How To Fly Cheaper With Your Bike

Jul 22, 2010 at 0:09
Jul 22, 2010
by Jordan Holmes  
 
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Professional riders travel the world to ride in amazing locations and push their limits, but one of the most stressful parts of the job is having to fly with your bike. It really does seem like airlines are out to get us with their extra charges for pretty much anything that you can't fit into your pockets. Morpheus pro rider Mitch Chubey knows a thing or two about flying with his bike and inside he shares his method to get around those extra fees and lower the stress level on your next trip.

Read on...

Professional riders certainly look like they live the dream as they travel the world to ride their bikes with friends in amazing locations, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows. If you've taken your bike with you on vacation you've no doubt experienced the nightmare that can sometimes transpire at the check-in desk. I swear I've actually seen dollar signs appear in the clerks eyes as I slowly dragged my big cardboard bike box up to the counter. Morpheus team rider Mitch Chubey takes a different approach...

Things you'll need: Allen key set, pedal wrench, some towels, and a duffel bag.


Watch the video to learn how to get past excess baggage fees


Views: 56,655    Faves: 504    Comments: 77



Do you have any tips or hints to add that can make flying with your bike even easier? Share them below!
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122 Comments

  • + 21
 Now I just need somewhere to go...
  • + 12
 Save some money for next year man.
I will have a very sick tour / race event to offer.
[Reply]
  • + 12
 That is pretty awesome, but baggage handlers chuck your shit around and don't really care to consider what might be inside. That bag may end up under a pile of other bags on the plane which is not ideal.
  • + 8
 Your bike might end up looking like casey groves' bike did when he had it shipped for the claymore challenge...http://twitpic.com/25bllz
  • - 4
 Love to know what the airline has to do with his lack of ability to pack a bike... The Airport are the ones that handle baggage NOT the Airline.
Also the handlers don't have the time to look at every item of baggage to see how it should be treated, 100+ bags need to get into the plane and they don't have time to mess around looking for fragile stickers, orientation stickers and other crap.
  • + 2
 ^holy that bike got smashed!
  • + 1
 It was delta airlines and he said the bike was fine but they lost a pedal and his shoes..
  • + 1
 lionel17 it is the airline though because the airline hires people to load the plane... in this case incapable people
  • + 1
 Doesn't matter who or why. I don't want it to happen to me either way. I paid deerly to fly my bike to whistler in a bike box last summer, but over packed it so well that it was dialed!
[Reply]
  • + 9
 That's a huge bag but would it fit a large V10 in it? (or any large size DH bike?)
  • + 5
 thats what i was thinking how can i do this with my stinky lol or other bigger bike
  • + 5
 My Glory needed co-ercing into a proper bike bag...
  • + 3
 You could go to the extent of pulling your rear shock out and pulling all the linkages apart?
  • + 3
 Large size dh frames are usualy smaller than large size XC frames which tend to have enormous front triangles. It is only the dc fork that might do the trouble but I dont think so. The biggest poblem is always the wheels, and these are pretty much the same size for every kind of bike.
  • + 1
 i know they are smnaller than xc but they are bigger than the bike in this edit
  • + 1
 yeah boxxer world cups could be easy you could let all the air out and compress them and tie them down i don't think that would be very good for them though
  • + 2
 I'm sorry, but I really couldn't be arsed with all that hassle. I just horse the the wheels off and remove the bars, that's it. Some bubble wrap, some foam and fling it all in a bike bag. Morzine here we come!
[Reply]
  • + 5
 ill stick with a box from the shop thanks, the big orange ones are best. all i have to do it take front wheel, pedals and bars off and i know its not going to get smashed to bits. ive seen a baggage handler drop one end of my snowboard bag from head high onto the floor, fucking stupid seppo.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Most cheap airlines charge per bag so it doesn't make this a lot cheaper. I am going touring and my bike is just going in a big clear plastic bag - so they can see its a bike and treat it as such. That is the idea anyway.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 On another note, if you take the time to disassemble your front triangle from your rear, you can fit your bike in a standard suitcase and carry on your wheels in a wheel bag. If you fork doesn't quite fit in the suitcase just compress it and use a ratchet strap to hold it down. IT my take some extra time but well worth it.
  • + 1
 Looks like im repeating here, should read more first before posting I guess.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 never mind flying in a plane. make a huge ass jump and fly there yourself. i have done this for the last few years and it works well every time. on my first attempt however i did end up part way across the atlantic. but if your bike is light enough it would float then you can just swim the rest of the way. i find this is much cheaper than buying a box to fly your bike in. joking by the way. this looks like a good way to transport your bike. gotta be careful one of the stupid airport people dont dropp it though.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i'm testing this out this year www.shipbikes.com/Whatis.html
i'll let you know how it goes, i'll be shipping my bike through fedex to mainland from hawaii..
but taking them on the Airline for my Australia trip later this year... hopefully this box is all its cracked up to be.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I think the best thing to do is to have a proper bike bag, and then with in that bike bag line it with cardboard and then patch the wheel bags with cardboard around the discs.
Ive flown to Geneva airport 3 times and never had a problem with doing it.
its only costing me £15 to take the bike Smile
[Reply]
  • + 2
 wow. I also wonder if I can get my bikes in a hockey bag!

