Cycling In Norway, 2007

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Updated 19 December, 2007

Flying to Norway With Your Bike

Alternatives to Flying Your Bike In

Okay, you've been there before, or you've checked the miniscule weight limit that the airline is going to impose on you. You probably appreciate why Josie Dew travelled by ship to New Zealand for her most recent long distance tour.

You could opt for taking your bike by ferry to Bergen or Stavanger with DFDS (if you live near Newcastle this is an attractive option), or you could scale down your plans drastically and do a couple of day rides with hired bikes from some of the larger towns (but the bikes we've seen for hire are pretty basic Dutch or Chinese models). If you've tried hiring (or using DFDS) we'd love to hear from you, because we've looked at both options.

Bolero take bikes and their riders from the UK to the continent on a luxury air-conditioned coach, but they don't go to Norway and Sweden.

If you don't mind allowing plenty of time for your bike and mountain of gear to make the journey on its own, LV Shipping operate a twice-weekly groupage trailer service to Bergen and Stavanger.

Flying Your Bike In

How hard can it be?

It could be harder, we've certainly flown into and out of more challenging countries with our bikes, but it is never as straightforward as it should be. Basically, there's no escaping the fact that the unwritten price you are going to pay for your blissful holiday is a stressful start to it when join the check-in queue with your bike.

There are some things you can do before you fly to make things a bit easier, though:-

Don't book your ticket on their website. The website is tempting, and you can use it to check availability, but the website is for routine journeys by passengers with one or two items of checked baggage and nothing oversize. Make your reservation by 'phone if at all possible, and explain that you want to take your bicycle on each leg of the trip. This may restrict your options - for example, SAS fly to Trondheim via Copenhagen, and the second leg from Copenhagen in 2006 was on 'planes too small to carry bikes. This sort of detail only comes out when you check it over the phone. Also, I understand from Jon Houseago that Norwegian were only taking four bikes per flight in 2006 - so it isn't a question of "turn up and go"...


Don't check in late. They always have the option of turning you away. You need to be at the front of the queue when the check-in desk opens, ideally. If your flight is with SAS from the UK, you will need to reclaim all your bags and your bike(s) in Oslo before you can get your next (internal) flight to your final destination. This is a lengthy process, because you've also got to clear customs and get your bike through the oversize luggage conveyor - so you need to ensure that you give yourself a couple of hours between arriving in Oslo and catching your onward flight, despite what SAS will tell you when you book; it just isn't possible to depart within an hour of arrival at Gardemoen airport when you have a bike with you.


Make sure your bike is wrapped. Your bicycle is just an inconvenience to check-in staff, and they don't encourage passengers to bring anything with them that is going to slow the boarding process or damage other peoples' bags. So do all the usual things (turning the handlebars, letting some air out of the tyres, taking off the pedals, lowering the seat if possible, arranging the derailleur gears so that the mech is as close to the wheel as possible), but also wrap any oily bits of your bike in plastic sheet. Builder's merchants and DIY stores in the UK sell roles of thick transparent PVC for damp courses which work well, or you could try a local bedding store for the wrapper that protects mattresses when they are delivered. Duct tape or brown parcel tape is handy for securing the wrap to the bike. Make sure you've left a gap in the wrapping for a baggage tag.


Make sure you barcode your bike. Baggage tags are easier to apply to suitcases than to bicycles, but in either case if they come off you can kiss the item goodbye. The tag needs to go through the frame of the bike before you seal it into place. Watch out for check-in desk staff, who may try to stick the tag to your protective covering, which may well get damaged or torn off altogether before you are re-united with your bike.


Consider taking photo id of your bike. Digital cameras and printing are so straightforward. Carrying a photo of your loved one can simplify identification at the other end if things go awry. If you lose the bike altogether, a photograph can help with getting some compensation for it from the insurers. You did insure it, didn't you?


Put your panniers in a transit bag. There will be a lot happening after you land, and you need to keep your numerous small bags together during their journey on the airport conveyor system. Rather than trying to visually keep track of seven small bags full of expensive camping gear circling on the baggage conveyor while you try and hunt down your bike on arrival, you can put everything in one big anonymous kitbag for each person - far less attractive to both baggage handlers en route and to anyone unscrupulous who may be lurking in the arrivals hall. Norwegian airports we've used have been fine so far, but Heathrow is another story. The barcode label can have the whole of its backing tape stripped off before being applied to the transit bag lengthways.

We've flown with SAS/Braathens and the budget airline If flying with the latter, you'll be expected to pay (cash ideally) for your bikes at the point where you check in - the staff were unsure of what to do, but eventually made us out a receipt for the three bikes for the flight out and the return, which cost around £100 (and took about half an hour to arrange). This is why shipping the bikes in advance looks more attractive.

So far we've flown into Bergen (twice), Bodø (three times), Trondheim (Værnes), and Oslo (Gardemoen). All of the airports in Norway are considerably easier to use than their British counterparts, and typically provide large plastic bags for enclosing bikes at their check-in desks.

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