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Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions
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<Update: TBT President Marc Lauzon contact - see post #76>

Back in 2013, I posted about my horrible experience with United Airlines who broke my bike on two different flights, claimed responsibility but refused to pay. The UA experience led me to using bike trailer transport services for my races. Unfortunately they are not perfect as well. I am posting an email I sent to TriBike Transport, not to complain, but to seek advice from other racers who may have some ideas or solutions and hopefully to help others who can prepare when using similar services. My Interests:



  • What kind of transport do other traveling triathletes highly recommend?
  • What kind hard cases that require minimal triathlon bike breakdown (I have 2014 Trek SC 9.5 - I do not have DI)
  • Ideas on timely/easy Power2Max Type S battery replacement. My bike guy thinks we need to custom make a screwdriver that works without taking everything apart.
  • My email I sent to TriBike Transport this morning...

    Hi Tribike Transport Folks,

    First of all I would like to say that I have used your service on several occasions in the past 6-7 years. For the most part I have been happy and I love the concept about not taking my bike apart. I haven't used your service in the past 2-3 years because of a few reasons, mainly the following:

    • Kevin Russell with Cycle Chauffeur delivered excellent service, communicated with us very well, picked up our stuff from transition for us and really cared for our bikes and gear bags.

    • All of the batteries in my power meter and Ant+ devices were killed during transport in your TBT trailers - every single transport. *This is commonly known by bike technicians and other racers. My batteries never burned out in Kevin's trailer transports.

    • My bike was being marked up.

    • After racing Alcatraz in 2015, I waited in a long line well over an hour, exhausted and in the blazing sun, just to turn my bike in to you all. I think this experience broke me.
    I was one of the people that signed up with Kevin Russell. When TBT recently bought him out my reservation was transferred to TBT to take my bike and bag to Ironman Oceanside 70.3 last weekend. I was hoping to have had a better experience.

    First I have to say, for bike dropoff and pickup, you guys made me drive 35 minutes away to a bike shop in Sugar Land. That is a 1 hour 10 minute round trip. I live in Houston - the 4th largest city in the United States. There are bike shops all over the place in Houston. In traffic (most of the time), Sugar Land is a 1 hour one-way drive, 2 hours round trip.

    Secondly, my plans were to fly into San Diego the day before the race. This was a huge error on my part and I take responsibility for that. I usually get to the race 2-3 days before, jump on my bike and make sure everything is working. I learned a valuable lesson and will never do it again. But in this situation, it would not have mattered if I got there earlier because of what happened with your service.

    The morning before the race, I received a call from TBT Chris (last name unknown) explaining my bike made it to Oceanside but my bag never made it off the trailer. He assured me my race bag would be flown to Oceanside by 4-5pm that same evening - before transition closed (7pm). I explained delivery of my race bag before 7pm was important because almost all of my race gear was inside to include my pedals. He directed me to talk to Chris Cosgrove on site in Oceanside.

    Once in Oceanside, I checked into the race and spoke with Chris Cosgrove. Chris was extremely professional and explained to me the trailer guy was new and he removed the wrong bag off the trailer. My bag stayed on the trailer and was dropped off in Dallas. My bag was a red TBT bag with a label that clearly said I was from Houston and I was going to Oceanside 70.3. I have no idea why it didn't make it off the trailer but even more confused why he dropped it off in Dallas. They did not notice the bag was missing until the evening before (TBT noticed bag missing late Thursday night - day before race was Friday - race was Saturday, 4/7/2018).

    Chris informed me they were running late in flying my bag out and made arrangements for me to meet a race bike support guy named Rocky. He introduced me to meet Rocky and I was to meet Rocky the next morning in transition to put my pedals back on. The last thing I wanted to do was stress out about something extra the night before the race and especially race morning. But I knew it was out of Chris' hands and had to trust TBT would be true to their word. At this time, I picked up my bike, twirled the bike arms (with no pedals) to make sure the gears were okay and racked the bike in transition before the mandatory cut off time.

    Well as the night wore on without delivery of my bag, my anxiety rose. A 5pm delivery turned into a 6:30pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm and finally close to a 10pm delivery. Mandatory bike checkin & transition closed at 7pm. I texted and called Chris quite a few times with unhappy - where the hell is my bag - conversations. After a certain point, all I could think about was without the bag, I could not race. I trained hard for this race for four solid months and spent several thousand dollars. But more importantly, San Diego is my favorite city and I wanted to have a solid race performance and enjoyable weekend.

