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Should You Fly with Your Bike or Hire on the Spot?

By Adam Marsal

Flying with the bike packed in the bags has its advantages but it might be both expensive and precarious. What are the benefits of taking your bike up in the clouds and, on the other hand, why is it better to hire a bicycle at the destination? There’s no ultimate truth of how to go about it but you can choose according to the most common hypothetical scenarios for both situations. Let’s summarise them all.

Why fly?

You know the bike. It’s fitted exactly to your proportions and you also know how to ride it. There should be neither unpleasant surprises nor hidden defects. You’ll just put the parts together and enjoy riding at its very best.

You won’t spend extra time choosing the right bike at the rental shop. Even though you can choose the appropriate size online before you set off, there could come unexpected misunderstandings and difficulties like excuses such as that ‘your’ bike has been unfortunately rented to someone else five minutes before your arrival.

The rules for travelling with a bicycle vary depending on which airline you choose. © Profimedia

If you have a specific bike in the matter of size or you have high-end technical expectations, it might be difficult – or expensive – to find an appropriate bike for you to hire. Should you avoid any disappointments, stay with your bike even during vacations.

The dismantling and reassembling process will turn you into MacGyver II. This way, you’ll learn how to fix any problem or malfunction using just the basic tools.

Sometimes, the hire bikes are heavy-duty steeds able to survive hard handling by various non-owners and so they tend to be more solid and heavier than you’re willing to accept.

Why hire?

You’ll spend half a day dismantling the bike and wrapping the fragile parts in soft stuff in hopes that it will protect your carbon-fibre pet from disaster. However, you could place a wager on the outcome with your local bookmaker.

Some of the airlines charge a fortune for letting your bike on board. For this kind of money, you could easily hire a bike of the same quality or even a better one.

Travelling by plane is annoying even without a huge bag to check in. Moving to and from the airport with the bike in a box means extra costs and, actually, it’s a task for a parcel sending company’s dispatcher. Proceeding to the destination with only a helmet, pedals, and bike shoes in the bag is so much easier.

You’ll be nervous all the way there and back imaging how bad the temper of the airport baggage handlers might be on the day of your travel. And, to a certain degree, any luggage can potentially become a lost property. Being without a bike on your cycling holiday would turn you to the rent shop sooner or later anyway.

You can also exceed the weight limit, which can result in unpacking the bike box at the airport in order to leave spare tires and an air pump in the litter bin.

Especially if you travel with more people or with the family, you can cut the costs by asking for group rental discounts.

The joy of arrival to your dream cycling destination could be spoiled in seconds after finding your bike bag crashed. Already depressed, you just reluctantly open it and find fatal damage inside, meaning the vacation is over. With no compensation in sight, all expectations are torn to pieces. Upset from the desperate situation, you kill the airline clerk and spend the rest of your life with cockroaches in a developing country’s prison.