Tips for travelling with your bike
I love travelling as much as I love riding my bike. It will come as no surprise that a holiday with my bike is my idea of heaven. I enjoy exploring new roads, seeing new sights and finding new climbs. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over Australia racing with Specialized Securitor and I’ve also been on a few overseas adventures too, bike in tow. I rarely go on holiday without my bike, and every time I head home to Eldorado my bike comes too. My bike and I don’t discriminate. We don’t always fly – I’ve dragged my bike quite successfully by bus, train and car… with no disasters!
I’m flying to Queensland to race the next round of the Australian National Road Series next weekend. This involves travelling by taxi, plane, and hire car with two bikes. This may seem like a bit of a nightmare to some, but now that I’ve got my travel day essentials sorted thanks to Loren Rowney, I’m reminded of just how easy it is to travel with your bike. It just takes a bit of planning and preparation, and once you get your routine right, it’s really not that difficult.
You’ve all heard of travel horror stories such as baggage handlers damaging bikes or people driving their cars into their garage forgetting that their bike in attached to the roof rack. Here are some tips to consider when travelling with your bike that may help you avoid any mishaps and make travelling with your bike a smoother and more successful process.
1. Make sure you pack all the tools you need for your trip. I have a small set of tools that I take away with me that includes items such as a pedal wrench, multi tool, chain lube, scissors, allen keys, precision screwdrivers, electrical tape, pins, cable ties, cleaning rags and a travel floor pump.
2. Learn some basic maintenance before you depart. This will allow you to fix any minor issues that you may encounter when you are travelling. There have been a few times when I’ve arrived at my destination and unpacked my bike, only to discover that my gears need a tune up. It only takes me a few minutes to fix the issue, then I’m ready to go and explore!
3. Know your bike measurements. Have your bike measurements written in a notebook or saved in your phone. You never know what will happen to your bike when you are travelling or if something has to be replaced during your trip. Having your measurements will mean you can make any adjustments you need without stress. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable on your bike in a foreign location.
4. Read the instructions. This tip applies for both bike bags and car carriers. Make sure you read the user manual so that you know what you are doing when packing your bike. Don’t allow a mishap to occur because you put your bike in the bag or box backwards or did not securely attach your bike to the roof. If in doubt, find a YouTube video to assist you.
5. Protect your bike. I’m a little over-cautious when it comes to packing. If you are using a bike bag, add some extra padding on your frame and derailleur. When it comes to your drive train, you can never be too careful. If you are using a car carrier, put a cover on to protect it from bugs splatter and put a rag on the clamp to protect the wheels and frame from rub marks. If you are packing your bike into your car, use a towel or blanket to prevent any accidental damage on your frame or drivetrain.
6. Always check your baggage allowance. If you are flying with your bike make sure you have enough baggage allowance or be prepared to pay extra fees. Check your airline’s baggage regulations before you travel. Also make sure that if you have connecting flights, that the baggage allowance is carried through all of the connections.
7. Be alert to your surroundings when travelling with your bike on roof racks. Be careful not to leave your front wheel next to your car when you are packing the car. Pay attention to any potential low clearance areas. You don’t want the nightmare of driving into your garage or that low bridge with your bike on the roof. Tip: I put a little note on my dash when I have my bike on the roof so that when I look down at the dashboard, I’m reminded of my “baby on board.”
8. Have everything packed and ready to go the night before. If you have everything ready the night before, it will alleviate any stress created by rushing around in the morning. Rushing is how you will forget something or make a sloppy mistake. Writing a list and checking it off as you add items to your bag is a great idea.
9. Be careful of prohibited items in your luggage when flying. Remember to put all your multi tools and CO2 canisters in your checked luggage. I’ve forgotten to do this a couple of times, and those small items are quite expensive to replace when customs confiscates them!
10. Embrace bike travel. There are so many options and gadgets out there these days to help transport your bike, so there are no excuses. There is the humble bike box, snazzy bike bag, car roof rack, or simply the boot of your car. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. So get out there and explore with your bike!
Everyone has been so fantastic about sharing their tips and stories in the comment section. We practically get a bonus article from the comments alone. So – thanks for that! Here are some of the questions I’d love for you to consider answering if you pipe up in the comments:
- What are your top tips for travelling with your bike?
- What do you always pack when you travel with your bike?
- What are your travel horror stories and success stories?
About the author
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on Twitter and Instagram and Strava.