Traveling with your Bike


JORBA: Ringwood
With my teammates traveling to far away places like Ecuador and Arizona for winter training, and National Championships in Colorado this summer, I thought a post on bike traveling/packing might be of use. I spent a few years racing Nationals and had to do it by myself a few times, so knowing how to pack your bike can come in handy.

First you want to decide which mode of transportation is best for you:

1. You can travel with your bike on a plane, but it will cost around $100 each way for domestic flights. International varies by carrier, and some are free. Insurance varies and may be limited. Always check first. If you travel with your bike, you will need ground transportation at both ends that will accommodate the bike box. Co2, lube or any flammables are not allowed on planes or air shipped.

2. You could also ship UPS or Fed-X, but you will need to secure a location to ship to and from. Ground cost less than the airline in many cases. Some bike shops have a pack and ship service. If you do it yourself, and race on Sunday, you may need to stay until Monday afternoon, so that you can get your bike shipped back. You also will be without your bike for a week before and after the trip.

Once you decide how to ship your bike, you will need a box. Your local bike shop should have hard cases for rent or loan. If not, they should have cardboard boxes. Many will pack your bike for you for a fair fee. If you want to pack your own, make sure to get some drop out spreaders and brake caliper spreaders at your bike shop.

Hard box packing assuming you do not have a bike stand. Use the tools you plan to bring:

First remove pedals. Wrench turns backwards off, and forward on (riders right is standard, left is reverse thread). Once the pedals are off, grease threads and place in plastic bag. Set aside.

Next place tiny piece of tape to align handlebar with stem. Remove stem cap, and let bar hang. Replace stem cap.


Next loosen pinch bolts on stem alternating, 1/8th turn at a time until stem can make a quarter turn.


Remove seat post with the saddle attached. I like to clean the seat post and seat tube with a rag and lightly grease seat tube. If you have a carbon or ti bike or post, consult your shop for proper lubrication, or leave as is.

Now remove the wheels and place caliper spreader between brake pads one wheel at a time. Place bike in box, nesting the bars against the fork or top tube, and wrapping the bars in towel or bubble wrap. Place spreaders in drop outs. Place seat post in box.


I remove the rear derailieur as well. With allen loosen until it comes off, but take note of the notch that must line up when putting it back on. If you are not mechanical, I recommend doing this once at home under supervision first to make sure you understand how it goes back together. Once off, zip tie to the frame in a protected place.



Wheels: Remove skewers (don’t lose springs), and place in zip lock bag with tools and bag of pedals. I remove rotors, but this is optional. You will need the proper tools for this and may vary by brand. Mine uses a torx 25, and once removed, rotors are placed in a bubble wrap sleeve with clean hands and bolts are placed in zip lock bag with torx and taped to the rotor bag.



Add your bags of parts to the box with your identification and cell phone numbers if lost. Place foam layer over bike, then add wheels and next foam layer and close.


You are ready to go. To put bike back together, do these steps in reverse. I generally put extra tools, pumps, shoes or anything that may red flag as explosive in my checked luggage in clear plastic bag, so that my bike box will not need to get opened. They never seem to close them up as secure as the owner of the bike.

Maybe some of the bike shop people will chime in with some more tips and information about their shop's ship services.
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JORBA: Ringwood
Thanks to the moderators for making this a sticky.....

This way girls can go online where ever they are and find it for reference on packing and building their bikes while away :)

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New Member
Great post. I have the same box and after putting my bike in I use the clothes I need to bring along to cushion the bike and parts. Old dry cleaner bags help keep the dirt and grease off!

I've even packed a formal silk dress between the foam and box. It got to the destination in perfect condition without a wrinkle:D

Always check with your carrier regarding costs, some will charge for oversize and overweight if the bike and case is >50lbs. On at least one domestic airline it will cost you $150 each way :( Some carriers give discounts for frequent flyers and for IMBA membership.


Hudson Valley Girl
Hey Pix :D
Where is Marrianne going?
Great post about Laura and her blog, it made for good reading on a snowy day

RC ... :)


New Member
El this is so helpful. I'll be traveling for the first time with my bike next month.
You covered it all! I'll be putting your suggestions to good use.


JORBA: Ringwood
Marianne and I are off to Arizona in a week. We chose to ship our bikes ahead. With this recent snow, it sure makes me start to wish for spring and warm weather.

Good luck packing your bikes ladies. It is a great feeling to be self sufficient, and every trip can be a new experience.


Well-Known Member
I have vacationed with my bike a number of times. Here are some of my personal preferences:

-ship to the destination using a service. UPS, FEDEX are most expensive but they pick-up, insure, and guarantee that the bike will be waiting for you when you arrive. Most hotels will accept your shipment before your arrival. Otherwise, try shipping to a LBS at your destination.

-If feeling frugal, bring the bike home with you on the plane. It is cheaper. While it is a little riskier for the bike, if something happens it will not mess up the vacation.

-A plastic hard-case is ideal but expensive. A standard Cannondale cardboard box is within the allowable dimensions for UPS and FEDEX. I used this on one trip and it was fine. Other brands of bike boxes have different dimensions. Measure box and check with the shipper beforehand.

-Take all those very personal things with you in a carry on; such as shoes, helmet, pedals, set of bike clothes, etc. You don't want these items to be lost by a carrier. If something happens to the bike or luggage, you can put the pedals on a rental and be ready to ride.

Kari Post

May I recommend train travel? When I returned from riding across the US, I had my bike boxed and took it with me on the train home. It took me a total of two buses and four trains to get from Florence, OR to Ridgewood, NJ, and I was able to bring the bike in its box with me the whole way. Total cost for bringing the bike across the country = $20, and that was actually just for the first two buses. Since the bike was boxed I had no charge for bringing in on the trains. For Amtrak it just counted as checked luggage and for NJ Transit, I just carried the box on with me. Much cheaper than flying or shipping your bike!!!


Accomplished Skadouche
Many years back when i was in the army and i was stationed in Bosnia, i had my dad bring my bike to a shop, they boxed it up with everything i needed to put it back together and he simply mailed it to me.
I haven't tried this yet, but southwest only charges $50 each way for oversized so you might be able to say a few bucks using them.
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