Are there any special concerns or precautions to take when traveling by plane with a bike that has air shock or air fork?

Is it necesary to take the air out or is it safe to leave them as they are?

By the way, the tires need to be deinflated?

Details: I'll be traveling by air with a bike that has a Marzocci Bomber MX Pro, that has air springs. My fear is that pressure changes may affect the shock. Also, and I don´t know if I will be near a bike shop at my destination.

  • 1
    Normally when things are shipped they are shipped with a low air pressure, even though they should ship fine with air in them.
    – Batman
    Dec 4, 2014 at 22:25
  • @Batman: Indeed, now that you mention it, I once bougt a rear shock that was brought to my country via air cargo, and it came with enough pressure to be used (Sag was almost exactly where I needed it). I think that anecdote answers my own question.
    – Jahaziel
    Dec 4, 2014 at 22:37
  • Years ago there were some hijackers that parachuted out of a 747 with ransom money and after that they made passenger planes so the cargo hull could not be depressurized. Now a pure cargo plane I don't know.
    – paparazzo
    Dec 5, 2014 at 0:08
  • @Blarn - I think you're referring to the DB Cooper hijacking, but he didn't depart from a cargo door, he departed through the airstairs, which leave from the passenger compartment. I don't think the FAA requires cargo hold pressurization but it's in the airlines best interest to keep it pressurized to prevent damaging cargo (and passenger complaints from leaking shampoo bottles and other toiletries). For the same reason, it's in the airlines best interest to keep the hold above freezing.
    – Johnny
    Dec 5, 2014 at 2:22
  • If they were hauling animals, they would need pressurization.
    – Davidw
    Dec 5, 2014 at 4:55

2 Answers 2


Most (all?) airliner holds are pressurized and nearly all are heated, at least above freezing if not to cabin temperature, so I wouldn't expect any particular problems. The atmospheric pressure at sea level is around 14.7 psi, so even if the the hold was not pressurized at all, the worst your bike would see would be around 15psi extra pressure in the shocks/tires. The air pressure at 30,000 feet is around 4.4 psi, so at typical airliner cruising altitude, an unpressurized hold would mean that your tires and shocks would see about 10psi of additional apparent pressure.

If you were running some fat low-pressure tires on your bike pumped up to their maximum pressure, then you might want to back off on the pressure a bit for piece of mind just in case it ends up in an unpressurized hold, but I'd bet that even a bike tire rate at 30psi will stand up to 40psi without bursting. But I'd have no qualms at all about a 110psi bike tire standing up to 120psi in the plane.

Naturally, if the airline has any special requirements, you should follow those requirements, but I've flown my bike on several different airlines (including overseas), and have never seen a requirement to deflate the tires and have never had a problem.

  • 1
    +1 Cabin is pressurized at not more than 8000ft = 11PSI so the maximum you get a 4 PSI increase in relative pressure in tires and shocks (unless it looses pressure, but I suppose you would not be concerned too much about your bike at that point).
    – mattnz
    Dec 5, 2014 at 2:16

Got this from a flight engineer (on flight engineer and he is also a commercial pilot) that works for one of the major cargo shippers and he says cargo on cargo and passenger planes is always pressurized but not always heated.

Not sure if this is all planes but I found a couple references that the floor that separates passenger from cargo is not strong enough to take a pressure differential and they have blow out panels in the event cargo looses pressure so the floor does not buckle. In many cases structurally it is more efficient to pressurize the whole plane.

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