How to Get Your Bike to Bali
Or... rent a great bike there!
Traveling with your bike opens up the world, but it seems to make some people needlessly twitchy. This is all much less complicated than it sounds, we've been doing this for many years, and we are here to take extra good care of you.
Shortest version: Call your local bike shop and make an appointment well before departure day to get your bike packed for taking on an airplane. This will usually cost $100 - $150. That's it -- you are ready to fly! Our pro mechanics will be waiting in Bali to help get your bike all set-up to ride. We can repack it for the trip home too.
NEVER call the airline to ask about bringing your bike -- just show up at the airport, relax, and smile. Assume the airline will charge you about $150 each way to transport your bike and you'll be pleasantly surprised if they charge you less.
If you prefer, you can rent a bike in Bali.
If you want to rent a road bike, hybrid or e-bike please email our rental crew at email@example.com to make arrangements. Be SURE to let the rental folks know know that you are with Glen's Bike Bali ride. (They are telling outsiders that all the rental bikes are sold out... because they are saving them all for us!)
Should You Bring Your Own Bike or Rent One in Bali?
The roads in Bali are fully paved -- a road bike, hybrid, tandem, mountain bike, gravel bike, or recumbent is the right way to go. If you're riding a true mountain bike you may wish to temporarily replace the giant knobby tires with skinnier smooth ones -- your call. We'll be skipping the big hills, but I would still recommend a bike with gears; not a single-speed or fixie.
RENTING A ROAD BIKE IN BALI
• No packing and unpacking your bike.
• No fees to take your bike on the plane.
• No worries about getting your bike to and from the airport.
• No matter how great the bike is that you rent, it's still not your bike.
• Quality road bikes in Bali are in very limited supply -- reserve now or risk getting shut out.
• You have to pay for rental.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE
• Hey, your bike is your bike -- expensive, cheap, whatever, you know it, it fits you. It feels great to ride your own
bike far from home. (Your bike likes to go on vacation too!)
• You know exactly what bike you'll be riding in Bali.
• If you prefer a bike that is an unusual style (tandem, recumbent...) it's better to bring your own.
• Save the cost of bike rental.
• Figure $300 total round trip to take your bike on the plane. Could be less -- details below.
• Your bike needs to be properly packed in a box or bike case for travel. We can help!
Here are more details on those two choices -- rent a bike or bring your own?
Renting a Bike
Renting a top-quality road bike will cost you about $150 - $350 for the entire trip. (The range in prices has to do with which bike you pick and the latest currency exchange rates).
WARNING: Please be aware that Bali is not a large place, and there are a limited number of quality road bikes for rent. Don't wait until the last-minute to make a bike rental reservation.
Before you reserve a rental bike you need to know your bicycle frame size, which for road bikes is measured in centimeters (cm). For example I ride a 55 cm bike. If you're not sure about your frame size, stop by your friendly local bike shop and ask them if they would please measure your frame size. (This would be an excellent time to support your local shop by buying some spare inner tubes or other bike accessories).
Just click here to make all the arrangements to rent a bike. We like this company a lot, but this transaction is between them and you -- we do not profit in any way from bike rental. Your rental bike will be waiting for you at the hotel in Bali where we start our trip, and you can just leave it at the last hotel before you head home.
Pedals on Rental Bikes
Rental bikes come with standard flat pedals ONLY. If you prefer riding with your favorite clip-in pedals that's great, but be SURE to bring your own pedals with you -- just toss them in a ZipLock bag and put them in your luggage. (And be double-extra careful that you bring the right shoes that match your pedals. On every trip someone shows up with the wrong shoes. Make sure that person is not you!)
If you need help getting the clip-in pedals off your own bike before you leave home, just stop by your local bike shop. Our mechanics in Bali can help put them on your rental bike. Don't forget to retrieve your pedals when you leave Bali.
Bringing Your Own Bike
In just a second we'll tell you how to pack your bike for travel, but first here's some great advice, paraphrased from my pal Bill McCready. Bill owns Santana, which makes the best tandems in the world, and is an expert on flying with bicycles.
