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Bicycles and other transport

Sometimes there's a need information about bicycles and other transport. The reason can be your bike is damaged and your need to go to the next bigger town to repair it. Or it could be you're in an area which is not what you enjoy.

My bicycle in the bus to Lipu after breaking my handlebars
My bicycle in the bus to Lipu, China (2010)
after breaking my handlebars, here is that story

Maybe you're in time problems. So, yo
u have to search for a safe way to transport your bicycle further on.

But there's also people who do not want to put their bicycles on other transport forms apart of the absolute necessary (like a plane). They're the die-hard cyclist. If you're one of them, stop reading here!

But the great thing about cycling is that you have the choice to get a bus, train or even taxi. Bicycles and other transport forms merge in general quite well.

So, how do you use bicycles and other transport? Let's explore it!

Bicycle on the plane

Bicycle at the Kuala Lumpur airportCan you take a bicycle on a plane? It's a question I get every now and then. The obvious answer is yes, otherwise I (and with me many other cyclists) would never have come that far as we are.

How does it work? Most airports in the world do not make a big fuss when you bring your bike. However, some companies make it difficult for you because of their regulations.

The best way to transport your bicycle is with a bicycle box. A bike box prevents the bike from being damaged, or that is at least the idea. Take the pedals off, turn the handlebars and deflate the tubes and you're ready.

Unfortunately you can't get bicycle boxes at every airport in the world. Amsterdam has them always available (30 euros) but Paris doesn't. In Manchester they didn't bother much as in Bangkok or Hong Kong. Kuala Lumpur can be a problem if you fly Malaysia Airlines (MAS). MAS is very strict with the luggage if you have a bike. They charge me once US $125 extra just for the bike. Airasia charges me RM70 (about US $25).

If you can't get a bike-box, what to do? If you are in a big city you may try your luck at a bicycle shop. Usually they are able to dismantle your bike and put it in a box for free or a small fee. Disadvantage is that you have to take a cab or car out but many airports are anyway seldom available on bicycle.

Another option which I have used in the past is to use a roll of duct tape which I always have with me for all kinds of things. You can pick up some cardboard boxes in supermarkets or on the streets. I usually tape the vulnerable part together and deflate the tubes.

Cycling in Vietnam

Two holes at the rim side in the tire made me think of getting the bus,
fortunately this man was able to fix 2 so I could continue to Ha Tinh, 2011

That's enough to preserve your bike. Parts that can be easily damaged as lights, dynamos etc can be easy taken off. It's an easy and cheap option and works very well.

Your bicycle in the bus

Bicycles and other transport do merge, I wrote earlier. This is especially true for busses and trains. In Africa and Asia it's easy to put your bike on the bus.

Europe is slightly different. Here you may find bike-buses. Usually these are tour companies that bring a group to a specific destination but they take individual travelers too. They have a trailer special for bicycles, I've done that several times and it works excellent.

bicycle on the roof of the bus
Bicycle on the roof of the bus in Laos

What to do with your bike on the bus? If possible, put the bike inside the bus in the cargo area. This is usually no problem with the new modern busses in Thailand, China or Malaysia.

If you are in poorer areas and want to use a bus, it has to be on top of it. Obviously, the risks are higher for any damage but general it will work out fine. In general I prefer to put the bike myself on the bus then to rely on the drivers and cadies. The drivers usually have ropes available.

On the boat from Satun to Langkawi
On the boat from Satun to Langkawi

Bicycle in the train

Bicycles and trains can be good friends. In the Netherlands trains have special compartments for bicycles. Other countries might lack this service.

Europe is anyway not too bus and train friendly for cyclists. And it can be an expensive exercise. If you have to use the train in Europe, you may even consider taking a plane.

In Asia it's much easier. Trains in China, Turkey, Thailand and Malaysia take your bike without much extra costs. I don't have the experience in India and Indonesia so I can't comment on it.

Bicycle on the boat

You can usually bring your bicycle on boats and ferries. In some cases it's free but typically you are supposed to pay a small fee, 10-15% of the ferry price is what I found.

The great thing about cycling is that you have bicycles and other transport both available.

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