    I appreciate the guy who flew my bag to Oceanside. I also appreciate Chris who met both him and me to deliver the bag and apologize. Chris was extremely calm and professional during this experience and kudos to him for being gracious. But I am unhappy with the overall service.

    When I got my bag at 10pm, I had to use the bottles inside to mix my nutrition and set out my race gear in prep. I also had to find a way to let go of the stress I obtained from worrying about the bag arriving. I received less than 4 hours sleep.

    The next morning, I went to transition and couldn't find Rocky - of course. I tracked down another bike guy and he assisted me with my pedals - luckily I had the allen wrench because they had very minimal tools. I believe I could have done it myself but with time flying by I knew I wanted to pump up my tires while another person made sure the pedals were good. After my pedals were reinstalled, this is when I tested my power meter and discovered the battery was dead. Because I had not used TBT in several years, I forgot the batteries die on the TBT trailers. Because I didn't have the pedals the day before, I did not jump on the bike to test everything to make sure it was all working. My power meter was a new upgrade and I noticed the battery compartment was harder to access, especially in the dark. I also recognized no one had a replacement battery nor the proper tools. I had the supplies back in my AirBnb room. It was too late to do anything about it.

    I raced and tried to not burn my legs out in the 2,800 feet of climbing on the bike. I tried to use the percent grade to attempt to judge how my legs should feel. Unfortunately when we hit wind on the last 20 miles of the ride, I had no way to gauge how hard I should be pushing without power - and yes, despite my best efforts, I burned my legs out. I had a horrible run with tired legs and a high heart rate. I do blame this on the totality of circumstances of what happened during the bike transport.

    Since receiving the bike back, it took two bike shop trips to replace the power meter battery. This is something that will not be easy to do on the road for a race with a lot of other logistics to work out. This means it will not be appealing for me to use your service, knowing I will have to go to great efforts to replace my battery on the road.

    This combined experience of almost not racing, stressing out about the bag, preparing late pre-race and not being able to replace the power meter battery on a moment's notice will most likely prevent me from using your service in the future. Furthermore, my triathlon coach has been unhappy with your service for some time due to her and her husband's own race experiences and wants me to pursue other bike transport options.

    I am racing Ironman Santa Rosa 70.3 in July. I was going to use TBT but now I am quickly trying to find a hard case to fly with that will allow the least amount of bike disassembly as possible.

    I wanted to give you all of this feedback because I think it is important that you know why some people may not return as repeat customers. As I stated before, I love the concept and I hope that you can address and correct some of these issues for the future of your business. I wanted to love you guys but I just can't trust you will come through for me in the future. <end of email>

    Last edited by: Trigirl357: Apr 17, 18 16:45
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Wow, that's terrible. I thought they always has the bikes at the expo or hy transition, not at a shop 30 min away? Just thinking of ways to avoid these issues if I have to use TBT.

    - Bring extra betteries for PM and switch (stages take a minute to change)
    - Dont give them a bike bag, just the bike. Pack everything else in luggage.
    -Make sure I know how far the bike will be to pick up.

    I'm thinking of using TBT for Ironman Canada, anyone have an experience there?

    To the OP, was your bike and wheels itself undamaged? Sorry about your race
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    I, too, am disappointed Cycle Chauffeur has sold to TBT. Kevin's service was top notch, and I don't think TBT will be able to match it.

    When I went out to Arizona 70.3 last year, I flew with this bike bag:

    https://probikebags.com/...l0exzKAaAnaxEALw_wcB

    All I had to do was take the wheels off. Highly recommend!
    Last edited by: Mindy00: Apr 15, 18 9:13
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Mindy00] [ In reply to ]
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    If I told my wife I was interested in the bike box, she’d throw a conniption fit at the price. But it would pay for itself in 2-3 trips.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Why do all these batteries die in their trailer??
    I would have been stressed too about a bag full of my gear not arriving.

    Also......and please take this as constructive criticism, but learn some basic bike maintenance. Putting pedals on a bike is about as complicated as screwing a cap onto a pop bottle, and takes about the same amount of time. Knowing how to do basic stuff like that, and adjusting brakes and shifting, will result in a lot less panic situations! :)
    Last edited by: SBRcanuck: Apr 15, 18 9:25
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Sorry for your troubles at Oceanside.

    I’m a longtme TBT user and fan, and I wanted to thank you for raising an important issue and that is TBT’s local bike shop drop-off model.

