Bike flight tips


#1

so many questions. i usually road trip everywhere. looking at evoc bike travel bag pro 2. seems like it will fit my 2019 s works epic just fine.

but what do i do about my tubeless tires? can i take co2? i think i have to remove pedals. what about cassette and derailleur? im sure ill have more questions as i go. we just booked a flight. so these were my first few questions.

any hot tips?


#2

When I’ve flown, I’ve left the tubeless tires inflated to about 15psi. Was fine.

I don’t believe CO2 canisters are allowed.

I’ve taken the derailleur off, cassette stays on. Pedals off. Handlebars off.

I also take the discs off, but this may not be necessary with the newer designs (I have an Evoc bag from a few years back).


#3

I do all the same, have bent a few disc rotors so suggest taking them off to be safe, though some bags maybe protect better than others.

I put the CO2 in checked luggage and have never had issues. In Asia they let you fly with it, but has to be one canister per bag. Very strange.

I’d also suggest getting inconspicuous bag or taking steps to hide that your checking a bike—airline fees for bicycles are annoying.


#4

Part 1:
I travel on bike trips via air 2 - 4 times a year.

People have asked me how I pack my MTB for travelling so I put together this checklist of how I do it. Obviously, every bike is as little different and size has a big impact on packing. This is just my way. I’ve never had an damaged parts and no problems with TSA or Customs on a dozen flights.

Note that this is using a hard shell case, but I also use a Thule Roadtrip soft case with a hard bottom and have been OK with it on 2 flights. With the Thule, I have to flip the fork around backwards to get my XL MTB to fit safely. I use the tailgate pad around my frame for maximum protection. With the Thule I use minimal bubble padding.

There are 2 pictures of the hard case. attached; one is a normal bike only pack, and the second one shows my bike + my truck tailgate pad instead of a second foam pad.

Please note that I am not responsible for your gear as a result of your packing, even if you use my list.

Happy Riding.

Bike Box Packing Checklist

Disassembly:

  • remove pedals
  • remove chain
  • remove dropper lever from handlebar
  • remove front brake from handlebar
  • remove wheels
  • deflate wheels to 10psi (or lower)
  • using a shock pump, reduce pressure in fork to 30-50psi
  • using a shock pump, reduce pressure in shock to 30-50psi
    (Do not do this without a pump. You need to use the release button in the pump so the air comes out gradually. Do not drop pressure to 0 this could cause the shock or fork to stick down)
  • unbolt rear derailleur (hangs on cable)
  • remove fork (fork is now loose)
  • pack all headset parts in bag (note the order of assembly)
  • pack chain (save quick links in small bag)
  • pack pedals (save crank washers in bag)
  • remove seatpost (leave cable connected)

Pack in box:

  • open box

  • one layer foam on bottom

  • place rear wheel with rotor on foam, cassette up

  • place front wheel above rear wheel, rotor down against lower tire

  • add foam on cassette and front hub

  • loose fit frame, seatpost and fork in box

  • place frame + seatpost on top

  • rear triangle 3”- 6” from bottom left corner

  • place seatpost above top tube; align seat towards to right corner

  • place fork along downtube

  • position brake caliper down on wheel with foam padding
    (dependant on sizing and geometry)

  • wrap and tape all exposed frame in bubble pack

  • wrap and tape fork with bubble wrap

  • wrap and tape brake and dropper levers

  • wrap and tape rear derailleur

  • wrap and tape seatpost

Everything should now be protected with bubble wrap.
Check that there is no metal on anything contact.
Nothing should be vulnerable.

Final packing:

  • the goal here is to join all the parts so that individual things cannot be lifted out or moved around by inspection personnel

  • in my experience, if they can’t move things, they don’t.

  • add rubber wires ties to secure all the components to each other

  • all parts should be connected

  • you don’t want any movement between the parts

  • join everything so you have one combined set of parts

  • add top foam

  • place top of box on foam

  • check compression around the box edges

  • the back left corner (rear triangle) will usually be the highest point

  • box edges should overlap

  • open top and remove foam

  • if you want you canadd light items like your empty hydration pack, helmet, sandals. BUT, ocassionally the TSA Gus will tell you to remove the accessories and insist the case is bike only. Rare, but make sure you have room in your carry on.

