Author Topic: Getting a Bike to where you are going  (Read 3045 times)

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Offline rlc5925

Getting a Bike to where you are going
« on: May 24, 2011, 08:43:51 pm »
Interested in seeing how others get their bike to a destination. Also if one was going to get a new bike is it really worth considering a bike that breaks down and can be checked on an airplane or purchase of a good shipping container and having the bike shipped to a destination.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2011, 09:06:58 pm »
I drove to the starting point.  ;)  Paid a bike shop to pack and ship it; I think the total for two bikes was about $475, which was more than I expected, but since I was on the other side of the country when the shop did the job, there wasn't much I could do about it.

There's a few downsides to a travel bike (S&S or similar).  First, anything 700Cx28 or larger pretty much has to come off the rim.  The racks and fenders, of course, must be removed.  There's the $40-50 second bag charge on most of the worst (and largest) airlines.  Finally, what do you do with the case when you get there?  (or how do you get it there to meet you?)

All that said, I have been tempted by the Bike Friday system; pack the bike in the suitcase, your gear in a duffel.  Remove the bike from the suitcase and assemble, put your gear in the suitcase on a trailer bed, and ride off into the sunset.  I'd like to hear from anybody who's actually used this system if it works as well as the advertising reads.

Lucky13

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Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 09:24:33 pm »
Many choices…

1. Box the bike and pay the airline handling fee.

2. Ride a folder that can be stowed in a standard airline checkable suitcase. As mentioned, without a trailer setup, what do you do with the suitcase?

3. Box the bike and ship it to your destination - to a nearby bike shop, motel, etc.

4. Find a good deal on a one way car rental - with no dropoff charge - and drive to your destination.

5. Ride a loop tour from your front door - eliminate most of the logistical hassles.

How often will you be traveling to distant locales? If it's a one-time deal, then a special purpose bike or an expensive box may not be a good value. Most bike shops will gladly give you a leftover cardboard box.

In the post-9/11 world, checking a bike as standard luggage isn't always a trouble free experience. The results can vary. As mentioned, you may be charged extra anyway.

Offline rlc5925

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 09:44:14 pm »

How often will you be traveling to distant locales? If it's a one-time deal, then a special purpose bike or an expensive box may not be a good value.

I live in Florida and would like to make one or two trips a year to the northeast or out west

Lucky13

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Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 10:58:22 pm »
Well, you could ride a full size bike with S & S couplers - or a touring capable folder like a Friday. They aren't cheap but can make for perfectly fine touring machines. Only you can decide if the extra cost is worth it. You could also purchase a heavy duty, reusable bicycle box. Of course, you would have to deal with the box when you reached your starting point. Would you ship it back home? Would you ship it to the end point of your tour? Who would receive it? A cardboard box can be discarded.

In Florida, there should be an abundance of rental cars available in the spring. You could find a good deal, load up the bike and head north. At the end of the tour, box the bike and ship it home.

I think it's best to stay flexible. See what's available at the time, and at what cost - and go from there.


Offline John Nelson

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2011, 12:24:37 am »
Here are my suggestions:

(1) If you will often be traveling to places at which you can leave a bike case and your bike route is a loop, then buy a hard-shell bike case.

(2) If you will be traveling less often and/or your bike route is point-to-point, use a disposable cardboard bike box.

If you are traveling on an airline with reasonable bike fees (e.g., Southwest), then fly with the bike. Most airlines do not, however, have reasonable bike fees at this time (maybe some time in the future if we're lucky). So, if you're traveling on most airlines, then use a shipping service like FedEx or UPS. If you are using a hard-shell, you can easily pack and ship it yourself. If you are using a cardboard box, you can either pack and ship it yourself or have a bike shop pack and ship it for you. The latter alternative is about $50 more. I like to pack and ship myself on the outbound leg and have a bike shop pack and ship for the return leg.

Finally, if you only need a bike for a couple of days, rent one at your destination. But check ahead for availability, since places that rent road bikes are not common (mountain and city bike rentals are easy).

Offline Tourista829

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2011, 08:27:47 am »
I agree with Lucky 13, I have rented a car one way. I do this when I have 3 or 4 days and need to get back to work.  I have been known to take the Amtrack when done with my tour. They usually have boxes and they are very inexpensive to take on a train. Make sure you go from a manned station, because they may not take it from an unmanned station.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2011, 09:41:49 am »
Florida to the Northeast or West would seem to make both car rental and Amtrak less attractive due to the long distances involved.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2011, 11:00:36 am »
Interested in seeing how others get their bike to a destination. Also if one was going to get a new bike is it really worth considering a bike that breaks down and can be checked on an airplane or purchase of a good shipping container and having the bike shipped to a destination.
I have used various methods, but I think my preference is to fly with my bike to the start if Frontier or Southwest have flights to there (the only domestic US airlines I know of that have decent policies wrt bikes).  I pack my panniers and gear in a $7 thrift store suitcase and discard it when I get there.

