Friday, 26 August 2016 09:20

The Bike Deserves a Holiday Too

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All year you ride your own bike. You set it up for you. You know it's idiosyncrasies. The saddle is moulded to your bum. It's yours, it's part of you and then you go on your cycling holidays and what do you do? You leave it behind like an unloved elderly relative. 

Well not me. I love my two wheeled friend far too much, so when I went to ride the French Alps earlier this summer I was determined we'd share the experience together.

There are a number of options available for packing your bike away when flying. The cheapest is to go to your local bike shop and ask if they have any spare cardboard boxes. Most stores will be only too happy to let you have one for free. On my trip to Morzine there were at least 20 bikes packed this way but I'll be honest why spend 3 or 4k on a downhill rig or carbon fibre speed machine and scrimp on protecting it? Doesn't make sense to me.

Soft cases can be an option although you still need to visit the bike shop for some cardboard to protect the bike. It's possible to get cases which will pack down to A4 size and these are ideal for touring when your final destination differs from your start point. If you ask especially nicely at the bike shop they'll give you a spacer for the forks. These simple pieces of plastic are part of the packaging when a new bike is delivered to store designed to protect the forks. I didn't use one on a flight to Budapest and my trip was nearly over before it began.

When using a softcase pack the bike with as much cardboard as possible on the flight out. It's also useful to mark up the case with fragile and bike to hopefully alert the baggage handlers not to throw your baby around. Ok maybe I'm being too optimistic here. When you build the bike though just make sure you throw the cardboard responsibly.


But for all that if I'm taking my pride and joy for a romantic weekend for two, I'm taking protection. I didn't feel my softcase offered the security I needed but thankfully I was offered use of The Bike Box by B&W international, a hardcase and then some.

The bike box is a serious piece of kit with an RRP of £249.95 but my road bike is worth 6 times that and a delicate flower that needs looking after. I'll admit that my packing skills aren't great but I found that with only 3 repacks I was able to fit the 56cm frame in comfortably and the separate wheel  bags made sure that my pretty hoops would be protected. The case some with foam pieces to protect components and that all invaluable spacer for the fork dropouts.


One issue you can get with packed bikes at airports is how cumbersome and unwieldy they are. The bike box is easy to use due to multidirectional wheels and various handles. It also looks great and resembles an attaché case. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if Robert Shaw was tear gassed trying to open it and it caused quite a stir in Geneva with other passengers. Most importantly the bike arrived in perfect condition and enjoyed the Alps immensely.

Bike Box 2

So there you have the main options for packing your bike for flying but which ever option you choose there are certain things you have to bear in mind.

Always fully deflate your tyres and remove pedals.

If using hydraulic brakes place a wedge between the pads to save having to bleed them.

You'll probably have to remove your seat post from the frame so place a piece of electrical tape around the post so you know your saddle height.

Likewise your bars will usually be moved sideways to fit in the bag or box so mark your usual position.

Remember your tools!! You can build a bike with a multitool but it's easier to have at least a 5mm hex key and a 15mm spanner. Also remember your mini pump. It may also be worth getting yourself a packable torque wrench if you're riding a top end machine.

So there we have it. There is no excuse for not taking your better half on holiday with you. Just pack it well in a decent box or bag and book the ticket and anyway those sneaky foreign bikes have the brakes on the wrong side.

Bike Box 1

Again huge gratitude to B&W International for providing me with the Bike Box for my trip to Morzine.