Last week I provided an overview of the three most popular ways to pack a bike for air travel.
But choosing a vessel for your bike is only half of the battle. If you want it to arrive in a rideable condition, you’ll also have to pack it properly.
When packing, try to imagine what your bike will go through. Can your pack-job keep your bike safe if it’s dropped from an overheard height onto concrete? Would your bike survive if an 80 lb. bag of luggage was haphazardly tossed on top of it?
Your bike will not be handled gently. Here are some tips to prepare it for the abuse:
1. Brace the frame with PVC
Most frames don’t have threads on both ends of the rear axle. Therefore, if the rear wheel is not in the frame, the frame could be squeezed together by excessive side loading and damaged (this could happen if the case is on its side and luggage is stacked on top of it).
I cut a piece of PVC pipe the width of the rear hub and “install” it when the wheel is not in place and the bike is packed in the case. This will brace the frame and prevent it from being damaged.
2. Remove the rear derailleur
Some case and bag manufacturers claim that with their designs, you don’t need to remove the rear derailleur. I always remove it anyway. The rear derailleur is a delicate part and easily damaged. I also tuck it up and out of harms way, inside of the rear triangle of the frame.