Today you’ll learn how to travel with your bike by car, plane, and train.
So, if you’re the kind of roadie glued to cycling, and you want to bring your bike with you wherever you go and whenever, you’ll find this guide helpful.
To be clear:
Pedaling your bike far and beyond the miles you’re used to, between your origin and destination, isn’t something you can do all the time.
For example, while it’s possible to go on a bike ride in the city streets, it’s common sense that you can’t ride your two-wheeler across the country. That would be many miles to cover, which is practically impossible to beat within a day in the real world.
So if you and your bike have an unbreakable traveling bond, there has to be an easy way to move with it from place to place without feeling like it’s a burden. And what’s a better way to travel with your bike than by car, plane, or train?
Therefore in this guide, we’ll look at how you can travel with your bike by plane, car, or train without straining to do so.
How to Travel with Your Bike by Car
Whether you want to bring your two-wheeler bike camping or you’ve planned for a cycling excursion a hundred miles from home, the easiest way to travel with your bike would be by car.
I’ve seen many cyclists stuff their bikes in the trunk of their cars, particularly the foldable models, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But doing so isn’t particularly the most effective means to bring a bike on a road trip, especially if you’re limited on space and you have additional items to bring on the trip.
The best option is to use a well-built bike rack that can manage the weight of your bike and ensure stability even on long distance trips.
Bike racks are available in different types and models, and the type you choose depends on build, cost, and loading preference. In our case, though, I’d recommend getting a rear or roof rack.
A Rear Rack
A rear rack, aka trunk rack, has straps that you hook to the lip of the trunk, and it’s an ideal option to consider if you won’t be opening the trunk too much. Rear racks are generally fuel-efficient because they have a lower wind resistance and minimal influence on steering.
Rear racks are inexpensive and easy to mount. However, they hinder access to the trunk, and some tend to cover rear lights and number plate, which can be quite an inconvenience. Also, they lack a locking mechanism, which means your bike is easily susceptible to theft.
A Roof Rack
If you open the trunk a lot more than you open the driver’s door of your car, chances are a rear rack may be an inconvenience. As such, it’s best to go with a roof rack, but keep in mind that this, too, has its pros and cons.
Some racks are designed to lock both wheels. Some require that you remove the front wheel(s) before loading your bike. They all have locks that secure your bike in place.
You’ll love a roof rack because it doesn’t hinder access to the trunk. Plus, in case it rains, the rack will allow your bike to clean up easily.
The problem with roof racks is that they make a bike somewhat hard to mount. And the fact that they have a bad influence on steering due to high wind resistance means they aren’t as fuel efficient as rear racks are. Besides, you can’t use this kind of rack to drive under low objects.
The type of rack you choose is up to you. Only make sure you buy a suitable cover, which can provide a great deal of protection against mechanical damages, moisture, and dirt. Usually, an ideal cover is the one that can stand up to any condition regardless of the duration of the trip.
How to Travel with Your Bike by Plane
Cycling holidays far away from home in a different country means two things: you can go with bike rentals or travel with your bike by a plane.
Unfortunately, bike rentals aren’t a thing in every country. This leaves you the option of bringing your bike with you to whichever country you want to visit.
The fun part is that airlines nowadays allow cyclists to bring their bikes along, so it doesn’t matter if where you go doesn’t have bike rentals.
However, you need to keep in mind that you’ll have to pay bike luggage fares to carry your bike on a plane. Again, there are no fixed charges written in stone as airlines have varying fee structures. So you need to check the cost before you book a ticket.
Keep in mind that airline companies have a weight limit for luggage, the most common range falling between 25 and 30 kilograms.
Packing your bike isn’t rocket science and you don’t need to bring it to the bike shop to get the job done. With a simple toolkit, you remove the pedals, wheels, handlebars, tires, rear rack (if you have one), and saddle, and then nicely pack the parts in a special bike bag.
It even helps to add some padding to the bag to ensure your bike doesn’t get hits from the sides. So stuff some clothes in and then place the accessories on top. Of course, the bike bag you buy has some padding already, but it doesn’t hurt to add some more just to keep your bike in perfect condition.
As far as traveling with your bike by plane is concerned, we do recommend that you prepare beforehand. Check to be sure how much they charge for bike bags, and whether or not they have discount offers for customers.
It also helps a lot to book your flight earlier, as you’re likely to pay a lot less than you would on the actual day of travel. You can get more information on pricing and conditions from airline staff.
Do you have to visit the airport for early bookings? Not exactly. Most airlines allow direct communication from the comfort of your home. All you have to do is call to know the charges of travelling with a bike bag.
Generally, the cost varies between 0 to $150 depending on the airline company.
How to Travel With Your Bike by Train
Traveling with your bike by train is the best alternative to using your car, and if you choose to go this direction, you won’t have to worry about buying a roof or trunk rack. Plus, what’s a better way to enjoy the scenic environment that a car can’t access than to take a train?
Here’s what’s interesting:
Most train companies won’t charge you to bring your bike. But you must be willing to keep it in a designated area, not next to your seat. Of course, this raises the question of bike safety, and it’s perfectly fine to be concerned.
After all, you don’t want a stranger to make away with your expensive bike without a trace. There are two things you can do in this case.
The first option is to put your bike in a space where it will be easily visible. This way it won’t be out of sight.
The second option is to use a bike lock for safety. Bike locks are often hard to break, so even if someone were to try to steal your bike, they’d have to use a lot of force and time to get away with it.
The biggest issue with parking in a designated spot is finding the spots full. If this is the case, the attendants may not allow you to bring your bike with you.
Often, this is common during peak hours, or if the train is operating on busy routes. As such, avoid peak routes and try to book your ticket earlier so you can find a perfect spot to put your bike.
The other option would be to carry your bike as a luggage. So stuffing it in a bike bag would be the best way to go. Even better, there’s no weight limit if you’re traveling by train, so this shouldn’t be a concern at all.
One last thing:
Make sure to check if the train company actually allows travelers to bring their bikes to the train. This will save you a lot of inconvenience and enable you to travel properly. After all, each train company has its own set of rules, so you must familiarize yourself with them first before you make a move.
Now that you know the ins and outs of traveling with your bike using different means, it should be easy for you to figure out what option is good for you. It all comes down to the type of travel and convenience. So, make sure you plan early.