European Touring Newbies - seeking bike shipping advice. - CycleBlaze

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European Touring Newbies - seeking bike shipping advice.

Kelly Iniguez

We have many questions on many fronts. The first question is getting our bikes there! Has anyone sent their bikes freight as opposed to taking them on the plane with you? 

I've been looking at the website: sendmybag - it sounds easy? Fine print shows extra fees for Portugal, which we are strongly considering for our arrival point. 

Not having to schlep our bags to/from/around the airport is appealing. As is sending our bikes in advance to the shop. 

We have friends traveling in Ireland right now whose two suitcases have been lost for 18 days! What if that were our bicycles?

I don't ever read about anyone shipping their bikes in advance. Please enlighten me.

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2 months ago
Wayne EstesTo Kelly Iniguez

If you want to ship from a local office, you can request a quote from FedEx International.

https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/freight/international/priority-economy.html

Of course you also need to find somebody in Portugal to receive the shipment.

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2 months ago
Wayne EstesTo Kelly Iniguez

Reading a bit more, it seems like FedEx International Freight is for packages heavier than 150 pounds.

You could probably get a quote from the regular Fedex International web site.

https://www.fedex.com/en-us/shipping/international.html

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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly Iniguez

We’ve never tried this but we did research it again after our suitcases were lost and we were trying to decide how to get the bikes home.  There are a several companies that specialize in bike shipment, including overseas shipments, that you might explore: bike flights.com, shiptocycle.com, sherpr.com, a few others.

Also, here’s an article that discusses bike shipment - pros and cons, comparing vendors and so on.   I’ll be interested to see how this works out for you if you try it.  With your recumbent especially it seems like it might be a smart idea.

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2 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Kelly Iniguez

"... Has anyone sent their bikes freight as opposed to taking them on the plane with you?  ..."

Shipping it as freight will almost certainly involve a separate trip to the Customs office of your destination.

Years ago I had a gargantuan case for our recumbent tandem.  I could get the entire bike in it but it was, of course, oversize and over weight for normal checked baggage.  Air France charged us $450 for the flight to France and would have charged the same for the return journey- IF they had been willing to take it as luggage at all.

Instead, I used a service at CdG that would accept large and/or heavy items and ship them as freight.  It was nearly as costly, and I had to make a separate trip, a few days after our return, to retrieve the bike after it had cleared Customs.  Not ideal, and a big reason why that bike stopped traveling overseas.

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2 months ago
Rich FrasierTo Keith Adams

I've  used BikeFlights to ship a single bike from California to France.  This was in 2015, so my information may be out of date. 

If you're coming for a vacation, there should be no issue with customs.  The paperwork you fill out for BikeFlights should cover everything you need.  For my single bike, from memory, it was around $400 to ship the bike.   

The shipment went almost flawlessly.  The bike was delivered to our destination in the boonies of southwest France.  The only problem was that the bike got here before I did!  Luckily our landlord here was on site to receive the rather large package.

I didn't ship the bike back, so I can't comment on the US customs side of things.  I think BikeFlights can instruct you on the process pretty well - they seem to do a lot of these shipments.


HTH

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2 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Rich Frasier

To be clear, the service I used was not Bike Flights, or even anything specific to bikes.  It was just a service, operated out of the international passenger terminal at Charles de Gaulle, that accepted large or heavy items and shipped them as air freight instead of as checked bags.

Because it was freight it came in through Customs, and arrived a couple days after we got home.  I didn't have to pay any import fees or duties, which happened to at least one other CycleBlazer after his tour in the U.S. ended unexpectedly and when he was in no position to manage the process.  He had to pay an import tax on return to his country because he had no ready proof of having bought it there.

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1 month ago
Benjamin MeyersonTo Kelly Iniguez

Hi Kelly:  Have used Bike Flights quite a bit domestically they are a reliably great company and typically they cost about half of what UPS or FEDEX quote.  Suspect that would be the same with International, definitely worth pricing it out.

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1 month ago
Karen CookTo Kelly Iniguez

Hi,

They can't track the bike? Losing the bikes for 18 days totally sucks though it's probably pretty unusual.

I take my bike on the plane with me and do the following when going to Europe (or anywhere else).

Look for flights with no connections (or no more than 1).  If there is a stop I make sure it have a longish layover (at least 3-4 hours) so your bike has a better chance of making the connection.

(If the flight is to Europe I look for overnight connections there.  For example I once did a SFO to Helsinki.  I arrived around 3:0opm, visited the city, stayed at the airport hotel, then got the connection the next morning, so plenty of time for my bike to find its way to the connecting plane).

I also plan at least 2 days of "slop time" after the flight arrives.  Partly for jet lag but that also allows the bike to catch up if it is delayed.

I think the biggest hitch where bikes get lost is the connections between flights--just my opinion.

I am less concerned with the above things on the come-home trip.  On my way home from Scotland, my bike got stuck in London on the return trip.  It was a very short connection (I think an hour) and the bike really had no chance to make it, though I had hoped it would.

Anyway, I wasn't too worried because I figured it would find me eventually at home, which it did.     A couple days later American Airlines had it delivered to my house for the happy reunion.  They had the bike "tracked" and knew were it was, more or less (for example they would say it left London and is jetting west).



As a side note, I am going to get back into backpacking a bit.  It was something I used to do before bike touring and I want to mix it up a bit (though I will still bike tour).  But I have to say, not having to worry about the hassle of dealing with the bike, and shipping, and packing, repairs, etc makes planning a lot easier.  Just throw my stuff in a backpack and go.  Of course there are blisters to deal with... ;-)

Good luck, Kelly.  Think positive about your bikes arriving just fine, odds are they will.  Have fun on your adventure!




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1 month ago