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-   -   Air freight - tips on crating the bike as small as possible (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/trip-transport/air-freight-tips-crating-bike-24972)

maria41 6 Jan 2007 15:41

Air freight - tips on crating the bike as small as possible
I'm after tips to reduce the size of the bikes as I will be charged by volume.
We have 2 BMW F650GS. We would be able to ride to the packing company and pack the bikes ourselves at the packing company warehouse. Quite few companies allow this around Heathrow.

If we remove the front wheels, should I just rest the bike on its bash plate / forks or should I use some piece of wood or something else?
Apart from removing the front wheel, lights, turning the handle bar, removing fairing, any other suggestions?

If you have done this before and have few pictures can you put it here?
Any advice welcome!


Joe C90 6 Jan 2007 16:49

would it be feasible to make a small triangular frame, that uses the front axle bolt, and goes vertically down to the floor, to support the front forks, to take some weight and would stop the bike moving during transport. 3"x2" timber is good stuff!

Brookesy 6 Jan 2007 19:28

I seem to remember Lois Pryce had he same problem getting to Alaska an she took the forks off and ot it below 1m3.

She did have quite a few pics on her website that have now gone, I guess because she wants to sell more books so you could look out for her book and checkout the pics then if you can wait a couple of months for it to be published.

outthere 6 Jan 2007 22:16

Hi Brian here, Yes ive done the pull down to get smaller DR650.I took both wheels off and slid out the fork tubes,i got a crate (and tie-downs) from the local bike shop and cut that to suit ,then put all the gear around the bike, bought a roll of shrink wrap that i used to hold it all together.The bike sat neatly on the sump guard.Final size including crate -1.8mtr x1.1mtr x 0.750mtr.Have fun regards Brian B

maria41 7 Jan 2007 13:59


Originally Posted by outthere
Final size including crate -1.8mtr x1.1mtr x 0.750mtr.Have fun regards Brian B

Wow that's impressive!
By "Sump guard" do you mean the bash plate? Is there no risk of damages to the engine by resting bike on that?

outthere 8 Jan 2007 03:27

yes ,bash plate and no i see no reason for it to harm anything,think of all the hits it gets in general riding ,outback.Ill be in Joburg in a week ,ill post more info and photos if u want.regards Brian B

KenKeller 8 Jan 2007 15:01

Beware striving for miniscule volume if weight also a factor.
Hi Maria,
I did much the same as you: riding to shipper's and packaging the bike into my pre-built crate on their site.

I took the obvious steps to reduce volume: remove front wheel, unbolt handlebars and rotate 90º, removed panniers - things you've already thought of.

My shipper's charges were based on volume and on weight, whichever was the greater.

When it came to calculating the shipping charge, it turned out that the weight-based charge was slightly greater than the volumetric-based charge, so I ultimately paid based on the actual weight of the bike and crate, not on its packaged volume.

So, for those of you using a shipper that uses a similar charging strategy, don't work yourself into a lather trying to squeeze your bike into the tiniest box imaginable; if actual weight enters the equation, then there will be a minimum volume, beyond which there's no gain in attempting to go.

Incidentally, I rested the front forks on the base of the crate, with a block of wood screwed to the base in front of the forks to prevent them sliding forward.

If thinking of using the front axle to take some of the weight, ensure that it's bearing the weight as close to the forks as possible (at positions similar to where the wheel bearings would contact the axle); don't place the support under the axle near the centre—this would be more likely to cause the axle to bend if the crate were dropped or handled roughly.

Best of luck,

Cameron 9 Jan 2007 21:29

Most air freight rates are weight based, unless it is high volume low weight goods.
I always visit the Actual airline freight office and wharehouse that the bike will be flying with, and meet with the people that load the aircraft. I do my own dangerous goods form and arrange all my own shipping plans.
This lets you find out what they "really want, and need you to do", and lets them see whose "goods" they are dealing with.
This aproach has allowed me to fly my bike without crating or removing anything and only disconnecting the battery and still leaving a few litres of fuel for the ride away from the airport at the other end, for very reasonable rates.
A little research into which Airports are "freight friendly"(not all major airports are) at both ends will also save time and money.Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to fly from, or to, a neighboring country.
Also check or ask on the HUBB for up to date Customs clearence procedures for the country you will be arriving in. This will save you alot of headaches.

Cameron 9 Jan 2007 21:59

Also... Air freight is a commodity and rates vary greatly. You can shop around at the airfreight terminals, as most airlines have offices there.
Some Airlines are better than others and are better set up and more familiar with flying bikes, for example Lufthansa has special pallets just for motorcycles. Good luck

Stephano 15 Jan 2007 18:07


Originally Posted by maria41
I'm after tips to reduce the size of the bikes as I will be charged by volume. Any advice welcome!

Maria, There is a page on crating here: http://www.ultimatejourney.com/Chap2.html As well as a lot of other useful information on the rest of the site. Stephan

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