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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to New Zealand soon and, of course, I want to bicycle tour there. But the airline's fee for bikes is outrageous. Just for the SF to LA leg its $150 each way - and Qantas probably charges too. So I'm thinking about getting a Bike Friday. I don't want to rent because I hope the money I save in fees will eventually pay for the bike.

So my question is: do folding bikes really escape the airline fees? I noticed that some airlines charge for bikes and others for oversize baggage. The photo I found of the case looks larger than a typical suitcase. Is the travel bag better?

Got any experience or heard any stories?

Thanks.
 

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No idea on the bike fees, but wondering if you are going to the north island or south island? What time of the year are you going? How liong are you going for.

I've been to the south island. Amazing stuff !

My only thoughts:
- If by "soon" you mean in the next couple of months, it is going to be winter there. I was there in their early summer (early December) and even that was cold.

- The south island roads I wouldn't call bike friendly. Most of their roads had zero shoulder to ride on. It was two lanes, no shoulder, and then a 2-3 inch drop into dirt. The only saving grace was very little traffic except in the towns, but some of the mountain roads would be hairy with passign traffic with little room for error. Much different driving then the US. They also drive on the other side of the road so your riding experience will be different.

- By tour I don't know if you mean town to town, or want to ride around the town you are in. On the south island most of the towns are a good 2-3 hours drive away from each other by car. In between is a whole lot of beautiful nothingness (in a good way).

When my wife and I went we rented a little mini-RV and stayed at the Holiday Parks (campgrounds) and just rented whatever we wanted to do (bikes, kayaks, etc.)

There is so much to do there that we rented bikes just once in Queenstown and we were there for 3 weeks. Depending what you are planning to do, renting a bike when you want it might be the way to go vs. taking one (even a bike Friday) and dragging it along with you where ever you go. I'm not trying to pursuad you to not bike when you are there, just wondering if you want to lug a bike around when NZ is pretty much an out door enthusiasts playground.
 

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I have a Ritchey Break-Away - a full size coupled bike that fits into a case that is pretty much "airline legal." I've flown with it several times without even a question from airline counter personnel about what's in the bag. I'd prefer a full-sized coupled bike over a Bike Friday...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the info. I'm going in early June (that's when my factory is shutting down temporarily -- and the airfare was very cheap), which is the end of their fall. I plan to stay as far north as possible, where the guide books say the temperature is mild (Auckland average low = 50 and high=57). I hear up north there's the Hibiscus Coast and palm trees, so it couldn't be too cold. I hope.

My idea is to take buses to interesting spots and then credit-card tour around for 2 or 3 days, nothing big. There seems to be lots of lodging options and it will be off season so I don't think finding a place will be difficult. I'll bring along a bivy sack just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's a thought. I saw a break-away frame for sale in one of the catalogs the online shops put out. By "in the bag" do you mean a travel bag?
 

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Boobies!
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The other choice is the S&S coupled bikes, these actually break down & fit in a hardshell case that meets airline requirements. There's a list on the site of all the makers that are authorized to use the coupler system.

On my last tour, several folks had S&S coupled Commotions Espresso Co-Pilots--no charge USA to Europe, another couple were riding a tandem, also S&S coupled into two cases and no extra baggage charge.

Frames (steel or titanium) often can be retrofitted--although the prices are edging up for this. One guy I've been looking at--Bilenky--charges $460 for the conversion (no repaint) and the hardshell case runs a couple of hundred.

A standard joke is justifying the cost of a retrofit as being so close to the cost of excess baggage as to make it a wash after two trips. There's a site here that lists excess baggage charges for most airlines.

The advantage of S&S over the Ritchey Breakaway is that the case for the Breakaway is actually slightly too large for the airline maximum, so if they measure you may get charged, although lots of folks on this board have never been dinged for extra baggage.

If you are serious about smaller wheels, I thought the Airnimal Chameleon that someone else brought was pretty cool. Beam frame and top quality equipment. It looks small, but you can get a pretty good fit on it.

The nice thing about the small wheel folder choice is that you can fold and carry--so if you are planning train + ride, boat + ride, or even light plane, you don't need to pack it into a case to go...

Cheers,
Dean
 

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I used to own a Bike Friday and did a trip in 2004. I wasn't charged any fees for the bike case. Of course now you're charged for any type of luggage but the cost isn't nearly as bad as that $150 fee.
 

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I have a bike Friday. I've only flown with it about 4-5 times, including a trip to NZ. I've never been charged or even asked what it is. It's just a suitcase that meets the size and weight requirements. YMMV. Oh, and a heck of a nice riding bike too.
 

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I fly with my S&S about 5 times a year and have never been charged
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I bought a clown bike....I mean, a Bike Friday Pocket Companion. I'll let you know how it rides/tours.
 
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