getting to the start

Can you believe that this simple task, getting you and your bike to the starting point for your trip, can take so much effort?

Getting a bike on public transport can be a massive pain. They don’t make it easy for you.

(And if you think travelling with a bike can be bad having a trailer as well may just be completely beyond The System.)

Airlines usually insist on the bike being fitted inside a bike box, which usually entails removal of pedals and swinging the handlebars around. If you don’t have a friend with a car to drop you off it can mean packaging up everything in the airport before the flight. And acquiring a bike box from somewhere.

Remember to tie your panniers, etc, or somehow bundle all you other bits and pieces together so they qualify as “one bag”.

Qantas policy:

To be accepted for carriage, bicycles must be suitably packed in a bike box. Bike boxes can be purchased from most Australian Qantas Terminals. Customers can travel with their own bike box, however it must not exceed the dimensions and must be properly and securely packed. Qantas bike pack dimensions are: Length: 140cm (55in), Width: 30cm (12in), Height: 80cm (32in)

Before bicycles can be accepted by Qantas they must be packed as follows:

Tyres must be deflated, Pedals must be removed, Handle bars must be fixed parallel to the frame, If the bicycles length exceeds 140cm (55in), the front wheel should be removed and fixed beside the rear wheel, inside the bike box.

The Virginblue policy is different. Also must be packed in a bike box, cost $15 at all airports but confirm a day or two before that they have them.

Remove front wheel, Remove back wheel if necessary (easiest if the bike is in the highest gear), Remove pedals, Lower or remove seat post, Turn handle bars sideways and tape to the frame, ensuring the front forks are secured, Remove any accessories (e.g. front carriers), Deflate the bicycle tyres.

Virgin have this warning:

If a bike is not packed according to Virgin Australia’s requirements, or is not checked in prior to one hour before departure, we will not be able to accept the bike for travel.

Then there’s the requirement to pay for the excess weight surcharge. The checked baggage allowance is: Qantas, economy class, 23kg domestic and international. The excess baggage rates are very steep.

Virginblue baggage allaowance and costs is now, err, rather, make that entirely, complex. Different tickets allow different allowances, it’s cheapest to work out what your weight and numbers of bags, etc, you are planning to take will be prior to buying your ticket. Or, you can just do it, more expensively, at the airport.

Trains aren’t much better and the conditions are not standardised, ie, they vary according to the state and whether local or long distance.

Getting a bike on a long distance bus can be like playing Russian roulette. You have to buy a ticket but often they won’t guarantee that you can get the bike on board, even if you pay a surcharge for the bike. Individual drivers may state they aren’t taking the bike even if the bus company policy says they will.

It ain’t easy.

So allow plenty of time to make all the necessary enquiries. In the end you might have to be flexible in where you actually start.

But at least if you are psychologically prepared for a total hassell, if it all goes smoothly then that’s a real bonus.

Somehow it makes more sense to avoid all this angst and just to bike off from the airport, backpackers, or your front door.