Traveling with a Bicycle
At least once a week I'm asked, "How do you travel with your bike?" Okay, maybe not once a week, but it seems often enough to have a blog post that I can just share the URL...
I have always flown with my bike, checked it in at the airline counter, paid a butt load of money each way and they absolutely mishandled that baby right up in to the belly of my flight.
Typically the airline charges $150 each way to fly a bike. It must be in a travel case and weigh a certain amount (typically between 50-70lbs) for no extra charge on top of that. Some airlines claim that if your case is under a certain linear measurement it's only $25 but I've YET to see that happen...
My first few trips I traveled with a large (borrowed) two bicycle travel case. While it was obnoxious to lug around, it fit everything! And even once, two bicycles and 'all our everything' to volunteer at Ironman Arizona.
Now I travel with this ^ a Bike Box Alan one of the best, most compact bike cases on the market. It's a hard case on wheels that has a special cut out for the wheels. I have to remove my handlebars, seat post, and pedals. Trust me, it's easier than you think, won't mess up your fit, and very safe in the box.
I've also had a Ruster Hen House which was specifically designed to air travel. It is two pieces each sized to travel as any other luggage (at $25. That's actually their selling point). However, I discovered on my Ironman Barcelona trip that this bag is a nightmare to haul around and I've since sold it. Only one piece has wheels and the other is supposed to attach conveniently to the piece with wheels. It doesn't stay attached so nicely. AND, you have to break down your bike to pieces. To pieces!! I'm talking, remove the derailer and everything! You'll need your own personal bike mechanic to travel with you.
My newest travel find is Bike Flights. I LOVE THEM!!! You fill out a quick form online and they schedule your bike to travel with FedEx. You either drop it at a FedEx location or check the "pick up" box (extra $5) and it will be picked up. They deliver your bike to whatever address (hotels included) you want. And then the same for the return. Unfortunately they don't do international, but I've used them for at least 3 domestic Ironman trips now. Bike Flights has cost from $60 to $75 each way (so about half the cost than to fly with it).
If you're doing an Ironman event, good chance you can use TriBike Transport. I believe it cost $350. You drop your bike off at a designated location (from our area, Baton Rouge is the closest drop off point) and they take your bike to your Ironman for you; usually right by transition. All you have to do is remove your pedals. I've never used it but it's VERY easy and VERY convenient. You're just going to pay for it.
Pro's and Con's (from my experience):
Flying with your bike is costly (usually at $150 each way)
Flying with your bike is a risk (mishandled and abused, thanks TSA. They definitely go through everything. They once dumped a bag inside my box and ALL of my tri clothes and gear was ruined with grease).
Flying with your bike provides you comfort that your bike is right there with you.
BikeFlights ~ check how soon you'll need to drop your bike at FedEx for prompt delivery!
BikeFlights does NOT have weight or size restrictions and does NOT go through your things.
BikeFlights handles your bike with care.
BikeFlights is easy and convenient with both pick up or drop off options.
BikeFlights is less expensive than flying (usually at $60-75 each way)
If there's a FedEx delay or trouble, your bike isn't going to make it! ~ no guarantees (but I haven't had a single issue with them).
BikeFlights does not have an International option.
I hope this helps!! Enjoy your trip!