What are Your Options for Traveling with Your Bike?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Hi, it's Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. So what are your options for traveling with your bike? I wanna talk about whether you're flying domestically or internationally about getting your bike from where you are at home to where you wanna be, your destination, and kind of some alternatives we can think about on how to get that done most efficiently.

Now, we're recording this in the midst of the concern about the coronavirus and this is being recorded in March of 2020. Coronavirus is on the horizon and people are sort of unsure about making destination plans this summer. I have plans myself. And if your plans involving bicycling, I wanna give you some options, particularly those of you who may never have done it but would like to do it. I think you're gonna find some great bargains on air travel this year with all of the people being reluctant to go.

Whether you're gonna fly across the country or internationally, the most convenient thing, of course, when you get to your destination is having your bike. But how do you get it there in one piece without having repairs made at the other end? The amazing thing about the bike world these days is the amazing variety and choices we have available for us. If you do any kind of research for this topic, you'll find that we have folding bicycles. We have a split frame bicycles to actually come apart. There are traditional bikes, and there are these folding travel bikes. And they all come in e-bike varieties. So you have almost an endless supply of variations and choices you can make from very little money quite frankly to significant money on the other hand.

One of the people that I love to talk with this about is Petty Huff, who was the president of the FBA last year, on the board still. She and her husband had traveled extensively, particularly in Europe, across the United States, and in South America. And they've taken their bikes everywhere. And she and her husband started out traveling with hybrid bikes, which I had to take apart and ship. And then ultimately they invested in Co-Motion, which is a very nice, folding bike that they can put into a suitcase and travel with. So there's a great article in bicycling magazine called the best folding bikes you can buy right now. World live information in there about a number of bicycles ranging really from $300 to $4,000. I think I saw it in their article and the pros and cons. Some are e-bikes, some are traditional bikes.

I think some of the bikes that will fit directly into a suitcase obviously have a great advantage to you because you can have bypass a lot of extra fees with the airlines. They're ready made to go right into bags that you normally travel with anyway. And the folding bikes could save you a significant money over time if you are a regular traveler because simply the savings that you might have in terms of baggage fees that we'll talk about as we move kind of through the considerations on how to plan your trip when you wanna take your bike to a destination and you want your concern about how to get it there.

One thing I picked up in sort of looking into the issues here is you'd never want to assume that you just show up at the airport with your bike. Every airline has their own set of rules and limitations and restrictions and requirements. So you want to definitely make your reservations before you do that, you wanna know what the rest, what the particular requirements of the airline are or their weight or their size. One of the things that came up in, in some of the research I did was you may be better off upgrading your personal ticket to get additional baggage allowance. It might save you significant money in taking the bicycle along with you. So we wanna look into both those options because there can be substantial fees for throwing a bike in the luggage compartment because they do it based on size and weight.

So remember there's a lot of things that you might not think about. Many of their airlines require you to deflate your tires to a certain degree before you put it away. And you always want to investigate the cost to know exactly what they're going to charge you to ship the bike the way you want to send it.

So let's talk about now for a few minutes about, let's assume you have a full size bike. It might be a hybrid or it could be a traditional road bike and you wanna ship it either intercontinental across the continent or internationally. And you have some choices there as to how you're going to pull this off. One thing is you can obviously ship it from your home to a destination. You can pick it up at the airport or you can ship it to a hotel or to a bike shop at the destination where you're going. This takes some coordination. The other thing that you can do is you can take your bike to a bike shop, have them pack it for you, have them ship it directly outside of the airline to another bike shop or to your hotel or whatever you might arrange in the country or city of your destination. I think about pricing that out. Taking a bicycle apart and putting it into a bike case for those who are not particularly mechanically inclined, can be a little may push your limits in terms of what you feel comfortable doing. So one of the things might be to take it to a shoplift and take it apart, disassemble it, put it into a box, whatever the container is that you can use and they can ship it to another bike shop or to your hotel or whatever your destination might be.

The other, one of the things to keep in mind is, so when you ship your bike, regardless of what you do, you're going to have a container that's going to go in and we're gonna talk about this, a wide variety of containers that you can use for your bike, but anything which is the, any container you have is going to take up space. And you have the question of what do you do with it? When you arrive at your destination the advantage of using a bike shop is that you could leave the container there, pick it up on your return and have them ship it back to you. You can also arrange that type of thing with a hotel. Have the bike arrive at a hotel. You can put it together, leave the container there along with your other luggage you don't need and ride off. I know people going to Amsterdam. It's very easy to arrive there, assemble your bike and ride off from the multiple trails that take off right from the airport. And so you can use a bike shop for storage of your container. You can use the hotel for storage at the core of your container and your luggage. So just look at what is the most convenient thing for you that's going to make your life simpler on the road.

Also keep in mind some people take their bike and use a vehicle when they arrive at their destination rather than riding everywhere on the bicycle. Keep in mind, so if you're going to ride away from the airport in a vehicle, how much space is your container going to take? Most of the European rentals are smaller. You have to make extra arrangements to get a vehicle large enough to hold a traditional hard sided case or even a cardboard case, for instance, for that matter. So just those are some things to think about as you are making your plans and trying to decide what you want to do about going overseas with your bike, particularly.

