Airline bike travel


Do you have the option of ordering a new batch of gels and getting them shipped to Palm Springs?

If the airline doesn’t care what the bike box/bag weighs, then I’d do the biggest cardboard bike box you can find, and put all four wheels in the box. Generally you’re paying the $200 for the bike, so may as well maximize it.


Had a Thule and a Pika. Sold the Thule, and bought another Pika [wife and I travel together]. The Thule was just too bulky, especially to get it into a rental car at the other end.

We make at least 4 trips a year with bikes. Always used the soft cases. Taken off the RD hanger, and till now never had an issue.

If we carry disc brake bikes, I remove the rotors too.

Many years ago we used Tardis bags, but they really provide no protection at all. We used them only for steel touring bikes. With The Pika, we carry our carbon and titanium bikes as well.

Also, never paid for bikes. We select airlines that allow bikes free.

We also have 2 Orucases, which are nearly airline dimensions, but you need to take out the forks. Not used them yet.

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Scicon bags are great for convenience - I fly at least 5-6 times a year with my bike and it’s great I can pack my bike in less than 5 minutes, all you need to do is remove the wheels. Even though scicon provides an RD protector bit, I also remove the RD just in case, it’s super easy now that I’ve gotten the hang of it.

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That thing is great. I think I’ve seen that before, but wasn’t able to see the name. Thanks for sharing.


Overall I was able to put the gels and nutrition in my bidons and stuff them in my bike bag. I also put put my shoes, running shoes and other miscellaneous items in my bike box…and my torque wrench (more on that later).

I put my allen key set in my carry on and had no issues, even though it was an enormous set of allen keys (silca set). The one thing that did get caught was my Pro torque wrench. I was able to go back out of security and have a teammate put it in his bike bag.

When I asked the TSA agent why I couldn’t bring the wrench in my bag they said
“It’s the size of the item and not what the item is?”

My reply was really simple “What’s the size limit?”

TSA agent “7 inches and this is 7.5 inches.”

I let them know that they missed my allen keys in my bag and according to them that didn’t matter even though they were larger than 7 inches. I was really confused at the end of it, but it all worked out and just confirmed not even TSA knows what can and can not go in your bag.

Thanks to everyone who submitted information. Trip was incredible and we will be back this winter for more SoCal training.

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Having watched a baggage handler being lazy and dropping my bike box off the conveyor belt I’ll stick with hard cases!

I had a PBK case (think UK only) and it only cost £175. Some compromises over others and on the small side but saved my bike once already.


My EVOC bag… From my insta story a while back (ignore the caption)


Bike Box alan all the way

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I have a BikePro soft case (no longer in business), which I’ve used to take bikes to France and Italy, plus domestically in the US. This case is similar to a lot of the modern cases:

  • Metal stabilizer that the front fork and bottom bracket attach to
  • Remove the stem, handlebars, seatpost, wheels (go into wheel bags)

For extra protection, I bought some plumbing pipe insulation (basically round foam) that I wrap around all of the tubes. Plus I wrap the stem / handlebars in bubble wrap.

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It’s a small world, I met your friend in Innsbruck in September! :grinning:
I confirm that the bag is really great, really good design. Here’s the link that can come in handy by the way:


For the Scicon users, has anyone tried to put a mountain bike with a Boost fork into the Aerocomfort MTB 3.0 TSA bag? There are some great deals on this bag right now but it sounds like there might be a problem with Boost forks mounting to the frame.

Scicon recently released another bag:

This bag is bigger and designed to accomondate longer wheelbase bikes, but also seems them made some changes for Boost forks to mount properly to the frame.


Has anyone compared the Orucase Airport Ninja with the new
The Airport Ninja seems to be a proven concept but a little more expensive while the Postcarry seems to have an innovative design that keeps it simple with similar results of not paying bike fees…
Has anyone seen or tried both of these? Which one would you go for?

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@deepakvrao Have you had a chance to use your Ninja yet? Seems there is a lot of hype around these but it’s hard to find actual people traveling with bikes that have used them and can share their experience.


I have a Ninja, flown with it on 5 round-trips now, feel like I’m becoming an expert on this.

In general I am very happy with the case and the bike made it undamaged every time. I pack a CAAD12 rim brake bike, size 54 and it packs like it’s close to the limit on that case; I have not yet packed my 54cm Stigmata.
I’m overly cautious on packing. I remove the chain with quick-links because the box gets shaken, a lot and my bike is satin white; wrap the crank in a towel and secure the arm to the chain-stay. I also remove the RD hanger, rather than the RD alone. I put the seat and post in my other bag because it is too hard to secure otherwise, makes room for shoes and a padded bag of tools. I stuff the bag with cycling kit inside plastic trash bags. I do not wrap bike tubes to protect them, but I use Canyon velcro/foam pads to secure the handle-bars to the TT/DT; secure the front brake in a bottle cage.

There are two significant compromises on this bag design and that’s the head-tube and the “wheel squish”. The padding at the head-tube get’s compressed so a drop on the head-tube would be super bad, and it would probably be terminal for the frame so I stuff a towel in/on that area. I also worry about the bag getting squeezed from the sides and breaking a bottle-cage so I remove the seat-post bottle cage. Additionally, I use tubeless tires so I put a note in the bag for TSA to not reduce tire pressure any lower and that seem to work; the bag will be searched every time.
The best part about this case is easily that you can get it in a compact rent car, which is frequently a Kia Rio. Strangely, in the last five trips on four occasions I was given a small truck, lol.

I started flying Southwest and Alaska, paying $75 or $25 for the bike because it’s worth it to me for the bike to go to oversized. $150 round trip on SW and you can rest assured your bike is getting treated better than the rest of the luggage. Don’t waste your time playing games with American over what’s in the bag, just take your money to a more friendly airline with policies that better suit us.

Also, I torque everything on the bike to assure I don’t have to adjust stuff on the road, the same way pro mechanics do it when the stakes are high, make a checklist and include things like 5nm on the headset, 4nm on the stem, 8nm on the RD, 8nm on the front brake, etc. You don’t want to be on the top of a mountain on a memorable ride with the head-set knocking.

I will also add that I love this tool:

I use these for assembly:

I use a Lezyne CNC Travel Drive™ pump which I put in my second bag, it’s light and very nice to have:


Thanks so much for sharing. Tons of great info. I ride a 56-58, so you definitely answered that question! :joy:

I also really appreciate the travel tips. My next bike trip is on United and I’m going to use Bike Flights instead. United is $300 round trip!!

That pump is a great idea. Added to wishlist.

Thanks again for taking the time to share so much!


I’ve carried SIS gels on a few times without issue. The one thing that has gotten my carryon bag checked a few times was a multi tool. They didn’t take it away, but always pulled my bag so I started checking it with the bike. I put CO2 and GUP cans in checked luggage with the bike, no issue there either.


What are people’s experiences with the hard cases and taxis? Do they fit in the trunk?


For all the crap that Spirit Airlines gets, they do only charge $75 for the bike. I’ve flown a few times and I am pleased with them.


Lawrence which national team do you work with? Got me curious…


Thanks. That was a great post. Nice tools too. I have been eyeing that pump for a while but have been balking at the price.

You pay in spite of this bag? The idea of these is to avoid that right?