Travel Guide: How to fly with your bicycle

June 21, 2024
Alex Broekman

I’m on my way to the UK to participate in the Ride London 2024 sportive, and I need to dismantle my bike and get it into my trusty Evoc bike bag. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years: how to pack your bike, avoid damage to your components and frame, and what else to look out for with airline bike policies.

When booking my trip, I went through the airline bike policies to see what their specific bike & sports equipment requirements were. I flew Qatar Airways, which gives you two 23kg bags as standard. You’re able to book your bicycle bag in as one of these bags, which is a great way to save on the additional baggage fees that airlines tend to charge.

First step for me is always to give the bike a good wash. This makes dismantling and building the bike up on the other side much more pleasant.

Now to remove some items. Firstly, removing pedals - which I seem to Google how to do every time. The left pedal is reverse-threaded, so a good rule of thumb is: when removing pedals, you will be turning the spindle of the pedal towards the rear of the bike. When fitting pedals, you’ll be turning the spindle to the front of the bike.

We also need to remove the handlebars by unscrewing the stem plate, dropping the seatpost, as well as taking out the wheels and deflating the tyres to around 1 bar. As they are tubeless, this keeps enough air in them to ensure that the tyre does not unseat from the rim - which would end up with sealant everywhere!

Packing the bike into the bag is incredibly simple. The bag has straps and clips that hold everything in place, as well as resting the bottom bracket on a plastic block, which keeps your drivetrain out of the way and your derailleur protected without having to remove it. The handlebars are strapped to a frame protector which is fastened to the top tube. We then just need to slide the wheels into the wheel compartments on either side of the bag.

For good measure, I popped a couple FRAGILE stickers on the bag. These can only do so much, so it is best to ensure that your bicycle is covered by insurance - especially while in transit to your destination.

I managed to squeeze a couple other items into the bicycle bag, which doubled up as some extra padding around the frame of my gravel bike. An important thing to remember is to remove your Co2 inflators from your saddlebag, airline restrictions usually call these out as a prohibited object while traveling. One extra item I popped into my frame storage compartment was an Apple AirTag. This was useful to check where exactly the bicycle was along the journey.

Checking the bicycle in at the airport was a breeze, as we had checked in ahead of time. The bike bag, along with a couple other bits of kit thrown in, came in at around 15kgs. Remember you are checking it in as an added luggage bag so you could go up to 23kg if you wanted to.

Arriving at Heathrow, I checked the AirTag and quickly found my bicycle bag at the fragile baggage collection. Unpacked and ready to go for a ride before the weekend’s race, I was glad to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing my bicycle is covered, while traveling and racing.

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