A biker must know how to pack a bike for air travel when needed. The need to pack up the bike and be included in the luggage will eventually come for some bikers for various reasons. For example, some bikers like to combine their job-related travel with their passion for pedaling. Other bikers go to different places to do a bike holiday and pedal their way to new and different places. To them, an opportunity to do biking activities in other areas is just difficult to pass up.
But, traveling by plane can be stressful at times, especially if the bike is included in the luggage. In addition, there might be a chance that you will exceed the weight limit set by the airlines and will pay for the unexpected but appropriate charges. For these reasons, it is a must for you to learn how to travel with bike on plane the right way to minimize unnecessary tension during the flight.
How to Travel with a Bike on a Plane
There are different ways to pack your bike when traveling via plane. If you are frequently traveling, I suggest using a hard case to protect your bike all the time during travel. However, if you are just doing it occasionally, a bike bag can help you organize and keep your luggage safely on the plane. The upside of using bike bags is they can be stored and keep easily when not in use.
However, the most economical and cheapest way is to use cardboard bike boxes to keep your bike on the plane. Cardboard boxes are usually available in bike shops and are very affordable. The upside of using this way of packing is the lightness in weight which should help prevent getting over the weight limitation at the luggage counter. But, cardboard boxes usually lack durability and do not provide the same protection as the hard case or bike bags offer.
Today, most airlines require you to bagged or boxed your bike when traveling on the plane. My suggestion is to invest in a high-quality bike bag if you are flying more often or traveling other means of transportation. If you have the budget, hard bike cases are highly recommended because it offers the best protection to your bike.
Steps in Packing your Bike for Air Travel
When packing your bicycle, you will need to disassemble your bikes and break them into smaller parts. Meaning, you will the tools to break it and then assemble it in the place of destination. You will also need other materials such as bubble wraps, zip ties, rags, duct tape, and other materials you can think of that can help in keeping the bike parts safe. But, it is nice to know that some bike bags already include some of the materials to help keep the bike safe.
Please take note that there are many ways to pack a bike in your bag. What we are presenting is the general steps to do it. Some bike bag brands offer a guide to properly pack the bike, which is different from what we are presenting. The best thing to do is read the manual and get ideas from the proposed methods.
Removing the Seat Post, Bike Seat, and Pedals
When it comes to the seat post and the bike seat, you can remove them from the bike frame to prevent any damage or unnecessary scratches. If you do not like removing these parts, you can have the option to lower them to their minimum height. But it is essential to lightly tighten the clamp or put it in a separate location.
For the pedals, you need to separate and put them together using tape. Then, if you can, you carry them with you and put them in your hand-carry bag to make it safer. The problem with leaving the pedals into the bike bag is that they might bounce inside and possibly damage other bike parts.
Removing the Wheels
It is essential to remove the wheels from your main bike to ensure its safety and minimize space. You will also need to deflate the tires lightly but not too much because it might damage the rim when the bag is dropped along the way. The quick-release skewers will also be separated and kept in a safe location, probably in the bag pocket.
Removing the Rear Hanger and Derailleur
The next step is to remove the rear hanger and derailleur while ensuring that the bolt is tightened again after the removal to make it safe and not be lost during the travel. Then wrap these parts of the vehicle using bubble wrap but make sure that the hanger will not be bent or prevent the chain from slapping into the bike frame.
Make the Handle Bar Safe
The way you keep the bike’s handlebar will all depend on the size of your container. Turning the bike’s stem sideways while letting the bar turn downwards under the top tube on the side of the chain. You can pad the top tube while tying the bars against it. However, if the container does not have enough space, you can remove the bars and strap them in a similar position.
Make the Chainrings and Cranks in the Proper Position
The next step is to turn the cranks in a parallel position while padding the bottom of the chainring simultaneously. You can also add foam padding to the primary tubes to prevent scratches during the flight.
Pack It Up
When you are using a box, you will need to put the bike in a usual way then followed by a pair of wheels. You can put one wheel on one side while the other wheel on the other size to maximize the space while using the sprockets as the gap with the frame. You can put cardboard in between to prevent them from scratching against each other, or you can tie the wheels into the frame. You can then put the other parts inside but make sure to make it adequately arranged and safe. Finally, close the box by sealing it with duct tape.
If you use a bag, you will need to put it upside down to protect the chainrings. Some bike bags also offer wheel bags that can be used to keep the wheels safe and put on the side of the bike. If not, tie the wheels into the frame while locking the bag for security purposes.
Learning how to pack a bike for air travel is an essential skill to know if you want to bike to other places or countries. There are different ways to pack the bike, but the most important thing is to have the right equipment, tools, accessories, and ideas to make the bike safe during the flight. For sure, biking in a different location is an excellent experience, but you need to make the bike safe while on the plane to make the experience worthwhile.