Author Topic: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring  (Read 18092 times)

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Offline xenomera

Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« on: April 15, 2014, 02:22:21 pm »
My wife and I are planning to do some touring in the midwest (from California), and need to fly there with our bikes and equipment.

Here are a few logistical questions I'm curious about to those who have travelled with bikes.

1) Our bikes have fenders and Tubus racks on them (Tubus Carry on back, and Tubus Nova on the front). It doesn't look like the hard shell cases that I have seen are big enough to carry the bikes and the fenders/racks. What's the best carrying method for bikes with these accessories?

2) Our camping equipment includes a small whitegas stove (MSR Firefly) and a couple of white gas containers (empty of course). Can I just put these in my checked panniers?

Thanks.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2014, 03:20:25 pm »
Will you be flying to and from the same location?  If not a hard shell case will be a hassle any way.

I have used a cardboard box numerous times with good luck.  I have also used a soft case a few times.  You may need to remove the racks and fenders.  If so they can usually fit in the box or case with careful packing.  Fenders can kind of spoon with the wheels.  If the racks don't fit in the box they can be in the bags with your other gear.

I pack light and have been able to fit everything in my soft case gear and all, with the exception of a few items in a carry on small enough to fit under the seat.  The heavier you pack the more difficult since bags are usually limited to 50 pounds each.

Do check the bicycle policy before buying plane tickets  since some airlines might charge as much as $200 per leg of the flight.  Southwest is the most bike friendly in my experience.  I highly recommend them if they fly where you want to go.  Delta is the worst of the airlines I have used wrt bikes as baggage.

Offline DaveB

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2014, 05:37:51 pm »
Also pay attention to the weight limit of checked baggage which, these days, is 50 pounds/item. The overweight charges are appalling so be careful of packing too much extra gear in with your bike.  If you can ship your bikes via Fed Ex or UPS to the first night's motel or a local bike shop prior to the trip the cost may be much less.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2014, 05:56:58 pm »
In my opinion, the humble cardboard box is your friend. You can pack your bike in one. You can pack your gear in one. You can pack anything in a cardboard box. Just remember to pay close attention to the airline or carrier limitations on size and weight, and any price jumps at certain points.

Offline Patco

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2014, 08:36:54 pm »
Another thought for your consideration. I have generally packed my bikes in cardboard boxes built for shipping bikes (as has been suggested, a box for the bike and a box for gear, although I generally have three boxes since I ship my wheels in a separate box) and then I use UPS and have them delivered to my first night destination (generally a hotel near the airport of my start point), where I put the bike together, take a test ride, and leave the following morning. I have never had a problem with a hotel accepting the boxes for a future guest. I generally ship so that the boxes will arrive two days before I arrive. I want a cushion. I have found the cost to be less, and the hassle to be less.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2014, 07:03:09 am »
I use and like them, but, one negative thing about cardboard boxes is that the airline is likely to make you sign something saying they are responsible for loss but not damage.  I don't let that worry me, but signing such a waiver is something you should expect.  I have had to do that most of the time.

Not sure how heavy you pack, but for some the weight limit can be an issue.  They do sock you with huge fees for over weight.  Weigh things ahead of time and distribute weight between bags being sure none exceed 50 pounds.  I usually fly Southwest and with them you get two free checked bags, but your bike box counts as one of them and a bike fee is assessed.  If you need more space than that a carry on can take some of the overflow and you could even crams some stuff in a small bag taken as a "personal item".  If you need all of that you might consider trimming your packing list though.

I prefer to pack really light and have few enough bags that I can carry everything at once by myself.  I don't think to many folks manage that though.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2014, 11:08:31 am »
The two TSA agents I have spoken to about stoves both told me that if they are detected they will be confiscated because of fuel and/or ash residue. I have an MSR Dragonfly. No way am I willing to risk that getting confiscated.

The two times I have flown domestically for unsupported tours, I have shipped my bike via UPS in a plastic case from Crateworks:

http://www.crateworks.com/

The boxes are big but still "airline legal." Their depth allows me to fit both my large racks in the case along with my 60cm LHT. I remove them and "weave" them around the frame. I also put my stove and empty fuel bottle in the crate. I ship the package to a local bike shop at the start and have them assemble and tune the bike. The shop stores my box and the duffle bag I flew with. When I return, I take the bike to the shop and go have a beer. The shop packs and ships the bike back to the address of my choosing. The shop labor costs money, but if your airline charges a lot for a bike, youi might save money or at least break even. Plus, you don't have to worry about ground transportation with your bike if you don't plan to ride straight from the airport.

