Packing your bike for air travel can be daunting.... let us break it down for you!
1. Be sure your seat dropper is all the way down, and hang your bike in a bike rack.
2. Remove both pedals (spacers too if you have them!) and both wheels. Put pedals in ziplock, along with spacers. Put brake chips between brake pads (to prevent caliper being pressed during travel and having to bleed your brakes upon arrival).
3. Remove your brake rotors, and place in ziplock or pouch along base of travel bag. Must be kept flat during travel and not allowed to bend.
4. Remove your stem and attach bars/stem to frame (We prefer to detach at the stem/steerer tube interface vs stem/handlebars, so you keep all your angles the same, and it's simply less bolts to remove).
5. Remove fender and place in bag.
6. Remove chain quick link and place quick link and full chain in ziplock (this allows you to fully tuck the derailleur away in the next step).
7. Remove rear derailleur (leave the hanger on), and zip-tie the derailleur between the rear chain stays. I always run a zip-tie through the attachment bolt at the rear derailleur to hold all the spacers, etc. together during travel.
8. Add foam along the frame if you would like more padding.
9. Place in your bag and tie down accordingly.
10. Deflate tires slightly, and put wheels in wheelbase along sides of the bike.
11. Stuff your bag full of all your gear!
Of course, bike bags vary in size and layout. While the steps above will help you break down your bike for travel, there may be an extra bike-specific step to add.
Note: Before flying, be sure to check with your airline about weight and size restrictions. Currently, American airlines will let you fly your bike for $35 if the bag is less than 50#! There are also embargo's throughout the world that may impact your ability to fly a bike with a certain airline into a certain country. Do your homework, and check these details!
Oh, and don't carry CO2 in your bike bag- it's unlikely to be found, but very possible you'll get your boarding pass taken away while boarding at 11pm in Colombia, and bags taken off the plan while police search your bags. Oops. At least they let us back on the plane... eventually!
Once you get to where you're going, simply reverse the process!
See you at the airport,