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Ministry of Travel
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Announcing here a new "superthread" which will be curated by Slowtwitch and is devoted to answering questions on travel. Any kind of travel, especially if a bike is involved. You can start other threads on specific issues if you want, but this thread will be monitored and managed specifically to get you answers.

For example, some of you asked about Delta's confusing language regarding its bike policy. I wrote to Delta to get the definitive answer and it'll be posted below in this thread. Today you'll see a review of B&W Intl's Bike Box II and I'll field any questions about it below, as well as other bike cases I'm reviewing.

So, bike cases, concierge bike travel (like Tri Bike Transport), methods of bike shipping (Bikeflights), car racks, and anything else travel related, we'll try to get you answers here, bearing in mind that we might be *wrong* now and then so you'll accept our advice while agreeing to hold us harmless for whatever fine messes we'll have gotten you into.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
Last edited by: Slowman: Sep 16, 19 11:06
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Speaking from experience; my Ministry of Travel tip is to check the expiration of all traveler’s passports well in advance of any international travel. And understand each destination’s policies for those expiration dates as many locales will deny entry for expiration dates in the near future. This small detail has the potential for major havoc if left to chance.

Scott

Edit: typo
Last edited by: GreatScott: Sep 16, 19 11:10
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Bikeflight.com has gotten really expensive recently since they switched to UPS. Shipbikes.com is what I use now, they still have the FedEx discount, similar to what Bikeflight.com used to be.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I feel like the answer to this entire thread is the Orucase Airport Ninja - used one back in May/June for a trip to Paris/Barcelona/Mallorca and it was just plain fantastic. Case fit my R5 VWD, plus tools/helmet/shoes/kits, easy to pack, and ticketing agents across 3 airlines didn't bat an eye when I said it was photography equipment (which it is - it gets me to good viewpoints to take pictures).
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Re: Ministry of Travel [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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dalava wrote:
Bikeflight.com has gotten really expensive recently since they switched to UPS. Shipbikes.com is what I use now, they still have the FedEx discount, similar to what Bikeflight.com used to be.

i have heard this about bikefights. but then i had occasion to test this. over the summer i've used bikeflights quite a bit. for example, i used them for 14 shipments in july. they were consistently quite reasonable and if you've used these folks you have a sense for their customer service, ease of tracking, etc. however, i've been using them most to ship wheels, not full bikes. at some point we'll do a review of the current iteration of bikeflights, now using UPS, as an adjunct to our travel focus. (i have no deal with them, so, i don't have any investment in who wins the bike shipping wars.)

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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In my former life when I traveled with a bike, there was an upper limit on the $$ value the airline would insure for (which would hardly cover the wheels), and the bike would pretty much have to be destroyed, plus there was waiver, etc which had to be signed while checking in the bike.
1. Has anyone here purchased additional insurance through the carrier while traveling?
2. That failing, has anyone bought separate insurance before traveling which will cover high dollar baggage, delays, etc?

Karen ST Concierge
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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My lessons of bike travel
1) When comparing multiple airlines, always add the cost of bike/luggage fees to the final ticket price to get a true comparison
2) Airline credit cards with companion fares can save you a ton of money if you fly as a couple. They also usually include a free bag or reduced fees. Well worth the yearly fee. (I use Alaska and Westjet)
3) A compact car with a hatchback can carry two bike bags (I use EVOC) and two soft suitcases and two small carry-on bags. I've done this with a Mercedes A class, Toyota Prius C, Hyundai Elantra among others.
3a) When flying in Europe I always rent Mercedes as they come with GPS included no extra cost. In Germany I can usually rent a C class Estate (wagon) for the cost of a compact in the USA. Swizterland on the other hand... pricey AF.
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
6) Flying WITH your bike is *almost* always better than having a service ship to your destination.
7) Renting a bike at your destination is a compromise and inconvenient.
8) If you need to store your bike after a race so you can travel around (say... a couple weeks in Europe), always ask fellow competitors. I've stored bikes in random basements and picked up before my flight. Made some good friends in the process too.
9) Bikes fees are ALWAYS changing. So check often and be aware before you go. Read the fine print.
10) Complain frequently and loudly to airlines about bike fees. It can work to change things! Just don't harass the poor desk agents.. they can't do anything.
Last edited by: NordicSkier: Sep 16, 19 14:10
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Re: Ministry of Travel [STConcierge] [ In reply to ]
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STConcierge wrote:
In my former life when I traveled with a bike, there was an upper limit on the $$ value the airline would insure for (which would hardly cover the wheels), and the bike would pretty much have to be destroyed, plus there was waiver, etc which had to be signed while checking in the bike.
1. Has anyone here purchased additional insurance through the carrier while traveling?
2. That failing, has anyone bought separate insurance before traveling which will cover high dollar baggage, delays, etc?

