Mailing A Bicycle In The Publish

by jpc_touring-bicycle

Transport a bicycle from one nation to a different (or from one area/state to a different) is a typical incidence for any self-supported bicycle traveler. In my 13+ years of self-supported bicycle touring, I’ve transported my bicycle by both airplane or practice on all however one in every of my long-distance excursions. However by no means, till not too long ago a minimum of, had I despatched my bicycle from one nation to a different by means of the put up.

On this article I’ll clarify why I not too long ago determined to ship my costly touring bicycle from Poland to South Africa (relatively than have it transported with me on my airplane – which is the standard approach to ship a motorbike) and I’ll share with you the outcomes of this lengthy, unusual and sophisticated transaction. I’ll even share some ideas with you that you should utilize sooner or later that can assist you determine how you can transport your bicycle from one location to a different with minimal effort or expense.

The Normal Method: Taking Your Bicycle On The Aircraft

The everyday strategy when flying a bicycle from one nation to a different is to take the bicycle with you on the airplane.

The foundations and rules for flying with a bicycle range from airline to airline, however this normally entails bringing the bicycle to the airport with you once you verify in to your flight. The bicycle normally needs to be boxed up in some kind of cardboard bike field or packaged in knowledgeable bicycle service. Some airways don’t require that the bicycle be packaged up in any manner (though they could ask that you just take away the pedals and switch the handlebars to the facet). Different airways merely ask that the bicycle be wrapped in some kind of plastic.

On the airport you’ll be advised that the bicycle both flies without spending a dime (which once more relies on the airline and the foundations that that firm has for flying with a motorbike) or that the bicycle could be shipped along with your common checked baggage for an extra charge.

As soon as your bike is checked in on the airport, you then board your flight as you usually would and decide up the bicycle once more at your vacation spot (typically receiving it as a part of your regular baggage. Different occasions it needs to be picked up in a particular sporting items or over-sized baggage space).

With the bicycle again in your possession, you stroll although customs (explaining that the bicycle is yours and that you don’t have any intention of promoting it if you are within the nation) after which enter your vacation spot nation, the place you then pull the bicycle out of its transport field and put it again collectively.

Why I Determined To Mail My Bicycle As an alternative Of Taking It With Me On The Airplane

After bicycle touring in Europe for 10 entire months, I made a decision to journey to South Africa (with my bicycle in tow) for 3 months of warm-weather biking in Africa’s southern-most nation. After all, I wanted to deliver my bicycle with me.

I booked a flight with Lufthansa Airways (checking the airline’s web site earlier than buying my ticket to make sure that bicycles had been certainly allowed on their flights for an extra charge of $150 USD per course).

Per week earlier than my flight, I did because the Lufthansa web site advisable and referred to as the airline to allow them to know that I might be flying with a bicycle (that is to make sure that they’ve sufficient area on the flight to your bike). Once I referred to as, the lady knowledgeable me that “Sure, will probably be $150 USD for the bicycle to fly with me.” She put me on maintain and advised me she was going to make an observation within the system that I might be flying with a bicycle. A couple of minutes later she got here again on the road.

“Darren, now we have an issue.”

Because it seems, I used to be taking three separate flights with Lufthansa to get from my present location in Poznan, Poland to my last Lufthansa vacation spot in Johannesburg, South Africa. My first flight was from Poznan, Poland to Munich, Germany. The second flight took me from Munich to Frankfurt. And my last flight took me from Frankfurt, Germany to Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Flying along with your bicycle on the final two flights isn’t an issue,” the lady on the airline advised me. “The issue is along with your flight from Poznan.”

She went on to clarify that my flight from Poznan was on a small airplane that (the pc mentioned) didn’t have the room for bicycle transport.

“Are you positive you wish to journey along with your bicycle?” the lady requested me.

I defined that the bicycle was the primary purpose I used to be going to South Africa and that the bicycle MUST journey with me.

She went on to clarify that so far as she may inform, there was no manner the corporate would let me fly with my bicycle on the airplane.

I used to be shocked. I had lower than per week earlier than my flight to South Africa and now the airline I booked my ticket with was telling me  they wouldn’t let me deliver my bicycle on the airplane. What was I going to do?

Then I remembered that I’ve a really particular bicycle – a bicycle outfitted with S&S couplers.

S&S couplers can help you cut up a bicycle in half when it’s not in use and transport it in a field that is the same as the utmost dimensions allowed by most airways as common checked baggage. I had not too long ago flown from Switzerland to Turkey with my bicycle cut up aside like this and hadn’t had any issues.

Bicycle packaged with S&Scouplers

I defined my bicycle’s distinctive traits to the lady at Lufthansa, however she didn’t appear satisfied. She continued, “So long as it’s a bicycle, we’re nonetheless going to cost you $150 USD. And there nonetheless might not be room for the bicycle. I counsel you discover one other approach to get your bicycle to South Africa.”

