Don’t leave it until the night before you go! Rushing to get the job done can lead to not protecting
the bike enough, or forgetting something vital, like the pedals.
Keep track of the bolts you’ve loosened to dismantle the bike and don’t leave them loose or they
may vibrate out in transit.
Make sure you have the relevant tools to reassemble when you get to the hotel. Mini bike tools are
pretty comprehensive but a proper set of Allen Key wrenches make the job a lot easier. A couple of
sets of disposable latex gloves also come in handy for preventing oily hands.
Be aware of the weight limits set by the airline you’re using and use any spare weight by protecting
the frame with clothing.
Bags can and do get lost or delayed, including bike boxes, so consider packing your helmet, shoes,
pedals and a set of kit in your hand luggage so you can still ride a rental bike if you have to.
Check your brake pads/cables, chain and tyres before you go. Don’t wreck that perfect day up an Alp because you break a chain and there’s no spares for miles (a chain quicklink in my saddlebag has saved me a couple of times).
If you’re travelling in a group, it’s worth splitting the tools, track pump and spares between you to
spread the weight and minimise disruption if a bag goes missing.
Most bike box companies tell you to remove the seat post; if you ride a small bike (like me) then it’s
not always necessary and it’s one less thing to do, so see if it fits. Another option is to lower the
saddle, but it’s possible this may mark an anodised seat post.
In several countries (especially the USA) custom personnel will open the box, as it won’t go through
their scanners; so, don’t lock it, as they will “get it open”. Using a cable tie on the case won’t prevent
access, but it will let you know if someone has taken a look inside.
Once they have it open, the chaps can be a bit agricultural in their search techniques, so an
application of helitape on your carbon frame could prevent some expensive paint chips in odd
Some countries don’t allow CO2 cylinders to be transported, so know the rules for where you’re
travelling or they may get removed. I travel with a good quality mini pump so I always know where I stand. If the weight limits allow, I’ll pack a track pump as it makes reinflating the tyres a lot easier.
Brake discs can be fragile if any weight is put on them. Even careful packing can result in pressure on the disc if it’s left on the wheel; this can throw it out of line and cause rubbing when you reassemble the bike. The way to avoid this occurring is to remove the discs and pack them safely where they’re flat; otherwise pack a rotor truing tool. Don’t forget to put a spacer between the pads; a chunk of cardboard does the job.