Bikeflights for Bike Travel

Ed note: Matt Hill shared this story in Issue 40 Gambling.

As a coach, I’ve had several clients use the services of bike flights
direct in the short time it’s been around, and generally it seems that
they’ve been pretty happy with the results. There have been a couple of late-arriving bikes, mostly in the bad-weather months, when not much that’s getting shipped is getting shipped on-time. Other than that, though? I’ve heard good things about the service.

Seemed about time to check it out myself, so, well… I did.

BFD sent me a GIGANTIC flat cardboard box. Like, seriously, gigantic. I wish I had taken a picture of it. How big was it? Big enough to fit a bicycle shipping box folded up inside it. Big enough to barely fit inside my mini-van.

Yeah. Big. So big, with some crayons and tin foil, you could make it
into a spaceship for the neighborhood kids. Maybe charge admission.

As mentioned, inside this mammoth cardboard envelope was a bicycle shipping box, one of the company’s own design, with their proprietary bungee-cord suspension system that’s set up to suspend your bike frame in the box and keep it from impacting whatever the sadistic baggage handlers along the way decide to throw the box itself at.

One word: Directions.

Okay, maybe two words: No. Directions.

There isn’t a single piece of verbiage or even an Ikea style idiot-gram
pictorial inside the box or on the company’s site (that I could find) to
tell you how to set this whole bungee thing up. I had to wing it, and
I’m pretty confident that although It seemed to work, the mess that I
came up with wasn’t what the designers intended. Would be nice if they didn’t keep those intentions such a mystery.

Here’s a nice thing, though; if you’re worried about shipping that
expensive bike of yours out in a cardboard box, they offer reasonable
insurance rates. Shit can definitely happen, and it’s nice to be covered
when it does.

Heck, they even offer a monetary guarantee on their delivery deadlines. Try getting that from the folks with the brown trucks, let alone the airlines.

Mysterious bungee-smuggling aside, I was (eventually) able to get the
bike (and a bunch of other stuff — this is a generously sized box)
packed, and off to the local FedEx store for pickup. I was sending this
out with expedited delivery scheduled in order to ensure that the bike
arrived in Vegas in time for my debacle of a ride at CX Vegas (on the

Scott and that meant that there wasn’t going to be time to allow for
the at-the-house pickup service they offer. I’d be using that at the
opposite end, to send the bike back from the hotel I was sending it to
on this leg (spoiler: pick up service worked flawlessly on the way back.
It makes the whole bike-shipping thing really painless, and I’d
recommend using it if time allows.)

So, the bike gets dropped off (at almost 11:00pm!) and before I even get
home, I get an email confirming receipt. Gotta’ tell ya, that’s a good
way to start, and pretty confidence inspiring. These folks are on the
ball with the tracking thing, and as I followed the package over the
next couple of days, tracking was always up to date as the package made
it’s way across the country, only to arrive…

EARLY?!? Seriously?!? When was the last time you sent something out in
the mail, or by UPS, or by freaking carrier pigeon and it got to its
destination EARLY!?! They not only got this giant box to my hotel a day
early, they got it back a day early as well. Hard not to dig that, eh?

Wait, there’s more. Not only did my bike arrive early, it arrived
unscathed. There was a bit of damage to the box, but the bungie
sculpture seemed to do its job, and there wasn’t a scratch put on the
bike coming or going.

I definitely have to dig that.

So, my thoughts after doing this whole thing?

I’m pretty darn sold. Not only on time but ahead of time. No damage.
Convenient as hell. Pricing that doesn’t seem extortionate. What’s not
to like? In this day and age, where taking a bike to the airport means
bending over, taking out your wallet, and praying that the unpredictable
(but large) amount of money you just gave to the bastards at the baggage
check in means that you might get your bike at the other end, that it
might be in the same number of pieces as when last seen, and if it
ain’t, they ain’t going to honor the fictional pretense at “insurance”
you paid for… well, this is the opposite of that. It’s a taste of
reliability in an increasingly uncertain world, and someone actually
seeming to make good on their promises.

Who even knew service like this actually still existed?

Thumbs up.