when i corresponded with Delta last week, here's the other question i asked and the answer i got.

"Baggage Protection (insurance) starts at $3,500. Is there a base amount Delta is responsible for if it loses a bike, and no Baggage Protection is purchased?"

the answer:

"Delta no longer offers insurance with the exception of exiting Brazil. Delta is responsible for the loss of checked items up to the limits of liability, which is based on the ticket purchased."

i was surprised by that, because it wasn't clear to me that the excess liability rider was no longer offered (except from brazil). i'll be following up on that specifically in a future article, not just with Delta bit the airlines in general.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Ministry of Travel [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
My husband and I just did a Tour de France trip through Trek Travel. We flew Lufthansa round trip from LAX to Lyon, France, premium economy. They did not charge us at all for my bike on the trip out, as it was under the 50 lb limit so was counted as my second piece of luggage. On the way home, it was over 50 lbs, so still a second piece of luggage but they charged €100.

Since this is a travel thread, I'll add a non-bike case tip; feel free to delete if this isn't the right place. Trip insurance. I know it's insurance and they're not selling it if they're not making money. But...I broke my fibula hiking on our trip and trip insurance saved our asses. The insurance was $256 each for the two of us. My husband and I flew home two days after I had surgery on my ankle (plate and pins inserted). Trip insurance upgraded my husband and I both to Business Class ($5600 each for last minute one way tickets), arranged wheelchair transport at the airports, and had a limo take us home from LAX. Everyone I talked to from the insurance co. on the phone was lovely and helpful. It's money thrown away if you don't need it, but if you need it, wow, what a saving grace that was for us. I don't know how we would have managed that otherwise.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [HeidiC] [ In reply to ]
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HeidiC wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:

5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.

My husband and I just did a Tour de France trip through Trek Travel. We flew Lufthansa round trip from LAX to Lyon, France, premium economy. They did not charge us at all for my bike on the trip out, as it was under the 50 lb limit so was counted as my second piece of luggage. On the way home, it was over 50 lbs, so still a second piece of luggage but they charged €100.

Since this is a travel thread, I'll add a non-bike case tip; feel free to delete if this isn't the right place. Trip insurance. I know it's insurance and they're not selling it if they're not making money. But...I broke my fibula hiking on our trip and trip insurance saved our asses. The insurance was $256 each for the two of us. My husband and I flew home two days after I had surgery on my ankle (plate and pins inserted). Trip insurance upgraded my husband and I both to Business Class ($5600 each for last minute one way tickets), arranged wheelchair transport at the airports, and had a limo take us home from LAX. Everyone I talked to from the insurance co. on the phone was lovely and helpful. It's money thrown away if you don't need it, but if you need it, wow, what a saving grace that was for us. I don't know how we would have managed that otherwise.

this is a travel thread. trip insurance is travel. so yes, it's the right place. i don't have any wisdom on this, as of this writing, but this is a topic i expect we'll take up.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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One of the things I do when travel with my bike is, hard or soft case, ship or travel with me, taking the entire RD assembly off by taking the derailleur hanger (with the RD) from the frame. There were several occasions prior to that I had derailleur hanger got damaged even without the RD on it.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
...
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
...

