Travelling with your bike can be a daunting concept, but if you know how to pack it correctly, you needn’t worry. As long as you’ve got the basics covered, the most challenging part will be transporting your bicycle to the nearest airport or train station. Read on as we tell you everything you need to know.
Tip #1: Booking Your Bike
No matter how you plan to travel, you will need to book your bike on board before you depart. Some airlines and train companies charge extra for this service, and it is usually cheaper to pay for it before arriving to take your flight or your train. With that said, if you do forget, the staff will always be happy to make a plan for you.
We recommend calling the company you will be travelling with ahead of time and tell them that you will be travelling with your bike in a case. Charges for this vary widely, so be sure to check the costs before going ahead.
Tip #2: Double Check Weight Limits
Bikes can be fairly heavy, and if you don’t want to exceed your transport provider’s weight limits you’ll need to do a few calculations. If you are travelling by train there are usually no weight limits to stress about, but airline limits usually range between 23kg and 32kg on average. Make sure that you check before you start packing your bicycle so that you know whether to pack it into a box or a bag.
Tip #3: Invest in a Bike Bag
Airlines and the majority of train companies require passengers to pack bikes into a case of some kind. There are 2 main options available here: a bike bag, or a bike box. Whichever option you choose will depend on a couple of important factors.
Bike bags are significantly easier to travel with, as it is quick and simple to back your bike into the bag and it provides convenient transport and effective protection. On the other hand, bags are heavier than bike boxes, and you will have to purchase or hire one. If you are going to be travelling often however, investing in a bike bag is well worth the money.
Bike boxes are a little trickier to travel with as it will take you longer to pack your bike properly, and boxes don’t come with wheels attached like specialised bags do. This option, however, is considerably cheaper and saves a good amount of weight.
Tip #4: Pack Your Bike Properly
It won’t take you long to pack your bicycle into a bike bag. Bags already contain protection for your BB, derailleur, forks, and wheels, along with Velcro to keep it all in place. To start packing, take your pedals off and add them to your bag or case. Remove both wheels and put them into their allocated slots in the bag, using brake blocks or cardboard in between the brake pads to protect them. You can even remove your brake discs from the wheels to be extra cautious.
Next, take off your derailleur and zip-tie it to the bike frame’s rear triangle. Remove your handlebars by removing the whole stem or unscrewing the front plate of the stem, and ensure that they are facing the same side. Add your bike frame into the bag and strap it in very securely so that it does not move around in transit. If using a box, you will need to take extra precaution to make sure that all of the parts are well cushioned and protected for your journey. Bubble wrap will be your best friend here.
Tip #5: Remember Your Extras
There are a couple of things you should always remember to pack alongside your bike itself. Tools are essential, and if you invest in mini tools and keep them in a special case they can be helpful in a myriad of different situations. Good tools to have with you include zip ties, cable cutters, a pedal spanner, a multi-tool with Torx and Allen keys, bike grease and chain lube, a tyre and shock pump, a spare mech hanger, and anything else you think you might need.
Don’t forget your helmet either – but remember, this should be taken on board as hand luggage. Bon voyage!