Box Your Bike For Air Travel

Don't like rentals? Take your trusted steed anywhere.

Bicycle touring is becoming an ever more popular form of active travel, and lord knows, we’ve recommended a few tours ourselves.

While the typical cyclist touring away from home will go through a company that outfits him or her with a rental, serious riders on a self-guided trips might justifiably prefer their own trusted steeds—especially if they’re going somewhere with few active tour operators… like Cuba, for example.

But how to get your bike there?

Bike shipping service can get your bike just about anywhere in the world, but since it uses FedEx, the embargoed island nation is off limits.

Tour company CanBiCuba, which leads rides in Cuba by way of Canada, has a handy how-to guide for taking your bike by plane. Make no mistake: between airline fees and packing costs, it’ll cost you from $200 to $800.

The easy—and more expensive—way is to pay a bike shop to pack it for you. “Make sure [the dealer] uses a good quality box,” CanBiCuba cautions.

And then there’s the hard way.

Again, the box is key. Gear Junkie recommends the Pro XL-C Plastic Bike Box by CrateWorks. At $229, it may seem like an indulgence, but if you’re already shelling out to ship your ride overseas, the last thing you want is a dented frame and broken derailleur. This corrugated plastic box has separator plates, buffers and straps built in.

Okay, so you want to save even more money. You can also use the box your bike came in or a similar one obtained from a bike shop, as long as you pack it well.

You’ll need bubble wrap and/or foam tube protectors, strong packing tape, and plastic fork spacers that come in the original package (ask your bike shop).

You’ll disassemble your bike: remove the handlebars, pedals (you’ll need a pedal wrench for this; left pedal has reverse threading), seat, and front wheel—place the spacer in the fork.

Although this particular how-to doesn’t say to remove the rear wheel and derailleur, doing so will reduce your final packing size. You will need a spacer in place of your rear axle as well.

Let half the air out of the tires, wrap everything thoroughly and pack securely with zip ties and foam padding. For more detailed instructions, read the original tutorial, or check out additional directions on

And of course, remember to throw your tools and packing tape in the box. You wouldn’t want to get there and not be able to reassemble your ride. And if airport security decides to poke around in your box, you’ll need to be able to re-tape it.

¡Buen viaje!


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