how to fly with your bike
You have decided to take to the skies with your trusty ride. This is often the fastest way to set off on a ride once you arrive. Here are a few tips for flying with your bike to japan for your next cycling holiday.
- Clean your bike
First, clean your bike and especially your drive train before you begin packing to minimize the chances of a greasy mess.
- Remove the wheels and bars
Though each bike and bike case is different, most cases consist of removing both wheels and the handle bars in order to fit the bike frame into the dimensions of the case.
- Remove the rear derailleur
Often forgotten, the rear derailleur hanger is one of the most fragile pieces on a road bike. Be sure to remove the rear derailleur from the hanger to prevent any bending or damage while in transit. While you’re at it, consider wrapping the derailleur in a loose cloth and tie it off to prevent moving around while in transit.
- Confirm your airline’s bike policy
This can often be the trickiest part of the process as the airline industry is notorious for having a large variety of policy differences regarding bikes. See our complete guide to flying with your bike in 2020 for more details on each airline.
- Choosing a service provider and costs
The cost to ship your bike varies between $100-$7000 USD depending on where you are shipping it from. Our favorite service is Bike Flights who have an easy site to check for a price quotes. Once in Japan Yamato’s Hands Free Travel is a great service to move your bike around the country for on average 4,000-7,000yen per leg.
- Choosing a bike case
Evoc Pro | Our top recommendation and the best quick assemble/disassemble case on the market. With easy pockets for each part and simple storability this is the ultimate bike travel bag.
Orucase | The compact airport ninja (more assembly but less baggage fees)
The classic cardboard box | Any bike shop will have some for you to grab and for some reason they have a pretty good track record for not being too abused when it transit. You can even ask your local shop to do the packing and unpacking for ya for an even smoother transit.
- No need to lug a big bag/box to and from the airport.
- Travel light on trains without having to deal with a big bag/box
- You won’t be able to ride the bike right before your trip and immediately when you get home. Depending on where you are from, shipping a bicycle could take up to a week to be delivered.
USING a bike case
- Since you’ll continue using the same case, you get used to packing and unpacking it.
- A bike case tends to be easier to roll/carry than an unwieldy cardboard.
- You’ll have peace of mind that your bike is with you and that it’s securely packed in a case that is designed for bumpy transit.
- Bike cases can cost between $300-800 USD.
- You’ll need to figure out a place to store the box if you are doing a loop, or ship it forward if you are doing a “point A to B” cycling tour.
USING a cardboard box
- This is the cheapest option and usually you can get a free bike box from your local bike shop.
- You can recycle your box when you arrive and get a new bike box before you depart, so no need to find storage space for your box.
- Cardboard is not the sturdiest material, so it can be damaged in transit.
Bike Transit Tips
- Most importantly, it is absolutely essential for your safety to make sure that bike is in good operational order. You don’t want to deal with unnecessary mechanical issues or an unexpected hospital visit on your tour!
- Do online research beforehand, read reviews and reach out to companies to ask about their mechanical support.
- Before leaving the shop with your rental bike, check the ABCs (air pressure, brakes, chain).
- Don’t forget to pack your saddle, helmet, bike shoes, and pedals from home. These are small items that will make a big difference in rider comfort as you roll through many miles in Japan.
High-quality road and hybrid bikes are included in every Bike Tour Japan adventure. Riders who would like to bring their bikes from home are welcome to ship/store bike boxes to our headquarters and our expert guides will assist with assembly.