Man and woman walking in the streets with travel baggage

How to ensure a turbulence-free trip

Staff writer
May 31, 2019

Dan Bonello shares some tips about how to pack like a pro.

There are two types of travellers, the planners and the procrastinators. Dan has been a bit of both; however, when it comes to packing his bike for an overseas trip he leaves nothing to chance.

Dan’s top packing tips:

1. KIT – Plan For The Worst

I have been caught out by this many times. The lesson here is that no matter how mild or summery the weather outlook, pack for any shift in the elements: gloves, rain jacket, winter jacket, warmers and VeloToze. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to still ride even if the weather changes.

2. BOX, BAG or CASE? – A Case Can Be Made For All

There are multiple bike transporting options available and it is one of the items that I obsess over a lot. I find it helpful to read a lot of reviews before making my final decision.

For my trip this year to Spain I decided to use a cardboard box. Many people would cringe at this which is understandable given the fact that the boxes are not waterproof; they don’t stand up particularly well to repeated trips and are a pain to lug around between airport terminals or hotels. My GIANT has an integrated seat post (ISP) so this immediately ruled out some great bike case options. On the plus side, due to the box being lighter it allows for packing in additional things. The fact that every bike manufacturer in the world ships their bike in a cardboard box also make for a strong argument.

I am a massive fan of ‘soft cases’, especially my Thule Round Trip travel case. It is lightweight and its dimensions make it brilliant for trips. I am yet to find a back seat that I could not get this bike bag to fit on.

Hard cases stand out for a lot of travellers simply because they offer the highest level of security. I would recommend the Sci Con Aero Comfort 3.0. The only thing to note with regards to hard cases is that you will need to disassemble your bike and that they don’t always accommodate bikes such as Aero bikes.

3. SPARES – Think Of Your Bike & Its Components

This is the part where you might have to compile a ‘like’ and ‘need’ pile. Set all of the things you would ‘like’ to take out on the floor and then pare it back to the things you ‘need’ to take. If you are travelling in a group, you can always split some of the extra items between each other, not everyone needs to bring spare tyres, a track pump or full set of tools. If you are travelling solo make sure to pack smaller tools that are guaranteed to help you put your bike together at your destination.

I always leave the following things in my bike bag knowing that this list will get me through most situations without needing to visit a bike shop:

  • Di2 charger
  • Full set of Allen keys, torque wrench and a multi-tool
  • Disc brake pads spacers
  • Spare brake pads
  • Two spare tubes + mini pump (on top of what I carry in my saddle bag)
  • Spare tyre
  • Universal wall adapter
  • Rear flashing light
  • Front LED light
  • USB cables for my iPhone and Wahoo/lights
  • Velotoze
  • Electrical tape

4. PROTECTION – Take As Much Responsibility As You Can

It is an unfortunate reality that no matter how well you pack your bike for a trip – or how well you thought you had packed it – accidents do happen and it can ruin a trip or seriously add to the cost. This is where preparation comes into play as well as bicycle and travel insurance. It is pretty simple, the more protection that you can have around your bike for a trip the greater the chances of your bike surviving the trip. I am a massive fan of the insulating tubular foam that is used to insulate air conditioning pipes for thermal efficiency. This foam is quite dense so it will take a bit of an impact, but is still light enough that you can use a lot of it. I have gone to the lengths of cutting and labelling pieces of varying sizes to fit each crucial part of my bike. It also comes in varying diameters, so you can have a tube that fits the down tube perfectly and another that fits the forks or seat post perfectly.

5. CLEANING – ABC, Always Be Cleaning

You should be cleaning your bike regularly, but for travel, particularly overseas travel, your bike needs to be extra clean. The main reason is biosecurity. Some countries are less strict than others, but the benchmark is New Zealand. They have by far the most stringent rules and measure for keeping risk items out of their country or stopping them at their borders. I find their government’s information page to be particularly helpful when packing and also knowing what to declare when clearing customs upon arrival in any country. Sporting equipment will always attract the customs officials’ attention, so by ensuring your bike is clean, you are less likely to have any issues during that chapter of your journey.

Secondly, a clean bike is – in most cases – a healthier bike. It is one thing to have a mechanical issue when you are out on a bunch ride on your home roads, but having that happen on unfamiliar roads or in an area where you do not speak the local language can not only ruin your ride but make for a pretty stressful situation. Make sure your bike is clean and serviced before departing and you will significantly decrease the potential for bike related issues.

6. CONTENT – YouTube Is King

There is so much good content available on the internet these days that it boggles my mind. If you want to reliably pack your bike for a trip, there is no better way to learn than visually. The Global Cycling Network is one of the greatest resources for this sort of thing.

Happy and safe travelling.

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