Expert tips for packing your bike

Expert tips for packing your bike

Embarking on a bike travel adventure? Ensuring your mountain bike is properly packed is crucial to its safe arrival and hassle-free reassembly. Follow this comprehensive guide to pack your MTB with precision and care, ensuring a smooth journey for both you and your trusty two-wheeled companion.

  1. Start with a clean bike:

Initiate the packing process with a cleaned bike. Remove any residual mud or dirt accumulated from your recent ride. This not only ensures your bike remains in impeccable condition but also prevents the risk of dirt dislodging and causing complications during travel and reassembly. Particularly, if you are traveling abroad, customs officials, especially in countries like Australia and New Zealand, will inspect bikes for cleanliness. Additionally, it is crucial to avoid introducing foreign seeds and contaminants into different trail environments, preserving the integrity of local ecosystems.

  1. Remove Pedals:

Utilize a 6 or 8mm Allen key to detach the pedals. To facilitate future removal, lightly grease the pedal threads. Safely store the pedals in a designated side compartment within your bike case, ensuring their security throughout the travel process. Be aware if your cranks require the use of any small pedal washers, pop them in a ziplock bag and place them with the pedals.This meticulous approach guarantees the pedals are readily available for reinstallation while maintaining the overall integrity of your bike components.

  1. Handlebars Off:

Remove the bolts securing the handlebars to the stem. Allow the handlebars to hang by the brake hoses/shifter cables, then reinstall the bolts halfway. This ensures you won't lose the bolts or the clamp during the packing process. The handlebars can then be strapped to the frame or fork using velcro straps, to stop them moving around in transit. Place a layer of protection between the two, to avoid any unnecessary scratches.

  1. Lower the Dropper:

Reduce the height of the dropper seatpost by compressing it to its shortest setting. In cases where you have larger frames or taller seatposts, consider loosening the seatpost clamp to enable you to lower the dropper into the frame to facilitate a secure fit within the bike case. This adjustment ensures the efficient and compact packing of your bike, preventing any potential issues during transportation and safeguarding the integrity of the dropper seatpost.

  1. Wheel Removal:

Carefully detach the wheels from both the fork and frame. Before storing them, take a moment to loosely thread back the front and rear thru-axles. This simple yet crucial step ensures that the axles remain with the wheels, preventing any potential loss during transit. By securing the axles in this manner, you streamline the packing process and enhance the overall safety of your bike components.

  1. Tyre Maintenance:

When preparing for travel, slightly deflate your tyres, but exercise caution if you have a tubeless setup. Leave approximately 10-15psi inside to prevent the tire bead from dislodging off the rim. Additionally, remember to pack extra sealant to address any potential issues on the other side of your journey. This precaution ensures your tyres remain securely seated and ready for action when you unpack your bike at the destination.

  1. Brake Preparation:

Prioritize the care of your brakes by removing the rotors and inserting a disc brake wedge into each brake caliper. This precautionary step ensures that the disc brake pads remain protected from accidental compression during transport. By taking these measures, you safeguard the integrity of your brake system, allowing for a smooth and worry-free biking experience upon reaching your destination.

  1. Remove Rotors for Disc Brakes:

For bikes equipped with disc brakes, carefully detach the rotors. To shield them during travel, position each rotor between two pieces of cardboard. Ensure clarity by clearly labeling which rotor corresponds to the front brake and which to the rear. This detailed approach safeguards your disc brakes from potential damage and streamlines the reassembly process upon reaching your destination.

  1. Essential Tool Kit:

Ensure a hassle-free journey by securing a comprehensive set of essential tools within your bike case. Include must-have items such as an Allen key set, torque wrench, chain breaker, master link pliers, tyre levers, bike pump, shock pump, cable ties, and a cable cutter. Pack these tools securely to prevent any potential damage during transit. A well-equipped tool kit guarantees that you can address any maintenance needs or unexpected issues that may arise, allowing you to enjoy your biking adventure without interruptions. 

While you can get away with a good multitool across most of the bike, make sure to have a full sized allen key (6 or 8mm) for the removal and installation of your pedals. A pedal that has not been correctly tightened can work it’s way loose and damage the threads in your cranks.

  1. Pack Essential Spares:

Consider the location of your travel destination, as not every place may have a readily available bike store, and their stock might not perfectly align with your specific bike build. To be well-prepared for any unforeseen issues during your journey, it's advisable to pack essential spares. Include items such as a derailleur and a spare derailleur hanger, tubes, chain, lubricants, sealant, tyres, brake pads, a couple of spokes and spare cables. By doing so, you ensure that you have the necessary components to address unexpected challenges, regardless of the availability of local bike shops.

  1. Optimize Packing Space:

Maximise the use of available space in your bag or case by filling gaps with your riding kit and shoes. Utilise your riding gear strategically to provide additional padding around your bike, but be mindful of the added weight. To protect your helmet from damage, consider carrying it in your carry-on luggage where it can stay secure and undamaged during your travels. This way, you make the most of every inch of packing space while ensuring the safety of your essential gear.

  1. Document Your Disassembly:

Capture the entire disassembly process on film to create a valuable reference for the reassembly phase. This step proves invaluable, especially for those who are new to the intricacies of packing a bike for travel. The recorded footage serves as a visual guide, ensuring a smooth and efficient reassembly of your bike at your destination.

  1. Do Your Research:

Before embarking on your biking adventure, conduct thorough research once your trip is booked. Consider the type of riding trip you're undertaking, the difficulty of the terrain, and the availability of local resources such as mechanics or bike stores. This information will significantly impact the number of additional items you'll need to bring. In some cases, you might even need to acquire additional bike repair skills to handle unexpected situations during your trip.

Armed with these expert tips, you're well-prepared to pack your mountain bike for travel and ensure a seamless riding experience. Whether you're exploring challenging terrains or cruising through scenic trails, a well-packed bike and a bit of pre-trip research will contribute to a memorable and stress-free adventure. Happy travels, and may every trail bring you joy and excitement!

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