Never (never, never, NEVER!) call the airline and ask about bringing your bike on the plane.
Did we say Never?
There is nothing wrong or illegal about bringing your bike on the plane and I do it all the time, but if you call the airline five times and ask about the rules and fees you'll get seven different answers and they're probably all wrong.
Why annoy yourself waiting on hold with the airlines just so someone can give you bad information? (I had one airline agent swear that the maximum allowable size for my boxed bike was 250 cubic inches. I pointed out that 250 cubic inches is about the size of a large pocketbook, and they gave up.)
When you buy your plane ticket do NOT pay in advance to bring your bike on the plane. The best thing to do is just show up on departure day at the airline check-in counter with your boxed bike... and smile. That smile is important -- remember that people yell at the airline staff all day long; the folks working the check-in counter will really appreciate your good attitude, and it might save you some money too! No matter what the official rules state, the person working the check-in desk has a lot of flexibility on how much you get charged.
If they charge you about $150, that's fine -- it IS the standard fee for bringing a bike on a plane, and you expected it. You pay for it with your credit card on the spot. (You pay for the return trip in Bali on departure day).
If they charge you less than $150, well, that's a bonus!
Not uncommon is what happened to me last time -- the airline check-in agent saw my boxed bike and didn't know what to do. So they called a manager, who took one look and called another manager. They discussed my bike box quite a bit among themselves while I kept smiling, and in the end they decided that it was all too much to think about, so they didn't charge me at all. Be prepared to possibly spend extra time at the check-in counter while they figure all this out. Stay relaxed and pleasant and you'll be fine.
This is often smoother leaving Bali -- a lot of people visit with their surfboards*, so large checked-in luggage doesn't surprise the crew at the Bali airport.
I've been doing this for many years, and I've never heard of any airline refusing to take a bike. (Bill has been known to check-in with seven tandem bicycles in special cases, all at once! Since Bill is wise and experienced he never calls the airlines in advance to ask about bringing bikes onboard.)
When you arrive in Bali, your bike will probably not be on the luggage belt. Look for it in the Oversize Luggage area (next to the surfboards!)
Insuring Your Bike
If you have homeowners insurance or apartment renters insurance, you might want to check in with your agent -- your bike is often covered under that policy, even if you are far away from home. If you have a super-expensive bike, ask if it is covered -- you may need to list it separately on your policy.
We recommend that you grab your phone and take some photos of your bike, including the different components -- derailleurs, wheels, pedals... In the unlikely event of a claim those photos often work just as well as receipts.
Packing Your Bike for Travel
There are four ways to pack your bike for travel. There is no right or wrong answer -- pick the method that's best for you.
No matter how you pack your bike I think it's always wise to write your name and email address on the outside of the box so you can be reached fast in case of a problem. We also recommend that you place a note inside your box with your name and contact info.
1. If you're a bike geek (like me) and you already own a case made specifically for transporting your bike, you can skip this section -- you already know how to pack your bike. We are happy to store your bike case for you for free in Bali until the trip home. Pro tip -- when you check your special bike case with the airline do NOT let them take an adhesive luggage tag and just stick it on the side of your case (where it can easily fall off). Make sure they loop it through one of the handles on your case.
4. Pack your own bike! You can do it!
• Take a look at this tutorial and see if you feel comfortable with this plan. (Oh yeah... in this video the British narrator refers to the bike's "rear mech", which we would call the rear derailleur.)
• Note that you will need a pedal wrench or a large Allen wrench to remove your pedals -- you don't need both tools. The right one for you depends on which brand of pedals you have. Not sure which tool your pedals need? Bring your bike to your local shop and ask. Either tool should cost less than $20. (I always like to support my local shop, but if the only pedal wrench they have for sale is the expensive super-deluxe pro model, you can get an absolutely fine cheaper version here.)
• IF you have a carbon-fiber seat post or handlebars (you definitely know if you do...) you also need this to put your bike back together in Bali. We can show you how.
