Although airlines, bus companies, and railways are generally accustomed to transporting bicycles, there is always a risk of damage. Proper boxing can minimize the risk of damage or loss.
You must anticipate the possibility that your bike will be dropped, stacked in cargo bins, or otherwise handled roughly once it leaves your sight. Don't travel with your bicycle unless it is boxed!
Some airlines have boxes available. Some airlines require several days' advance notice that you'll be traveling with a bicycle. Give this notice directly to the counter where you will be departing.
You can often get used boxes from bicycle shops, especially if you call a few days ahead. While you're at the bicycle shop, get two boxes (for each bike you want to ship), preferably one slightly larger than the other. A single box can be modified to protect your bicycle fairly well, but one slipped inside another to form a double-walled container, braced internally, will give your bike better protection and give you greater peace of mind.
It takes time to box a bicycle, especially if it's your first try, so don't wait until a half-hour before your flight is scheduled to depart to begin working on it. What you'll need:
pocket or utility knife
some extra strips of cardboard
some scrap wood
filament or duct tape
some light rope, twine, or stout cord
Shift the gears so that the cables are slack.
Deflate the tires halfway for more shock-absorbing capability.
Remove seat and post as a unit.
Remove the front wheel. Cut a small block of wood to fit between the front-fork dropouts, and tape it in place. This will help prevent the fork blades from being bent.
Loosen brake cables enough to rotate handlebars. If your bicycle has a very long wheelbase, it may help to completely remove the front brake so the fork can be rotated 180 degrees.
Remove the handlebars and stem as a unit by loosening the stem bolt two full turns. Then, protecting the bolt with scrap wood, hammer to loosen the internal wedge, and pull the stem out of the steering tube. Retighten the stem bolt to avoid losing the wedge.
Remove the pedals. Remember that the left pedal is a left-hand thread; the right pedal is a standard right-hand thread.
Tie or tape the front wheel to the right side of the frame, padding between the wheel and the frame with cardboard. Turn the crank arms parallel with the box bottom and tape in place.
Make two 6-inch square "washers" of several layers of cardboard with a center hole. Make them thick enough to prevent the front-wheel axle or quick-release end from puncturing the box. Tape these in place over the exposed front axle end and the end of the rear axle opposite the derailleur.
Unbolt the rear derailleur (but don't disconnect the cable) and tape it to the rear wheel spokes below its normal position so it doesn't stick out past the frame. Pad the derailleur with a roll of cardboard also taped in place.
Cradle the handlebars and stem over the top tube or around the fork and head tube if space permits.
Preparing the Box
Cut five pieces of cardboard, each about one foot in length, and wide enough to fit snugly across the inside width of your box. Form tightly rolled tubes and fit them inside the box. These tubes will absorb forces from the sides and prevent the box walls from collapsing into the bicycle.
Place one tube inside the box near the lower end of the front fork. Place two tubes, slightly flattened to fit, through the rear wheel and tape them in place. Place other tubes where the top and down tubes meet, through the front-wheel spokes, and below the top tube, toward the front of the bike. Tape each tube in place.
Lower the bicycle into the box, and add cardboard pads wherever any remaining sharp or fragile parts might contact the box. Anchor the cross-bracing cardboard tubes further by punching holes in the box sides to match the tube centers, and securing the tubes with tape, rope, or both. The rope can also be padded and used as convenient carrying handles.
Wrap the saddle, pedals, and other parts in newspaper or cloth and secure them inside the box. You might also want to place the tools you'll need to reassemble the bike in an easily retrievable bag inside the box.
Seal the box with tape, and clearly label it with your name, destination, flight number, and home return address.
In the illustration above, holes have been punched corresponding with the cardboard tubes which will protect the bike against side loads. The tubes have then been held in place with tape. Finally, rope acts as both support and temporary carrying handles.
Remember, on most airlines you will have to sign a waiver which will remove the airline from any responsibility for damage to your bicycle. It is to your benefit to spend some time carefully packing your bike. It's no fun to get to the trailhead of your long-awaited tour only to find your bicycle has been damaged.
