Well, using clear bags for the bikes didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. Delta demanded that the bikes be in a box so we were forced to purchase boxes on the spot form them. I was somewhat prepared for this but it still stings to pay $20 for a box on top of the $150 they were charging us for each bike. When we arrived at CDG the boxes naturally looked they they’d been through a war but the bikes were fine.

On the return trip we expected to buy boxes again but Air France didn’t require them so maybe its just the US airlines are more fussy about that sort of thing? I haven’t reassembled the bikes yet but they seemed to have made it back just fine.
At this point I won’t attempt to use the clear bags again. If we decide to take our bikes overseas I’ll likely procure a set of the “Tardis” bags from Ground Effect. Some friends used these on a 3-month tour of Argentina and were happy with them. Transporting the bikes in these bags can’t be any harder then in a box or bag and might eliminate some difficulties in getting them on trains.
One alternative to schlepping the bikes is of course renting them. Had I known the quality of the rental bikes available in France I would have seriously considered it. I saw Magura brakes and B&M chargers on some of the rentals. I think we could have just brought our own pedals and saddle and been fine.
The final alternative would be to buy a folding/travel bike but the cost and compromises of actually using them are just too large for me.

Packing bicycles for air travel: Part 2