I am booked to Missoula in June on United. I think United charges $175 for a bike each way. I will be going the shipping route again. If you choose to ship, you should leave about 10 days for UPS ground shipping just to be on the safe side. I have shipped from Philly to Montana twice. It's never taken more than about 7 days, but I like to play it safe. Also, you should make arrangmentas with the shop well ahead of time so you will be on the schedule. A few years ago, the Missoula bike shop we used forgot to put us on the schedule for packing and shipping back home even though we had made it clear when we would be dropping our bikes off. That resulted in about a 4 day delay in getting our bikes back.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2014, 01:30:51 pm »
I did not know about the stove, but I was pretty sure that TSA would impound the fuel bottles.  I shipped an alcohol stove in my checked luggage to Portland last summer and TSA left it alone.  I elected to use a water bottle to carry alcohol in, and TSA left that empty bottle alone.  I bought alcohol in Oregon.  Alcohol evaporates clean, so that stuff would pass the sniff test.  But I think even a virgin fuel bottle would freak the TSA out.

FedEx might ship the stove as long as it is NOT reeking of fuel.  I would just buy a fuel bottle at the other end, and consider it a disposable item.
Danno

Offline staehpj1

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2014, 04:39:21 pm »
Yep.  That is one reason why I use a home made alcohol stove when flying to a tour start.  Worst case I'd have to make a new one.  Never had them confiscate one though.  I use a bottled water bottle to carry alcohol fuel so I can pick that up at the destination if I don't already have one.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2014, 05:26:10 pm »
I've shipped a stove and fuel bottle by UPS ground.  Washed them out and let them dry the night before, and the guy at the shipping and packing store didn't bat an eye.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2014, 06:45:15 pm »
My wife and I are planning to do some touring in the midwest (from California), and need to fly there with our bikes and equipment.
Can't speak to how this approach would 'cost compare,' however, I have dealt to my satisfaction with both your stated matters (fenders, et.al., + empty fuel containers) by simply giving my entire rig (bike, panniers, & then some) to REI at one location and had them pack/ship from one REI location to another REI location close to my tour start point.  I have taken this approach at least 3 times and will continue to do so IF, of course, REI locations are  in proximity to my tour start and stop sites.  I saved more time on 1 or 2 of those occasions by paying REI to reassemble/test out my bicycle, as well.  Coming home I always had the option of having them pack/ship straight to my house.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2014, 07:00:51 pm »
Can't speak to how this approach would 'cost compare,' however, I have dealt to my satisfaction with both your stated matters (fenders, et.al., + empty fuel containers) by simply giving my entire rig (bike, panniers, & then some) to REI at one location and had them pack/ship from one REI location to another REI location close to my tour start point.  I have taken this approach at least 3 times and will continue to do so IF, of course, REI locations are  in proximity to my tour start and stop sites.  I saved more time on 1 or 2 of those occasions by paying REI to reassemble/test out my bicycle, as well.  Coming home I always had the option of having them pack/ship straight to my house.

Last time I tried that they said the policy had changed.  I forget the details but the price and logistics turned me off.  If I remember correctly they were charging to box it, using UPS to ship it at full cost, and charging me to unpack it and assemble it on the other end.  That last was mandatory.

That was in 2012 at the Denver store.  I said "no thanks", got a box from them (which they gave me for free), boxed it up myself, and used UPS to send it home.  Since I had a rental car at that point I dropped it off at a UPS store myself.

Have you shipped that way since then?

Offline BikePacker

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2014, 07:44:57 pm »
Can't speak to how this approach would 'cost compare,' however, I have dealt to my satisfaction with both your stated matters (fenders, et.al., + empty fuel containers) by simply giving my entire rig (bike, panniers, & then some) to REI at one location and had them pack/ship from one REI location to another REI location close to my tour start point.  I have taken this approach at least 3 times and will continue to do so IF, of course, REI locations are  in proximity to my tour start and stop sites.  I saved more time on 1 or 2 of those occasions by paying REI to reassemble/test out my bicycle, as well.  Coming home I always had the option of having them pack/ship straight to my house.

Last time I tried that they said the policy had changed.

That was in 2012 at the Denver store.

Have you shipped that way since then? *

Wow.  Your update is important.   Thx.  * Nope .... my last was just before 2012.  At that time I did one of the Atlanta REIs to Spokane REI. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2014, 07:52:21 pm »
Wow.  Your update is important.   Thx.  * Nope .... my last was just before 2012.  At that time I did one of the Atlanta REIs to Spokane REI.
I'd suggest checking to be sure that what I was told was correct and that it applies across their system just to be sure, but the guy there in Denver said it was the new policy.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Logistics of shipping equipment for touring
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2014, 09:37:02 am »

Last time I tried that they said the policy had changed.

That was in 2012 at the Denver store.

Have you shipped that way since then? *

Wow.  Your update is important.   Thx.  * Nope .... my last was just before 2012.  At that time I did one of the Atlanta REIs to Spokane REI.

And to think that was before the Great Corporate Takeover and Warranty Reduction of 2013.  Somehow, I doubt REI will have improved in the last couple of years.