I would question this. I've had many soft and hard cases, the hard Bike Box Alan is by far the best in protection so far. Even with an air bladder padded Biknd Helium case on one of the trips the derailleur hanger got damaged. With the new Bike Box Alan for tri, it looks super easy for tri bikes. Having just put the TriRig Alpha One and Omega brakes and Delta aero cover on a friend's P5-6, not having to remove the entire front-end from the stem would be so much easier for travel.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
My lessonsof bike travel
1) When comparing multiple airlines, always add the cost of bike/luggage fees to the final ticket price to get a true comparison
2) Airline credit cards with companion fares can save you a ton of money if you fly as a couple. They also usually include a free bag or reduced fees. Well worth the yearly fee. (I use Alaska and Westjet)
3) A compact car with a hatchback can carry two bike bags (I use EVOC) and two soft suitcases and two small carry-on bags. I've done this with a Mercedes A class, Toyota Prius C, Hyundai Elantra among others.
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
6) Flying WITH your bike is *almost* always better than having a service ship to your destination.
7) Renting a bike at your destination is a compromise and inconvenient.
8) If you need to store your bike after a race so you can travel around (say... a couple weeks in Europe), always ask fellow competitors. I've stored bikes in random basements and picked up before my flight. Made some good friends in the process too.
9) Bikes fees are ALWAYS changing. So check often and be aware before you go. Read the fine print.
10) Complain frequently and loudly to airlines about bike fees. It can work to change things! Just don't harass the poor desk agents.. they can't do anything.

I have rented road bikes in France, Virginia, Cape Cod, MA, and Park City in the past year. Always been an easy and affordable process. Just takes 15 minutes of research a month or so before your trip. Always ended up with bikes nicer than the ones I leave behind. Now this was just for road biking trips, not for racing. So not really an applicable anecdote for racers.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Because of ever changing policies in the airline industry and various airlines themselves, appearing, disappearing throughout the years--I am happy to see this "Ministry of Travel" as a RESOURCE for future travel. It will certainly change as do all things, but thanks for starting this Dan!~ Makes me wonder why nobody thought of this before (or if they have, did not implement it). Good job!
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Re: Ministry of Travel [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
My lessonsof bike travel
1) When comparing multiple airlines, always add the cost of bike/luggage fees to the final ticket price to get a true comparison
2) Airline credit cards with companion fares can save you a ton of money if you fly as a couple. They also usually include a free bag or reduced fees. Well worth the yearly fee. (I use Alaska and Westjet)
3) A compact car with a hatchback can carry two bike bags (I use EVOC) and two soft suitcases and two small carry-on bags. I've done this with a Mercedes A class, Toyota Prius C, Hyundai Elantra among others.
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
6) Flying WITH your bike is *almost* always better than having a service ship to your destination.
7) Renting a bike at your destination is a compromise and inconvenient.
8) If you need to store your bike after a race so you can travel around (say... a couple weeks in Europe), always ask fellow competitors. I've stored bikes in random basements and picked up before my flight. Made some good friends in the process too.
9) Bikes fees are ALWAYS changing. So check often and be aware before you go. Read the fine print.
10) Complain frequently and loudly to airlines about bike fees. It can work to change things! Just don't harass the poor desk agents.. they can't do anything.

I disagree with #7. Last time I flew with my bike the airline broke it. Last time I rented a bike I won my age group.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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So, you took how many more checked bags? Although Southwest has a bike fee, you also get two free bags.

At this point, a box or bag where I have to take my front end off is a non-starter. SciCon AeroComfort Tri 3.0 was perfect for me so far. BikeBox Alan Triathlon Aero looks like a hard case option as I'm not a Giant.