For padding use your bike clothes and camel back.

You need all these things together so if you're bike doesn't make it you probably won't need your bike clothes anyway.

It cost us $200.00 per bike to fly united to Sedona. $100.00 per bike + $100.00 for over 50lbs which is pretty easy with a 30 lb bike and 20lb plastic bike box.
  • + 0
 How about just taking your gear and rent sum bikes there?
  • + 3
 $80-100 bucks a day to rent a good bike!

I'd rather have my own!
[Reply]
  • + 5
 All the more reason you all should visit India ... www.megamtb.com
I will show you some sick places.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This seems like a good idea, but I'm gonna use chunks of thick as possible foam instead of towels. So what happens if they destroy your bike... can you make a damage claim after lying to them about contents? Can you put a fragile sticker on the bag maybe, or is that a giveaway?
  • + 1
 I'm not speaking from experience, just speculation. In the video he says to tell them its sports equipment. This technically isn't lying, as a bike is sports equipment. So you should still be able to file a damage claim. Again, just speculation.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I did this with my medium RM7 when I flew from Connecticut to Whistler and back in 2004 and 2005. Had to disassemble the swingarm from the front triangle but it all fit in a Koho Hockey bag. Didn't get charged any extra. You just have to be willing to spend the time to take it apart and put it back together.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 One of the bottom line, implicit points of this article is that airlines are idiots, at least the North American ones, are. I had done my research back in 2007, when I brought a bike from the States to Canada. Most airline websites, back then, said it had to fit within 62 linear inches AND they would charge you an additional fee. I have a 62 linear inch suitcase, and I'd be hard pressed to get one wheel in there, let alone a whole bike. Translation: what they said on the website was useless and didn't mean anything. I used NorthWest, because they allowed up to 115 linear inches. It still cost $80, one way. Currently, Delta charges $200, United $100, AirCanada $50 (not bad at all). And, the stupidest thing is, how often do you really see ticketing agents get out the tape measure? Rarely. You can tell them you have a bike, and they'll charge you, while the next guy comes up with his massive bag, doesn't say anything, and they take it, no questions. The same with carry-on, too. As if a lot of carry-on actually fits inside those dinky tube-measurement-things. I don't know how you could take wheels as carry-on. If anybody's actually done it, please let us know. There's no way wheels will fit in an overhead compartment. Not MTB wheels, for sure. Again, it's stupid that certain categories have to pay special fees. Airlines should simply charge according to size and weight, period. Till then, Mitch is right: just check it in as a sports bag.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Baggageweight is also important. For example Lufthansa-Airline only allow 23kg for your luggage. If I put my bike and my riding gear into such a big bag it easily exceeds this limitation. And then I have no clothes with me to wear after the ride Wink .
Whats the regulation from the airline you use?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I managed to pull this move with a BMX from London, England to Toronto.

