Snorkelling in turquoise water on coral reefs, and sun baking on white sand. Skiing high up in the mountains, and catching snow flakes on your tongue. Sight seeing the wonders of ancient cities, tasting renown wines and cheeses. Sounds alright hey? But there is something missing… Your bike!!!
Since the “bike-bug” has hit me, I find that after a few days (or just the weekend) away from my two wheeled friend, I start to get anxious. And when I get back, I can’t wait to go out and ride (and also visit my local coffee shop haunts).
If you are currently planning your next getaway, have you considered taking your bike with you? There are many perks to holidaying with your bike; its cheap transport, its healthy and keeps you fit (balances out the wine and cheese with all the km’s you are riding!), you will meet people, and see your surroundings a little slower – this is a good thing!!!
I recently got back from holidays. And yep, the bikes came too! With only a few weeks up our sleeves, we ventured into the Gold Coast hinterland for some riding and hiking. Next holidays I would like to venture further afield, and yep, I am planning on the bikes coming too!
Over the last few years I have flown with my bike around Australia on little adventures here and there. And packing my bike was a skill I had to learn. And it is nerve racking. From pulling my bike apart, to packing it, to waiting at the baggage collection point, to zipping open the bag to peek inside…
So if your next holiday involves flying, and you are secretly dreaming of taking your bike with you. Do it! First things first, you are going to need a…
Bike bags come in all different flavours, so do some research into what is best for you. If you are on a budget or aren’t going to fly enough to justify the purchase, ask around your friends if you could borrow one or, use a bike box – ask your local bike shop to put one aside for you. My bag (pictured below) is a Tioga, hard moulded case with two compartments. One compartment for the wheels, the other for the frame. So far (touch wood), there have been no dramas and my bike has always arrived safely.
Lets have a look at the tools which will help you prep your bike for her flight:
- Pedal Spanner
- Frame Spacer
- Fork Spacer
- Allen Key
- Torque Wrench
- Foam Pieces
First, move your derailleur towards the middle of your bike. Do this by shifting your chain onto the small chain ring, and clicking over to the biggest ring on your rear cassette. By moving the derailleur into this position, you are giving a little bit more protection from bumps and knocks to the outside of your bag. Doing this should minimise the chance of the derailleur being bent and damaged.
Now flip the bike over, balancing on the handle bars and seat.
Time to remove the wheels. You might need to release your brakes first if it’s a tight squeeze. Once the wheels are out, place your finger on the quick release and let a considerable amount of air out of those tyre’s. Remember that air pressure changes with altitude, and unlike us, the bike will be vulnerable to those pressure changes.
Remove the skewers from the wheels, keeping track of all the springs, bits and bobs. I place mine in a zip lock bag.
Protect your front and rear forks. These nifty accessories provide a little bit more structural strength that would otherwise be supported by your skewers.
At the back of your bike the frame spacer can be used to keep your chain tight, and provide support to the rear seat stay (your rear forks). Place the frame spacer in as you would a tyre, and lift the chain into the rubber section.
The fork spacer is something you can usually pick up for free from a bike shop, as they come in the packaging for brand new bikes. They just slip into the front forks where your tyre would usually go.
Using the pedal spanner remove both of your pedals. Remember lefty loosey, righty tighty!
Into the bag
Your bike bag might be different, and your bike might be bigger than mine, so the way you pack your bike might be slightly different.
I set down the frame so that the drivechain (all moving parts) is on the top side, away from the side wall of the bag. Like shifting the gears around to protect the derailleur, I try to keep everything away from the side of the bag.
Can you handle it?
Some people take their handle bars off the stem. I usually just rotate the forks and then drop the handle bars. If you are going to do this, remember to mark where the handle bars sit, using white out is fine. Use the allen key to remove the bolts, keeping track of the tiny washers. I place all four into a zip lock bag. Your handle bars should now be loose, rotate the forks, and flip the drop bars under your top tube.
When you reassemble your bike, use a torque wrench to help you tighten the bolts.
Now everything is in! I provide a little bit of extra protection to the frame and paint by covering her with foam pieces that I got from a bike shop (again these come with brand new bikes, its great to recycle them! See pic above). You can also use pool noodles.
While we want the best for our bikes, we can’t fly with them on board. I try to provide as much comfort as my baggage weight allows by stuffing my clothes around her body to secure her in and provide cushioning. I place my clothes in plastic bags first though, it is a bike, and even though I always clean her (check out how to clean your bike) before I pack, she will never be completely oil free.
Zip her up and you are good to go
HINT: Remember if you take off any lights, garmin’s, saddle bag etc… that you pack them in your bike bag and put them back on when you reach the other side. Before flying remember to check baggage weight limits, you don’t need to book special baggage for a bike. Get some fragile tags from the airport and cover your bike with them.
Packing your bike up, no matter how many times you have done it, is a daunting task. Waiting for your over sized luggage to arrive is also a daunting task. The adventure that awaits outside that airport has always been worth it.
Safe flying and riding girls xx