How to Travel with your Bike by Road, Plane, and Train

Toffee Insurance
7 min readJan 26, 2021

You and your bike are travellers at heart. But what if you want to explore farther places by bike, but do not want to pedal all the way to your destination?

The short answer is: No problem!

You strap it onto the bus, car, truck etc. and ‘hope’ that nothing goes seriously wrong with your bike!

And even if it does, check out the Cyclist Insurance to secure your travel buddy. If you are still not convinced with it, drop in your details here!!!

Cyclists are active folk and have taken their bikes on trips near and far, high and low. If someone managed to perform a skydive on a bike, surely you can take your two-wheeler at least on board of a plane, let alone by train or car.

In this article, we’ve compiled useful tips and tricks for travelling with your bike. You’ll learn how to prepare and pack your cycling buddy for different types of travel, and how to be ready for any practical issues you might face on the way.

  1. Travelling by Car

Thanks to the numerous bike transportation solutions available today, taking your bike on a road trip is easier than ever.

Consider these questions as you plan your trip:

Will you transport the bike inside the car or will you need a rack?

If you opt for a rack, will you use a rooftop or a car trunk system?

How will you protect your bicycle on the rack (or inside the car)?

If you have enough space to take your bike inside the trunk of your car, you won’t have to bother yourself with finding a suitable transportation rack. However, we recommend you to get a protective cover — to hide your bike from potential thieves and prevent any dirt or scratches damaging your car.

Besides the rack and mounting system, you’ll need a suitable cover to protect your bike against moisture, dirt and mechanical damage. Depending on the distances and the conditions in which you drive, choose the most suitable transport cover from the many types available on the market.

2. Travelling by Bus

Buses are good and buses are bad. Depends on which part of the country you live in and where do you need to travel to!

Buses rule when travelling to remote areas or the mountains. For shorter distances, bus journeys are perfect.

Types of Buses

Choosing the correct bus is important and these are the buses available in India for inter-city transport:

The Mass Movers: These are non-AC buses which generally have a roof rack. You need to climb onto the roof with your bike and secure it up there. Then hang onto your seat inside the bus as you lurch back and forth without puking!

Semi-Deluxe: These buses also generally do not have a roof rack. Luggage is placed in the rear, which is rather small. Fitting your bike in this cramped space with other people’s luggage is tricky and best avoided.

Deluxe AC: Air-conditioned buses with space in the boot. As with the above, these also have limited space and might not be enthusiastic about fitting your bike as well.

Volvos: The best your money can buy for you and your bike. The bikes easily fit in the luggage space at the bottom. All you need to do is drop the saddle and remove the front wheel. At times they might ask you to open out the handlebar as well. The rider also travels in relative comfort.

Buses can be both private and government.

With private carriers, it is best to clarify with them on the spot whether they are willing to carry your bike and only then buy a ticket.

3. Travelling by Air

When you plan to go on a cycling holiday, booking a flight is not as easy as going on a flight search tool and choosing the cheapest and fastest trip from the list. Thankfully, airlines are increasingly more accommodating of bikes, but there are still discrepancies in weight limit and cost.

Bike luggage fares

Some important things you should pay attention to:

Cost of carrying sporting equipment
Weight limit (and extra charges for bikes that exceed it)

How to pack your bike for a flight

Sure, it would be nice if you could just cycle inside the departures terminal and hand your bike over to a kind airport technician (ideally a professional cyclist, too) at the boarding gate. And get it back in tip-top condition right after landing.

Unfortunately, flying with your bicycle is not that easy yet. To meet airport requirements and ensure the safety of your bike, follow these preparations:

Pack your bike in a protective case, special bike bag or box (cardboard boxes can also do). Note that packing your bike in a plastic bag won’t be accepted by all airlines.

Remove or fix bike pedals inwards

Remove or fix the handlebars sideways

To reduce the risk of damage, deflate the tires

Some airlines recommend taking your wheels off

Pro Tip: Unless you have a special hard case for your bike, consider taking some extra steps to protect your bike. For example, bundle some bubble wrap or foam around the frame and use pieces of cardboard to encase the back cassette and derailleur.

Pssst, we have an insider tip from a pro — put plastic plumbing pipes around your bike. Remember that your two-wheeler isn’t made to receive strong hits from the sides!

Alternatively, you can opt for getting a special bike bag for air transportation. It is an investment, but it will definitely pay off if you plan to travel with your bike on a regular basis.

4. Travelling by Rail

The first form of budget bike travel that people generally think of is the humble locomotive. Trains cover incredible distances across the country and are perfect to take you along with your bike from one corner of India to another.

And barring the mountains, trains are accessible everywhere in the country.

If it’s so perfect, then why doesn’t everyone carry their bikes by train?

To sum it up in one line, well, the railway is a government organisation!

More often than not, you will be sent back and forth by babus, pack your bike at the luggage office and still ‘hope’ that your cycle ends up at the same railway station as you and in one piece.

Even considering all these blood pressure inducing problems of the railways, often it is the best choice for those on a budget.

Getting it done

Steps to book your bike for train travel:

Take your cycle to the railway station 3 hours before departure of the train.

Find the Parcel Office at the railway station.

Show your confirmed ticket and book your cycle onto the same train

The clerk will record your PNR number, book your cycle and hand you over a receipt for the same.

Watch your bike being loaded onto the luggage van of the train. You might want to tip the porters who load and unload your bike.

Get your cycle removed from the luggage van at the destination station. You can tip these porters as well.

Go to parcel office at the destination station. Show your receipt, train ticket and ID card to get your cycle released.

5. The ‘Jugaad’ Way

There are a number of cyclists who don’t like to leave their bikes out of sight for a moment. These enterprising souls have mastered the art of whataboutery, pleading and trickery!

The method to this madness is that you are innocent and don’t quite know what you are doing if someone asks…

Dismantle your bike completely. This entails removing the saddle, handlebar, fork, rear derailleur, wheels and pedals. Then stuffing this into tiny bags which do not yell out BIKE. Finally, take this entire ensemble and keep it on your berth.

The ultimate jugaad masters have even carried their cycles with them as is. Just throwing a sheet over to hide it from prying eyes!

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