A Detailed, Step by Step Guide on How to Pack Your Bike for Air Travels

Jan Poshenko
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Bike Bag vs Bike Box – Which Is Better?

A bike bag is a thin, slightly weather resistant bag made possibly from polyethylene or canvas material. It is designed with straps that can be used to hook it onto a top portion of your pannier. Bike bags are almost always reusable and can be used for short distance travels or short term storage.

Bike bags are more durable and affordable than bike boxes.

Bike boxes or bike bags are designed to be used for air travel. Bike boxes are usually made of a black plastic or a fabric material.

It has an outside frame to provide support and protection for your bike as well as a detachable lid. Most bike boxes also have a built in lock so you can lock it to the cargo bay of your airline.

It is worth noting that bike boxes are not allowed on some airlines as they are considered oversized.

An imported alternative to bike boxes is the Bike Fly Bike Bag, a professional grade bike bag that can be used for both overseas and local travel.

Bike Bag

When you travel with your bike, a bike bag is your best friend. Its main function is to hoist your precious bike so it doesn’t get damaged during the trip. The bike bag is not complicated, but you will definitely need to be an extra cautious when you are packing your bike with it.

Your bike bag will be strong enough, but you, on the other hand, have no stronghold on the journey. So if you let your guard down, your bike may get a couple of bruises along the way.

Always, always unpack your bike when you arrive at your destination.

{1}. The first thing you need to do is to remove the pedals. Use a wrench to unscrew the screws and secure the pedals on your bike frame. You should do this immediately, as it would be pretty hard to remove the pedals later on.
{2}. The second thing is to cover your bike frame and the forks with lots of plastic bags. You will need to cover the fork and the helmet as well, if you’re planning to bring one. This is going to protect your bike from moisture.

Bike Box

Full bike boxes and half bike boxes are available in different sizes and are made specifically for long distance bike transports.

For a regular road bike, a full bike box would look like this:

The bike and its parts would be stored in the bottom section and there would be air holes to keep internal pressure equalized.

The wheels placed in its own special wheel box. The front wheel is either disassembled or placed in a separate container (fork and handlebars would be supported by special forms or placed loose in the bottom section).

There would be a small assortment of tools in the upper section, with the rest of the tools packed in a smaller box/bag.

Pros:

  • Compared to a hard case, much easier to carry on the bike.

  • Most of the time, no weakening/altering/dismantling necessary.

  • Possible to use the boxes more than once.

  • Boxes are re-usable if handled with care.

Cons:

  • Less protection than a hard shell case.
  • Potentially flimsy and difficult to pack tightly.
  • Handle bar protection not always sufficient.

Things to Remove Before Packing Your Bike

Before you choose how to pack your bike for air travel, it is important to remove the following things from your bicycle:

Handlebars: Remove your handlebars, stem, and anything else from the frame that might scratch the frame of the box. Some people choose to remove the wheels on their bike to avoid scratches that can occur when the wheels bang around inside the box. The best way to do this is to remove the brake pads and spacers, and attach the calipers to the fork in such a way that the calipers are firmly resting on the fork when you pull the brake lever.

Tires: Remove your tires and inflate your tires to a high pressure. The higher the pressure in the tires, the less possibility of them going flat. If you choose to use a pressure gauge to inflate your tires, make sure that you do this at least 24 hours before you pack your bike in the box. This will give the tires a chance to return to their original shape before you pack your bike.

One Piece Cranks

Sensitive parts like the saddle.

Bags, baskets and all other accessories.

Do not leave any empty spaces in the box. Fill all the gaps with clothes, towels, or other soft-containing items.

How to Pack Your Bike for Air Travels

If you like cycling, chances are you will be traveling over the weekend. However, transporting a bike by car is not easy at all. Therefore, it’s better to consider various alternatives, especially when you are going travelling for longer duration.

Most outdoor enthusiasts love traveling on bike. However, most of them often feel uneasy while transporting their cycles either by air or by train. Hence they are always skeptical whether their bikes will arrive in a perfect condition, in one piece or at all.

However, if you pack your bike with care, you can breathe easy knowing that it is in good hands.

Here is a step by step guide on how to pack your bike for air travels:

  • Collect Shoes and Chain
  • Layer the Frame
  • Use a Water Resistant Tape
  • Wrap the Parts Inside Tie-Down Straps
  • Add a Reflective Tape
  • Protect the Materials
  • Use a Shrink Wrap
  • Use Bike Box
  • Keep the Wheels Together and Separate from Other Parts
  • Add a Few More Cushioning
  • Package Your Bags, Packing Tools, Manuals, and Tools
  • Final Tips

So, when you are traveling by air, make sure that you read the following rules to pack your bike before you plan to do so.

