How to Prepare Your Bike for a Flight
Having your own bike when you travel is great – your bike is normally much better than a hire bike and it fits you perfectly but traveling with your bike can be a challenge.
The airlines will require you to box or bag your bike. You can buy a fancy bike bag or case, but these tend to be very pricey and get damaged in transit quickly. In NZ, you can buy a bike box from Air NZ for $25 per flight or get a free one from a bike shop. If you get a bike shop box, make sure it is the right size for your bike. Air NZ has some specific intructions for packing your bike on this page: https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/oversized-items
Follow these five basic steps to make sure your bike arrives at your destination in one piece.
- Adjust the gears
Before you start packing your bike, adjust the gears so that the derailleur is as close to the spokes as possible. This means putting it on the largest rear cog. Doing so will reduce the possibility of the derailleur being snapped or bent in transit. Some people complete loosen the derailleur from the frame, but that probably isn’t necessary.
- Loosen the handlebars
Loosen the two bolts that hold the handlebar to the headset, and completely lift off the handlebars so that they are only attached to the bike by the brake and gear cables. Zip-tie or tape the handlebars to just behind one of the front forks.
- Remove the pedals
Remove both pedals with a pedal wrench. It’s best to have a specialized tool to do this as it will give you more leverage. To loosen, rotate the pedals toward the back of the bike, i.e. anti-clockwise.
- Remove the seat and seat post
Remove the seat and seat post in one. This will make it easier to pack the bike in a box and reduce the risk of damage during transit.
- Remove the front wheel
Remove the front wheel and deflate both wheels slightly. When packing the bike box, pad and tape the front wheel inside the box so that it can’t move around. You should be able to leave the back wheel in the frame.
Obviously, at the other end, reverse the above. Peddles tighten by rotating toward the front wheel. You may also consider adding your helmet and shoes to the bike box to lower your carry-on weight.
When packing your bike, assume that the baggage handlers will be rough with it. Make sure to pack it carefully, using plenty of padding and tape, and label it as “fragile” and “this way up”.
In summary, transporting your bike on an aero plane can be stressful, but by following these five basic steps, you can ensure that your bike arrives at your destination without broken pieces. Don’t forget to pack plenty of padding and label your bike box as “fragile”, and you’ll be ready to hit the road as soon as you arrive.
Hint: to avoid baggage charges, consider checking your bike as your main luggage and carry on your clothes.
Hint 2: Kenards have bike boxes for sale: https://www.kennards.co.nz/box-shop/box-it/Bike-box
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