Travel is no reason to leave your bike behind. In fact, having a bike with you in a new environment is a great way to get to know a place and meet people. From checking your bike on your flight to utilizing a local rideshare or rental service, exploring the world on two wheels has never been easier. Here are five things you need to know before setting off:
1. Flying with your bike
Gone are the days of cumbersome luggage for bikes; bike-specific bags and boxes are now easy to pack and even easier to roll around airports and train stations. Boxing up your bike in cardboard works, too, especially if you won’t have a place to store a large bike bag/box while you’re traveling. Just know: almost all airlines now charge a fee for bikes; it varies by airline but usually ranges between $100 - 200 USD.
2. Shipping your bike
If you can plan ahead of time and have an address to ship to, shipping is stress-free option. Just like flying with your bike, you’ll need to pack it in a cardboard bike box, hard-sided bike case or soft padded bike travel bag. If you don’t have a case or need help packing, companies like Bike Flights offer a selection of bicycle boxes, cases and packing supplies along with a directory of bike shops where you can get your bike professionally packed in a recycled manufacturer's bike box. Costs for shipping vary, but can be affordable if time is not of the essence. Most companies use a reliable carrier such as DHL or FedEx who will pick up your packed bike at your home or office.
3. Bike share programs
There’s no better way to explore a new place than by bike, and if you’re not going to be away from home long enough to warrant bringing your own, “sharing” someone else’s bike can’t be beat. Spinlister, featured in cities across the globe, lets people share their bikes with visitors for a daily fee. It’s as easy as a few messages back and forth regarding pick-up and drop-off times and locations confirmed with a credit card payment. If you would rather have short-term and frequent access to a bike, see if your destination has a city-wide bike-share - a program in which many bicycle stations are set up and people can rent a bike to use for a certain time frame and return it at a different station. Paris, Shanghai, London, Barcelona, and New York City all top the lists of best bike share programs across the globe.
4. What to carry
If you are traveling with your own bike, bring all the accessories you normally carry on a ride - spare tire, multi-tool, etc - in the event that you won’t be able to find those things when you’re traveling. No C02 cartridges if you’re traveling by airplane! If you plan on using a bike share, bring a helmet since they are not provided. In terms of clothing and nutrition - comfort rules in both categories. Some people prefer to ride in padded bike shorts, while others are comfortable in loose-fitting jeans. Always bring a rain jacket and check the weather forecast before heading out for the day. Be sure to stick a few snacks in your backpack; real food like nuts, dried fruit, and sandwiches will keep you pedaling all day.
5. Use smart technology for navigation and weather
COBI is helping to revolutionize the overall cycling experience by connecting your smartphone to your bike. The result is more safety, convenience, and fun – no matter where your journey takes you. The future-friendly system integrates smartphone mounting, charging, and control and software smarts into one unique design. COBI has reimagined navigation and weather forecasts from a cyclist’s point of view. The full size bike navigation, based on OpenStreetMap, uses crowdsourcing to recommend bike routes. You can choose the fastest route, the shortest route, or even the quietest route.
Betsy is a writer and rider based out of Lyons, CO, but you can frequently find her scouting tracks and trails all over the world. Her recent travels have taken her and her bike on a race across the Spanish Pyrenees, bikepacking through the northern Arizona desert and guiding a group of midwesterns through the Rocky Mountains. She's an expert snack-packer and frequent instigator of two-wheeled adventures.