How to pack your bike
By BikeRadar | Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1.15pm
Your holiday's booked and you've chosen your bag or box. Now you need to pack your bike in it in a way that guarantees it comes off the plane in the same state it went on...
Most airlines require bikes to be either boxed or bagged for travel. A decent bike bag can cost anywhere between £60-£500 – well worthwhile should you be intending to holiday with your bike more than once, or even if you regularly transport your bike by train, bus or car – not to mention as an excellent option for long-term storage.
Many bags come with handy wheels, such as this DHB Elsted
Cardboard bike boxes should be easily available for free from your local bike shop (although some like to charge for their waste disposal). These are cheap and offer good protection but either need to be folded down and rebuilt or stored at the other end.
Hard bike cases offer good protection, but are a real pain to stash in the back of a hire car or hotel wardrobe.
For the actual pack you'll need the relevant bike breaking-down tools, pipe lagging/bubble wrap, zip ties/toe straps, a rag, some spare cardboard and duct tape. If you can get the plastic fork/rear end spacers from the local bike shop then all the better.
Pedals, seat post & saddle
Take off your pedals, tape them together and tape the threads, then carry in regular luggage if you don't have a bag with side pockets - don't leave them loose in the bag. Remove your seat post and saddle, or lower it to its minimum (if this doesn't scratch the post this is best). Make sure the clamp is either lightly tightened or removed and carried in separate pocket.
Remove wheels, deflate tyres (not too much as this can cause rim damage if the bag gets dropped). Take out the quick-release skewers and tape them to the spokes, or stash safely in any bag pockets available. If you have plastic fork/rear triangle spacers (which come with new, boxed bikes and forks - your LBS might let you have some) then put them in place.
Remove the rear hanger and mech, and then tighten the hanger bolt so as not to lose it in transit. Wrap the mech in bubble wrap or a rag and strap it between the rear stays, so that the hanger doesn't get bent or the chain slap around against the frame.
Depending on the size of your bike and bag either; turn you stem sideways and turn your bars downwards and under the top tube on the chain side (padding the top tube and strapping the bars against it, or if the bag is too small remove the bars and strap them in that position (try to leave the stem on or at worst strap/zip tie your forks and head set together to prevent and loss of headset parts.
It's a good idea to install a fork protector
Cranks and chainrings
Turn the cranks parallel and pad the bottom of the chainring. Add foam padding (pipe lagging from your local DIY store) to the main tubes and anywhere else likely to get scratched in transit.
If you are using a box then place the bike inside, chaining downwards, and then put in both wheels, one to the front (both chain side), and the other towards the back of the bike - sprockets into the gap in the frame. Pad the contact points/or put cardboard sections in-between and zip tie/strap the wheels to the frame. Seal the box with duct tape and be sure to write your contact/destination details and flight info on the box.
If you're using a cardboard box, make sure to tape it up securely
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Unless your bag has a hard base then the bike goes in upside down to protect the chaining. If the bag has padded wheel bags then use these and place the wheels on either side of the bike, staggered for less bulk.
If you have no wheel bags then follow the padding procedure as with the box, but strap the wheels on the chainside of the frame, staggered for less bulk.
It does not pay to padlock the bag, as security may wish to open it - but a zip tie between the zips will aid security and can easily be cut.
NB: Always check your bike for damage/loss before clearing customs, otherwise liability is limited. Be sure to get written confirmation of any damage from baggage handlers too.
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