Flying Bicycles for Free

perfect pack

Bike packed

A perfect pack bookends another trip and this is how we fly our bikes for free. Depending on the type of trip, it’s with S&S-coupled bikes or ones that are hinged and fold, like Terns or Bromptons. Read about the different types of travel bikes in this post and where we rode in Oahu this weekend: #1 Fish Tacos in Hawaii, Cycling is the New Golf in Hawaii, and Mark’s post about Swift Industries Ozette Randonneur Bag.

resort stand

Assemble at hotel

The key to flying bicycles for free is packing them in a airline-sized suitcase and keeping it underweight. Also use Jedi Mind tricks like replying if asked, “it’s trade show equipment” or “Makeup for a Vegas performance.”


49.6 pounds

Traveling with a regular, full-sized bike is going to cost you either on the airline or with a service like Ship Bikes. Don’t take that personally either or compare it to golf clubs. The reason the costs are high is that repairing and replacing broken or damaged bikes is expensive. On Alaskan Airlines, who we flew this time to Oahu, it’s $75.00 for a full-size bike.

ground crew

Takes five Hawaiians to handle the awesomeness of an S&S case, brah

See our bike travel tags for more posts and a new community on G+ about traveling with bikes.


Travelling by bike is going to cost dollars anyway you slice it. S&S couplers aren’t cheap and neither are those awesome cases, brah. No such thing as flying a bike for free unless you work for an airline with nice perks.

You know that “free” meant without fees brah, but to what I guess your point is, folding bikes from companies like Tern start at about $300 or $1500 for Brompton. The cost of an S&S is at 2 to $3,000 repays itself quickly for the frequent flyer, that’s not including the reduction in damage a full bike takes in a soft or hardshell case. So quick math is 3K per bike on Delta divided by 150 in fees per trip is 20 flights. Reduce that further by let’s say 50% for no damage and that’s 10 trips. Could also argue that one trip without damaging your bike is worth it.

We’ve also recommend to travelers abroad to just buy a bike when they arrive; especially in Asia.

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