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Mechanical > Holiday Bike Packing

I get asked a lot about how to pack a bike. I always totally over pack my bike. People laugh but I’ve never had a scratch on it. It takes a bit longer and you end up carrying a bit more weight but this is how I do it, you can always decide where you want to cut the corners when you’re doing it yourself. I took the photos in my parents living room because it was way below zero when I packed up and the garage was out of the question. It’s actually a really nice cozy room but that doesn’t come across in the photos 😉 Airway Specific Guidance: The following is correct at time of writing, please check nothing has changed before you fly. You can always mail me to get more details. RYAN AIR: With RyanAir, you are allowed 15kgs in your hold bag and up to 20kgs in your bike bag. I have found then generally quite understanding even though my bike bag weighs 22kgs packed with nothing else in it. I arrive early and am friendly and have never paid excess baggage. EASYJET: You are allowed 20kgs in your hold bag. You are allowed a total of 50kgs but your bike bag can’t weigh over 32kgs. They will try to tell you that you aren’t allowed this but read the bottom of section 10 in their guidelines where it states that bicycles are exempt from excess charges BUT the bike bag can only contain the bike. I recently have had a big argument with airport staff because I have had tyres and clothes in there, and I only just got away with it by claiming that was how I needed to pack my bike, to keep it safe.  My advice is not to pack tools, (they show clearly on the x-ray), but if you absolutely need the space, then pack clothes, body armour etc so that it can’t be seen from a casual bag inspection (i.e. inside the outer layer of foam) and if you have to put shoes in there then to use them to space your rear triangle and forks (in addition to the spacing described below). So, what you’ll need: 1. A good quality bike bag, including wheel bags. I really recommend getting one with little wheels because you’re bike’s going to be heavy once it’s all packed up! 2. Some pipe insulation, which you can get from B&Q or similar. It’s a bit expensive but you can use it again and again. 3. Tape. 4. Some wood. Step by Step: Click on the pictures for a bigger view of each step. 1. Clean your bike and put it in a work stand. The workstand obviously isn’t essential but it makes it so much easier. Cleaning your bike is a good time to inspect everything to make sure you’re going to be sorted for your holiday. Do your brake pads need replaced? Is your BB and headset working nicely. No frame damage? 2. Remove your cranks. Remove your pedals, wrap in bubble wrap and put into your bike bag. Wrap your cranks and the axel in bubble wrap and put into your bike bag. Note: I now use a double and bash and leave the cranks in place, just taking the pedals off, it’s up to you. Now is a good time to grease your BB and service your pedals! 3. Take your wheels off. Remove the QR’s and put into your bike bag. Remove the discs, put each one in a poly bag and tape together for strength. I put the bolts in tinfoil and stuff into the centre of the discs. Put discs into bike bag and wheels into wheel bag. 4. Remove your rear brak caliper, save the bolts somewhere safe in your bike bag! You can either disconnect your rear mech and tape the cables to the frame or you can do what I’ve done and just disconnect it and we’ll tape it somewhere safe later. Remove your mech hanger and put it somewhere safe. 5. Turn your front mech so it sits safely. If this can’t be done remove it. You can draw round the outline of the mech with a non-permanant pen to make it easier to put back in the same place if you want! 6. Remove the front caliper. If you have a maxel like me then you can just put it in to stop the fork legs being squeezed together, make sure that the lever lines up with the fork leg to stop it being damaged. If you have a front QR then you’ll need to cut a wooden spacer as for the rear dropouts and tape it in place. 7. Remove the handlebars leaving the stem on the steerer tube. We’re going to tape these to the downtube later. I slacken all my clamps and this gives enough slack to do this. If you don’t have enough slack to do this then you’ll need to remove the clamps from the bars. 8. Use the pipe insulation to cover the frame and forks. You’ll need to cut it to length and shape it to fit around the disc mounts etc. Tape the protection into place to stop it moving about. 9. Fix the handlebars to the downtube, outside the insluation. Make sure that the brake levers and shifters are in a position that ensures they’re protected; if you’re not sure take them off because a broken brake lever is going to be expensive! 10. Tape the front caliper inbetween the fork legs. Make sure that the tape isn’t going to touch your disc pads. Put a spacer between your pads to stop them being compressed, some brakes come with spacers but a couple of 50p’s taped together works for me! 11. Fit a spacer between the rear dropouts to prevent them being crushed. I use a section of wood which I cut to shape and tape in place. I’m going to drill a hole through it next time and use my QR’s to keep it in place. 12. Add your pipe insulation to the rest of the bike. Tape the rear mech and brake caliper into the rear triangle so that they’re protected. Remember to fit your pad spacers, I always forget. 13. My bike looks a bit like this at the moment! The dropouts are spaced, all the main bits of frame are covered, nothing sticks out to get caught and damaged and all the insulation is fixed in place. 14. Cover the rest of the bike in the bubblewrap. I’ve only shown the forks here but I wrap it all over the frame too so that it’s totally enclosed. Now fit it into your bike bag. Make sure that it’s all quite evenly spaced and that there’s nothing sticking out too much that is likely to get damaged. The test for me is would I be prepared to throw it about and stand on it, because that’s what the baggage handlers might do… All that takes me about 45 minutes the first time and about 30 minutes on the way back. A beer helps. Good luck. If anything does go wrong we’ll get you sorted when you’re out here, even if it comes to hiring you a bike. I’ll give you a hand to unpack your bikes and repack them too.

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