Not figuring out what else to do, I thanked the lady for her time and hung up.

“Rattling it,” I believed to myself. “I have to discover a approach to get my bicycle to South Africa… and I have to do it quick!”

My first thought was that I might merely package deal the bicycle up in the identical manner I had achieved on my current flight to Turkey, making the most of my bicycle’s S&S couplers to separate the bicycle in half after which lower a cardboard field all the way down to the smallest dimension attainable, so the airline would haven’t any selection however to fly my bicycle as commonplace checked baggage.

There was just one downside. I would want to search out a big cardboard field that I may use to chop up and create the container that my bicycle can be transported in.

I had already collected a free cardboard bike field from one of many native bicycle shops in Poznan, Poland a number of weeks earlier and my first thought was to chop that field all the way down to dimension and use it for transporting my bicycle. However I had some fears about doing that.


To begin with, I used to be afraid that transporting my bicycle (in a number of items) inside a fragile cardboard field that had been pieced along with glue and tape and taking it on 4 separate flights (3 to get to South Africa and 1 extra to get me from Johannesburg to Cape City, South Africa (my last vacation spot)), the field may not survive the journey. If the cardboard field had been to interrupt open at any level alongside the way in which, I’d absolutely lose half or all of my very invaluable bicycle. My bicycle had arrived safely in Turkey once I transported it this fashion a number of months earlier, however simply barely – and that was on a continuous flight with none layovers,  connections or transfers. I used to be fearful that my patched up bicycle field merely wouldn’t survive the 4 long-distance flights and a number of stops alongside the way in which.

My different concern was that I might lower up the bicycle field I already had in my possession, that the patch-worked bike field wouldn’t work out for no matter purpose, after which I might now not have the standard bike field I as soon as needed to transport my bicycle in. In different phrases, I didn’t wish to damage a wonderfully good bike field with out having a minimum of one other bike field available as a backup – in case my pieced collectively bike field didn’t pan out.

Due to this fact, the following step was apparent. I might merely return to the bike store in Poznan the place I acquired the primary bike field and ask for an additional field to make use of as a backup.

However once I acquired to the bike store and requested for an additional field, they knowledgeable me that they didn’t have any extra. I went to a few different bicycle retailers within the Poznan space and so they all advised me the identical factor. There have been no bicycle bins wherever within the metropolis! I had the one one. (This was in February (the lifeless of winter), so the bike retailers weren’t but within the technique of ordering new bikes… and didn’t have a pile of motorbike bins mendacity round, like they could in the course of the spring, summer season and fall).

Now that I knew I had the one and solely bike field in Poznan, I actually didn’t wish to lower up the field. If I made a decision that delivery the bicycle to South Africa was certainly a greater choice than taking the bike with me on the airplane, I would want that bike field to stay in tact. I couldn’t lower it up!

The following logical step was to learn the way a lot it may cost a little to truly mail my bicycle from Poznan, Poland to Cape City, South Africa (the beginning location for my self-supported bicycle tour throughout South Africa). The excellent news was that the put up workplace was only a two-minute stroll away from the place I used to be staying in Poznan. The unhealthy information was that I solely knew just a few phrases of Polish and nobody on the put up workplace spoke English.

Nonetheless, I went to the put up workplace ready. I used Google Translate to write down just a few quick phrases of Polish on a bit of paper. The paper learn:

Can I mail a bicycle to South Africa?
Moge wyslac na rowerze do Afryki Poludniowej?

In that case, how a lot does it value?
Jesli tak, to ile to kosztuje?

When will it get there?
Kiedy to sie tam dostac?

With out saying a phrase, I handed the lady behind the counter my ready piece of paper. She placed on her studying glasses and spent just a few moments scrolling over the doc earlier than calling to a close-by co-worker.

The 2 postal employees spoke for a second after which mentioned to me in Polish, “Sure, you possibly can mail your bicycle to South Africa. What metropolis?”

“Cape City.” I advised them, “Postal code 8001.”

The ladies opened up a big guide they’d saved beneath the workplace’s fundamental desk and turned by means of a number of hundred pages earlier than stopping on a web page that appeared to show the costs and rules relating to packages despatched to South Africa.

After wanting by means of the pages for a second, the lady requested me (once more in Polish), “Does the bicycle weigh lower than 20 kilograms?”

Truthfully, I had no thought how a lot my bicycle weighed (particularly once I factored within the further weight of the entrance and rear racks, water bottles and cages, fenders and the bike field itself). I advised the lady “Sure, it weighs lower than 20 kilograms.”

