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Shipping a bike overseas

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by leicaman, May 16, 2018.

  1. leicaman

    leicaman Maximum Pace

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    Hi all
    Just thought I’d let people know about my experience recently when trying to ship a bike frame back to the UK. I think I remember reading a thread on here a year or two about someone shipping a bike from Japan but I don’t think they updated the thread to say how they did it. Hopefully it might come in useful for people in the future.

    Last week I needed to ship my frame and fork back to the UK for a repaint so I boxed them up and took them to the post office to send them EMS. The post office measured the box and said it was too big to ship via EMS. They measure the longest length and add that the the circumference of the box (the widthx2 and depth x2). The total has to be a maximum of 300cm. Mine came to 338cm. To took the bike home and thought about alternatives. I checked out some of the popular courier companies including FedEx, DHL, UPS, Yamato and Sagawa. The box was too big for Yamato. Sagawa was a really complicated calculation despite it initially looking like it was be a cheap solution. I think it came in at around 75,000 yen but then there were other fees etc. The overseas couriers were just a joke with quotes coming in from 130,000 to 170,000.

    I then found a company called bikeflights.com who have a deal with fedex. They gave me a quote of 380USD which seems pretty reasonable. Before I gave them my money I decided I’d try to make the box small enough for Japan Post to accept it. I cut the box down and taped it up. I repackaged my frame and popped it in the box. At the post office they measured it and it came in at 297cm. Including the import handling fee and insurance I paid ¥18,050. I posted it on Thursday morning and it was delivered to Sheffield, UK yesterday afternoon (6days) in tip top condition. If you need to ship a whole bike you may struggle to get under the post office max size restrictions so bikeflights.com would probably be a great alternative. Please note I’ve never used them though.
     
  2. bloaker

    bloaker Maximum Pace

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    Bikeflights is popular in the US. They kinda work with known carriers some way and get decent prices. Bikeflights themselves have no shipping vehicles.
     
    leicaman likes this.
  3. baribari

    baribari Maximum Pace

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    I think it's worth mentioning that the cheapest way to take a bike overseas is to bring it with you on a flight. $150 each way.
     
  4. Karl

    Karl Maximum Pace

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    Also, FWIW, I bought a "Not a Bike Bag" by Black Star bags. Pretty much just a large duffle bag with no obvious markings that it is bike related. Came back on United, checked the bag with bike inside, no charges, no questions asked. Heck, even I wouldn't have know there was a bike inside if I didn't pack it myself.
     
  5. baribari

    baribari Maximum Pace

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    Say what?

    Damn, I hadn't thought of that.... if I could take a bike home for free I'd probably take my bike home more often.
     
  6. leicaman

    leicaman Maximum Pace

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    I wasn’t intending on going with the bike. I shipped it back to the manufacturer for a repaint. If I were to be taking my bike back to the UK for riding then yeah, I would take it on the plane
     
  7. zenbiker

    zenbiker Maximum Pace

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    I had a similar problem sending a broken frame back to Boardman a few years ago. Post office said too big.... so went back the day after.. same box and bingo! no questions asked and about ¥8,000 later my frame was on its way.
     
    leicaman likes this.
  8. Conrad

    Conrad Maximum Pace

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    Good find! I'm guessing that this is the one you're referring to.
     
    #8 Conrad, May 17, 2018
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  9. leicaman

    leicaman Maximum Pace

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    Jesus, that looks dodgy as hell. Wouldn’t like to pack up my bike like that. It’s asking for trouble. And because it looks like a duffel bag, it’ll probably have loads of other bags thrown on top of it. Doesn’t look like it offers any protection to the bike either.
     
  10. andywood

    andywood Maximum Pace

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    You are free to pack all your luggage including the bike in a box and check it on a plane as your regular luggage allowance. Pack your clothes in plastic bags for frame padding and protection. The box just has to meet the weight/size requirements.

    Of course many airlaines offer special rates for "sports equipment" if you want to take it in addition to your baggage allowance or if it is oversized.

    As for the disguised bag, I agree, it would be more dangerous than beneficial. A box with a big picture of a bike is best. Or better still a flat screen TV.

