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How to pack a bike for air travel

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Are you planning to take your bike on your next holiday? It can be easier than expected and saves you from paying for a rental while on your trip. You may have questions about how to take your bike abroad, starting with how to pack it.

Most airlines require that your bicycle be packed in a bag or case. Not only does this help protect your bike, but it also prevents the handlebars and pedals from damaging other passengers’ baggage. A hard case is better to protect your bike, but the extra weight could mean you pay more in luggage fees.

To avoid excess fees, delays, or issues with the conveyor system, ensure your packed bike is at most 1 metre in height; if you can get it down to 80cm, even better! The easiest way to do this on most bikes is to remove the front tyre and lower the seat as far as possible. You should remove the seat post if your frame is especially large.

Here are some other tips for packing your bike for air travel.

  • Don’t just turn your handlebars. Twist them downwards, towards the stem, to protect the levers – vital if you have dual controls.
  • Lengths of foam pipe lagging can keep your frame scratch free. These can be found at any DIY shop and are relatively cheap.
  • Remove your disc brakes and pack them elsewhere. These delicate items are better off in your main suitcase. Don’t pack them in your carry-on.

Do you need to deflate bike tyres on a plane?

It’s not necessary to deflate your tyres before you fly. However, some airlines will request that you reduce the pressure in your tyres before you travel. You should always check with the airline to avoid issues at the airport. 

Do I need special travel insurance for my bike?

InsureandGo travel insurance covers sports equipment, such as bikes, as standard on all our policies. However, if your bike is expensive, you should include additional travel insurance for valuables on your policy. This optional extra covers items for up to £1,000.

How much does it cost to take a bike on a plane?

Just like the need to deflate your tyres, this is entirely down to the airline. Some airlines do not charge for your bike as long as your total luggage weight is under your allowance. Other airlines charge for a bicycle regardless of the weight. Ensure you ask what their policy is before you book your flight.

Cycling is a wonderful way to see the world. With these tips, you’ll soon be seeing the world from your saddle.