She then pulled out a bit of paper and wrote down “680 ZL” – the worth for mailing the bicycle. I did a fast conversion in my head. That was about $213 USD – solely $43 greater than it could value me to move the bicycle with me on my flights to Cape City ($150 USD for the primary 3 flights with Lufthansa and $30 extra for my one-way flight from Johannesburg to Cape City with South African Airways).

Lastly, I pointed to the third query on my piece of paper and requested once more, “When will the bicycle get there?”

She appeared on the giant guide she had simply pulled from her desk moments earlier than and advised me, “Two to 4 days.”

I didn’t consider that for a second, however I thanked the lady and mentioned “Goodbye!”

Again at my house I attempted to resolve what to do. The way in which I noticed it, I had three choices.

1. I may present up on the airport on the day of my flight with my bicycle packaged in a cardboard field (ignoring what the lady on the telephone at Lufthansa had advised me about not with the ability to fly with my bicycle) and simply hope that the folks on the airport would be capable of determine a approach to get the bike on the airplane. In the event that they mentioned the bike couldn’t fly with me, nonetheless, I might be in deep trouble.

2. I may lower up the one and solely bike field in Poznan, Poland and attempt to piece collectively a smaller bike field to move my bicycle in, as I had achieved just some months beforehand on my flight from Switzerland to Turkey. However I used to be fearful that the pieced collectively bike field may not survive 4 long-distance flights… and if the field fell aside in transport my bicycle tour in South Africa can be completely ruined.

3. My third choice was the most secure selection (however nonetheless terribly dangerous in its personal distinctive manner) and the costliest – I may mail my bicycle from Poznan, Poland to Cape City, South Africa and hope that the bicycle would really present up in time for me to make use of it.

In the long run, I made a decision to ship my bicycle within the put up.



I packaged my bicycle up contained in the one and solely cardboard bike field in all of Poznan after which walked it again over to the close by put up workplace. The employees behind the counter appeared stunned to see me. I don’t assume they believed I used to be critical about mailing my bicycle to South Africa.

I requested about insuring the bicycle (my bicycle is price about $5,000 USD retail), however they shortly knowledgeable me that I couldn’t insure the bike. If I mailed it with them, there was an opportunity I’d by no means see it once more… and there can be nothing I may do about it later. It wasn’t an excellent scenario, however I felt it was nonetheless your best option to make.

I handed over the bicycle and it was placed on a scale. It was chubby! 21.5 kilograms.

“Oh no!” I believed to myself. “Now what am I going to do?”

I may open the field and attempt to take away an merchandise or two, however the man on the put up workplace was sympathetic. On the paperwork for my bicycle, he listed the load of the bike as precisely 20 kilograms.

Thanking the person in my easiest Polish, I paid 680 Zloty for the supply of my bicycle after which crossed my fingers, hoping that I might see my bike once more as soon as I arrived in Cape City, South Africa.

What Occurred To My Bicycle After I Mailed It In The Publish?

After mailing my bicycle with the Polish Publish Workplace, I boarded my Lufthansa flight simply two days later.

Touring to the airport with out my bicycle in tow felt nice. It was a lot simpler to take the bus to the airport carrying only a small backpack and a medium-sized cardboard field containing all my different worldly possessions (garments, tenting gear, toiletries, bike instruments, and many others).

Checking in on the airport was a breeze as effectively. I didn’t need to pay any further charges or clarify to the airport officers that I had a bicycle with me. I simply checked in like all the opposite passengers, boarded my flight and shortly made my approach to Munich, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, and ultimately, Cape City.

I had arrived in South Africa (which was nice), however based on the monitoring quantity I had been given by the Polish Publish, my bicycle was nonetheless in Poland.

Fortunately, I nonetheless had time to attend.

You see, I wasn’t planning to start my self-supported bicycle tour the second I arrived in Cape City. As an alternative, I had signed up for a two-week mountain bike tour with an organization referred to as African Bikers. The tour would begin simply two days after I arrived in South Africa and the corporate can be offering me with a full-suspension mountain bike to make use of at some stage in the tour. After that, I deliberate to return to Cape City (the place my bicycle would hopefully be ready for me) and I might stay within the metropolis for roughly two weeks earlier than I might start my self-supported bicycle trip throughout South Africa.

This meant that I had as many as 4 weeks for my bicycle to reach in Cape City after mailing it from Poznan, Poland. So I wasn’t fearful concerning the bicycle not having left Poland as soon as I arrived in South Africa. I might, nonetheless, be fearful if the bike had not made it to South Africa by the point my tour with African Bikers was over.

I had the bicycle despatched to the African Bikers workplace in Cape City, so it was to my delight when on the final day of the guided mountain bike tour I obtained phrase from Doreen within the African Bikers workplace that my bicycle had arrived in Cape City and that when I acquired again to town just a few days later I would want to go and decide it up from the customs workplace in an space of city often known as Epping.