The Barn Bicycle Camping area in the Methow Valley in Washington State is located on three of our mapped routes: the Northern Tier, Sierra Cascades and Washington Parks. The services they offer fall into our unique service category of Cyclists Only Camping.
Small towns dot our route network from sea to sea and border to border. With a population of 50 people, the tightly knit community of Ovando sits on Montana Highway 200 in the midst of ranch country at the intersection of two of our routes, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) and the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail. Ovando embraces the cyclists who trickle through their town every summer with great enthusiasm. In 2012 the number exceeded 400 cyclists.
In our Bicycle Travel Etiquette series, we focused on the Warmshowers.org community as well as the many spontaneous meetings randomly formed on the road over the Couchsurfing group to create our How To Guides for hosting cyclists and being hosted. There is a reason why.
If you happen to live in or near one of the thousands of communities along the Adventure Cycling Route Network, you have probably seen them — traveling cyclists riding bicycles, gear strapped onto their trusty steed. Wouldn't it be great to get to know some of them? This post features tips on how to be a good host.
When you are planning your trip, where to sleep is a big part of the equation. Depending on the destination, it will probably involve a combination of camping, hotels, and homes of friends and family. This post features tips on how to be a good guest, it's the second in a series on Bicycle Travel Etiquette.
In December of 2012, I wrote a blog post on Bicycle Travel Etiquette in response to some reports that had trickled into our office about less than courteous behavior by traveling cyclists. In an attempt to reverse the trend before it gained momentum, we began soliciting comments from cyclists and hosts, staff members, and representatives of WarmShowers.
In his October/November 2012 Adventure Cyclist " Letter from the Editor", Mike Deme responded to correspondence he had received from Gillian Hoggard, our 2006 Trail Angel Award winner. Gillian was writing to withdraw her name as a "Cyclists Only Lodging" on the TransAmerica Trail due to a string of bad experiences. Based on my observations in general — so, not scientifically speaking — over the last couple of years, to varying degrees, we have had an increase in the number of complaints about rude cyclists.
The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink.
With the increasing number of Cyclists Only Lodging and Camping listings on our maps, we got to wondering how one of the first of these facilities was doing: the Community Center in Monroeville, Indiana. I was able to connect with some cyclists who had stayed there recently and asked.
I received an email from Wayne Garvey, the current pastor at Marion United Methodist Church in Marion, Kentucky, located on the TransAmericaTrail." Even though they had been informally serving as a Cyclist Only host, he wanted to be added to the map.
I'm so excited about this news, I can hardly sit still! Back in May, we mentioned that Twin Bridges, Montana, was setting up a cyclists only campground. Little did we know (though we did suspect) the impact it would have on this small, rural community.
In 2005, Donn Olson, a farmer near Dalbo, Minnesota, encountered a couple of traveling cyclists who were dealing with a nasty batch of construction in front of his house. The three got to talking and before long, Donn found himself inviting them in for refreshments and a place to sleep for the night. The two young men introduced Donn to Adventure Cycling and suggested that he offer himself as "cyclists only lodging" option on the Northern Tier Bicycle Route map.
In addition to traditional campground facilities, Adventure Cycling route maps also list what we call Cyclists Only Lodging. These are places along the way only available to the traveling cyclist and are generally only known because of our map listings or word of mouth. The options run the gamut from church sanctuaries to ranches to cycling specific camping areas. All aim to help the traveling cyclist and have their unique take on how best to accomplish their goal.
This is a busy time of the year for airlines, and if you are flying with your bike, get ready for some stiff baggage fees. But, as long as you're paying to get your bike on a plane, you may as well make the most of it.
One of the easiest and most liberating ways to travel by bicycle is traveling without a bicycle — renting, that is. For many, renting a bike after arriving at a destination is the perfect solution. If you have ever considered traveling to a far-off land and renting a bicycle once you arrived there, the following is a short breakdown of some of the places you might find a bicycle for rent.
by the Tours Department. Although airlines, bus companies, and railways are generally accustomed to transporting bicycles, there is always a risk of damage. Proper boxing can minimize the risk of damage or loss.