First time flying overseas with your bicycle?

I just received the following query from the Netherlands about a chap who is about to fly with his bicycle for the first time and thought it best to share my opinion with him, and you. Here is our conversation with his permission, verbatim, about international bike travel. It’s only a pleasure. Oh and just look at the lovely picture from Schipol Airport above. When last have you been on a KLM flight. Now Covid be gone…


Hi, please use this number to phone me +31 62 791-xxxx. I would like to courier my mountain bike from South Africa to The Netherlands. Do you offer such services. If not would you kindly offer suggestions? Thank you, Seroba.


BC: Hi Seroba. Are you flying there? Or sending the bike alone? What kind of bike? Cheers, Nico.


Yes I am flying there. You reckon I travel with it on the day I fly? It is a mountain bike (bicycle).


BC: Hi Seroba. I tried calling on the Netherlands number but no answer.

  1. From where to where are you flying?
  2. And bringing it back again?
  3. And when?

If you are flying it might be easier just taking it on as extra luggage. If we courier it separately there are three things to keep in mind: longer time-frame, more admin/logistics, possibly paying import/export duties/vat refunds depending on destination. I will share with you my own experience:

I have flown from SA to France and again to London and back before for separate races using a bikesafe box. It weighs about 13kg before putting anything inside, so you could easily get to 20-30kgs once fully loaded with MTB and gear. Don’t go over that because then there will be extra charges at the airport, and best to check with them beforehand anyway.

Also, even with the bikesafe, which is one of the strongest / best available (I love mine) — a friend of mine on the same trip back from France also used one, but the airline put it down sideways with other luggage on top and still managed to crack his road bike fork.

So for my last trip (flying in to Belgium and back out from Greece) I simply used a standard cardboard bicycle box as you would get from any bike shop and put on many fragile and this side up stickers. It weighs almost nothing in comparison, so there are no additional charges; the stickers clearly instruct the guys what to do; and with a bit of luck everything worked out fine. Also, it is a lot lighter to move around the airport and travel with up and down escalators and stairs and with public transport…

For myself, if I am flying to and event, in future I would stick to using a standard cardboard bike box — cheapest, lightest, easiest, no overweight charges. Happy to use my bikesafe whenever weight is not an issue. Hopes this answers your question. Feel free to ask again. Ps, are you happy if I post this Q&A on my website? I am sure it might help others as well.


Hi Nico, Apologies I couldn’t take your call. I was in a meeting. Your reply is extremely helpful! I have recently started biking and have not had to travel abroad with my bike. You have shed some light on my woes. I will certainly consider using the bicycle box the day I fly out. Yes please post this Q&A, thanks again! Kind regards, Seroba.

And there you have it. Have fun on your next international cycling excursion 🙂

Leave a Reply