Hooker training for the Sport of Scrum-Halves [Triathlon]
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Re: Ministry of Travel [milkman1982] [ In reply to ]
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milkman1982 wrote:

I have rented road bikes in France, Virginia, Cape Cod, MA, and Park City in the past year. Always been an easy and affordable process. Just takes 15 minutes of research a month or so before your trip. Always ended up with bikes nicer than the ones I leave behind. Now this was just for road biking trips, not for racing. So not really an applicable anecdote for racers.

- I have a really nice road bike. I do know that my friends have always got Colnago's in Italy, but I would still prefer my bike.
- it's quite difficult to get TT bike rentals. Road bikes aren't so bad.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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dalava wrote:
One of the things I do when travel with my bike is, hard or soft case, ship or travel with me, taking the entire RD assembly off by taking the derailleur hanger (with the RD) from the frame. There were several occasions prior to that I had derailleur hanger got damaged even without the RD on it.

I remove the RD, but taking off the hanger seems a bit excessive. The design of my Evoc bag means that pressure on that particular area is pretty hard to do.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [B.McMaster] [ In reply to ]
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B.McMaster wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:
My lessonsof bike travel
1) When comparing multiple airlines, always add the cost of bike/luggage fees to the final ticket price to get a true comparison
2) Airline credit cards with companion fares can save you a ton of money if you fly as a couple. They also usually include a free bag or reduced fees. Well worth the yearly fee. (I use Alaska and Westjet)
3) A compact car with a hatchback can carry two bike bags (I use EVOC) and two soft suitcases and two small carry-on bags. I've done this with a Mercedes A class, Toyota Prius C, Hyundai Elantra among others.
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
6) Flying WITH your bike is *almost* always better than having a service ship to your destination.
7) Renting a bike at your destination is a compromise and inconvenient.
8) If you need to store your bike after a race so you can travel around (say... a couple weeks in Europe), always ask fellow competitors. I've stored bikes in random basements and picked up before my flight. Made some good friends in the process too.
9) Bikes fees are ALWAYS changing. So check often and be aware before you go. Read the fine print.
10) Complain frequently and loudly to airlines about bike fees. It can work to change things! Just don't harass the poor desk agents.. they can't do anything.


I disagree with #7. Last time I flew with my bike the airline broke it. Last time I rented a bike I won my age group.

The last 50 times I flew my bike wasn't damaged. So...

I'm sure a rented bike was not the reason your won your age group. It was probably a weak field. ;-)
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I am about to fly to Mumbai from the US at the end of the month with a P5-6 in a Biknd Helium. Extremely nervous about it. My one trip with the Biknd to Oceanside was absolutely marvelous with how easy it was to drag the bag through the terminal.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [B.McMaster] [ In reply to ]
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B.McMaster wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:
My lessonsof bike travel
1) When comparing multiple airlines, always add the cost of bike/luggage fees to the final ticket price to get a true comparison
2) Airline credit cards with companion fares can save you a ton of money if you fly as a couple. They also usually include a free bag or reduced fees. Well worth the yearly fee. (I use Alaska and Westjet)
3) A compact car with a hatchback can carry two bike bags (I use EVOC) and two soft suitcases and two small carry-on bags. I've done this with a Mercedes A class, Toyota Prius C, Hyundai Elantra among others.
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
6) Flying WITH your bike is *almost* always better than having a service ship to your destination.
7) Renting a bike at your destination is a compromise and inconvenient.
8) If you need to store your bike after a race so you can travel around (say... a couple weeks in Europe), always ask fellow competitors. I've stored bikes in random basements and picked up before my flight. Made some good friends in the process too.
9) Bikes fees are ALWAYS changing. So check often and be aware before you go. Read the fine print.
10) Complain frequently and loudly to airlines about bike fees. It can work to change things! Just don't harass the poor desk agents.. they can't do anything.


I disagree with #7. Last time I flew with my bike the airline broke it. Last time I rented a bike I won my age group.