The protective tubes shown in the video, which the narrator calls "lagging", is what we would call foam pipe insulation -- originally meant for covering water pipes. You can get it cheap at Home Depot or Lowes in the plumbing section. It comes in long lengths and can be easily cut to size with scissors. If you use foam pipe insulation, put it on your bike with some duct tape and then label the pieces with a Sharpie -- Top Tube, Seat Tube, Right Fork -- you can use the same tubes again for the trip home.
Be sure to take the tools and tape you used to pack your bike and put it in your checked luggage or even in the box with the bike -- you'll need it to ship your bike home again. (Note that we stated checked luggage. The TSA may think you are a nut if you try to get on a plane with a lot of tools and a big roll of tape in your carry-on bag).
Getting to and From the Airport with Your Boxed Bike
In my experience a boxed bike will fit in the back seat of most cars. If you are taking a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to the airport be sure to specifically request a minivan or large SUV. Yeah, all your gear might fit in a regular car, but who needs the hassle? If you are taking your own car to the airport you need to practice loading it up before flight day.
When I take my car to the airport I drop off my wife at the terminal with the bike boxes and all our luggage. She kindly waits on a bench inside while I go park the car -- this saves the trouble of putting the bike boxes into the parking lot shuttle bus.
Getting From the Bali Airport to Our First Hotel
There are a couple ways to do this -- your choice! When we get closer to the ride we will send you the complete address of our first luxury hotel so you can pass it on to your driver.
If You Are Traveling With Your Own Bike
We recommend you use these folks to book your transportation in advance online:
Be SURE to request a mini van or larger (depending on how many people are in your group) so there will be room for your bikes. This will cost about $40 for the vehicle (NOT per person). No extra charge for luggage.
If You Are Renting a Bike in Bali
If you are renting a bike in Bali you can still use these folks
but you won't need an entire mini van! You can request a regular car. Your rental bike will be waiting at our first hotel for you.
Note that on their website Suntransfers quotes prices in Euros (!!!) but the prices we've listed here are pretty close to the correct price in dollars.
You can go to the official taxi counter inside the airport. The fare will be about $25 total per vehicle (NOT per person).
Taxi drivers are usually not tipped in Bali, but it's nice to give them about 30,000 Indonesian rupiah extra. (That's roughly $2! Complete information on the local currency can be found here.)
Putting Your Bike Back Together.
If you packed your own bike, you shouldn't have any trouble putting it back together. Our mechanics will be there with friendly free advice if needed.
If you prefer, you can just hand your boxed bike over to our mechanics and they will put it together for you for 500,000 Indonesian rupiah (about $35). You can pay the mechanics with Indonesian currency or with your credit card -- your choice.
What To Do With Your Bike Box During the Trip?
We will store your bike case or cardboard box for free during the trip. If you are using a cardboard bike box, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. You will use it again for the trip home.
Packing Your Bike for the Trip Home
Again, you can pack your own bike, or our mechanics can pack it for you for 500,000 rupiah (about $35).
*During my last visit to Bali I wound up watching a documentary about the surfers who come there from around the world to ride the giant waves.
One particularly sleepy-eyed surfer held up his bottle of local Bintang beer and explained, "Hey man, like, without Bintang you do not pull in!"
I have not a clue of what this means, but I do enjoy saying it now and then...
Free cardboard box from your local bike shop. This is the sort of box that new bikes are shipped in on their way to the store, and it is perfect for taking your bike on a plane.
2. If you don't own a special case designed for transporting a bicycle you might check with your local high-end bike shop (or local high-end friend!) to see if they have a case you can borrow. (The shop will probably charge you a rental fee. If the friend wants to charge you a rental fee... they are NOT really your friend!) If you've never put your bike into a case ask someone to help you -- it can seem a bit like a jigsaw puzzle the first time; easy after that.
3. Your friendly local bike shop can pack your bike for you in a cardboard box that is perfect for flying -- the same heavy-duty box in which they receive new bikes for the shop. The box is usually free -- the labor will cost ABOUT $100. This does NOT mean that they can pack it 30 minutes before your flight -- make an appointment far in advance and give them plenty of time. (They might have just tossed out all their leftover bike boxes; more coming in a couple weeks. Don't wait until the last minute for this.)