Can I just check a 36er as luggage without packaging?

I’ve flown with a 24 or 29er a number of times now and always just give them the uni with the pedals off as my 2nd piece of checked luggage, but without any packaging into boxes or suitcases. So far this has worked great.

Has anyone tried this with a 36er?

If this is a bad idea - any suggestions on packaging a 36er for air-travel?


This is the way to go. Takes a bit of thought to build it, but it keeps your big wheel and all its parts away from the careless baggage tossers. They did create a bit of a stir at the TSA area, where - as it turns out, its against one of their many rules to photograph your stuff being searched by them. I built these two in a day for a trip to Tucson and they work great and the only thing I’d do differently is put some wheels on the bottom,

So, yes, this is oversize (larger than W+H+L = 62") and costs you $50-80 each way, and you don’t want the airline to call your unicycle a “bike” as they will try to levy a $100 bike fee on your unicycle. When the airline person looks at the crate, your best bet is to say that it is a one wheeled pet exercise device, a rigid pneumatic indexing machine or even a giant depilatory device, just not a bike.

Happy trails




Standard Unicycles are pretty bombproof.

Here is Sid Rajans Coker on the Laos Unicycle tour:

That seems to pretty much cover the range in two posts.

Yup, those are the two extremes on how to package a 36er for air transport.

Not sure if Portland airport folks are just harder on stuff, but I’ve had stuff arrive with amazing damage that could only be caused by throwing or dropping stuff off a small cliff - and 36er parts are hard to find if something does get broken en route.

I think I’m gonna stick with the armored box as it provides a place for freaky oversize handlebars, helmet, tequila and some clothing too.


The last time I flew with my uni, I told the check in counter that it was ok to check the uni as is (i.e. no packaging) because it was bombproof. He leaned over the counter and said “You probably shouldn’t use that word as a adjective in the airport.” He had a good point.

Like I just said in another thread, I had a layover in Denver, flying back from Leadville and I watched a baggage handler who was loading a plane, drop a bicycle case some 5’ - 6’ out of the baggage hold! :astonished: So you may get lucky packing your unicycle as is, but I’ll stick with my Ergo hardshell rollable case for my KH24 and 26". As for flying with a 36er? I’d probably disassemble everything and fit as much as I could into my Ergo case and then box up, with foam and such, the wheel…

Wow, excellent cases, Brycer! But they must be heavy. These days it’s all (okay, mostly) about weight with the airlines. That’s about fuel as well as worker’s comp. But they can still get picky about the oversize thing. Especially Delta in Salt Lake City, from my repeated experience. I have been scolded by them virtually every time, but I don’t think I’ve been charged.

As a former UPS employee, I learned that most damage to their packages happened in the automated conveyor systems. They work great when they work, but if a jam-up occurs, things can get crushed, fall from the conveyor, or suffer from friction damage (being torn open) if they’re on a moving belt. I think the same is true for air travel, as most airports also use conveyor systems. The bigger the airport, the more conveying they do.

Then there’s the throwing and dropkicking of baggage that’s easy to observe if you fly a lot. Some of this is policy, to minimize back strain for baggage handlers. But I’ve also seen some that had no excuse. Then there are the accidents. What if your bag was already on the ground when that poor guy’s bicycle bag got dropped on top of it?

Granted, flying with your unicycle “naked” is the easiest, and is probably disarming to the check-in persons, as it’s something unusual and non-threatening (not necessarily a 36"). But I don’t recommend it. I have a soft bag that will hold up to two 36ers. Still trying to decide if it’s going to New Zealand for Unicon. Naturally, it’s oversized. But I feel my uni is a lot safer in there, and there’s less chance of someone trying to force a “bicycle fee and release of liability” on me when my unicycles are inside luggage.

But Brycer, I can’t believe you built those burly things and forgot the wheels! :slight_smile:

I also have an article on packing a unicycle up on Adventure Unicyclist:

It’s a good one for travelling lightly but still protecting your unicycle.

Bags can get abused, for sure.

My thought was that a ‘naked’ uni would be treated differently because its not as easy to throw around/stack etc…

Do you really think a uni would be safer in a ‘uni-bag’ than naked? I would think it would get thrown around more and have more stuff piled on top of it than an un-bagged uni.


Yes, especially if it’s painted rather than chromed. But you may be right about having stuff piled on top of it…


On my way back from RTL I just took out some duct tape taped the rim to the frame taped the handlebar-saddle-seatpost to the wheel and put the pedals in my cary-on. They gave me a giant clear plastic bag to put it in when I got to the counter and it went as regular checked baggage.

When I finally picked it up in Saskatoon 3 transfers and a missed flight later it was still in perfect shape except a small tear in the plastic bag.

Where do Ergo hardshell cases hide themselves on the Net? Google isn’t showing a website for the company.