Packing Your Bike For Air Travel

Packing Your Bike For Air Travel

This is the time when people are jumping on planes and heading to Europe or Asia or anywhere warm to do some cycling.

A while back, I wrote a document on how to pack a bike for air travel, then later, I wrote a piece on how to rebuild it at the other end. 

Here are the 2 for your reference. Most of us think we know how its done, but you might find a handy hint in some of this.

Packing Your bike for Air travel

In a Cardboard Bike Box

Most Boxes are about 130 cm x 75 cm x 20 cm.

You should be able to get one free from a bike
shop if you give them some notice.

You will need to remove;
Handlebars, front wheel, pedals, seat and post.

Step 1 – mark positions of handlebar and seat-post. (tape, liquid paper, marking pen, nailpolish etc)
Step 2 – semi deflate tyres, change gears to low / low (Small front chainring, Large rear cog)
so derailleurs move in towards the bike
Step 3 – remove seat-post, re-secure pin. So pin is not lost
Step 4 – remove pedals – rotate both towards back of bike. (15mm spanner or long alan keylook8mm, Shimano 6mm)

Step 5 – remove handlebars from front of stem. Re-insert bolts with firm tension.
Step 6 – remove front wheel and remove skewer. Ensure both springs are not lost and replace end nut on skewer.

Use small box or zip up bag.
Place pedals, front skewer and packing tools in box/bag.

Step 7 – wrap bike to protect frame. Cardboard, bubble wrap, foam etc. tape or cable ties tosecure. Use fork protector if available. Wrap seat / seat-post

Step 8 - Place Seat/seat-post in rear of box – post up.

Step 9 – place wheel next to frame, pad and tape together. Rotate the fork so the top of the brake calliper avoids the frame. Hook handle-bar under top tube.

Step 10 – place the bike in the box

Rebuilding Your Bike at the Other End

Tools needed
Pedal spanner or Allen Key. Allen Keys for stem and seat post.
Remove bike from box.

Unpack parts and put the skewer in the front wheel making sure the springs are
in place with the narrow side inwards.

Fit the front wheel making sure it's centered, usually the quick release is on the left,  (not always for disc brake bikes) and the quick release facing backwards, usually not along the fork.

Fit the handlebars, with attention to centering the bars, use the stripes markings as an indicator.

Then adjust the rotation using the marks you made before packing the bike.
Tighten the allen bolts in a cross pattern so that the pressure is even and there is the same gap between the front plate and the stem on the top and bottom. Usually 6NM force is required.

If you don’t have a torque wrench it means firm, but not tight enough to put parts under stress. If you lean on the handlebars, from above they shouldn't rotate.

Use your hand – not a tool – to fit both pedals rotation to the front of the bike.

Finish tightening with a tool for the last 2 rotations. The pedals need to be done tight, so make sure you are pressing down at the last tightening as that is where you have the most strength.

Seat posts should always have grease on them when in the bike, if you placed the post in a plastic bag when you packed it, the grease might still be there. If you wiped it clean, it would be good to find some and put a thin layer of grease on it.

If the post is carbon, there is a special grease to use.

Back off the clamp and slide the post in to the height you marked when you
packed the bike. Before tightening the clamp, stand behind the bike and make sure the seat is facing forwards, visually you can line the front of the seat up with the top tube.
Tighten the clamp to 6 Nm or firm.
Before riding the bike.

Look at the brake calipers to make sure the gaps are even on both sides. If you press your brakes the wheel should not move sidewards. On Shimano and SRAM you can straighten them with your hands.

Lift the bike by the seat and turn the pedal with your hand to make sure the gears turn freely, if not, the rear derailleur may have been bumped while in transit and you need an expert to look at the bike before riding it.

If there is a problem with gears, you can cause expensive damage
to your bike by riding it! So get it sorted.

Enjoy the adventure!

Written by John Gould 

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