However, more recently, Delta charged me $105 one way from Toronto to Utah. I left the bike in UT due to flying a snowboard home instead and are having my parents ship it back to me, but the bike store used some over-sized box, so the UPS shipping from UT to NY jumped from $80 to $160. The fees to ship it back into Canada with UPS, absolutely absurd. $300 plus brokerage, plus having to find my receipt in order to avoid taxes.

Bike traveling sucks.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wrap it like that and fly from the States to Europe. I guess you will get a nervous brake down when you see some pueblos throwing your bag 2 floors down in the air and when you see that even those hard shell suitcases get deep scratches etc all over them.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 it all depends on the bike and if you love it. I have used an Iron Case for 11 years. I have flown to Jamaica, the worst possible scenario, 16 times with this case and NEVER suffered any loss or broken parts. The case is mangled and the straps are getting on and I am sure a clasp will snap this Feb. when I go down. I have also loaned it to 2 friends who flew a total of 3 flights bringing it up to 19 times. I bought it used from Dukes in 2001 and it was used as a rental for 3 seasons. My Mojo SL travels in it and 3 Santa Cruzes and 3 GT XCR 1000's used it. My 36 fits fine. I zip tie the fork to the foam and bubble wrap the delicates. The only snag is cables that get bent but I carry cable sets and housing. Also...The first time I was in Jamaica I used a cardboard box and when I went to pack it up on return the box fell apart from the moisture. I used a roll of packing tape to rebuild it. Totally sucked when they told me to open it up.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I've travelled a few tmes with my bike and tried different set ups. All I can resume from my little or big experience is that you will always have to pay. Airlines suck for this.

Cheers,
Beer
[Reply]
  • + 1
 OMG do you know how they treat those bags, or any baggage in general? Think ill just go for the wooden box option.

I brought home at surfboard from California to Denmark as hand luggage on a KLM flight without paying a dime for it, so i guess anythings goes if your cheeky enough to try =D
  • + 1
 haha im with you, the guys that load that stuff dont give a rat's ass, if you shipped most bikes like that they would be destroyed.
  • + 1
 If you packed more around, and put spanners in the frame and fork it would be no worse than shipping it in a cardboard bike box.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 There is a great company in Des Moines, IA that manufactures a bike case that flies as a checked bag! I have used mine numerous times over the years and sure enough the thing works! Couldn't be happier with the purchase and it has proved to save my thousands each year! TSA places my case on the belt and it arrives with the other checked bags, no bike fees, no over-sized fees. Check this case out www.rustersports.com
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Sick video Chubes. Better come up to Whistler this weekend for the Chromag Family Gathering at the River Jumps! Brian Kachinsky does the same thing with BMX and says it's golf clubs, key to make sure you say it's only sporting goods, not a bike.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Not so ideal as already said here. That bag doesn't protect the bike at all. You need something much better that has padding and able to withstand airport baggage handlers. A bike box is probably the best solution. Use a fresh box out of your LBS.
  • + 0
 I'm sorry, but exactly how does a flimsy cardboard box with next to no structural strength provide bmore protection than a hockey/duffle bag? If it was me, I might use a few more towels and blankets, and maybe some bubble wrap if I could get it. But the hockey bag is very bit as good, if not better, than a cardboard box.

There are some "soft shell" bike bags that might be a little bit better than the hockey bag, but given the cost of those bags, they're not really worth it. The only thing that would offer significantly more protection would be a "hard shell" bike case. Expensive to buy, and I can only assume they would be expensive to ship.
  • + 2
 Let's think. How do you think your LBS get their bikes from the maker/importer? It's packed exactly the same way -with "filmsy" cardboard box. Dude, it's legit. Just put enough bubble wrap in there and you're good to go. Also mind you that baggage handlers may relate to it differently since it isn't like a normal suitcase that they throw one on another. They can't throw it. They have to place it perpendicularly or in some other ways but mostly probably not in a way that will damage it.
  • + 0
 Dude, I'm not saying a cardboard box won't work. I'm just trying to say that a bag is every bit as good as cardboard, or better. I tried to repack a bike into a bike box once. It was a huge pain in the ass making everything fit nice without scratching the bike. Also, after 1 or 2 uses, the box is destroyed, and you need to go back your bike shop and hope to find a new one, which, if it's not spring time/bike building season, is unlikely that the shop will have. Whereas a hockey bag, packed properly, will provide the same level of protection as a piece of cardboard, but will be easier to pack, and will be reusable, saving the hassle of trying to find a new cardboard box.