Coming home I find it easier to pay a bike shop to pack and ship the bike.  For my gear...  I again either pick up a thrift store suitcase, buy a collapsable duffel bag from Walmart, or have my duffel bag mailed to me in the town I am flying out of.

This one works well for me:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Expandable-Rolling-Duffle-Bag/11069689?findingMethod=rr

They also have carry on sized ones if you have more gear than you can cram into this one.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2011, 12:54:11 pm »
We'll be shipping UPS from Philadelphia to Missoula next month (LBS to LBS) for a loop tour.  Did the same two years ago for a loop out of Whitefish.  Using a LBS for the shipping may save you as I believe they get commercial rates.  (Shipping to Whitefish via UPS Ground was under $50/bike each way.)  The LBS in Missoula will assemble the bikes (at a charge) and hold the boxes and duffel bag for the gear, which will accompany us on the flight.  At the end of the trip, we will simply ride to the shop, drop the bikes off, and have the LBS ship them back to our local LBS.  The assembly and packing costs extra, but the convenience is worth it to me.

As for boxes, I have Pro XL II from Crateworks.  Stronger than a cardboard box, yet less expensive ($179) than a hard case.  And it's big, but not too big that you incur abnormal fees.  I can get my 60 cm bike along with my racks (not attached) and a stuff sack containing my stove and fuel bottle in it.  When I used one for a trip in Spain, I also got my sleeping bag and tent in it, too.  I have used my current one for 4 round trip flights and it’s still going strong.

As noted, Frontier and Soutwest have manageable bike fees of $50 (compare to Delta, which I believe is over $200.  Maybe as high as $275.)  Unless you are flying either of those, you might find it more economical to ship via UPS or FedEx.  We left 9 business days shipping to Whitefish to be on the safe side.  I recall the actual transit time to be more like 6 or 7.
If you use an LBS for packing and assembly, check well in advance as to whether you need an appointment.  Some are very busy during certain times of the year.

Amtrak is another very low cost option.  You can purchase an Amtrak box for something like $12.  It’s big and requires very little disassembly of the bike.  I believe the fee for the actual shipping (if you are a train passenger) is only $15.  The limitation with Amtrak is that, unless there is roll-on roll-off bike service, which is available  on only a very limited number of routes, you can only check bikes as baggage between stations that offer checked baggage service.  Such stations are often limited on many/most routes.)  Not sure if you can still ship via Amtrak if you will not be riding the train.  I know you used to be able to.  Check Amtrak’s web site for details.

Lucky13

  • Guest
Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2011, 01:11:56 pm »
Quote
Florida to the Northeast or West would seem to make both car rental and Amtrak less attractive due to the long distances involved.

I'm not sure if I would care to tackle a solo drive from, say, Miami to Missoula. I'm not thrilled about paying four bucks for a gallon of gas either.

A one-way rental is just another option, among many. It would depend on a lot of factors. I have gone this way for past tours and it worked out just fine. I've gone from South Florida to the Mid-Atlantic region with my bike in the trunk.

But then, I've always enjoyed a road trip. It becomes a part of my tour, rather than just tedious transportation. As long as I am not rushed for time, forced to pull an all-nighter, then I just roll along.



Offline DaveB

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2011, 11:14:32 am »
Another alternative if you are going to visit the same places repetatively and if your destination is a home, say of a relative or friend.  Buy used bikes and leave them at their houses.  A couple of suitable used bikes will cost a lot less than a new travel bike and, of course, avoids the shipping costs entirely.  We had friends in Florida and i bought a used bike from the local Craig's List there, cleaned it up and left it with them so i had my own bike to ride whenever we visited.

Offline reed523

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2011, 08:18:40 am »
We are leaving this week driving from Oklahoma to Maine.  Our drivers situation was uncertain a while back so be looked at one way rentals.  Be aware that they sell out well in advance of holiday times.  We could not find anything even close to big enough to haul 3 of us with our bikes and gear for this week.  The companies seriously interested in one way rentals are few are far between.  Hertz and Avis were all we could locate.

Offline knolltop

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Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2011, 11:39:00 am »

Amtrak is another very low cost option.  You can purchase an Amtrak box for something like $12.  It’s big and requires very little disassembly of the bike.  I believe the fee for the actual shipping (if you are a train passenger) is only $15.  The limitation with Amtrak is that, unless there is roll-on roll-off bike service, which is available  on only a very limited number of routes, you can only check bikes as baggage between stations that offer checked baggage service.  Such stations are often limited on many/most routes.)  Not sure if you can still ship via Amtrak if you will not be riding the train.  I know you used to be able to.  Check Amtrak’s web site for details.


Yes, ya can ship via Amtrak if you will not be riding the train.  Cost is bit higher than if you are also a passenger, but still far below airlines. About $40.  Check Amtrak's website.
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Offline rlc5925

Re: Getting a Bike to where you are going
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2011, 06:33:06 am »
Thanks everyone, this has been most helpful