I currently find myself over 5,000 miles away from London in Guatemala. (I’d forgotten what it was like to be warm and walk around in a t-shirt – very nice!). In the run up to the trip I strongly considered bringing my bike over here with me. Eventually, I decided that it would be easier to rent bikes along the way. From what I’ve read in the trusty guidebook, I’ve let myself in for lots of squeaky and half working bikes – all part of the experience!
None the less, I wanted to blog about the different options if you want to fly your bike to another country.
First option: The mighty folding bike
I’d never considered this option until a reader emailed me and told me it’s what he does when visiting Japan. An idea so great I couldn’t believe it hadn’t crossed my feeble mind. Safe, easy to stow and reliable. Although there are specific soft and hard shell bags for folding bikes, it’s probably just as easy to fit it in a standard bag.
Second option: Simple bike bag
On my trip to Germany I discovered the limitations of the simple bike bag. On the surface it seems like a great option because it can be packed away in to one of the panniers and it is cheap. However, it provides minimal protection of the bike. You’ll need to provide additional padding yourself.
Third option: More advanced bike bag
When I took my cheap bike to Germany I wasn’t too worried about it getting damaged. However, if I was taking a £1000 or £2000 bike across the world then I would be understandably more nervous. That’s when something a little more special is needed. Two examples spring to mind. The cost effective option is the DHB Elsted Wheeled Bike Bag. The rather more extravagant option is the Scicon Aero Comfort 2.0 TSA. I’ll be reviewing the later shortly on London Cyclist.
However, there’s one thing I can never understand with the more advanced bike bags. What on earth do you do when you get there? I mean you can’t really pack it down and store it in a pannier. I even put the question to the representative of Scicon who got in touch with me. She didn’t know! Which brings me to the forth option…
Forth option: Guided tour
I’m not sure if this is just me but I’m not a big fan of the guided option. This is where all the hotels are pre-booked and a van follows you with all your baggage. That sounds great and means you can just get on with enjoying the pedalling, but it kind of removes what I believe is right at the heart of a bicycle tour. Discovery, spontaneity and having everything you need carried on the back of the bike. Surely that is the romance of it?
If you’ve got any advice on the topic then I welcome and read all comments.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.