How To Travel With Your Bike?
A guide to travelling with your bike by car, plane or train for a cycling tour.
10 Minutes by epico
Taking Your Bicycle on a Cycling Tour
You and your bike are natural travellers. But what if you want to explore further afield by bike, like joining an epico cycling tour, but don’t want to pedal all the way there? Don’t worry we got you.
Cyclists are active people who have travelled by bike near and far, high and low. If someone can skydive on a bike, you can certainly take your two-wheeler on a plane, let alone by train or car.
We’ve compiled a list of useful bike-travel tips and tricks in this article. You’ll learn how to prepare and pack your cycling buddy for various types of travel, as well as how to be prepared for any practical issues that may arise along the way.
Travelling with your Bike in your Car
Taking your bike on a road trip is now easier than ever thanks to the numerous bike transportation solutions available today.
As you plan your trip, consider the following questions:
- Will you transport the bike inside the car or will a rack be required?
- Will you use a rooftop or a car trunk system if you decide to use a rack?
- How will you keep your bike safe while it’s on the rack (or inside the car)?
You won’t have to worry about finding a suitable transportation rack if you have enough space to transport your bike inside the trunk of your car. However, we recommend that you get a protective cover to hide your bike from potential thieves and to protect your car from dirt and scratches.
Which car rack should I get?
If you want to transport your bike on a rack, you’ll need to do some more planning. Here is a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages of each type of rack:
- Do not obstruct access to the trunk.
- Bike racks keep bikes cleaner than trunk racks, especially in the rain because there is no spray from the car wheels.
- Mounting is inconvenient.
- Can alter the steering and wind behaviour of the vehicle.
- Increased fuel consumption due to increased wind resistance.
- If you drive under a low object, you risk damaging your bike.
Trunk and Tow-hitch Racks
- Lower wind resistance means less influence on steering and fuel consumption.
- Easier to mount and easier to see if the bikes are always well-fixed.
- Depending on your vehicle and rack, you may be unable to access the trunk.
- Impaired visibility through the rearview mirror in some situations.
- Rear lights and licence plates may be covered.
Aside from the rack and mounting system, you may need a suitable cover to protect your bike from moisture, dirt, and mechanical damage. Choose the most suitable transport cover from the many types available on the market based on the distances and driving conditions.
Travelling with your Bike by Plane
Booking a flight for a cycling vacation is not as simple as going to a flight search tool and selecting the cheapest and quickest trip from the results. Thankfully, airlines are becoming more accommodating of bikes, but there are still differences in weight limits and cost.
Some critical points to consider:
There are two main points to consider when traveling with your bike on the plane.
- Airline costs for sporting equipment
- Weight limit (and extra charges for bikes that exceed it)
If this all sounds a bit daunting and like a lot of effort, you may want to think about renting a bike for your tour through our epico bike rental program we offer on our cycling tours.
You should budget an extra € 40-60 each way for travelling with your bicycle and adhering to the 25-30 kg weight limit. This weight is separate from your check baggage allowance.
Ryanair flies to most major cities around Europe and we would class them as the most cyclist-friendly European airline.
How to Pack Your Bike for a Flight
Sure, it would be ideal if you could simply cycle inside the departures terminal and hand your bike over to helpful airport personnel (ideally, a professional cyclist) at the boarding gate and get it back in top shape immediately after landing. Unfortunately, flying bikes are also not yet possible, we’re still waiting for the update… However, we have a few good tips for you to ensure the most hassle-free travel with your bike.
Follow these steps to ensure your bike’s safety and compliance with airport requirements:
Pack your bike in a protective case, special bike bag, or box (cardboard boxes can also do).
- Remove your pedals
- Handlebars can be removed or left fixed if your box allows for it.
- Deflate the tyres to reduce the possibility of damage.
- Some airlines advise taking your wheels off. You will need to always remove your front wheel.
- Some airlines require that the packed bike be no longer than 190cm in length.
In most cases, the bike box you purchase will have a guide on how to pack it or alternatively, contact your local bike shop for any assistance.
Pro tip: Unless you have a special hard case for your bike, consider taking some extra precautions to protect it. Wrap the frame in bubble wrap or foam, and encase the cassette and rear derailleur in cardboard.
Matt, from epico, gave me this pro tip for flying, “wrap your frame tubes in half cut, plastic plumbing pipes. Remember, your bike was not designed to take hard hits from the side!” thanks Matt.
You can also get a special bike bag for air travel. It is a pricey purchase but it is an investment and will definitely pay off if you plan to travel by bike on a regular basis.
Consider these bike bag options by checking out our guide here.
Travelling with your Bike by Train
Cycling may be your preferred mode of transportation, but travelling by train has its own special charm and magic. Why not take a scenic train ride through the countryside and explore the stops along the way by bike?
The good news is that most railway companies do not charge extra for taking your bike on the train with you. However, they will almost certainly require you to keep the bike in designated areas, which means you may not be able to lean the bike next to your seat. You may be able to find a designated seat from which your cycling buddy will be easily visible – and you can even lock it for added security.
The only risk of travelling by train is that all of the designated bike storing spots are already taken (in this case some companies might forbid you to bring the bike onboard). As a result, try to avoid travelling on congested routes or during peak hours, and try to be flexible with your arrival time. If you know your schedule and itinerary, try to be proactive and pre-book seats on the train. This is not available with all providers but it is worth looking if your selected train has this option.
First things first, check the rules of the train company you’re about to use to ensure that you can take your bike on their train. Ideally, read customer reviews as well, as other passengers may have encountered practical issues that you can avoid if you come prepared.
What About When I Get There?
Once you arrive at your destination, your next thought may be, “what do I do with my bike at the accommodation?”. That is never an issue with an epico tour. All our hotels are cycle friendly, so you may be allowed to take your bike up to your room or there will be a dedicated room at the hotel or guesthouse where your bike will be safely stored.
Rest assured, your bike will be safe from everything. All the hotels are familiar with having a range of entry level to super high end bikes visit them on our cycling tours. If you are planning your own tour that is not with epico, then most hotels will not object to having your bike stay with them but some may not allow your bike into the hotel if it is not completely clean after the ride. So keep that in mind. It is best to contact your accommodation in the booking process to find out if they are a bike friendly place.
Swift & Smooth Travels with your Bike!
Your bike may be your best friend, but travelling with it is a little more complicated than booking an extra seat next to yourself. Fortunately, biking is becoming more popular and, as a result, easier. All you need is a little more planning, and nothing will stand in your way of your next cycling adventure!
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