How to Travel with Your Bike (+10 Step Packing)

If you’ve not used to it, travelling with a bike can seem like an impossibility or at least a huge pain. Once you get the system down though, it’s really no harder than travelling with another suitcase. In fact, many airlines are even jumping on board and are allowing bikes on the plane for the same price as a normal bag (provided that it’s under 50 pounds).

Here’s a short list of airlines and their bike bag fees:

Alaskan: $25

American: $30

Delta: $30

Southwest: $75

United: $150

Now that you know it might not be as challenging as you thought to take your bike on the plane with you, it’s time to pack it up and get flying.

First, you’ll need a bag. You can use a simple cardboard box. Often times you can even go to your local bike shop and request one of the boxes that their new bikes came in. If you anticipate flying with your bike more than once though, I highly recommend that you purchase a bike bag. I recommend the EVOC bag. It’s lightweight and doesn’t require complete disassembly of your bicycle.

Keep in mind that when you travel with a bike you will also need to travel with a few tools to put it together and take it apart.

Here is your tools list:

Allen Wrench

Torque Wrench

Centerlock Tool

Torx Key

Pedal Wrench

Pump

Here are the steps that I take to pack my bike:

1. Wash your bike!

Always wash your bike before packing it away in your bag. Not only will you appreciate having a clean bike when you get to your destination, but it will help the lifespan of your bike as well.

2. Shift your bike into the hardest gear.

This is important so that when you remove the wheels, the derailleur is in the correct position.

3. Remove the pedals.

After you remove the pedals, immediately place them in the bag. I recommend carrying them on the plane. You cannot ride a bike without pedals.

4. Remove and secure the handlebars.

Make sure that you use a sharpie to mark the position that the bars are in so that you can place them back at the exact angle you are used to.

5. Remove the seat post or lower the dropper post.

If you do need to remove the seat post, keep in mind that you will make a torque wrench in order to put in back in place when you arrive at your location.

6. Remove the wheels.

You will want to let air out of the tires so that they don’t overly expand at the high altitude when flying. You will put the wheels in the bag or box with the bike. Either they will go in the designated wheel spots or one on each side of the frame.

7. Place spacers in the brake calipers.

If you don’t have spacers, you can even just use a piece of cardboard.

8. Remove the derailleur.

Once you remove the derailleur, make sure to pack it up nicely. I usually wrap it in bubble wrap and then secure it to the frame using electrical tape.

9. Remove the rotors.  

Place the rotors in a baggie with pieces of cardboard to protect them on each side.

10. Place the frame inside the bag.

When you pack the frame inside the bag, you will want plenty of packing material to protect it. I like to use cut pool tools to protect the frame along with foam, bubble wrap, and towels.

You can do it!

There you have it! It really is that simple. It can be intimidating to pack your own bike, but it shouldn’t be. If you find you need a little more practice, then it sounds like the perfect excuse to take another trip.


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