  • No CO2 (they will usually ask)

  • use these parts around the bike parts to level out the top

  • add foam and top

  • secure top straps loosely

  • check fit around edge

  • tighten straps as needed

Notes:

  • Case must be less that 70lbs for Air Canada
    (or you pay $85 + extra $50 for overweight)

  • I don’t lock the case

  • in Ottawa, security always makes you open the case at the oversize drop

  • TSA will usually open the case when returning from the US
    (they leave a note inside)

  • make sure to CLEAN your bike before returning
    (dust OK, Dirt not OK)


#5

I have the same bike and bag and have flown loads of times without any problems.
I let some air out of the tyres but not too much that the tyre pops off the wheel.
No need to remove the cassette.
Take the pedals off
The bag will fit a track pump.
I take c02 with me but I don’t admit to it.
Derailleur can remain attached to the bike.


#6

Part 2

Bike Bag Fees & Mike’s Travel Hack:
Pay for baggage fees using points

This is written for Canada, but applies pretty much everywhere. You just have to figure out which points and cards can be used for your airlines.

If you’re travelling with your bike, you WILL get charged for baggage fees. It’s only a question of HOW MUCH. On Air Canada you will pay $50.00 for the bike box, and depending on who is at the counter +$5p.00 as a second piece of luggage, and sometimes they try to ding you for +$75.00 if the weight is over 50lbs. And this applies both ways. (Even both ways, It’s still cheaper than renting a high-end bike for a week)

If you have a whack of Aeroplan, American Express, TD Travel or RBC Travel Points, you can use them to buy Air Canada Gift cards. And then you can use the gift card to pay your luggage fees. The charges still apply, but your not using cash money.

RBC : 35k = $350.00
Aeroplan: 33.75k = $250.00

Also, when you travel using Aeroplan points and you have a suitable credit card like TD Aeroplan Infinite, your first bag is free. (-$30.00 first bag fee. You also get advance boarding and get 1 free pas per year to the Maple Leaf Lounge where they have free snacks and booze.)

I’m currently using an Amex Gold and TD Aeroplan Visa (because not everywhere takes Amex). These generate aeroplane miles. (I convert the Amex points to Aeroplan as needed) The RBC card is an old one with no Aeroplan but you can buy AC gift cards with it.

The Amex gold card and TD both have Aeroplan Sign-Up bonuses. Amex also has a friend referral here where both people get 5k in bonus miles.

Amex Referral Link:

Compare Travel Cards Here:

Aeroplan
Amex For Business Canada
TD
RBC

&


#7

Part 3

Making sure your bike gets to where you are going.

  1. 1 month before your flight, call the flight center number and tell them you are bringing a bike. They will add it to your reservation number. This helps them plan luggage especially with small planes.

  2. On your flight day, especially if it is a busy time like school break, be EARLY for your check in so that your oversized luggage has lots of time to make your plane. You will usually have to open it for the security drop so make sure it is easy to repack. (See part 1).

  3. It’s always a good idea to check with the check-in personnel and ask if they can register your bike with your ticket on all your flights and hops. They usually will. Wait in line and ask. You’re early so you have lots of time.

  4. If your bike is not at your destination, don’t freak out. It is rare on international flights for your luggage to be on a different flight due to security. Ocassinally it is one flight behind you because it didn’t
    Make it on to your plane after you checked in. If your destination is a major place like Las Vegas or Vancouver or Calgary, it may only be one flight behind you. Head over to the respective airline luggage desk and let them do the work to find your bike. Only once did we have to wait for 8 hours for a bike box. And that was because our friend did not register it in advance. If the box is delayed, it will only be delivered within the destination city, and not to your vacation location if that is more than 75km from the airport. There are certain exceptions for touristy places like Whistler. The airline will call you once the bike is in hand,to make arrangements. So always pack your shoes and helmet in your checked bags or carry-on and not your bike bag. I suggest being pleasant or at least neutral with the luggage people to get best results.

  5. Damage: IF your box is damaged, open it immediately. Do not leave the airport. Head to the luggage counter and a supervisor to inspect it with you immediate. This is pretty much the only way you’ll get any compensation for any damage. Once you leave the luggage area you are SOL. And take assloads of photos BEFORE your flight, of the bike packed well, and of any damage to the outside of the case, and the inside of the bike. This will help,your claim. But still don’t expect much. If you packed as per part 1, and use a credit card with travel insurance, you might recoup some damage expenses.

M.


#8

Nice list. The evoc bag I have looks a little bigger than your case - could be a reason I don’t need to do as much disassembly.