    On another note, if you are flying domestically with JAL, they'll take care of you bike in a standard rinko. Derailleur side up!

    Andy

    https://www.facebook.com/biketrainingandracinginjapan/
     
  11. Karl

    Karl Maximum Pace

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    Conrad - that's the one.

    Leicaman - I sandwiched my frame between two pieces of an old Thermarest sleeping mat that I'd cut to fit. Disassembeled almost everything (incl fork) and put the parts in the center frame area. Packed it with some clothes, then tied it together with old inner tubes tied around the 'sandwich' to keep everything secure. With the sleeping mats on the outside, I think it would have stood up to some pretty good knocks. Took some time but not a scratch on the frame. Saved the cost of the bag on the trip.

    I agree though. I wouldn't want to do this with a really expensive carbon frame bike. But, for the bike I was transporting (an older, aluminum frame) if it took some damage, no great loss. I'll use the bag again next time I go back to the States. At least it gives me a good bike to use in country without getting dinged $150 each way.
     
  12. Karl

    Karl Maximum Pace

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    I usually fly United. You get 72 linear inches before they charge you. In my experience, they are eager to find a way to apply the extra charge for a bike. I've had to pay that charge several times now, so thought I'd try this as a work around. Happy so far, but it's not for everyone. And of course, for folks with expensive bikes, paying the charge may be preferable to worrying about damage.
     
  13. andywood

    andywood Maximum Pace

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    So long as your bike is packed within the dimensions I imagine it is fair game. Unless your bike is considered as dangerous goods?

    https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/baggage/dangerous.html

    I've brought bike frames back in my suitcase before. No questions asked.

    Cheers

    Andy

    https://www.facebook.com/biketrainingandracinginjapan/
     
  14. baribari

    baribari Maximum Pace

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    FWIW my Scicon case is, I believe, WAY bigger than 72 inches, so it counts as oversized luggage. I think $150 is actually a discount compared to the usual rate for oversized luggage.
     
  15. OreoCookie

    OreoCookie Maximum Pace

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    Let me second that: I have moved with my bike across continents on five occasions (checked in as sports goods on my flights), and in my experience, you should definitely not try to fake it. You are not really throwing off the baggage handlers who have grabby fingers, there are no mysteries to the X-ray machine. And bulky luggage gets handled more carefully and is loaded separately. I have asked local bike shops to give me old cardboard bike boxes and with the help of the glorious invention that is duct tape, smart packing and all that, my mountain bike has survived all of these moves. Since I was moving continents, it was a win-win-win to be able to use clothing and towels that I didn't want to throw away as padding. The only person who didn't like it was my wife, because she had to help me carry the bike box from and to subway stops. (I believe her words included the words “last time” and “divorce” ;))
    This could be your stealth bike bag: ;) :D
     
  16. Johank

    Johank Warming-Up

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    I just arrived in Japan 1,5 WK’s ago and brought my bike, did cost me nothing. I was flying ANA, i could bring 2 suit cases 23kg max each. Nothing About dimensions, only weight limit
     
    #16 Johank, May 18, 2018
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
  17. baribari

    baribari Maximum Pace

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    The 80 inches that ANA allows would be so close to that of a bike box (85-90 inches) that they might not have bothered to check the size.
     
  18. Cactaur

    Cactaur Speeding Up

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    That not a bike bag is truly dodgy AF.
     
  19. Karl

    Karl Maximum Pace

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    I can only speak for my experience. The airline I use, United, is a stickler for the 72 linear inch rule. All I can say is, the bag made it past the check in folks, no questions asked, and by using the sleeping mat to cover the frame, the frame was undamaged. In the past, I've had to pay $150 each way, which adds up. But, yeah, I'm sure a soft bag like the 'Not a Bike Bag' isn't for everyone, especially if your airline tends to be more lenient regarding oversize luggage regulations, or your bike is expensive.
     
  20. theBlob

    theBlob Bokeh master

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    My bike bag was over dimensions for the last two years, no trouble either time. Just an email in advance to get the clearance for the co2 canisters and straight on the plane.
    No dramas, no extra fees. Qantas to Aus and back.
     

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