I am doing a cycle tour of Japan starting from Fukuoka and ending in Tokyo. I will be flying with the bike and as my start and end points differ I will not have the opportunity to use a box (unless anyone has any ideas?). I will most likely use one of these bags and I have been told by the airline that nothing is necessary by way of packing the bike but I would naturally like to see my bike in one piece at the other end. The bike is a Specialized Tricross with disc brakes. Does anyone have any pointers as to the safest way to package something like this. I think I will definitely take the rear dérailleur off and wrap bubble wrap along the length of the bike to protect the wheels, pedals etc but other than that I'm not sure what lengths to go to. Does anybody have any experience or ideas?

  • If you're OK with throwing out the box, or perhaps donating it to a local bike shop in Fukuoka you could use a box. Then pick up a new box in Tokyo for the ride home. It costs under $50 to have a bike boxed for travel in Canada and that includes the box, I have no idea if the price would be similar or if the service is even offered in Tokyo, but I can't see why not. Not too much of a price to pay to protect your ride.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 18:43
  • Interesting, do you know what they do? How much reassembly is required? Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 18:53
  • Shipping your bike in nothing more than a plastic bag with some bubble wrap is a really bad idea. I'd give your bike almost zero odds of not having some damage when it arrives. For one thing, the bag and the bubble wrap are going to catch on things and get ripped. I'd definitely go with a box. The reassembly is fairly simple (pedals, wheels, seat, handlebars). Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 19:05
  • I've never had it done, but judging from these do it yourself instructions it seems that all that is necessary is to remove the pedals and loose the stem at the steer so that the bars can turned but the front wheel remains straight. Doesn't seem like there would be much reassembly involved.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 19:14
  • 2
    Great article on flying with bikes here: dcrainmaker.com/2011/02/how-i-travel-with-my-bike.html
    – Ken Hiatt
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 20:13

4 Answers 4




Hardcase, hardcase, hardcase!!!

Your bike is not going to fare well going most of half way around the world in nothing more than a plastic bag. Please believe me. Don't ruin your tour.

Some shops rent hard cases. Call around and see what you can find. Ask your friends. Ask local clubs. Look for a new or used one, buy it, and sell it when you're done. Ship the empty case to your endpoint.

For that matter, you'll probably be better off- both in terms of how the bike is treated and how much it costs you- if you pack the bike and ship it ahead of time. Just make arrangements with family/friends/local shop to receive it. Get it insured.

Whatever you do, don't ship your bike in a plastic bag. If you don't heed my warning, please post pics.

  • With the cost of the case and the shipping it would be cheaper to buy new wheels if they broke. Doesn't seem too cost effective. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 11:26
  • 3
    I'm not sure why you're limiting the damage to just the wheels. Bikes don't ship well, especially internationally, and that goes doubly so when you've got airline bag throwers handling a bike in a bag.
    – joelmdev
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 13:35

I had a similar long-range trip. I was a member of a local bike group and asked them if they, as a part of our membership, owned and lent bike luggage to members. They said they didn't have any but that it was a good idea. Maybe other bike clubs around your town might have luggage that you could rent.

You might want to try bike shops and see if they have any shipping boxes. I get boxes from my LBS to ship eBay parts.

Have you explored shipping it to yourself or to your hotel or a friend? There is something scary about shipping a super expensive bike in a soft bag.

My advice would be not to do it. I don't think bubble wrap would help. I imagine a suit case sitting on spokes and it makes me cringe.


I flew from UK to USA with my bike in one of these http://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-elsted-wheeled-bike-bag/

As you can see it is much more padded than your option which, by the way, is a terrible idea.

My bag had padding around the front and back and the way it was packed meant that you could use the bike wheels as extra protection.

They still managed to completely destroy the rear mech.

My advice is to use a proper box http://www.wiggle.co.uk/b-w-bike-box/

or if you are to use a bag like mine do this:

*Pack as much clothes as you can through the frame.

*Place a helmet between the front forks

*Remove the rear mech and hangar that connects it and place a wooden block or spare hub between the rear frame stays. <<< dont even think about not doing this.

Travelling with a bag such as this has one unexpected advantage: you can get round weight restrictions on most airlines; they dont weigh the bag because it is 'outsized' so you can pretty much pack everything into it and have no other luggage!

  • You could also use a piece of wooden dowel cut to the right length and drilled through the center in place of the hubs/helmet between the forks. If you drill out the center of the dowel, you can use the skewers to hold it them in place. This will prevent your forks/stays from getting crushed.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 19:45
  • Absolutely not an option. I would have no way of transporting the box and I can't leave it anywhere as it's not a cyclical route. Did your rear mech get ruined on the way out? What did you do? Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 19:57
  • I use PVC pipe, cut to the length of the frame spacing, with an old quick release skewer to keep it in place. I've flown with Alu and Carbon fames like this and it's always been fine.
    – alex
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 2:57
  • Also, I've seen people take wheels carryon. This is a great idea IMO.
    – alex
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 2:57

A Local Bike Shop will be able to disassemble your bike and properly pack it into one of the same cardboard boxes that brand new bikes get shipped to them in. When you reach your destination, another bike shop will be able to re-assemble it (if you aren't comfortable doing this yourself) and throw away the cardboard box. At the end of your ride, have another LBS disassemble it and pack it into another cardboard bike box to ship home. Expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $75 to have it packed and somewhere between $75 and $150 to have it reassembled by qualified mechanics.

Also, I recommend contacting all of the bike shops ahead of time to make sure they'll be able to work with your schedule.

Finally, I recommend having the bike shipped ahead and not bringing it with you to the airport. Airport baggage handler are much tougher on your luggage than UPS, also, if you ship it before you go, the shop can have it assembled by the time you get there.

Good luck, and enjoy your trip.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.