One of the biggest concerns for cyclists travelling with their bikes is damage. You worry that your bike will be mishandled by check-in attendants, luggage carriers or even the rough terrains. The big question is, how do you protect your bike from any damages?
While choosing the right packaging equipment is half the battle, you have to pack the bike well to optimize its safety. Pack in a way that leaves no part of the bike safety to chance. Consider the likelihood that your bike package will be tossed haphazardly. Other heavy luggage may be tossed on top of yours. Pack to mitigate damage from such mishandling.
Packing tips to optimize safety when you travel with your bike
1. Remove the rear derailleur
Top of the most damaged parts of a bike when you travel with your bike are the rear derailleur, seat stays, fork, chain stays and top tube. Remove the rear derailleur and warp it up with a bubble wrap.
2. Puck the breaks
There is nothing as irritating as getting to your destination, reassembling your bike and when you are ready to test ride in the new location you find out the brake pad is damaged. Use brake pucks or a cardboard to hold the brake pads in place. Ensure the puck or cardboard is clean to prevent contaminating the disc brakes.
3. Cover the frame with PVC
The frame could be damaged in case there is excessive loading or damage caused by luggage stacked side by side or on top of your bike case. To protect the frame, cut a piece of PVC pipe to be as wide as the rear hub and use it to cover the frame. You can reinforce protection by covering the frame with bubble wrap before covering it with the PVC.
4. Add extra padding to your case or bag
Although quality bike bags and cases are sufficiently padded, you can add extra padding to ensure you are not leaving anything to chance. You can add a layer of cardboard on the sides and foam on the top and the corners of the bag. The extra padding ensures that in case your bike is tossed next to a sharp object it won’t be damaged.
5. Pack the loose parts in a bag
Instead of just tossing the loose parts in the case, put them all in a separate smaller bag before placing them inside the bike case. Putting them in a bag ensures that the loose parts won’t cause damage to the frame, brakes or any other part of the bag. It also makes it easier for custom inspections as there no parts lying around the case aimlessly. You can put your assembly tools in the small bag too.
6. Mark your bike package
Mark your bike dimensions and weight details. Mark a label “Fragile- Handle with care“ and stick it on the bike packaging. It may seem like a minute measure but it will help motivate the baggage handlers to handle your bike with care.
7. Ensure that no parts of the bike are protruding
Remove pedals, handlebars, tri-bars and any other protruding bars. Wrap the protruding parts with bubble wrap. Adjust the handlebar to be parallel to the bike and if necessary twist it to face down.
If the pedals are not removed, they are likely to pierce through the bag or cardboard bike box. Furthermore, protruding parts may get caught while loading the bike to the aircraft through the belt loader which can cause further damage to the casing and other parts of the bike.
8. Keep the weight of the bike to the minimal
Apart from the fact that heavier luggage will cost you more, it is also more difficult to move around making it more susceptible to being dropped or mishandled. While most people think that hard-shelled bike cases are the best, they are quite heavy and rigid hence they are more prone to mishandling. Soft shelled bike cases and bike bags are lighter and easier to handle. To reinforce protection, use extra padding and wrap the different parts with bubble wrap.
9. Deflate the tires
Whichever method you use to pack your bike, deflate the tires fully or partially. Deflated tires are lighter, take up less space and are less likely to get punctured. In addition, when you load inflated tires on the plane, the pressure could release while on the plane causing an interference on the plane.
To travel with your bike safely, proper packing and padding is essential. Whether your bike is a high end bike, the best mountain bike below 300 or Best Mountain Bike Under 200, treat it with the care it deserves. Use extra padding on the packing materials, and wrap up the specific bike parts with the appropriate protective materials.