How to Pack your Bike for an International Flight
Today I am going to go over how to pack your bike up for international travel. This will be a step by step guide. The sequence of the steps is very important so that the packing goes as seamlessly as possible.
Step 1: Remove any mounted equipment/bags
If you have a saddle bag, garmin or other handlebar mounted computer, now is the time to remove them.
Step 2: Remove your seat post
The second step is to remove the seat post. If you have a carbon fiber bike and don't plan on bringing your carbon fiber paste, you can take a dab and stick it in the seat tube now so that when you reinstall, you'll be properly lubed.
Step 3: Remove the Pedals
I use speedplay pedals. There are two easy ways to get these kinds of pedals off. You can use a pedal wrench or you can use a hex key. Don't forget that the left pedal is reverse threaded. This is a great time to clean off your cranks and also clean and relube the threads on your pedals and crank.
Step 4: Remove the Chain
This step is optional HOWEVER I highly recommend removing the chain and placing it in a plastic baggy. This gives you the opportunity to wipe down your chainstay with a mild degreaser and really just keeps everything nice and tidy. You won't need to zip tie your chain up and there will be less stress on your derailleur potentially (that gets removed too). I just think it's a great idea if you want to preserve your bike.
Step 5: Dismount the derailleur from the hanger
This step is simple enough. You only need to remove the derailleur from its hanger so that it's not physically attached to the bike. In most cases, you don't need to remove any cabling.
Step 6: Remove your handlebars and replace the faceplate bolts on your stem
What you want to do here is take off the 1,2 or 4 bolts that are holding your handlebars onto your stem, remove the handlebars, and then replace and tighten the bolts so they're not lost.
Step 7: Remove bottle cages and replace screws
If you have bottle cages on your bike, take them off. This is a good opportunity to put a little lube on your bottle cage bolts and reinstall them for travel. Pack the cages away in a safe place that wont allow them to be crushed.
Step 8: Remove wheels and skewers, deflate tires
This is the final step of disassembly. The wheels must be taken off, tires deflated, and skewers removed. Tires can expand on the airplane due to the decrease in cabin pressure over sealevel.
Step 9: pack your bike in its container
This step is hard to explain because how you pack your bike will depend upon your container and your preferences. I have traveled with my bike a lot. I have a couple of tricks I use when traveling that minimizes complexity. The number one trick is that I don't use foam to keep the bike parts safe. I use shop rags and rubber bands. Shop rags are washable and are fantastic to have on the road. So why not use them to protect your bike in transit? If they get greasy, you can wash them and they're easily held onto top tubes. When you pack your wheels, you do not want any metal on metal or metal on plastic contact. Use rags and towels to separate such things. The plane is sometimes a pretty bumpy ride and the amount of rubbing on a flight can be pretty substantial.