Also, keep in mind that bikes aren't shipped in cardboard boxes because they are a superior form of protection. They are shipped in cardboard boxes because they are CHEAP, and the box is convenient for shipping.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 Interesting way to do it, I generally just get a bike box from a local bike store, most places wont charge you for the box. Take bike apart, wheels off, and pedals are the only things that really need to come off. Wrap the bike up nicely in bubble wrap and away you go! Air Canada charges a $50 fee both ways if your going any where, not terrible but can add up if you travel with your bike a lot.
  • + 3
 Ehat bike does he have? it looks SWEET!
  • + 3
 FAIRLY NICE BIKE
  • + 2
 i think this is a great way to travel with your bike. I done a bit of travelling and riding but doing both has proved a hassle. sure a bike box might be easier to pack but its only practical if all you're doing is riding and going straight to your accommodation in a private vehicle. good luck if you have to change carriers, take public transport, walk a few blocks thru a congested city, negotiate a couple flights of stairs, and you can use it multiple times without going thru rolls of tape or worrying about rain melting cardboard. this has opened up a whole new world for me.
  • + 1
 Dishboy14 is sort of right, but only if your bike is checked as 1 of your 2 alotted checked bags. If your bike is the 3rd bag, Air Canada charges $225 for the extra bag as well as the $50 for the bike ("sports equipment" fee). Air Canada also requires that a bike be packed in a rigid container, such as a cardboard box or hard shell bike case. Packing your bike in a bag wouldn't be allowed on Air Canada... But this video appears to be helpful for those airlines that do accept bikes in bags.
  • + 10
 Wow ! Pinkbike you're my idol ! I'm going to Whistler from Poland on tuesday, and that's what I was thinking about for few weeks. Are you spying me!?Big Grin THANK YOU!Smile
  • + 1
 Excellent!!!!
  • + 1
 The idea here is to not tell them its a bike, but to simply say its "sporting Equipment" To get away with using it as a checked bag, for free. Or if your on an airline that charges for checked bags, then 25-35 dollar, depending on the airline, most still let you check your first bag free, then just carry on your luggage. Cheap flying with your bike.
  • + 1
 wat does he say at the end

just remember when they ask its ?
  • + 1
 @thedemo7rider 'just remember, when they ask what it is, just tekk thel it's sporting equipement"
[Reply]
  • + 1
 when I took my bike on holiday with me I just took it all apart and put it in with my suitcase with my clothes, dont know if it would work with a mtb though
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Fantastic way to write off your bike and your helmet. Good Job.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i took my bmx in a duffle to michigan but i seriously doubt a dh rig would fit hahaha slopestye would though
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Also remember, it's never a bike until you admit it is. They also only charge you on complete bikes. So say it's bike parts if you have to.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 quite pointless really. easy jet charge only £18 on a bike or any sporting equipment weighing up to 32kg for a return travel. and you can still keep it in a bike box.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 if i put my bike in a bag, i strap my forks compressed so its less space :L
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i am flying across north america in one week and this is how i'm bringing my bike with me!! Thanks Chubey!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 thats the only problem the people that do baggage treat your stuff like shit just throw it
  • + 1
 No different them crashing and watching your bike bounce off trees and rocks.
  • + 1
 yea but since everything is cramed into the bag its worse cant you just get a bike bag and fly south west airlnes because your bags fly free
[Reply]
  • + 1
 put a block of wood inbetween the forks and the rear axel where you too off the wheel
[Reply]
  • + 1
 if youre flying round nz get some NZ Golf stickers put on your bag and they treat your bags way better than they usualy do.
  • + 1
 what if they lose your "sporting equipment bag"? isnt that a risk your taking if you do it that way? its not really on my to do list to have the airline lose my bike bag with $5000 worth of bike parts in it
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Can believe you got it in the bag looked way to small
[Reply]
  • + 1
 if only this would have came a month ago i wouldnt be bikeless all summer Frown but al least now ill know what to do
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I´d love to give this a try, does a M or S sized Downhill bike also fit in a hockey bag???
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Love the wheelset
[Reply]
  • + 1
 from ontario to vancouver and back cost $50 for my bike they forgot to charge for the way back
[Reply]
  • + 1
 cheers for the vid...but it doesnt help with the big old DH bikes....just get a bike bag and suck up the hassle
[Reply]
  • + 1
 If a rodie saw this, they would die. lol. I love it, and love it even more because this is the ROOTS!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wont you get charged for having 2 bikes though? some please reply cuse i need to know!
  • + 1
 some airlines will not charge you for the first bag of sporting equipment but will charge you (by weight) for the second
  • + 1
 ah okay cheers, so you could take like clothes and sports gear without having to pay extra?
  • + 1
 check out the baggage restrictions on whatever airline you are flying.

