Flying with your mountain bike is probably the most stressful of all public transport options because you have to hand your beloved bike over to airport staff before you board and just pray that it gets to the other end at the same time as you, and in one piece. There are various different bike packing options, which we’ll come on to later, but first, here are a few key tips on how to pack your mountain bike for flying and reduce the chances of your bike being damaged in transit.
- Remove your front wheel (and insert your axel to prevent your forks being damaged)
- Take off pedals
- Unbolt rear derailleur
- Disconnect the stem, not your handlebars. It is easier to replace your stem with handlebars attached, then align your handlebar position/ angle on arrival
- With hydraulic brakes, be sure to put something in between your brake pads to prevent them being forced together
- Reduce the tyre pressure to prevent expansion during altitude.
- Add a personal travel tag marked clearly with your name, and your home and destination addresses
Preparing the bike for travelling needn’t be a chore if done right!
Over the years we’ve tried almost every bike packing option available: from the cheap and cheerful cardboard bike box from the local bike shop, to more expensive, hard-shell boxes. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, for example, the cardboard option is inexpensive and easy to access, but also requires a lot of extra protective packaging to secure your bike and is very time-consuming to pack/ unpack. The hard shell, on the other hand, offers a good deal of protection for your mountain bike, but is extremely cumbersome to transport around train stations and airports.
Having tried and tested most products on the market, we were blown away when we discovered the Nooyah travel bike bags, which we’ve actually enjoyed travelling with for many years now. The cunning UK design means that you’ll have your bike safely packed away in under ten minutes, but more importantly, it will be built up and ready to ride within ten minutes of you arriving at your final destination.
A couple of final points: check how much the airlines will charge to transport your bike before you book your flights; and make sure you check the fine print of your luggage insurance to see if it covers you for sports equipment. It’s likely that your bike won’t be insured and you may need to take special insurance to cover you for loss or theft of your bike in transit.