Bike on a plane

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We recently returned to Europe from Singapore, and I decided to take my bike with me on the plane, mostly so I would have something modern to ride while the rest of my stuff took the slow boat. You could ride vintage bikes all the time, but it’s nice to mix it up.

As I have never put a bike on a plane before, I was fairly nervous about the whole experience. It is going to arrive at all? in many pieces? or bent into a U shape? But you gotta have faith, so I gave it a shot.

First step: What sort of bag to use? Hard case? Soft bag? Or cardboard box?

I didn’t feel confident about the cardboard box approach as I imagined luggage being left on the runway in the rain, resulting in the bike being packed in paper maché…

So having opted for a bag, the question was whether to go for a hard or soft bag. A quick look on chain reaction cycles and wiggle.co.uk indicated that prices go from 50 GBP to 250+.

I opted for a soft case, and chose the Brand-X bag with separate wheel bags for 70 GBP. It seemed to have good reviews, and I liked the idea of separate protection for the wheels.

From the baggage handlers (“throwers”) views expressed in the attached article, it seems like the soft bag was the right choice. I wish I had read this article before ordering the bag!

http://cyclingtips.com.au/2014/06/flying-with-your-bike-tips-from-a-baggage-handler/

The bag took a couple of weeks to arrive in Singapore, and lugging a massive box home from the post office was interesting.

Second step: How to pack it?

When the bag arrived, it seemed to have even more pockets than I expected, which is good to store some clothes in, and adds more padding to protect the bike. Not so good, was that there was little protection inside the bag for forks, derailleur and the chain ring. As we had a lot of packing boxes, I ripped one apart and created an internal “box” around the bike to protect it. So not really a vote of confidence for the bag…

I guess packing the bike is pretty straightforward, but once you’ve taken off the handlebars, and the saddle, you’ve got two bits either swinging off the bike or loose inside the bag. The bike wouldn’t fit in the bag with the saddle down (but really I didn’t want to scratch the top of the seat post…). So without the bits of cardboard to protect the frame from the swinging brake levers/stem etc., I’m not sure what condition it would have arrived in. Also, the bottom of the bag probably wouldn’t have lasted very long with the chain-ring sitting against it, being banged along baggage conveyor belts. Also the teeth would probably have been bashed around a bit, along with the derailleur. The chap that checked in our bags recommended I release some air from the tyres, which seemed sensible. Not sure if they would have popped without that, but they survived the trip.

Long story short, the bike arrived safely with only minor scratches to the frame (the Lemond Chambery frame seems to scratch if you breathe on it too hard…), and was re-assembled and ridden within 24h despite jet-lag. I loved the contrast between riding in the heat of Singapore, and the crisp summer morning ride along lake Zurich. Probably a warm sunny day for all the locals, but I though my teeth were going to crack from the cold!

Worth mentioning that the trip was with Turkish Airlines, involved a change at Istanbul (so some extra baggage handling than on a single-leg flight), and cost 160 EUR (one-way). No issues at all.

Do you readers travel often with your bikes? So often that it’s as routine as packing a suitcase? Any tips for this newbie would be welcome!

Tour des Trois

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At the end of the month I’m participating in a historical bike ride of c.150km through France, Switzerland and Germany (tour des trois).

I plan to ride my late 70s/early 80s Mercier (which has not been featured on the blog before! Though it has made a guest appearance in the blog logo…..) with tubular tyres and all French components. A restoration post will follow shortly!

150km is a long ride by any standards, let alone on a 40 year old bike. Wish me luck! I’m not sure which will fail first, me or the bike… Here’s hoping I finish.

Also, while participants are to ride pre ’85 bikes, they must also be dressed in vintage (or replica vintage) cycling gear. I’ve got the bike, but didn’t have the clothing!

Thankfully ebay came to the rescue. I not only found a vintage cycling top, but one from a cycling club in the very city where I grew up, Newcastle upon Tyne! This seems to be from the Tyne Electric CC cycling club. Anyone know anything about it or a bit about the club?

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I also found and old pair of cycling gloves from when I was a teenager. They’re horribly coloured so should be suitable as early 1980s…! However, they seem to have mud on them.

Possibly a stupid question, but does anyone know the best way to clean them? Just pop them in the machine on a gentle wash??

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First ride in Switzerland

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So we moved from Singapore to Switzerland. Gone are the early morning bike rides in hot darkness and the occasional monitor lizard and macaque. In exchange we have fresh (cold!) air, wine terraces, snow capped mountains and sunshine!

This is also the first time I’ve tried Strava, so I’ll share my first ride below. My cycle computer broke some time ago so it’s interesting to see the distance travelled and average speed. I did wonder if not seeing my speed would result in a gradual slowdown, but I guess not?

A poor photo of the Lemond in its new surroundings too. It survived the trip via Turkish Airlines!

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Lemond Chambery (2005)

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Ok, it’s not a vintage bike, (yet) and it doesn’t need restoring, but I love it anyway!

This is my weekend ride in Singapore. You don’t see many like it out here. I’ve only seen another 3 in the last 2 years.

In fact, I like it so much that I’m taking it back to Europe with me!

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(I know… photos aren’t great, sorry…)

 

UPDATE : Fuji Del Rey (1983)

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Thanks to Jim @ Bertin Classic Cycles for the pointers to velobase.com. What a fantastic resource for people doing some detective work on a bicycle restoration.

Here’s a list of most of the components on the Fuji. Exciting to see that most of these are Japanese made. Japanese bike, Japanese components (and no Shimano).

(Worth noting these photos are not mine, they’re from the good folks at velobase)

Rear derailleur: SunTour RD-5200, Superbe Pro (friction), early-mid 1980s, Japan

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Front derailleur: Suntour Lepree, 1985-1986, Japan

Front & rear brakes: Dia-Compe Royal Compe II RCII-400, 1985-1986, Japan

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Handlebar: Nitto Olympiade 115, date unknown, Japan

Handlebar stem: Nitto, model unknown, date unknown, Japan

Seat post: Sugino SP-KC, date unknown, Japan

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Brake levers: Dia-Compe AGC250, Aero Compe, date unknown, Japan

Rims: Matrix Iso C, date unknown, USA

Tyres: Continental Super Sport, date unknown, Germany

Crankset: Sugino DRT, 1980s, Japan

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Shifters: Suntour model unknown, date unknown, Japan

 

Brilliant, what a great resource!! I hope to have some photos and info to contribute myself one day.

Now that we’ve identified what’s equipped with, we can go on to work out what’s original, and what’s not!