Traveling is a great experience when you bring along your bike for future biking adventures. Whether you are staying in the country or leaving your home for a well-deserved bike trip, we have the tips you need to make sure you don’t forget anything that you may need along the way.
The best part about this guide is it isn’t just about what you need for your trip, but also how to care for your bike while traveling and your best options for driving or flying with your mountain bike. We’ve got you covered for your traveling bike plans.
Staying In or Going Out
The first part of any traveling that you want to do is deciding where to go. There are endless possibilities of where to travel for visiting, food and drinks, and bike tours. The outcome is up to you on where you would like to visit and what you would like to experience.
Everyone always wants something different and unique that best fits their needs and desires. Make sure the location you’re going to is a place you will enjoy, even off your bike. You want your whole experience there to be an amazing adventure you can look back on.
Flying or Driving
Are you flying to your destination or driving? Most people will fly if they are leaving the country, however, if staying inside the country, many people will opt to drive and enjoy the beautiful scenery and unique stops along the way.
Either route you choose to take, there are some things you must take care of and secure first. If you are flying outside of your country, make sure to check all the requirements before booking a trip.
When deciding on flying, you need to make sure that you have the extra money it’ll cost to fly your bike, if you are choosing to bring your bike on the flight with you. Since there is limited space, it does cost you a fee that ranges from $50-$200 depending upon the airline you choose.
This is due to limited cargo space that is available on the plane, so the fee is to be expected as extra baggage. It takes up space that could be used for someone else; rather you are taking that space for an extra piece of luggage.
Book Your Bike
Some people choose to book their bike in advance because of the limited amount of space available in the plane’s cargo area. Booking your bike ahead of time will guarantee your bike a spot in the cargo hold, however, this will also incur a fee.
If you choose not to book your bike on the flight ahead of time, there is always a chance that your airline won’t charge you. Make sure you are friendly to your airline staff, be polite and on time, and make sure to have everything ready you need to show them.
There is also the chance that there won’t be any room at all if you wait till you board. It’s your choice, but make sure you have a backup plan just in case.
Arriving early is a great way to see if there is extra cargo space for your bike that you may not have to pay for or you may get a discounted rate. Be friendly and polite to all staff, and you might find yourself with a free extra bag in the cargo hold.
Packing Your Bike
If you are bringing your bike on the plane, you should use the bike carrier bags. Taking the bike apart is a bit of a hassle, but having a bike bag will make it simpler to store, carry, and make sure everything stays together.
Make sure to pack your bag full. Clean your bike before disassembling it and then wrap your biking clothes around the frame and handlebars for added protection. Make sure to wrap the chain in a rag to prevent any oil from spreading to your clothing, the bag, or anywhere else.
Most planes don’t check the weight of your bike, and they just charge a flat fee. Some airlines do ask the weight of the bag, so make sure you know how much the packed bicycle weighs to make sure you don’t get overcharged.
If you decided to drive through all the beautiful scenery to get to your final destination, then there isn’t too much you have to consider before driving across country with your mountain bike. Make sure to prepare in advance for any weather changes, such as snow and rain or very hot areas such as the desert states.
Make sure to bring a tarp or bike cover to protect your bike from the elements. Rain and snow can be damaging to the frame and metal of the bike, causing rust and debris buildup, while direct sunlight and heat can cause your chain to dry out and damage to your tires.
These are a safe option for your bike to be mounted to your vehicle. You can buy them for the back or front of your vehicle and even the roof. These are securely held in place and provide a nice spot for you to know where your bikes are and what they are facing outside.
Always plan for the weather and to protect your bike from damage or harm. Make sure to install the mounts correctly and know how to use them.
Shipping Your Bike
Shipping your bike is always an option when traveling. There are three companies that will ship your bike:
FedEx who will also insure your bike.
UPS who is slower than FedEx and will not insure your bike.
BikeFlights who are well-known to ship bikes for a cheaper value but do a great job.
When shipping your bike, make sure to ship in a sturdy cardboard bike box. Take apart the bike if necessary and store it inside the box securely. Use any packing material to make sure there are minimal movement and damage to the bike if something happens.
The costs of bringing your bike with you can be relatively high and an expensive add-on. This is your choice, and you should choose the best option for you. If you are taking an international flight, then you should ship the bike to your new destination, however, if you are driving, then bring your bike with you, so it is safer and easier to have around.
Overall, you could be looking to spend anywhere from $1000-$2500 for a plane flight with your bike after all the fees and extras involved.
Inspection and Cleaning
Make sure to clean and inspect your bike before you pack and ship it. Bikes have been known to get rough-housed on planes and go through even worse in shipping. Many companies don’t know how to handle a bike, so they are more rough with it.
This is to protect you from having to take responsibility for any damage done while in transit. The best way to do this is to inspect the bike after cleaning it, and take pictures to prove you looked it over yourself.
Whenever you decided to go bike riding, make sure you are prepared for the instances when a tire pop, your chain breaks, or your frame gets bent. Knowing a local bike shop or repair shop where you are going will help you to get your bike fixed faster and you back on the road sooner rather than later.
Make sure to do your research on the local shops where you are visiting to make sure you get the best service and repair in the area. You are also able to build a rapport this way and maybe make a friend who can help you out.
Arrival at Your Destination
When arriving at your destination, you need to inspect your bike first. You need to make sure that all the parts are in the box, the box hasn’t been tampered with and damaged, and your bike is in the same exact condition you left it in.
Put your bike together and inspect it once again. Make sure nothing is loose or dried out, and make sure nothing has been damaged. This will ensure that any damages you make are your own responsibility.
Enjoy Your Trip
Make the most of you time no matter where you are visiting, no matter how long. Make sure you take full advantage of everything your new paradise has and enjoy all the bike tours, exploration, and leisurely rides around town.
Make sure to follow the rules and laws where you visit and always maintain and clean your bike after every use. Always check for loose screws, squeaky parts, bad breaks, and any damage.
Finally, if nothing is wrong with your bike, hang with the locals at least once a day. They’ll be able to point you in the best locations for bike riding, hiding, must-see scenery, tourist spots, and eateries. No matter where you go, have the adventure of a lifetime!
Denise is a mountain biker who passionately bikes around the world. You can learn more about her at her blog MountainBikeEZ.