I haven’t flown with my touring bicycle for a while. Last time I flew I didn’t have mudguards on the bike. I now tour with mudguards.

My question is: will there be a problem boxing my bike for flying domestically with Virgin or Qantas? I’ve got their bike box dimensions (1400x80x30).  I assume I will have to remove the front wheel but not sure of the exact fit if the mudguards are left on.

I’m not keen to try to remove my front mudguard at the airport as it is attached to the fork via a daruma bolt.

Anyone had any experience with this?

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IIRC the length of the Virgin bike box is a bit larger than Qantas.

I never ride with muddies, so it's not a problem, however, to get my bike into the box, I have to take off my handlebars and turn the front fork completely around, as far as it can go with front racks on. To do that with muddies, the front one would have to come off. As to the rear one, I suspect that it would be necessary to take that off too, as my medium sized frame (yours look large) just fits in the box.

If you're heading to Adelaide, remember that they have a well hidden bike assembly area with all of the tools required to re-assemble the bike and dump the box.

On my trip earlier this year from Melbourne to Sideneeee, I got 2 bike boxes - one for the bike and one for panniers etc. Virgin were decidely unhelpful with this, so I flew Qantas and I've never had a problem with them doing this. Of course the quantity of gear that I take seems to be infinitely greater than your setup.

Enjoy your trip.

I'm looking to fly out of Melbourne but I'm still in the very early planning stage.

Sounds like I'll have to leave the front mudguard at home. I also won't have a front rack on the bike for this trip.

I'm assuming from measurement that I won't have to take the rear wheel off. But I will have to take the seat and handlebars off. Looks like a tight fit.

I think you will have to do a full strip down as per my experience with bike boxes - remove both wheels, remove seat post, remove handlebars, and for safety remove rear derailleur. 

And I just realised your rear mudguard is going to stick out a fair distance! 

It costs nothing to go to your LBS or 99 Bikes or somewhere and pick up a box - then you can experiment with different packing techniques - which is a good idea IMO. Bike packing can be traumatic and very worrying during transit of you aren't sure you have done it right! 



"Bike packing can be traumatic and very worrying during transit"

Definitely, and especially so at Melbourne. Most of my experiences there with Virgin have been dreadful - no bike boxes, won't sell you one unless travelling with them, you should have boxed it before you came (dah, it was my means of transport to get here - IDGAF), No! On the other hand everywhere I've been with Qantas, they've been much better by far!

My experience has been that it's always best to pack your bike at home and fly to the destination, then ride back home. It saves all of the problems.

If you can't do that, allow plenty of time to get to the airport where there's a good chance that you will be stuffed about by experts. My last experience at Melbourne was that I arrived about 3 hours before the flight that I intended to catch - enough time to pack bike in airline box as well as have a shower, or so I thought - Wrong! I got to the departure gate as they had started boarding. Assume that anything that can go wrong will! If it doesn't, you're a long way in front.

All too true.

I have flown out of Melbourne  a few times. Once with two bike boxes. I did need a tool to strip the seat, turn the bars etc. I took some bubble wrap just for insurance.  However, each time was with Qantas and they were very helpful.  No an advert, but I haven't flown with Virgin with a bike.

I have done a few bike box packs when travelling and all have been traumatic. 

I like your idea of getting a box from the LBS and doing an experimental pack. I'll do that.

The solution is to find a motorcycle box.

They do exist. 

One proved to be the solution to my problems when my wife and I were leaving Nice, France, in 1995. No bikeshop had a box because bicycles were delivered en plastique. But the motorcycle shop had a Honda box outside blocking the footpath. We did the people of Nice a favour and the box took both our bikes, almost fully assembled. And the airlines didn't blink an eyelid.

True story.

We did our tandem to Auckland home from Wellington in 1997 and Perth return in 1998 unboxed and handlebars turned around, pedals off, and with the unnecesary requirement of air out of tyres. Couldn't do that now!

I think there is a larger sized bike box available these days, to suit the fatbike/beach cruiser stuff on the market now - a bit wider than a standard road bike/mtb box.  

You might just make it - depends how much overhang you have on the front of the mudguard.

I have a "L" sized road bike and air travel using LBS bike boxes.

I remove both wheels, and the rear derailleur, and the handlebars.

Like this I have maybe 300-350mm space in front of the forks.

However, you may find the mudguard stays are a pest and take up the valuable space in the box where you shove a wheel.

I already did it today (LST-SYD). Indeed I have done it many times this year including once when it was filmed. Using a Qantas box, and with a large frame 700C bike, with long (464mm) chainstays and fatish tyres. So that carton is going to be fine.

Remove the front wheel, the front mudguard,  the seatpost (with the seat still attached), the left pedal, the handlebar stem (with bars etc still attached), the kickstand and the waterbottle cage if its on top of the downtube (so as not to harm the dynamo hub terminal when the front wheel is attached to the side).

A good thing about this is that you can ride to the airport, buy the carton, pack and fly and ride out of the other airport. Allow 20 minutes to pack and $22 for the carton.


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