Do I have to pre-ship my bike?

(How to box a bike for shipping is below.)

First, if you're driving to FANY and/or taking the optional Charter bus, you do NOT need to box or pre-ship your bike. Only people on some Amtrak and domestic flights will need to box their bike for shipping. If you can reassemble your own bike yourself you DON'T need to pre-ship it, but DOUBLE CHECK that all legs of your flight or train can accommodate your bike box, and remember to pack your tools! If you are bringing a hard-sided bike case, please contact FANY to reserve space on the gear truck for your empty case during FANY.

You'll probably need to pre-ship your bike to the start if you'll be taking Amtrak (ask Amtrak about boxed bikes on your train, because in their wisdom Amtrak has eliminated baggage cars on most trains.  Fortunately NYBC is lobbying to reverse).  Please make your own advance arrangements directly with Viking Ski & Cycle (518-561-5539) in Plattsburgh, where FANY begins riding.  Viking definitely knows their stuff and will be glad to talk to you. They'll receive your bike, reassemble it for approximately $50. Please make plans to have it arrive at Viking by Tues 7/16/19  so they have time to get it ready.  When you make arrangements with your shipping company you must also make pre-arrangements for RETURN shipping from POUGHKEEPSIE.  (FYI, is about half price of FedEx ground.)  Shipping costs are additional and your responsibility. NOTE: If you want The FANY gear truck to pick up your bike from Viking in Plattsburgh and bring it to our camp - be sure to selct that option from the Sign-Up form, and also let us know its at Viking! Use the Sign-Up form to select the option you need, and also e-mail Viking & FANY Ride your tracking number, bike manufacturer & color at time of shipping so we make sure we pick up the right one. Bikes must arrive at Viking no later than Tues. 7/16/19.  NOTE: If you don't already own a hard sided bike case, or can't scrounge one from a friend, see if your bike club has loaner bike boxes.  Or get a cardboard bike box from your local bike store.  Another option is to check out (Honestly, we're not at all connected with, but we've personally used them, and they worked great.)


How to Pack Your Bike for Shipping

by Harvey Botzman, of Cycletours

    Note 1:  It will take you longer to read these directions than to actually box your bike! 
Nonetheless, they are important to read!
    Note 2:  If you download this article for publication (in whole or in part) whether on
the web or by any other electronic or mechanical means, in a club newsletter, paid or
free circulation newspaper, periodical or book you must include the by line, the copyright
notice, and the following statement:
    © Harvey Botzman, 1994, 2000.  Mr. Botzman has written 7 bicycle touring guide books:
'Round Lake Ontario: A Bicyclist's Tour Guide, Erie Canal Bicyclist & Hiker Tour Guide,
'Round Lake Erie: A Bicyclist's  Tour Guide, 'Round Lake Michigan: A Bicyclist's Tour Guide,
'Round Lake Huron: A Bicyclist's Tour GuideFinger Lakes Bicyclist's Tour Guide, and
Long Distance Bicycle Touring Primer.  [Publication's editor may omit up to 5 titles.]
    Harvey will answer your questions on bicycle touring if you write to him at Cyclotour Guide Books,
PO Box 10585, Rochester, NY, USA; e-mail:


Public Transit to Your Starting Point
     A very efficient and enjoyable way to start your cyclotour is to go to your starting 
point (on the Great Lakes or Erie Canal) via train, airline or bus.  Of course if you live
near by just ride to the start point.
    Cyclotour Guides are designed so that a cyclotourist can begin and end at any point
along the described route.  Directions to and from major train stations, airports and bus
terminals are provided in the text.