    It’s possible things have changed in the past year or so, but last July the owner of the bike shop I’ve used many times in California for drop-off told me he was quitting providing that service for riders because there was no value in it for him from TBT.

    I asked him if it wasn’t worth the marketing value to have so many endurance athletes becoming more familiar with his shop and making impulse (taper-brain panic) purchases. HIs shop also charges for pedal removal, I forget how much, but I generally let them to it to provide at least some business.

    He said it was not worth the time, labor or bike storage space. So next race, I’ve got to schlepp my bike 30 miles to the closest drop-off shop.

    So, while I expect to continue to be a TBT customer, and have never had an issue with bike condition or bag delivery, I would be interested to hear what the company is doing to help make bike drop-off a worthwhile endeavor for their partner bike shops.

    Sharon McN
    @IronCharo
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Mindy00] [ In reply to ]
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    Mindy00 wrote:
    I, too, am disappointed Cycle Chauffeur has sold to TBT. Kevin's service was top notch, and I don't think TBT will be able to match it.

    When I went out to Arizona 70.3 last year, I flew with this bike bag:

    https://probikebags.com/...l0exzKAaAnaxEALw_wcB

    All I had to do was take the wheels off. Highly recommend!

    Didn't know cycle chauffeur had sold, that's a real shame, I was going to use them again for Nationals.

    That's an interesting bag, if I don't have to futz around taking the bars off I'd seriously consider it.

    Is there enough room in it for the rest of your transition gear? How does it hold up to being thrown around in an airport?
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [CP78] [ In reply to ]
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    CP78 wrote:
    Wow, that's terrible. I thought they always has the bikes at the expo or hy transition, not at a shop 30 min away? Just thinking of ways to avoid these issues if I have to use TBT.


    I am reading it differently. What I see is that she had drive between 35 minutes and hour to the bike shop that Tri-Bike Transport picks up and delivers from.



    First I have to say, for bike dropoff and pickup, you guys made me drive 35 minutes away to a bike shop in Sugar Land. That is a 1 hour 10 minute round trip. I live in Houston - the 4th largest city in the United States. There are bike shops all over the place in Houston. In traffic (most of the time), Sugar Land is a 1 hour one-way drive, 2 hours round trip.


    .


    Once, I was fast. But I got over it.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    At the risk of this becoming a "dump on TBT" thread, I feel I should share my poor experience. I had them carry my bike to Honu back in 2015. It takes even longer for this race (3 weeks on either side) because they carry the bikes on a boat. On the way back, apparently they missed the once-a-week shipment, so it was going to take more than 4 weeks after the race to get my bike back. Unfortunately I was racing IM Coeur d'Alene only 4 weeks after Honu, so they had to ship my bike straight to CDA once it made it back to the mainland. This meant they disassembled it and put it back together incorrectly onsite at CDA. I was without my race bike for training for close to 2 months.

    And even after all that, I used them for IMAZ because I was flying to a different location post-race and didn't want to carry my bike all the way there and back home.

    However, I will be very hesitant to use them ever again.

    Coach at TriForce Triathlon Team: https://sellergren.net
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [SBRcanuck] [ In reply to ]
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    SBRcanuck wrote:
    Why do all these batteries die in their trailer??
    I would have been stressed too about a bag full of my gear not arriving.

    Also......and please take this as constructive criticism, but learn some basic bike maintenance. Putting pedals on a bike is about as complicated as screwing a cap onto a pop bottle, and takes about the same amount of time. Knowing how to do basic stuff like that, and adjusting brakes and shifting, will result in a lot less panic situations! :)

    Batteries die because most power meters and ETap rely on accelerometers to wake up. The vibrations in the trailer will keep the devices “awake” the entire trip.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Wow, sorry you had such a bad experience.
    I have used them 4 times and have never had a bad experience. Twice out of country and twice across the US. Never had a power meter battery problem either (power tap).
    Yes, it does take a bit of time if you are going to Hawaii or out this f country. And drop off locations are not always s close.
    Let us know if they try to compensate you in some way.
    By the way, I have been doing tris since “81 and still never get more than 4 hours sleep before a big race.
    Quote Reply
    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [SBRcanuck] [ In reply to ]
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    SBRcanuck wrote:
    Why do all these batteries die in their trailer??
    I would have been stressed too about a bag full of my gear not arriving.

