hard enough that they bent, although the rest of the fork was fine, the derailleurs and brakes were still in tune. The axle of the front wheel was bent a little bit as well. All in all, compared to all the other horror stories of flying with sports equipment (like that snowboard bag that delta never got back to me with $3500 worth of gear in it!) it went OK.

  24. #24
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    I was able to take my offroad FS recumbent apart and fit it OK in a coroplast bike box.
    Wheels off, fork and handlebars off, pedals off, seat off, suspension and rear swing-arm collapsed.

    Entire package with tools was under 50lbs, so it cost me $100 each way to fly with it.
    No damage or problems. Had an awesome time in Moab- Porcupine Rim x2, Slickrock x2, Mag 7, Sovereign...
    Last edited by Ofroad'bent; 04-12-2012 at 03:56 AM.

  25. #25
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    Southwest charges 50$ each way. You can pack your bike is a regular bike box, just keep the weight under 50 pounds.

  26. #26
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    im gonna go down to brazil probably this summer to visit family, (in the rio de janeiro area to be more exact) id like to bring the bike with me, we normally fly continental/united, i gotta see how im gonna package the bike, hopefully gonna be able to fit it into a suitcase, if i take the rear triangle, hopfeully mom doesnt call me insane and not allow me to bring it, i am allowed two suitcases after all, well, we shall see what happens
    2009 Jamis Trail X2
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmitch2 View Post
    Southwest charges 50$ each way. You can pack your bike is a regular bike box, just keep the weight under 50 pounds.
    Just make sure that the box can withstand weight being placed on the broad side of the box. Bikes in cardboard boxes are often placed flat inside the cargo bin. They form a nice base to stack baggage and freight on top of. It could have 10-15 bags stacked directly on top of it.

  28. #28
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    Flying with a bike is a valid option. You just need to do your research on what airlines charge, and be careful about the overweight, oversize, and most importantly EXCESS baggage. The story above about being charged $750 is because they checked in other bags with their bike. Never check more than two bags with your bike. For airlines that count your bike as one piece of checked baggage, you best only check one other bag with your bike. The excess baggage charges get really expensive and most bikes will not only be charged the bicycle fee, but also will be subject to overweight and oversize fees (rules change once you are in excess baggage territory). For a list of what airlines charge and explanations of the details, go to US Airline Bicycle Fees Chart | AirlineBagFees.com

  29. #29
    IMBA Canada
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    I fly out with my bike once or twice every year for the past 5-6 years. I've always used a bike case (My favourite is the one i bought: Serfas with the 4 metal fasteners). I've paid as much as 100$ each way... as nothing... no extra charges.

    My last 2 trips to whistler: one didn't cost me anything. And last week i paid the extra luggage fee of 20$ for my bike.

    Never had any damages or trouble. Airlines have always been friendly and knew the rules.
    ADSVMQ :: Quebec mountain bike trail advocacy group www.ADSVMQ.org

  30. #30
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    I have flown West Jet from Ontario to BC many times with bikes. They charged something like $50 as excess baggage which is much cheaper than shipping/renting a bike. Only pain was the inspections that you have to be prepared for at the airports. Sometimes they rip open the boxes to check out whats in there after you neatly packed the bikes up.

    Like some said earlier, protect the brake calipers and deflate your tires.

  31. #31
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    I recently flew from the east coast to Denver International and made the trek by rental car to Moab. Decided beforehand to ship our bikes to a local shop out there. Cost $150 each way to ship FedEx. Next time I would bite the bullet, buy a bike travel case, and fly with them.

  32. #32
    It's carbon dontcha know.
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    Looks like Southwest raised their bike price to $75 at the start of this year, are there any US domestic carriers less than this now?
    Rolling on 29", 650b, 8.3" and 23mm

  33. #33
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by eggdog View Post
    Eggdog, wondering if you'd talk about your experience with bikeflights, please.

    I just got rec'd them by my LBS. It seems like their whole angle is they have a good business shipper deal with Fed Ex and they pass savings to customer and take a little profit. This, in turn, makes the cost closer to the airline fees, and most people will feel much safer shipping in a cardboard box VS. airlines in a cardboard box.

    Seems like a good angle, to me. Anyways, interested in experience feedback. Thanks!

  35. #35
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    Have just used them to ship bikes. Have used them 3-4 times. No problems and super easy to use. Just input it online, print out your label, and take it down to fed ex/Kinkos.

    Very good customer service if you need to call them..

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by eggdog View Post
    Have just used them to ship bikes. Have used them 3-4 times. No problems and super easy to use. Just input it online, print out your label, and take it down to fed ex/Kinkos.

    Very good customer service if you need to call them..
    awesome! did you ever do the price breakdown versus flying?

    im going united domestic and i think bike flights will be cheaper

  37. #37
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    Depends where your destination is, but I would assume its cheaper then United. They really rip you off... You can go to the bikeflights site and put in all the info to get a price for their service.
    Quote Originally Posted by ride the biscuit View Post
    awesome! did you ever do the price breakdown versus flying?

    im going united domestic and i think bike flights will be cheaper

  38. #38
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    Another happy Bikeflights customer here. I have used them twice to ship bikes from GA to UT and it worked great. You can ship to a 24 hr Fedex center and pickup/drop off at your convenience.

  39. #39
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    just posting back up that I also had a great experience traveling with my bike using bikeflights

    i also used 24 hr fed ex locations on both ends

    it saved me $ over flying with my bike on United, and it was really nice not to have to deal with it in/at the airports. also, a really nice feature is that it got to my destination 2 days before I did on the way out so I already knew there would be no hassle on the front end as far as the bike was concerned

  40. #40
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    The funny thing about bikeflights is i'm pretty sure you could ship whatever you wanted for over half off of fedex's retail rates....no one is checking whats in the box (i will be using this anytime i sell a bike/frame)

    ...must be a loophole fed ex is willing to put up with to try and stop losing all that business to the airlines

  41. #41
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    Man i wish I had researched the bike flights site last week! I paid $165 to ship via UPS from San Diego to Boise (finished a week long bike trip, then directly out to ID for work). I figured $165 was cheaper than taking it back to Indy then to Boise 2 days later ....
    Bike flights would have charged about $70. Damn. I may use them to get the bike home now instead of lugging to/from airport!

  42. #42
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    bump...

    anyone recently used bikeflights.com ? What about insurance? It's about 170 round trip for me if I were to use them going to Austin from the East Coast but that's without "cost of bike" plugged in.. after I do that it's about $245.
    I might just rent bike box and do the airline thing.... hummmm....
    k n o ll y r o c k s

  43. #43
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    We are headed from the east coast to Moab in April via Denver and are considering bike flights primarily because our entire trip will be 9 days in/out of Denver where we will be renting a car and the logistics of showing up at the airport with boxed bikes and trying to get them out of there are a bit daunting, never mind the other end of the trip. What do people do about a rack? I would like to ship out 1up rack but am worried about crazy shipping costs. Anyone in Denver interested in renting a 3 slot 1up rack for $100 or something for the week? Also, any suggestions on a shop? There are good shops in Moab but that would limit us to riding there and not in fruita which we would be driving through anyways.

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