For alaska you are allowed 3 bags under 50lbs for $20.00. You pay more for +4 bags or bags over 50lbs.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I got caught doing this from lyon to london, I had to pay 80£ !!!!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I have a huge Bauer hockey bag that would deffinely work.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So basically take your hole bike apart?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 SOME ONE TELL ME WHAT KIND OF BIKE THAT IS, please
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing he can take his bike a part in two min haha
[Reply]
  • + 1
 whats wrong with just a simple bike bag?...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i've got to ask what bike is this i want a picture it is beautiful!
  • + 1
 Morpheus Skyla
[Reply]
  • + 1
 so smart fow i can fly to bc!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 someone went to highland bike park...look at his bracelet
[Reply]
  • + 2
 It's what equipment?
  • + 2
 "sporting equipment"
  • + 15
 is hunting a sport?
  • + 3
 I find this exercise pointless, just to much hassle with removing the handlebar, forks etc. Most airlines in the Europe will charge you for a luggage anyway so you may only save a few euros comparing to carrying a 'sport equipment' large, bike purpose bag, which provides much better protection to the bike.
  • + 3
 Koval, It my be a hassle. But the point is to try and save some extra money. US Airlines what to charge $100+ each way to check a bike. So for me, this makes perfect sense. And Yes it is sporting equipment.
  • + 3
 Euro airlines are 30GBP each way, no matter whether its in a box, a bike bag, or a 'sports equipment bag'. Plus you can use hard cases with coasters for extra security/ease of transport.

All in all: Good tip for US airlines, obsolite for Euro airlines... You'd be better off with a genuine bike bag over here.
  • + 1
 i agree wiith bunkey, over here we have to pay no matter what. Mind you what they didnt mention in the video was you standard luggage as im guessing he is not wearing the same clothes for the whole trip. As for this being a "trick" its a bike in a bag, there is no other way to tansport it lol.
  • + 1
 ogio monster bag, actually made to go over golf bags during travel.... a DJ bike will fit in the bag and put wheels in a wheel-bag as a carry on.
  • + 2
 if your flying on a canadian airline say its hockey equipment and its free
  • - 1
 Never mind the transporting thing... I suppose the video was really made to get us talking about the bikeSmile
Well, I can tell the orange and pink go terribly bad together Smile
  • + 6
 K-man all hunting equiptment should go in hand luggage
  • + 7
 yeh shot all Indians and Pakistanis before they blow U up
  • + 3
 Eek You are a VERY ignorant person if you think its people of Indian and Pakistan nationality who are currently targetting airlines.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 lol nice!! but....man what a *pain* in the ass anyways!! omg
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That's one beautiful bike! Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 1
 lol my bike probs too long for a hockey bag Frown
  • + 1
 yeah... mine too.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice trick but it won't work on an XL DH, XC or AM bike. Frown
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Too canada i go then !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 awesome colours
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That bike is wicked
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Descending from apprx 20,000 Feet man, Riding at worlds highest passes, glaciers and super sick trails.. Think about it. Im working on this project.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Got a video to show me?
  • + 2
 do you provide spare brake rotors? Smile For instance I love 1000ft descents with fast lifts Wink
[Reply]

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