Wheelsuckers’ Top Tips for Packing your Bike
The coming weeks are a happy time for road cyclists. The winter cold is losing its bite and as the days become longer, we can begin to savour the warmth of spring sunshine. Watching the finale of Milan-San Remo a couple of weekends ago, it was heartening to see the kaleidoscopic peloton snake its way up the Cipressa and Poggio under clear blue skies, but hark back to 2013 and it was an entirely different story, with snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures wreaking havoc on the riders, with many retreating traumatised to team cars and buses.
It’s easy to lull yourself into a false sense of security that the spring has arrived, so before you bring your summer wardrobe out of hibernation, remind yourself that winter can still extend its tentacles into early spring. We’ve enjoyed a relatively benign winter in the UK and where I am based in the Cotswold Hills near Oxford, the spring flowers bloomed early, only for a belated winter chill to arrive.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that an increasing number of cyclists are heading abroad each spring for early season training and some guaranteed sun and warmth. Like many, I will be heading off to the sunshine of Mallorca in a few weeks. I have travelled to this Mecca for road cyclists several times, lured by the cycle-friendly infrastructure and the Tramuntana mountains, which are perfect for early season conditioning. In March and April, the pro teams have vacated their hotels and amateur cyclists from around the globe rule the roads.
There is something special about those first spring rides, when you can roll out in the morning wearing shorts and short-sleeved jerseys. Happy days indeed, yet there is still room for anxiety when heading abroad. Travelling with your bike can be an anxious process and one has to place one’s faith in the chain of people entrusted with insuring that it will actually end up on the same flight as you! And when you are re-united at your destination, your initial euphoria is quickly replaced by the fear that your new Aero wheels may not have survived the journey intact!
Despite the fact I have travelled abroad with my bike box on several occasions I remain a nervous traveller and that first peek inside my bike box is always a heart-stopping moment! Fortunately, my bikes have always arrived as I packed them – pristine, polished and ready to roll!
Contemporary bike boxes are surprisingly robust, but over the years I’ve picked up a few suggestions and practices to ensure safe transit, which may be useful to anyone travelling abroad with their bike for the first time. The first rule is to always invest in a good quality bike bag or box, but these tips will help to ensure your bike will be fit to ride when you reach your destination and, just as importantly, return home in the same condition in which it left!
1. It’s likely that you will need to disassemble your bike prior to packing, though some bags, like the AeroComfort 2.0 TSA, only require the wheels to be removed. Otherwise, you may need to take off your pedals, seat post and bars. Remember to mark the seat post and bars with tape before you remove it!
2. The rear derailleur is one of the most vulnerable parts of your bike. If you want to be extra careful then remove it and wrap it in a soft packaging and pack it somewhere secure, where it will not be in danger of being crushed. Scicon AeroComfort bike bags come with a rear derailleur protector.
3. The front forks and rear stays are vulnerable, so be sure to brace with spacers or invest in the Scicon Front Fork and Seat Stay Pad Kit. For spacers- pop into your local bike shop and ask if they have any discarded ones.
4. Do up the quick release levers. If undoing the headset to remove the bars, then pop the screws back in to ensure they are there when you need them.
5. Make sure everything is secure. Many bike boxes and bags have integrated straps to ensure everything stays in place – you don’t want your pedals flying around inside the box. Wrap all components in packaging and use cable ties to ensure everything stays in place. The Scicon AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box and the AeroComfort bike bag collection all come with accessory bags and/or integrated pockets.
6. It’s (very) unlikely that your bike will end up in another part of the World, but it’s a good idea to pack certain things in your hand luggage so that if the worse happens, you can still hire a bike and ride. Travel with your shoes, helmet, power meter, Garmin (and mount) and those with Speedplay pedals might want to take them in their hand luggage too, as they are not always available to hire. And don’t forget yourself – pack at least one set of clothes to ride in and a pair of shades!
8. When packing, keep electricians tape, extra padding and cable ties handy, and pack some away in the box for the return journey.
9. Ensure you pack all your tools/small hand pump that you will need to reassemble your bike and be wary about taking multi tools in your hand luggage – some of the more zealous airport security officers might deem it as a potential weapon.
10. Deflate tyres, but not so they are completely flat, as a little air will provide some protection to the rims. Pack a track pump or a mini pump, to re-inflate. The Scicon AeroComfort bike bag collection all come with a mini pump included!
11. Bike bottles – utilise this dead space! Put your energy gels in there to avoid any danger of them splitting! Also, if you want to take some lube, wrap it in a plastic bag and pop it in your bidon or get the Scicon Tubag.
12. The more extra padding, the better. Rather than taking your clothes in hand or hold luggage, place it in plastic bags and pack it around your bike, but always be careful to ensure you do not go over the weight limits for your airline. It’s surprising how quickly a few extra bit and pieces add to the overall weight.
13. Pack some hand wipes or baby wipes and some old rags. They will be useful to quickly give your hands a clean when assembling and a quick polish for your bike before heading out!
Let us know in the comments box below if we missed any!
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