I felt relieved figuring out that my bicycle had made its manner all the way in which from Poznan, Poland to Cape City, South Africa. However I used to be nonetheless a little bit fearful now that my bicycle was being held by customs officers and had not been delivered straight to the African Bikers workplace as I had requested.

I’ve needed to cope with customs officers in different nations when sending and receiving packages and I do know that interactions with these folks can typically be an actual nightmare.

In some nations it’s a must to pay a customs or import tax for any gadgets you obtain within the put up. The tax is usually based mostly on a proportion of the whole worth of the merchandise bought/delivered. For instance: If I purchased my bicycle in Poland for $5,000 USD and had it shipped to me in South Africa, the customs officers would ask for the bill proving that I had paid for the bicycle. They could then cost me a customs/import charge of 17% of the whole worth of the bike (the share will range from nation to nation). This could imply that I might have paid $5,000 USD for the bicycle, $213 USD to ship the bicycle from Poland to South Africa and $850 USD extra in customs/import taxes. The entire value of getting the bike to South Africa would subsequently be in extra of $6,000 USD.

I used to be sincerely hoping that once I went to choose up my bicycle in customs, there can be no customs/import tax added to the price of delivery my bicycle to South Africa.

I wasn’t positive the place the customs workplace in Cape City was positioned, so I used to be extraordinarily grateful when Anthony (the motive force from the African Bikers mountain bike tour) supplied to drive me to the customs workplace on his break day from work. He picked me up at my hostel in Cape City and drove me (together with his girlfriend, Martha) in his personal automotive to the place my bicycle was being held at a big industrial complicated on the far facet of city.

As I stood in line, ready for my flip, I knew that the following 5 minutes can be essential. I might both get my bicycle again with little or no issues, or I’d be combating my manner out of paying some ridiculously excessive customs/import charges.

Once I was referred to as as much as the counter I handed the heavy set girl on the desk my paperwork and he or she ran right into a again room to retrieve my bicycle. Just a few moments later I may hear her dragging my boxed-up bicycle throughout the ground of the shop room.

With my bicycle field now in view, the lady requested for the bicycle’s bill.

I advised her I didn’t have an bill, however that I did have the paper exhibiting that I had mailed the bicycle to myself from Poznan, Poland. She went and grabbed a uniformed customs officer and with them collectively I defined all the scenario. I advised them how Lufthansa mentioned I couldn’t fly my bicycle with me on the airplane, so I had shipped it to South Africa as an alternative. I advised them I used to be not going to promote the bicycle, however that I used to be going to trip it throughout South Africa for the following two months after which fly it again to Poland with me on the finish of my keep. I even had footage of me driving the bicycle saved on my iPod, simply in case they required extra proof that the bicycle was mine, however I by no means wanted to point out them the photographs.

In the long run, I paid 31 Rand (about $3.50 USD) in processing charges, signed a single doc, and the bicycle was mine. I almost jumped for pleasure!

Anthony helped me carry the bike field out to his automotive. We unloaded the bicycle there (as a result of the field was too giant to suit inside his automobile), after which we returned to my hostel, the place I later put the bicycle again collectively and ready it for its two-month lengthy journey throughout the nation of South Africa.

Bicycle in the trunk of a car

Abstract: Mailing Your Bicycle To A Overseas Nation Is An Choice

In the long run, delivery my bicycle turned out to be a comparatively simple strategy to transporting it to a different nation. Mailing the bicycle within the put up did value a little bit greater than merely taking it with me on the airplane, and it definitely took longer to reach at my last vacation spot (it took about 2.5 weeks to get from Poznan, Poland to Cape City, South Africa), however it arrived safely and I used to be capable of keep away from any extraneous import/customs charges upon supply of the bike.

This was the primary time in my life I’ve ever mailed a bicycle from one nation to a different… and if I ever needed to do it once more, I will surely really feel higher doing so now that I’ve a little bit expertise beneath my belt. Nonetheless, I’ll proceed to attempt to deliver the bicycle with me on the airplane on most of my future travels (together with my flight again to Poland on the finish of my travels right here in South Africa).

The one main lesson I discovered from this expertise is that mailing your bike takes time. If you happen to plan to mail your bicycle (relatively than take it with you on the airplane/practice), you should definitely schedule as many as 4 weeks or extra for the bicycle to reach. On high of that, you may wish to create a again up plan (for both shopping for or renting one other bicycle), simply in case your bicycle by no means arrives.

In case you have any questions on flying along with your bicycle, sending your bicycle within the put up, customs or import charges, and many others… go away a remark beneath. I’m comfortable to reply any questions you might need.


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