With modern aviation, it is much easier to visit exotic places with your mountain bike. When it comes to packing your mountain bike for air travel you may be a little stressed out. You must take proper precautions so that the bike doesn’t get damaged while traveling.
If you pack your bike properly, you can assure of its safe arrival. Taking help of small tools and packaging supplies you can effectively pack your mountain bike for air travel. Below is a step by step process that will guide you.
Getting started: Before packing your bike make sure that it is free from any dirt and if there be any, clean it. Mud or light dirt can mess the components during the transition.
Also when visiting countries like Australia and New Zealand, that have strict guidelines and regulations on the environment, ensure there were no stains. Before welcoming you after your arrival, your stingy bike might attract them. After cleaning the bike, mark off the handlebars, seatpost with a pen because these will be removed while packing.
Arrange a box: You can easily find a bike box at your nearest bike shop. You can either get it for free if it’s available or by giving a small price for purchasing the same. You should look for the exact size of the box that will hold your bike as boxes come in all sizes. If you had saved your old box then no need for going into local shops. Be sure to cover or remove any shipping labels on those boxes.
Disassemble your bike: Wrap your fork and frame. You should disassemble your bike as little as you can so as to fit the bike on the box. Remove the bike’s seatpost and then the handlebar. A small wrench may be required for removing the pedals. Shift the chain from the large front chainring to the small chainring before removing the pedals. To unthread the chain, turn the left pedal clockwise and the other one counter clockwise. Remove the seat and the seatpost as one thing. Don’t forget to tighten the seatpost bolt otherwise the seat might fall. The stem and the fork should be rotated to make them facing backward. All the loose parts to be set aside carefully.
Strap the wheels and deflate the tyres: Remove your bike’s front wheel and pad it with foam. Rear wheel also must be padded so that it might not damage other components. Its recommended to remove the air from your tyres because many airlines will tell you to do so. So it is better to remove air prior to getting into the airport.
Protecting delicate parts: You can use cardboard tubing or bubble wrap to protect the bike and its delicate parts from getting scratched or damaged during transportation. It is a noble idea to wrap the chain in a cardboard tubing to prevent it from scratching the bike and also the grease getting all over inside the box.
Try saving your paint job by wrapping foam padding with tape. Using foam to protect your bike is crucial. While wheels are removed, use a pad spreader to keep the pads of disk brake separated.
Remove any calipers that go beyond the back dropout of your bike, pad those things and secure inside the frame. That will prevent them from getting damaged and also punching the box when the fork is rotated.
The caliper mount should be taped. To keep the caliper mount secure, wrap it with shipping tape and store it separately. Remove the derailleur and hanger if possible to avoid these things from getting damaged during transportation.
Wrap these things in deep padding and store them inside the frame with zip ties or tape. If you are unable to remove them, shifting the derailleur to its easiest gear might also help and secure it with bubble wrap.
Padding the bike and packing the box: You might ask for some packing materials while getting the bike box from your local shop. Many of them provide plastic bits to protect the forks and rear axles.
It is natural that your bike will be upright after reaching the destination as most bike boxes are marked with “ this end up”, but what if that doesn’t happen and for this padding is extremely important. Identify any bulging points on the box.
If there is any, slip some foam or bubble wrap between the bike parts and the box. Also, tape the place to keep those materials intact. Securely place the partly wrapped bike into the box. Next put the front wheel, seatpost and other things inside the box.
Fill the empty spaces inside the box tightly with bubble wraps to avoid rattling. Pack some light weighted materials alongside the bike to keep it stable. Putting some of your clothes in that box as padding also saves you from taking another bag.
Before traveling: It is very important to check the weight limit of your baggage with the airline prior to your flying. A final checkup of the bike box is crucial to ensure that there is nothing moving inside the box as that might damage the components of your bike. Making sure that everything is secured will have your bike in perfect condition on reaching your destination.
After arriving: A vital point, often forgotten by many on reaching the destination is to check the baggage and find out if there has been any sort of damage on the box. If there is any kind of damage, immediately report it to your travel insurance company or else you won’t be paid later.
If you want to use a cardboard box, you can reuse them for a couple of round trips. But throw away as soon as it gets damaged. Many companies sell pre padded bike box which comes handy if you plan to fly with the bike on a frequent basis.
Also, that will cost you hundreds of Dollars. On the other hand, it is very easy to pack a bike into a box and the process takes only an hour. Air traveling with your bike can be as easy and stress free involvement if only you manage the above mentioned things.