Chain Rings

To begin, the Chain Rings are the most arduous parts of the bike. They are small in size and can be very easy to lose along the way. Packing them is the basic step. First, you want to keep the chain rings turned backwards as you carefully wrap them in a micro-fiber cloth. Make sure to have the chain rings in line with each other no more than 5mm away from one another.

To add, you can wrap them with more micro-fiber cloths for extra precaution. You can make use of packing tape to keep the chain rings packed nicely.

Dropouts

Dropouts (sometimes referred to as kickstand mount after the metal part attaching the wheel to your bike frame) are the part where you can attach the front wheel fork assembly to the frame of your bicycle. There can be different names for dropouts and dropouts’ shapes and styles, but they are usually intended to be the part of an attachment used to attach the wheel to the frame of your bike.

This is particularly important when you want to travel with your bike. Because the term “dropouts” extends beyond just bicycle parts, most bike packing guides will simply refer to the wheel fork as the “dropouts.” This way you can easily understand that the “dropouts” you need to assemble to your bike frame are the ones you need in the first place.

Chains

If you are like me then you like to upgrade your bike when you can. The problem with that is finding a good place to put the old parts. I thought if I packed them well they could go in the case with my bike but they are just to big and they are also extra weight.

I checked a few bike forums to see what others did and came up with this configuration.

I start with both wheels off the bike. Then I place all the plastic and metal spacers on top of the wheel (never on the axle). Then I wrap the spacers in large bubble wrap and place them in the second layer of the wheel.

Then I place the wheel inside my hardcase, I leave plenty of room until I get the full wheel in the case and then pack the rest of the space.

Next I take your front chain ring and place it on the bike upside down. Place your chain ring inside a plastic sandwich bag. Then put it in the first layer of bubble wrap.

Chain Rings

To begin, the Chain Rings are the most arduous parts of the bike. They are small in size and can be very easy to lose along the way. Packing them is the basic step. First, you want to keep the chain rings turned backwards as you carefully wrap them in a micro-fiber cloth. Make sure to have the chain rings in line with each other no more than 5mm away from one another.

To add, you can wrap them with more micro-fiber cloths for extra precaution. You can make use of packing tape to keep the chain rings packed nicely.

Crank Arms

Muscles in your legs actually become more tired because of the work that your legs have to do by being longer and holding the weight of the bike higher off the ground.

Depending on your situation this may or may not be good for you. If you’re not very fit and are trying to cycle more to get fitter then you’ll certainly want to use a longer crank to make pedaling easier.

The common length for a shorter person cycling is a 165mm crank. If you’re over six feet tall or of larger build then you’ll want a 175mm or 179mm crank length.

Being shorter does need to effect your crank length choice. If you’re short but still want a 165mm crank length then you can either look into a small but high quality folding bike or a bike with a shorter wheelbase.

If you’re in the UK, chances are that you’ve been through some wet and horrible weather at least once. If you are, then your bike will undoubtedly be affected by such weather. Since you won’t be able to predict the future or ensure that your bike is safe from water or mud, make sure that you prepare for the worst by fitting mudguards and getting the right bike cover.

Bike Frame

Air travel is a very popular choice of transportation for bikers across the globe. If you are regular air traveller too, with your bike, then, you may know the problem of how to go through airport security with your bike.

This is what took me to create this detailed and most updated post on bicycle travel essentials guide.

> Click Here to See More <<

A majority of air travelers, if told in advanced about the requirements of their bike, may have already packed their bike before taking them for a vacation trip or a bike race.

There are very fewer bike airline travelers who ever got themselves ready to go through the airport security with their bike.

How to Pack Your Bike for Air Travel?

Traveling with your bike is like traveling with your pet. You have to carry a lot of things and make sure you did not leave any important item behind.

If you are going to travel with your bike, it is best if you plan your vacation in advance. When you plan your trip in advance, preparing your bike is an easy task.

Though if you already booked a flight for this weekend and you are last minute prep, you will need to take help from your friend to pack your bike.

This post contains my experience for packing bikes in flight. Looking forward to help you guys in giving your bike an air travel.

Handlebars

For the handlebars and stem, a nice elastic band will be your best friend; this way you can wrap the bars and stem in a tight secure bundle.

It is a good idea to tape the end of the handlebars so you can pack them upright, this will ensure there is no risk of them becoming loose inside your bag.

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes have been a key modification in mountain biking and more recently, even for road bikes. They offer a number of advantages over rim brakes.