I can relate. I've travelled w/bike and mostly been OK, but did suffer some frame scratches. So...
for a number of years I used to "come home" to do Lifetime Fitness tri in MPLS. Didn't think it was worth it to bring my bike. So I rented a road bike, brought clip on's and an ancient forward angle seat post. Won my AG every time (w/fastest bike split). Road bike was great for twists and turns that the course featured.
Now to be fair... Dan (Slowman) was standing next to me (he didn't know me), when I got my rental for Kona in '17 - the bike was WAY better than mine. I had my worst race ever - not because of the bike, 'cause some moron didn't hydrate properly during the bike portion of said race.
Moral of the story, rent or bring your bike, what ever you think. Don't forget to take a drink.

I saw this on a white board in a window box at my daughters middle school...
List of what life owes you:
1. __________
2. __________
3. __________
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Dan,

Thanks for this.

We have an upcoming flight with United (headed to Kona!).

I just checked the United site and the language for bikes seems a bit vague - https://www.united.com/...ports-equipment.html. The "normal" linear inches measurement for most bike cases/bags is greater than 62 in and less than 115. For example, my Biknd Helium comes in at about 82 ins. But it is less than 50lbs. when packed!

Normally we fly with Air Canada - the "Bike Fee" has been $50 for some time - which is a reasonable and manageable number. The Kona trip came up late in the planning this year, and we had to use points for the flights, and United had the best connections and timing for us.

When we show up and check in - will it be "Standard Checked Bag Fee" or $150 Bike Fee??


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Ministry of Travel [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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It looks like the United policy has not changed since I flew to Kona from Toronto last year. If you depart with an Air Canada flight then connect to a United flight in the US I have always paid the lower Air Canada fee. If you depart Toronto on a United flight you get to pay the special $150 United fee (Canadian dollars). In Kona I have always had to pay the United $150 fee (US dollars). Occasionally I will get lucky in Toronto and the ticket agents doesn't charge the bike fee.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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NordicSkier wrote:
B.McMaster wrote:
NordicSkier wrote:
My lessonsof bike travel
1) When comparing multiple airlines, always add the cost of bike/luggage fees to the final ticket price to get a true comparison
2) Airline credit cards with companion fares can save you a ton of money if you fly as a couple. They also usually include a free bag or reduced fees. Well worth the yearly fee. (I use Alaska and Westjet)
3) A compact car with a hatchback can carry two bike bags (I use EVOC) and two soft suitcases and two small carry-on bags. I've done this with a Mercedes A class, Toyota Prius C, Hyundai Elantra among others.
4) Hard shell cases are no more protective than soft shell, and make it much harder to fit in rental vehicles (see point 3)
5) Flying to Europe is probably going to cost you brutal bike fees.
6) Flying WITH your bike is *almost* always better than having a service ship to your destination.
7) Renting a bike at your destination is a compromise and inconvenient.
8) If you need to store your bike after a race so you can travel around (say... a couple weeks in Europe), always ask fellow competitors. I've stored bikes in random basements and picked up before my flight. Made some good friends in the process too.
9) Bikes fees are ALWAYS changing. So check often and be aware before you go. Read the fine print.
10) Complain frequently and loudly to airlines about bike fees. It can work to change things! Just don't harass the poor desk agents.. they can't do anything.


I disagree with #7. Last time I flew with my bike the airline broke it. Last time I rented a bike I won my age group.


The last 50 times I flew my bike wasn't damaged. So...

I'm sure a rented bike was not the reason your won your age group. It was probably a weak field. ;-)

Agree on the weak field. I was in Florida.

Flown 3 times - 1 Cracked frame on my BCM TMO1, 1 EVOC bag. plus $900 in fees.

Rented twice - $350'ish total

Replacing the BMC was very inconvenient. It was my race bike. Probably 200 miles on it... I won't be traveling with its replacement, I'll bring the training bike or rent.
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Re: Ministry of Travel [NordicSkier] [ In reply to ]
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It probably takes 2 minutes long to take the RD off by removing the derailleur hanger than just the RD itself, and I think it's well worth the peace of mind.
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