General Public Transit Rules
      Each carrier - airlines, buses  and railroads - have specific rules regarding the
transport of bicycles.  All carriers specify that bicycles must be boxed and shipped 
as baggage.  Tandem, long wheel base recumbent and other large bicycles may not be
able to be transported on airplanes or buses.  Call the specific transportation company
you intend to use for information.
      Amtrak, VIARail and the airlines will sell you a box at the terminal.  Phone the train
and airline company at least 2 days in advance of your departure to make certain there
are bike boxes at the station/terminal.  Tell the station/terminal baggage person to reserve
a bike box for you.  Bus companies do not have boxes for sale at their terminals.  Read
below to find out how to obtain a bike box for bus transport.
      You must have your own tools to do this (cone wrench for the pedals and the proper
size hex wrench for the handlebar stem). There are no bicycle tools at train stations, bus
or airline terminals.
      If you are traveling via train or plane then purchase the carrier’s box.  These boxes 
are designed so that you simply have to turn the handlebars and remove the pedals to fit
a bicycle into the box.  Very simple!  Scroll down for detailed directions.
      Using the carrier’s bike box assures that the carrier can not claim your box was too 
weak for holding a bicycle.


Other Notes:
    On domestic US flights you will also have to pay an over limit (excess) baggage
charge which can be as much as an additional US $60.00.  This excess baggage charge
does not apply to international flights.
    Generally, commuter airplanes do not have facilities for the transport of bicycle boxes 
on their planes.  Your bike may be shipped on a different flight.
    Unless you have a folding bicycle Amtrak sometimes only carry bicycles in baggage cars. This
is significant!  Not all Amtrak stations have baggage facilities!  Make certain that both 
your originating and terminating stations have baggage facilities for the train which will
be transporting both you and your bike.  Otherwise your bike will be at one station and
you at another.
    Amtrak's policy concerning bicycles in passenger cars is changing.  As the National
Railroad Corp. (Amtrak) purchases new or reconditions older passenger cars it is making
provisions for the carriage of bicycles directly in the passenger compartment. Check
with Amtrak.  Some trains on California, Vermont & New York routes already have
limited space for bicycles in the passenger compartments or carriage of unboxed bikes
in baggage cars.
    VIARail Commuter, GO (Ontario, Canada) trains; New York City's MTA trains;
Chicago's commuter trains; and most municipal subway/rapid transit systems permit
unboxed bicycles on their facilities during non rush hours.  A permit  is needed   and
must be obtained before boarding a train.
    Bus travel presents a different problem.  Bus line offices in the US do not stock
bicycle boxes. In Canada you must call the office (5 days before departure) to arrange
for a bike box from Greyhound Administrative Services.  Thus you will have to do one
of the following:
  1.  Obtain a bicycle box from a bike shop;
  2.  Go to Amtrak/VIARail or an airport and obtain a box from those carriers;
  3.  Construct your own box from two or more smaller boxes;
  4.  Put your (unboxed) bike into the baggage compartment when the driver’s back is 
        turned.  Many drivers suddenly disappear with the implication that you should do
        this heinous crime!
    Many local buses (city buses) in the US and Canada now have bike racks on them. 
Use is usually free of charge.
    Ah!  To be back traveling in Africa (Peace Corps ‘66-’69) where bikes are simply 
placed on top of the bus or lashed to the wall of the train’s baggage car.  How simple!
And rarely were the bikes damaged.
For more information check these web sites:
Greyhound US: 
Greyhound Canada:  
Airlines: Use a search engine to find a specific airline.
New York City MTA: 



How to Box Your Bike
    The first time I boxed my bike I did it at home.  I inserted extra cardboard into the 
box to reinforce the long sides of the box.   I double sealed all edges using reinforced 
sealing tape.  I loaded the box into my station wagon and brought it to the terminal the 
day before my departure date.  It took an interminably long time to do all this > 2  hours.
    What a chore!
    Make life simple for yourself.  Pack the box at the terminal.  Allow an extra 45-60 
minutes to pack the box.  I’m down to 15-20 minutes bike into box packing time now!
    Before you start on your cyclotour, take pictures of your bicycle, with and without 
panniers.  Open the panniers and take some pictures of the contents of the panniers. If
any damage occurs in transit you might need these pictures to assert your claim.


The Directions, finally!