Disc brakes are more powerful. They create friction through the pads which are housed in a strong, one-piece caliper system. A disc brake allows you to apply more braking force. This is perfect if you find yourself riding through wet conditions with a heavy bike, as it helps to maintain control. Not only that, but if you have 15 kilos of luggage on your bike, disc brakes will help to apply more braking force, increasing your control even further. They also offer more modulation which is what enables the finer control that is useful when riding in rocky or uneven terrain.

Disc brakes are easier to remove. One of the biggest advantages of disc brakes is that they are far easier to maintain. With just two bolts, you can remove or install the front fork. This means that your disc brakes don’t need any fine tuning.

Disc brakes are reliable. The pads are housed in a strong and durable caliper. When servicing your disc brakes, you will need to replace the pads only, rather than the whole lever set. This makes service and maintenance a breeze, without having to take apart the entire lever.

Pedals, Saddle, Seatpost, QR Skewers and other Accessories

Pedals are generally safe when packed using the manufacturer’s recommendations, either in their original packaging or inside of a plastic bag. Keep in mind that bicycle pedals are small and lightweight, so they will not take up much space.

Saddle, seatpost and QR skewers are life-force of your bike and they all must be securely packed.

There are two major styles of seatpost: the straight post and the D-shaped seatpost. The straight seatpost is the easiest to ship. Wrap it in bubble wrap and wrap the bubble wrap with cardboard to prevent crushing. Be sure to remove the seat post clamp.

Pedals can be packed safely using the manufacturer’s recommendation for packing a bike. Use a pedal wrench to remove the pedals (the wrench must be shipped separately). You can either pack your pedals in a small box or use a package of packing bubbles to pack the pedals. The packing bubbles must be used in a bubble wrap envelope.

Total Weight

/Gross Weight vs. Net weight

Total weight refers to the weight of the box with the items shipped inside it. Gross weight refers to the weight of the box and the packaging materials. This is crucial to know when it comes to shipping your bike so you are charged the correct rate.

To determine the shipping weight of your box, use this formula:

The weight of the box plus the weight of the contents. Always round up to the nearest pound.

3 Things to Do Before You Check In Your Bike Bag

Remove any loose screws or components of your bicycle. They often become a nuisance in transit.

Remove the handlebar.

Give the bike a thorough cleaning.

Check for Any Loose Stuffs

For starters, it is very important for you to make sure that there is nothing loose that could get caught in the moving parts, and possibly get damaged by them. Lubricate your chains and be sure to check where the cable hits the frame.

Make sure that there are no tools or gear attached to the frame. If you use bungee cords to tie down items to your frame, make sure to re-tighten these after dusting off your bike.

Fold down your kickstand and use zip ties to secure it to the frame. It should be positioned horizontally and be located on the same side as your pedals.

When you are folding up a bicycle, it is important that you only let it rest on its handlebars and saddle. You cannot let it rest on a tire.

Baggage Tags

Baggage tags are really necessary for everybody who has to pack a bike. If you travel with your bike by using airlines or trucks, then it is important to have a tag on your bike.

Baggage tags are a good way to retrieve your bike, because they help the airlines deliver your bike to you in the same condition as it was transported when you arrived. A baggage tag is a useful way of identifying who the tag belongs to, as many people travel with their bikes.

There was a time when baggage tags were just simple pieces of paper. Today, baggage tags are designed with more specialized material. There are various businesses that specialize in shipping bikes by air, and these businesses have designed a new kind of baggage tag, which is made for bicycle shipping and air travel. These tags are made with plastic or aluminum materials and have a seal on the back, which ensures that the bag is securely closed.

You can purchase baggage tags at a number of stores. Some check-in stations and bicycle shops sell luggage tags for only a few dollars.

Bag Straps

Before you start packing your bike in your case, do a little online research about the rules and regulations about what you can and cannot carry on board with you. Once you have decided which airline you are going to be traveling with, you need to start getting your bike ready for packing. It’s a good idea to get your bike a good clean and ensure the brakes have been properly adjusted. This will also give you a chance to inspect the wheels and tires, check the gears, and do a quick fix-on anything that looks like it may need fixing.

Starting from the wheels and tires, you will want to place a little piece of cardboard or a piece of foam and then a layer of bubble wrap around the wheel and tire. You will then continue to have to adjust the bubble wrap to ensure that it fits around the wheel and tire. You will be doing this for each tire that you have.

You then have to continue to wrap the wheels and tires in bubble wrap.

You then have to introduce the next layer of protection, which is going to be a theme of the bike once in the case. You want to use a thick cotton cloth that can be bought from a department store.

You then have to put the point of the wheel facing upwards on top of the mouth of the case. This is just for support.