Expert advice on taking your bicycle along when you travel

Travelling with a bicycle can be an awkward, tedious affair, but local bike shops can guide you through the process of simply and safely transporting your two-wheeled pride and joy.
Sherman Jansen De Leon, bike technician at The Cycle Hub in Dubai, demonstrates how to pack a bike for transport using a specialised box. Satish Kumar / The National
Sherman Jansen De Leon, bike technician at The Cycle Hub in Dubai, demonstrates how to pack a bike for transport using a specialised box. Satish Kumar / The National

If you are heading off on holiday to a bicycle-­friendly city and would love to see it from a cyclist’s perspective, but find the prospect of hauling your own bike along with you a little daunting, don’t give up on the idea – help is at hand.

Travelling with a bicycle can be an awkward, tedious affair, but local bike shops can guide you through the process of simply and safely transporting your two-wheeled pride and joy.

The first priority is to protect your valuable bike from damage during your travels. There are a few options, depending on your requirements, and if you don’t want to deal with it yourself, a decent bike shop will be happy to help. The Cycle Hub in Dubai, for example, can handle the entire process for as little as Dh100. 

“We box bikes for people all the time,” says Sam Sayadan, the founder of the shop. 

A sturdy cardboard box is the most cost-effective way to send a bike home or take it on holiday, he says. Experts at the shop will partly dismantle it for you and pad all the component parts to prevent dents and scratches. 

For professional riders, or anyone who wants their bike in pristine condition and ready to go as quickly as possible after arriving at a destination, a specialised bicycle box is a better option. 

“These boxes are specifically designed as ‘bicycle suitcases’ for travelling,” says Sayadan.

“They don’t require us to take the bike apart completely, and protect them well. They are usually custom-designed cases. When you arrive at your destination, if don’t know how to put it back together, you can just go to any bike shop for assistance.”

Specialised boxes, with wheels and handles, start from about Dh1,500. 

“If someone has their own bike box but no idea how to pack it, we can show them how to do it at the store,” he says.

Adventure HQ at Dalma Mall sells hard-shell and soft travel cases for bicycles. The Serfas Bike Case, for example, has two casters for easy mobility, a tough polyethylene shell, locking latches and three foam layers. It costs Dh1,495. 

The soft case by Evoc is made of ripstop nylon with a polyurethane coating, has wheels, weighs about 9 kilograms and costs Dh2,500.

The shop can also customise and air freight the packed bike. 

For those who decide to pack a bike themselves at home, Sayadan says the procedure is the same as for packing any fragile item. 

“A lot of it is common sense,” he says. “You don’t want parts rubbing against each other, and try to have as much padding inside the box without bursting it.”

Sayadan suggests that first timers look at online tutorials to ensure they don’t damage the bike.

“Watch videos, or if this is the first time, just observe how it is done at the bike shop,” he says.

He adds that buying a decent torque wrench is a worthwhile investment for a DIY attempt. 

If you want to take your bike with you when you fly, airline rules dictate that it be stashed in the hold with checked-in baggage. It can be counted as part of your baggage allowance, according to an assistant at Emirates’ call centre. 

If your flight allows two checked-in items of luggage, the bike can be one of them. Otherwise, excess luggage fees might apply, which range from Dh79 to Dh137 for each extra kilogram. 

Airlines recommend that bikes be packed in hard-shell cases that can withstand rough handling. Handle bars need to be fitted in sideways, pedals removed or folded back and wheels removed. Travellers with bikes in cardboard boxes need to sign a waiver that exempts the airline from any liability of damage.

aahmed@thenational.ae

Published: January 10, 2016 04:00 AM

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