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Relocation Concerns


Apr 25, 2008
Anyone here ever try to take their bike in a bike specific shipping container as checked luggage from, for example, the US or UK to Japan? If so, how did that work out?

Or would it be better just to ship it ground to relatives several weeks ahead of the flight?

I would like to take both my road bike and my MTB but the MTB is a 29er and I have not yet seen any 29er specific shipping containers on line. Anyone here try to ship a 29er?
I brought a road bike (61 cm) a couple of years ago from Toronto to Narita as oversized luggage. Had it packed in the standard carboard box that bikes normally ship in. Cost $90 CAN, or about 10,000 yen. Fees vary from airline to airline, I believe, but in this case, it was cheaper and much less hassle than shipping it.
That's good news. Did you have to open it for inspection at any point? I will be coming from the US. Been to Japan several times in the last 8 years or so but never with bike. Sometimes I had to open my checked luggage, sometimes didn't...
That's good news. Did you have to open it for inspection at any point?

No, they just asked me if it was new and waved me through. It's possible of course that they'd want to look inside.
I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out the best way to bring my bike to Japan. I ended up buying a case, which claimed to be under the UPS and airline limits. I thought that meant without an extra fee, but it just meant that would take it, period. Hopefully, the extra fees start reflecting oil prices at some point (and not reduced capacity), but if not, it was $100 per one-way trip on United Airlines (it might have been US Airways). I'm guessing most US airlines are similar. At that price, it's cheaper to ship within the US (~$50) by UPS. To Japan, the airline was cheaper. Shipping would have been around $400 by FedEx. I'm not sure of that figure. That is the price I got with the online calculator. If you use a non-US airline, your chances of getting it on the plane for free are much better. I just took my bike to Thailand with no extra charge.

In the US, on both flights that I brought my bike, they opened my bike case for inspection at some point. My only clue was that I found the inspection card inside of the case. They seemed to do a fine job of not harming anything. I didn't receive any indication of other airlines doing the same thing, so I assume they didn't.

Finally, the cargo terminal might be a good option. In Thailand, I shipped the case from one airport to another using Thai Cargo, and it cost about $10. I don't know what the cost would be for other trips or airlines, but it's possibly a good option. I never found any other shipping methods that seemed reasonable, so please post if you do find something better.

PS - The case cost $300 and my bike is a 58cm road bike. I think it's worth the money if you ship or travel with your bike more than 3 or 4 times. Also, my bike is in the $1000 range. I don't want you to think I'd be comfortable doing this with a >$5k bike. I try not to think about the stress of owning a bike that nice.
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