“I suppose that was what attracted me to the bicycle right from the start. It is not so much a way of getting somewhere as it is a setting for randomness; it makes every journey an unorganized tour.”
Many people have asked me how I got my bike to Asia (no, I did not cycle across the ocean) so I have decided to dedicate this post to the laborious process of boxing up a bike in order to fly with it.
First, you have to find a bike box. In many places it’s possible to get a free one from any bike shop because the box you need is the same box that new bikes come from. Unfortunately here in India that proved to be a bit more difficult. We ended up finding one in a market in Delhi (there is one guy in the bike market who keeps his boxes then sells them for two dollars) which we then squished into a tuktuk with us.
Next, find a boy willing to give you a hand (seriously gals, I haven’t yet packed up my own bike since our estrogen seems to attract bike-savvy men from miles away). Just kidding, you probably know by now that I believe us females to be capable of anything, but in this case, Kevin is indeed in charge of both bikes.
As you begin breaking down your bike it’s a good idea to wash it as you go since it enables you to check for broken parts while giving your bike a well-deserved scrub.
It’s important to take off the pedal and tires, and for us our racks. Besides that you can choose how much you want to take off or adjust depending on the size of your box. You should check with your airline beforehand about their oversized luggage policies in order to figure out the maximum weight and dimensions you are allowed. Since our small airline says “call us for information,” we just decided to hope for the best. It ended up being 75$ each, but hey, at least they took them!
We had a hard time taking off the pedals and had to get a bit creative with two wretches and the seat post for leverage.
Fitting the pieces snugly into a box is a bit like a very frustrating puzzle. This time though our boxes were large enough that I could even leave my bike tire and rack on! Make sure it is in there securely and then pad it with whatever you can find (clothing is a good option) since your poor bike is going to be in for a rough ride once it leaves your hands at check-in.
Time to close it up! Make sure to tape it securely, though often security undoes all of your hard work when they check your luggage. Voila! Your bikes are now ready to fly.
Unfortunately some airlines charge extra to fly your bike (I paid 200$ for my last flight, and 75$ for this one, though many Europeans report that they have never had to pay extra for their bikes using European companies), and most have some type of weight and dimension limits so it’s important to check those details beforehand according to your airline. It’s a stressful few days preparing and then flying with your bikes, but it will be well worth it when you ride out of the airport in whatever country awaits you.