    Also......and please take this as constructive criticism, but learn some basic bike maintenance. Putting pedals on a bike is about as complicated as screwing a cap onto a pop bottle, and takes about the same amount of time. Knowing how to do basic stuff like that, and adjusting brakes and shifting, will result in a lot less panic situations! :)

    No worries about the constructive criticism. I agree with you - need to learn a lot more bike maintenance. I felt I could have handled it on my own, but juggling a few extra things that I normally would have taken care of ahead of time I figured I would take them up on their offer to meet Rocky and try to nail those things all at once - divide and conquer. That is when I found out the power meter battery was dead. Just like a bad relationship breakup - I have learned about 20 lessons in this one trip.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [hblake] [ In reply to ]
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    hblake wrote:
    CP78 wrote:
    Wow, that's terrible. I thought they always has the bikes at the expo or hy transition, not at a shop 30 min away? Just thinking of ways to avoid these issues if I have to use TBT.

    I am reading it differently. What I see is that she had drive between 35 minutes and hour to the bike shop that Tri-Bike Transport picks up and delivers from.

    First I have to say, for bike dropoff and pickup, you guys made me drive 35 minutes away to a bike shop in Sugar Land. That is a 1 hour 10 minute round trip. I live in Houston - the 4th largest city in the United States. There are bike shops all over the place in Houston. In traffic (most of the time), Sugar Land is a 1 hour one-way drive, 2 hours round trip.

    Hi - I should have clarified. The bikes were taken to the race expo area. I had to drive 35+ minutes to drop off my bike at their pre-designated bike shop in my hometown Houston one week before the race. And it took me close to an hour to get to that same bike shop when they returned my bike back to town - one week after the race.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    I would recommend that you find another carrier for your bike to/from races.

    Personally I use FedEx as I have more faith in them as a logistics company than TBT as an example. I have the Ruster Sports Armored Hen House that I ship my bikes in (I actually have 2), the case does require a fair amount of disassembly but I have not yet experienced any damage to my bikes over maybe 15 roundtrips shipped FedEx ground in North America (I purchase the postage via Bikeflights.com). I am able to stuff the cases full of the rest of my race or vacation gear as well. I then have them shipped to a FedEx office location near my destination.

    Flying with your bike is another option (though lugging a bike through the airport is quite the drag)

    If your bike is very large or you are concerned about the disassembly/re-assembly process it may be worth looking into a larger single hardshell case, I am considering the Buxum Box for that purpose as well.

    WRT to your complaints about TBT, they seem perfectly valid, but I would recommend removing the emotional element of your dissatisfaction from the complaint, I believe that will make it easier to convey where TBT did not meet their commitments and your expectations.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Sorry for your poor experience. I have used TBT two times, no big issues. However I am jealous if only having to drive 30-60 mins for drop off. There is exactly one TBT shop in Washington, and it will be 8-9 hours total for me for IM St. George (2-2.5 hours each way for both drop off and pick up).

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Any run that doesn't include pooping in someone's front yard is a win.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Mindy00] [ In reply to ]
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    Mindy00 wrote:
    I, too, am disappointed Cycle Chauffeur has sold to TBT. Kevin's service was top notch, and I don't think TBT will be able to match it.

    When I went out to Arizona 70.3 last year, I flew with this bike bag:

    https://probikebags.com/...l0exzKAaAnaxEALw_wcB

    All I had to do was take the wheels off. Highly recommend!

    Interesting case. Not really sure I trust it with those extensions sitting out there like that.

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Any run that doesn't include pooping in someone's front yard is a win.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    probikeexpress.com or to reserve: reservations@probikeexpress.com

    Much better than TBT from a service standpoint.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Wow-- sorry you have had such rough experiences with flying your bike and with TBT.

    I've only used TBT once or twice, with no trouble.
    Most of the time, though (well, when I used to do more tri and training travel), I fly my bike myself. I have a Trico hard sided case and can pack my bike in less than 25 minutes and it takes me about 20 minutes to unpack and reassemble the bike. I'm not a huge gearhead, just a regular tri-girl who decided it was better to have control over the bike, where it is, and what condition it is in. I've flown my bike to Europe twice, to Alaska once or twice, and multiple spots in the continental U.S. I suppose I've been fortunate in that the airlines haven't damaged it, but I pack it well, and am very nice to the TSA person who has to inspect it.
    At any rate-- the pedals are easy-- I think if I had been in your shoes I would have just tried to go buy or borrow pedals if that was one of the factors as it sounds. Also, I'll agree with a previous poster to carry with you as much as you can. The only race gear I ever checked on an airline was the bike/wheels. (I did use a bag with TBT once-- that made it to the race ok, though that snafu hopefully was not a regular occurrence by TBT)
    Have also shipped my bike with Fed Ex and had no issues that way, either. (again packing/reassembling myself)
    Again-- sorry you had a tough time, and I hope you have a better experience going to Santa Rosa!