So a little a programming note. So if we haven't met before, my name is Jim Dodson. I'm The Florida Bike Guy. I'm a practicing injury lawyer in Clearwater representing cyclist, their friends and families throughout Florida. And whether you've been injured in a cycling crash or as an occupant or driver of a motor vehicle accident I will be there for you. We have a unique advantage in cycling cases because not only does it combine my 25 plus years as an injury lawyer, but also my years as a cyclist riding the same roads and facing the same issues that you face on the road every day that you ride. If you, it gives me a unique perspective on cycling cases, which I clearly understand and spend time educating adjusters on the issues that we face. But if you need me, remember that I'll be there for you regardless of where you are in Florida. So I look forward to helping anytime that I can.

So let's talk about some of the options for bike cases. you know, they're all going to require some degree typically of assembling. I think the simplest bike case is the entire bike bag. There are relatively thick opaque zip-up bags in which you can place your entire bicycle really without taking it apart at all. They offer the least protection for the bike, but many people use them and apparently use them successfully. I think there are some things you can do to add some protection inside the bag, but that is probably the least expensive option. And the one that requires the least amount of assembly or reassembling.

Hard cases of course tend to be taking up the most room. They probably create the most issues for you when you arrive at your destination about can you get it in your rental car, is there a place to leave it at a bike shop or in your hotel room? They typically are the most expensive, but they also typically provide the most protection for your bike. So you have to weigh and balance the issues on what you choose. And then of course there's some, they're soft sided bags and there's hybrid, which combined some of the advantages of both with an internal frame that gives it some stiffness but some softness that gives us some pliability.

Another option of course is the one off cardboard container that bikes are shipped by bicycle shops in. This is an option. You can use it, maybe you're just a one time use. You ship at one time to the destination, get another one for the return trip. Particularly if you're going to a bicycle shop and sending it back from a bicycle shop, they can put it together, reassemble it. And when you come back they use another bike bike box to send it back to you.

So remember too that you always again wanna go back and check the airline recommendations and restrictions for what the size you're restricted to or the weight. Now the hard cases as I mentioned are probably the best bet for protecting your investment, but the most expensive to purchase, take up the most room and present I think sometimes the most difficult issues for you when you arrive at your destination have to store it while you're taking your trip. You can purchase cardboard boxes. I've looked at them before and they say that they're equipped for multi-use. I mean, people use them trip after trip. They're not permanent of course. They're are going to deteriorate over time. They also won't keep your bike dry in the event that it gets left in the rain somewhere. They're clearly a lot less expensive, but you can also add padding and you can add stiffness to a cardboard box and you can add that to a soft sided container as well.

Many people opt for the soft sided containers. These are typically a zip up bag. The wheels come off your bike. Typically, sometimes the handlebars come off the some container. Some of these bags will have an internal structure, like a backpacking. A backpack rather with an internal frame that gives it some stiffness and forms some size to it. As I indicated, you can add stiffness and you can add padding to your bike just to keep you keep it a little safer from being thrown around by the baggage handlers. One of the bike brands that I came across in preparing for this talk was the EVOC, E-V-O-C. Probably one of the most popular brands and I ran across, which is a soft sided bag.

So those are some options for I have notes for this talk because there's so many things we're talking about. I definitely would suggest that you check when you buy your ticket, you have certain restrictions and limitations on baggage. You actually may save money upgrading your personal ticket, which gives you greater baggage allowance or greater opportunity to add a bike with the weight of the bike that increasing significantly the luggage. Sometimes there's a balancing act that can be done by increasing what you pay to decrease what you pay for your bike. You wanna check into that. The other consideration is, are you going to be someone who travels regularly? If you're gonna be traveling to Europe or across the country once or twice or three times a year, that your considerations for what you use may be significantly different than somebody who may be taking an occasional trip or one time. They're not sure they're going to do it again.

There are a lot of resources available online and the some of them are really great. One of the articles I found was how to fly with your bike. Bicycling magazine has some great information in it, some great articles, and of course finally I think one of the other options is simply arrive at your destination and rent a bike. I talked to Patty Huff about that just this week. it's never quite the same getting on a rental bikes. Rental bikes vary with the vendor. Some are really great, well taken care of. Others not so much, so there's nothing quite like getting on your own bike. The other thing you might consider is shipping your shoes, your pedals and your seat in order to get probably as close as you can to your own setup and comfort on a rental bike when you arrive at your destination.

So those are some thoughts for traveling with your bike. I hope you find them helpful. There's a world of options out there from touring on your own to bike and barge tours. It's just a lot of things that are available for us right now. This is a great season and opportunity to do it. And I hope that you'll, I'd like to hear back from people who've listened to this broadcast and let us know what your feedback about what you find useful. I'd like to put out maybe a resource that we could use the people might find helpful when they're preparing to go overseas. It's nothing like having the personal comments of individual writers and viewers of our live stream to add sort of their own weight to the things we're talking about.

We've got an offer for you today. Hey Henry, how are you doing? I appreciate your appreciate your encouragement. I appreciate you giving us a shout out this morning. So we're gonna give away our phone wallet. Anybody who wants it, this goes on the back of your phone. it's great and it's shamelessly logoed so that you have my number with you in case you ever need it. There's a Bitly link to Kati's kinda put across the screen, a screener already it's done. So right now I think so if you go to that bet label link, we'll get this out to you right away.

I hope you found our program helpful. If you have an idea for a program, let me know. If you have suggestions on how to improve our broadcast, let me know that as well. So be safe out there and I'll see you on the road. Take care. It's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy.

Jim Dodson
Connect with me
A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.