The Ins and Outs of Flying with a Bike: Part 2

You probably read our previous post on which airline to fly and what Now that you’ve booked a flight, have your trip itinerary dialed, and you are ready for adventure by bike, here are the necessary steps you should take to make sure your bicycle arrives to your destination in one piece!

Pull Apart, Put Back Together
If you have a lot of experience turning a wrench, this part will make you yawn. However, if you are relatively new at disassembly and reassembly of your bike, take notice. This part is important.

Step 1: Remove Pedals.
Remember, pedals loosen towards the BACK of the bike. So do not refer back to your “righty tighty, lefty loosy” mantra. Your LEFT pedal is reverse threaded! Place pedals in a ziplock bag on their own, with pedal washers in tow.

Step 2: Remove wheels, deflate tires, remove skewers (and disc rotors).
Pop the wheels off and remove skewers. It is helpful to have wheel bags so you know exactly where your skewers are, but a plastic baggie for small parts like skewers and pedals is just fine. If you have a disc brake bike, the rotors will also need to be removed. Rotors are fastened using EITHER a centerlock or a T25 Torx wrench. The centerlock is simply a Shimano or SRAM lockring tool - T25 looks like a star. Remove these and place them safely into a small cardboard box to be stowed with your other small items for travel (DON’T FORGET THE FASTENERS!)

Step 3: Remove derailleur from hanger.
Most derailleurs require a 5mm allen wrench to remove. Simply take it off from your hanger and let it hang by the cable housing while you prepare to wrap the frame for protection. After frame is wrapped, do the same with the derailleur and secure it to the chainstay on the inside of the frame to prevent it from getting damaged.

Step 4: Remove handlebar.
Most folks like to remove the handlebar from the stem. Some prefer remove their stem from the steerer tube and replace the stem space with spacers or a piece of cardboard tubing that fits the 1-⅛” cylinder. I opt for the ladder, but regardless, if you are removing anything, you should mark its location so your fit is the same when you arrive at your destination, as it was when you departed! Apply a piece of painter’s tape across the front of the stem and handlebar, and draw a line on it before removing bar. Cut the tape so that when you remove the bar from the stem, part of your line is on the handlebar, and the other part is on the stem. Using the line as a cue, you can match them back to the correct position when you reassemble!

Step 5: Secure frame and remove seatpost!
More important than the handlebar position is your seatpost! Again, use your painter’s tape or electrical tape to lay a section EVENLY around your seatpost, marking its exact position. Secondary to knowing this specific measurement is having a physical marker so you can simply place the post back in its original position. It even helps to have a small 4-5nM torque wrench to ensure that you’re applying the proper torque to avoid damaging your frame.

Finish wrapping the frame, handlebar, crankset, and secure any loose items. The handlebar should be rotated to align the curved part of your bar around the fork and steerer tube. If you’re packing a mountain bike or TT bike, this can be even easier as you just need to secure the bar against the padded frame! ALWAYS make sure there is a layer of material between your components and your frame.

Step 6: Tetris time! Box everything up!
If you’re using a bike box, the wheels will fit on one side of the frame. But however the wheels fit, make sure that the hubs are not contacting anywhere on the frame. There is some benefit to using hub covers (flat plastic pieces that keep the hubs from either rubbing the frame, or busting through the side of the box). You can acquire these at your local bike shop - usually they will save them for packing purposes.

Finish up by taping, zipping, or snapping everything in place until you reach your destination! Remember, the weight limit is 50 lbs - so as long as you’re under that, feel free to throw a few extra amenities in there like helmet, shoes, and food. I like to add my drink mix so I’m not hauling around bags of powder. TSA will find any excuse to pull you aside and make an example of you.

Happy riding!!! If you want an extra tutorial, or have specific questions, I’m all ears. Drop me a line at