Cycling weeks, races, triathlons in different cities, they require you to travel with a bike. If you’re new to this you can have a lot of questions. The options you have are all really good and we’ll lay them out for you so you will have no issue when you travel with a bike (or two).
Travel with a bike on a plane
Most airlines have a surcharge for a bike. While booking your ticket look for the option for bike transport. It’s usually $50-150 each way, depending on the distance. Make sure you inform the airline in advance and make sure it’s booked each way! An airplane only has limited space for bike boxes and you wouldn’t want to have to travel without it or pay an insane amount. There is a limit in size and weight, usually around 30kg, but it differs per airline. Almost all options require some dismantling of your bike. It’s good practise to dismantle and rebuild your bike beforehand and bring the tools you need so you won’t have a problem on your trip.
Cardboard box (or no box)
You can easily get a cardboard box at the local bike store. Just ask them for one. Usually there are no objections as it’s rubbish to them. The absolute advantage here is that it’s very cheap, it’s free! You can also wrap your bike in bubble wrap and tie it together. Some objections here are that this is an approach where your bike is quite delicate. Shifting luggage or careless handlers can easily damage your precious toy.
The step up from the cardboard box is a soft or semi soft bag. It’s light and stores small when not in use. They aren’t cheap but offer extra storage when traveling. There is enough space for your helmet, shoes, tools and some clothing. The advantage is that your bike is better protected than the cardboard box as the soft bag has some studs and frame to protect your bike, the frame also has little wheels allowing easy walking transportation. However, you can get away with fees if you have a good bag by not listing it as a bike. Prices range from 650 to about 100 for soft bike bags.
The highest level of protection is the hard box. Just like the soft boxes they allow extra storage but also provide maximum protection. This comes with a little price in weight. The hard boxes have little wheels to allow easy transportation when walking. Hard boxes are available for rent, but you’ll have to google locally for this. One example show here is the SciCon AreoTech.
Travel with your bike and your Car
If you travel with a car there are three options again. When hiring a car, you sometimes can hire a bike carrier too. Otherwise make sure you hire a car big enough to put your bike in. A box usually fits in the boot (back seats could require folding). In general the three options are:
On the roof
The roof rack will allow a lot of bikes on a car. The professional teams sometimes manage to fit about eight bikes on one car. While that is a bit over the top a decent bike rack will fit about four bikes. And some require to take the front wheel out. When you have the bikes on top of your car, measure the new height (tip: write it on a little piece of tape stuck to your dash!). You wouldn’t be the first that destroys his bike on a low overpass.
On the back
A way to prevent destruction by an overpass is to carry the bikes on the tow hitch on the back of your car. Special racks clip on and provide space for two to four bikes. Car racks come as cheap as $50 for a single bike.
In the car
It requires a larger car but it’s by far the safest (and fuel efficient) way to transport your bike. Take out the front wheel and add some cloth to protect the chain from staining your car or other luggage.
Just a note about the “links to buy” in this article, as they are sponsored. I do look for the lowest price I can find at the time of writing in a handful of stores, but by using the links I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links.