By Samantha C. Coleman
I often travel to and from gravel events across the country my with my bike, and if you're a first-time bike traveler, this topic will be super helpful. I've had good luck with my Evoc soft bike bag, which means I take apart my bike, wrap and secure items inside the bag, so there is no damage. [See this BikeRadar review about my favorite bag along with a few other options.]
Here are a few tips that I have compiled along the way that can help you travel with your bike. Note: the right travel clothes are essential as you will be pulling a large bike bag, and you'll want to be super comfortable. Fierce Hazel offers creative t-shirts that provide sustainable style.
A few basic tips:
- Pack your bike in a protective case, unique bike bag, or box (cardboard boxes can also do).
- Don't pack your own bike if you don't know how to do it properly.
- Remove or fix bike pedals inwards.
- Remove or fix the handlebars sideways.
- To reduce the risk of damage, deflate the tires.
- Some airlines recommend taking your wheels off.
- Check baggage requirements ahead of time and shop around for lower bike fees.
- If you can, book a direct flight or flights with short layovers.
- Consider luggage insurance and take a picture of your gear inside your box before sealing it up
- Don't pack it up at the last minute and don't forget your tools!
Bike Shipping Service: BikeFlights, ShipBikes, and Roadie are several companies out there doing this. This service provides a box and instructions on how to break down your bike and how to secure it inside of the box. There are clear instructions on drop-off and pick-up locations. For a premium price during subscribing, they provide tracking so you can have peace of mind of the process. Bike flights also provide event shipping that would ship to the closest bike shop near your event.
American Airlines: Bikes are under sports equipment. Hard or soft bag, and it is advised to turn handlebars, remove pedals, and wrap in plastic foam to secure the inside of your bag. Standard bag fees are up to 50lbs. If possible, it is advisable to keep your bag weight to under 50lbs, if possible, as overweight fees apply from 51 lbs.
Delta: Standard bag fees are up to 50lbs. It is advisable to keep your bag weight to under 50 lbs., if possible, as overweight fees apply from 51 lbs.
Jet Blue: $100 standard fee. There is no weight penalty however bike bags weighing more than 99 lbs. will not be accepted. This will count as your second checked bag.
United: Oversized fees don't apply to checked bicycles. Standard checked baggage fees.
The best part about getting to your destination is knowing that your bike has arrived safely. The fun part begins when setting up your bike and taking it for that first test ride. Now that you know get out there and go fiercely into the gravel!
Top travel photo by Holly Mandarich. All others courtesy Samantha Coleman.
About the author: Samantha C. Coleman is an amateur Mtb/gravel/road cyclist and teacher within early childhood and higher education. She is the author of both academic and cycling publications.