Box Preparation
    1. Obtain
        a. Filament packing tape ~2" (~3.2cm) wide.
        b. Cord (you have it in your panniers).
        c. Black permanent felt tipped marker.
    2. Obtain a bicycle box.
    3. Clearly mark all six sides of the bike box.  Use a black permanent marker.  Write
        in big letters and numerals:
            Departure date:
            Train or Flight number:
            Ticket number:
            Your name:
    4. Make the box stand up!
        a. Square the box and tape closed one end.
            Use filament packing tape ~2" (~3.2cm)  wide.
        b. Some folks place a small triangle of cardboard at the closed end of the box to
            minimize bike in the box movement.


Bike Preparation
    Or what You must do to your bike to make it fit into that slim box!
    1. Tools
        a. Hex wrenches for
            1) Brake cables
            2) Stem bolt
            3) New fangled pedals
        b. Cone wrenches for old fangled pedals
        c. A screw driver, flat & phillips, might also be necessary.
        d. Tape or cord for tying up cranks.
    2  Pedals & Cranks
        a. Remove the pedals using a cone wrench; on newer bikes the pedals (cranks)
            are removed using a hex wrench.
        b. Tape or tie one crank (if not removed) to a chain stay.
        c. Put your pedals into a pannier.
    3. Handlebars
        a. Loosen the front brake cables.
        b. Loosen the handlebar stem bolt.
        c. Twist the handlebar stem. Usually you do not have to completely remove the stem.
        d. Turn the handlebars so that they are parallel to the bike's top tube.
        e. Wrap or tie the handlebars to the top tube or front rack.
    4. Tires
        a. If you are travelling by plane, deflate your tires at least 20 psi.  Airplane
            baggage compartments are not pressurized. You might find a flat tire at your
    5. Pack up your tools and put them back into your panniers!


Into the Box the Bike Goes!
    1. Wheel the bike into the bike box. Yippee!
    2. Secure the bike by wedging your sleeping bag and a pannier between the bike and
        the box sides.  Transportation companies officially forbid anything besides the
        bicycle to go into the bike box with the bike.  Heck, your panniers are permanently
        attached to your bike!
        a.  Do not overload the box with heavy panniers.
        b.  Seal the open end of the Bike Box with filament packing tape.
        c. You can place a few extra lengths of packing tape wherever you want on the box!
    3. Bring the filled bike box to the baggage room and obtain a baggage claim check. 
        Keep it with you.  You will not be able to claim your bike without this claim check.
    4. Time needed to disassemble your bike and pack the bike box: = 20-45 minutes.


At your Destination:
    1. Claim your bicycle!
    2. I have to preface this discussion of damage claims with the fact that my bike has 
        never been damaged traveling via Amtrak and only once on a plane trip. Amtrak
        stores bikes in an upright position in its baggage cars. Airlines and bus lines store
        bikes on their side in baggage holds.
    3. Check the bicycle box for possible in transit damage.  If you see any damage to 
        the exterior of the bike box, immediately take a picture of the damage and show
        the damage to the baggage personnel before you open the box.
    4. Open the bike box, check your bike for any damage or missing items.  If damage 
        occurred, immediately show it to the baggage personnel and complete the damage 
        claim form.
    5. Assemble your bike.  I hope you brought the hex wrenches and cone wrench!
    6. After assembling your bike, take a short ride in the terminal to make certain there 
        is no non-visible damage to the gearing, frame, wheels, etc. If you determine that 
        there is some damage, take a picture of the damage and immediately show it to the 
        baggage personnel.  Ask for and complete the damage claim form.
        a.  If your bike was damaged:  Find a local bicycle shop (look in the phone book.) 
        Purchase the part, etc. Copy the receipt and make copies of your completed claim 
        form.  Send a copy of the receipt with the original claim form to the carrier. Mail
        home the original receipt and one copy of the claim form.  It takes 2-6 weeks for
        most airlines, bus lines or Amtrak to begin to settle baggage damage claims so
        simply enjoy your cyclotour.
  7;  No damage!  Hurrah!  Yippee!  Enjoy your cyclotour!


How To Box A Bicycle, Text and Photographs
© Harvey Botzman, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000.
From Cyclotour Guide Books web site: