Heinz Stücke, the long-distance touring cyclist once said: “It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.” The anticipation and excitement of discovery, and the unknown, has certainly fuelled many adventures. Cyclists often go abroad to uncover new terrain and a trip to a different country does take planning, but the rewards are tenfold.
If you’re going on an overseas cycling trip and taking your bike on a plane, then you’ll need to plan a few things before. You’ll need to consider:
- servicing your bike pre-trip
- organising comprehensive travel insurance
- investing in a bicycle bag for air travel
- baggage rules and weight restrictions
- buying the right bike bag for a plane
- the essentials to pack
- planning your route
- alternative options
We’ve created this Bikmo guide to taking a bike on a plane to help you along. Read on for our tips…
Book a cycle service before you travel
Whether you’re partaking in a cycling challenge like L’Etape du Tour or just embarking on an overseas cycling trip: you’ll want to make sure your bike is in top shape, ensuring peak performance.
Getting a cycle service before your trip is essential, so a bike issue won’t hamper your holiday. Book one at your trusted cycle shop in advance, so you don’t miss out – checking tyres, brakes, and chains will give you peace of mind and if you need any new gear or tweaks you can get it sorted on the spot.
Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance
It’s important to make sure you are covered, so you can get on with enjoying your travels. Life happens and unexpected situations arise when you least expect them. Whatever activity you are doing on your bike, it’s vital to be fully covered on your travel insurance – otherwise, you might not have the support you need while abroad, access to the best medical help and it could also be extremely costly.
Our adventure sports travel insurance can be purchased for a single trip or annual multi-trip coverage. Whether you’re travelling solo or with the family, we’ve got you covered so you can enjoy your travels – be it biking, boarding or skiing. You can also start planning your next trip with our Tour Finder: just type in the destination, month and type of activity and get recommendations for cycling adventures and trips.
There are three cover levels for cycle insurance with benefits such as £3 million emergency medical and repatriation expenses, £1 million personal liability and £15,000 legal expenses and an optional excess waiver. To find the best insurance policy for you, view our full range of travel insurance options here.
Baggage rules and weight restrictions
How much does it cost taking a bike on a plane? What are the baggage and weight costs? Can you take an electric bike on a plane? What are the baggage and weight costs? There are many questions to ask when travelling on a plane with a bike. Researching your options is key.
How much does it cost to fly with a bike?
Firstly, the cost of travelling by plane with a bike depends on the airline you are travelling with. Research the airlines that service your destination before you book your ticket and see which ones offer the best value for cyclists. Some plane operators offer a free service as long as it’s part of checked luggage, with others there is an extra fee.
For example, in Europe, the main airlines are British Airways, Air France, Aer Lingus, TUI, TAP Portugal, Lufthansa, Norwegian and Swiss Air. Then there are the budget carriers such as Jet2, Easyjet and Ryanair. Sometimes it is worth buying a more expensive ticket as your bike might be included in your normal baggage allowance, while with cheaper tickets there is a fixed fee for bikes.
What are the baggage and weight costs when flying with a bike?
The costs differ greatly for each airline. Research each one to get the best deal for your trip. A return airfare with British Airways might be more expensive than using a cheaper budget airline, but BA allows non-motorised pedal bicycles in a bike box or bag as part of checked luggage allowance – so there’s no fee. Other airlines can charge from £25 to a whopping £60 with Ryan Air. It is wise to search for good fares on an airline that lets you take your bike for free, so there’s no added cost.
Can you take an electric bike on a plane?
You can’t take an electric bike on a plane. This is because most e-bikes have lithium batteries which can catch fire if damaged, so it’s the battery that is the issue. Batteries over 160WH are prohibited on a plane.
One option is to take your e-bike (without the battery) and rent a battery when you arrive – you would need to pre-book this at a convenient cycle shop though. A more straightforward way to use an electric bike abroad is to organise an e-bike rental at your chosen destination. If this doesn’t appeal to you, find an alternative way to get there other than by plane.
Buying the right bike bag for a plane
If you’re travelling in and out of the same two destinations, buying a quality bike bag for the plane is essential. If you’re unsure about which product to buy, have a look on Freewheel or visit your local bike shop. They will often help you pack your bike pre-travel and share useful information about taking a bike on a plane.
If you’re unsure about how to pack your bicycle for air travel, then there are lots of useful video tutorials online. Start with this Global Cycling Network video for tips on packing your bike box efficiently.
Don’t forget to pack the essentials
Don’t forget to pack other items that you might need. A multitool, mini-pump, sunglasses, a puncture repair kit, and spare inner tubes are all items that are easy to forget. These often fit nicely into your bike box or bag, so there’s no need for extra plane baggage.
Be prepared and plan your routes
When you’re in a different country, it’s easy to get confused with routes and unknown territory. It can be half the fun, or just very frustrating – depending on how you look at it. Strava or Komoot are popular for highlighting new trails and roads and the heatmap features are useful to see where local cyclists most venture out to. Ultimately, make sure to study trails before you go and set yourself up with any useful apps for your trip, giving you the freedom to discover and explore the world around you.
Alternative options to taking your bike abroad
If you’d prefer not taking a bike on a plane, there are always other options. One is to organise a company to ship it for you. SendBike can ship your bike door to door and they also sell cardboard bike boxes for ease. Alternatively, you could hire a bike at the destination, but make sure you do your research to get the best bike rental for the route you’re taking – after that, you can focus on the ride.