Travelling with a bike

I am so used to travelling with a bike now that I still find it odd when I am at the airport and get such funny looks like I am walking through the terminal with such an odd item in tow.

There are a few ways you can travel abroad with a bike.  I know some people who ship their bike and certain events partner with companies who will take and deliver your bike so you don’t have the need to take your bike apart in any way.  I know some people who wrap their bikes or use cardboard boxes -yeah not for me!  I know some people who use a soft bike case and again this is not something I am keen on and I also know some airlines and even airports will not take soft cases for bikes.  Then there is a hard bike box, in my opinion the sturdiest and safest option.

I have a Bike Box Alan case and made the purchase a couple of years ago after looking into options for hiring one and realised that with some people charging £50 to £80 per week for box hire that if I was planning more than a few trips the investment to buy would absolutely be worth it and so that is what I did.  My husband already had a Bike Box Alan case and so I knew that they were sturdy and really good quality.  I mean I love my bike so want to know it is being transported in something that will get it there in one piece and not damaged.  There is always that nervous moment when you take the bike box to the oversized baggage area at the airport and watch it go through, then you might catch a glimpse as luggage is loaded onto the plane and it can make you a little nervous – be careful with it please! It is also a popular choice for our Tri club Havering Tri too!

You also get a 7 year guarantee with this box and the reviews speak for themselves, which you can read here.

So I recently got asked about how I pack and unpack the bike box and will admit I was a little embarrassed to admit that I don’t.  My husband is called Brett and I often joke that I have a Brett for that for quite a few bike related things.  He put Di2 on my old bike, not me, he packs and rebuilds the bikes when we travel, not me, and does all the bike servicing and maintenance, not me.  So I figured well it’s about time I probably learned how to do some of this and as I am always offering friends to use my bike box I figured ok we are travelling again soon so I will be paying attention.  Brett laughed but he humours me and so next time I will pack my bike – yep me!

What do you need to do?  I have a road bike and this is what we did:

  • remove the pedals, which we sometimes put in a little plastic sandwich bag and put in the box (there are some small straps in the box and you can use them to hold the pedals in place)
  • remove the chain, which you don’t have to do but we have always done and again put in a little plastic sandwich bag strapped in the same way as the pedals
  • I don’t need to undo the seat post on my bike but depending on your height if you are tall you might need to do that to lower the seat post to fit in the box – if this is the case make sure you mark in some way where the seat post was so you can easily put it back in the correct position when you rebuild
  • deflate the tyres completely – some people say you don’t need to do this though they could expand with the pressure in the hold on the plane, so it is always worth deflating and then pumping back up when you build the bike again
  • the tyres fix to the lid of the bike box using wheel skewers (I also lent mine to a friend who has disc brakes, which I don’t and she did need different skewers to fix in the box properly) – the box comes with a padded panel that sits between the wheels and the rest of the contents of the box

  • remove the handlebars and stem from the forks
  • the bike frame is secured in the box using the straps that are attached

  • we always pack our cycle shoes and helmet in the bike box as well as nutrition if weight allows (in my helmet bag I will always pack my heart rate monitor and garmin
  • I put some of my nutrition like gels in my bottles – saves gels exploding and going over everything and saves space

  • there is an anti crush bar to stop the box being damaged and in turn the bike

Here is a time lapse video of the bike being packed.

Happy travels if you are going away with your bike being boxed up and I hope this was a little useful for those who had asked previously!

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