    Adding-- the crazy bike airline fees are definitely a detriment to flying. So I get that!
    And-- I haven't bought a bike in a while-- I do suppose I'd be more antsy about a newer, more expensive bike.
    Good luck!!!
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Rocky M] [ In reply to ]
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    Rocky M wrote:
    probikeexpress.com or to reserve: reservations@probikeexpress.com

    Much better than TBT from a service standpoint.

    Nice looking service, but looks Colorado local.

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Any run that doesn't include pooping in someone's front yard is a win.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [CCF] [ In reply to ]
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    From reading 100s of posts in dozens of bike bag threads I would say that while that case is more likely than not to get your bike to the race ok, it is also the bag that seems to have the highest incidence of reported damage. No way would I put my bike in that case.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    The closest TBT to me is eight hours away, so I have always used a hard case and paid the airlines to fly my bike. I have done probably 20-30 races that I have flown to in the past 14 years, and my experience with airlines is no better.
    1.Expect dings on your bike. As carefully as you pack it, TSA opens the case, looks around, and crams it all back any way they want.
    2. Expect your hard case to get destroyed. I have replaced the buckles several times on the case that I have now. Two buckles on the last flight.
    3.One time my case arrived partially open because it wasn't closed properly, and skewers were hanging out of the case.
    4. Chain lube sometimes is considered hazardous and gets confiscated.
    5. They will pull your CO2 cartridges and dump everything out of any bag you have looking for them.
    6. Bike often shows up the next day. Although I will say the delivery people they contract with have always been wonderful.
    7. I have gotten pretty fast at tearing my bike apart and putting it back together, but it sure would be nice if I didn't have to tear it apart, load it in the car, drag it across the parking lot to the ticket counter,stand in line, do it all in reverse when I arrive, repeat repeat.
    8. At my airport, if you are one OUNCE over 50 lbs, you get charged about $100 or something exhorbitant for overweight baggage. So you had better get a light case and weigh it before you get to the airport.
    I think TBT sounds like a pretty darned good option.
    ThIs year I am driving to all of my races.

    2018 Team Wattie Ink
    http://www.wattieink.com
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [NMGal] [ In reply to ]
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    I'm using TBT once this summer for NYCTri and then I'm getting a case. That was always the plan, but glad I've read this...
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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    Let me give a positive.

    TBT stayed around an extra half hour at Oceanside when my flight was delayed from CLE to Orange County. I always cut things close, but a delayed flight got me at closer to 4pm when they had planned on closing on Friday at 3pm. They waited around for me when I was unreachable while on the flight and made sure my bike was there.

    Batteries die in transport. Remove them.

    I drive 30 minutes each way to my closest shop. Not so bad.

    My last three flights on airplanes with my bike have resulted in damage 3 for 3 using two different cases (one hard shell, one air bladder filled soft shell). I'll still take my chances on TBT since its $75 cheaper than flying and they haven't broken my stuff yet unlike the airplanes.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [iamuwere] [ In reply to ]
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    iamuwere wrote:
    Let me give a positive.

    TBT stayed around an extra half hour at Oceanside when my flight was delayed from CLE to Orange County. I always cut things close, but a delayed flight got me at closer to 4pm when they had planned on closing on Friday at 3pm. They waited around for me when I was unreachable while on the flight and made sure my bike was there.

    Batteries die in transport. Remove them.

    I drive 30 minutes each way to my closest shop. Not so bad.

    My last three flights on airplanes with my bike have resulted in damage 3 for 3 using two different cases (one hard shell, one air bladder filled soft shell). I'll still take my chances on TBT since its $75 cheaper than flying and they haven't broken my stuff yet unlike the airplanes.

    My two experiences with TBT have been positive as well. But how is it $75 cheaper than flying? For me, TBT is $360 I believe, is that not standard? Air fees are high, but $200+ each way?

    Why do people fly with their bikes rather than using bike flights?

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Any run that doesn't include pooping in someone's front yard is a win.
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    Re: Bad Experience with TriBike Transport - looking for options and solutions [CCF] [ In reply to ]
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    CCF wrote:

    Why do people fly with their bikes rather than using bike flights?
    Bike Flights doesn't go everywhere...
    Quote Reply

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