So you’ve decided to travel with your trusty steed- Congrats! You're going on holiday! But disassembling your bike and packing it into a bike into a bag? Apart from silent bike mechanics who shuffle around at the back of bike shops, who the hell knows how to do that?
Fear not. Here are some Unsprung tips™ to ease the DIY fear.
We’ll be using an Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro in this demonstration, but we think the principles can apply to most bike bags out there.
But before we start: If you are doing this for the first time, remember to take photos of everything that you are disassembling. It will ease the “how ah?” come reassembly time.
If you are particular about getting dirty grease all over your bag, clean your drivetrain first. If you don't care, then maybe still give it a clean? OK. You don't care.
(Some countries have very strict biosecurity laws. Do check this! You will now have to clean all of your bike! and shoes etc etc...)
Easy out, easy in when it comes to wheel removal/install.
So they don’t accidentally cut you while moving around the bike. If you are unfamiliar as to how to do it, check out this video.
tip: And don’t forget about the washer that tends to get stuck in the crank arm boot. Dig that out if you have not removed your pedals in a while. Give the washers a wipe down and zip-tie them to your crank arms so you don't lose them.
tip: The pedals should be marked L or R on the spindle. If yours are not, it helps to make a mark on one side with a marker pen. Knowing the correct side will reduce the frustration of reattaching them, especially if you arrive in a place that is less than ideal to assemble a bike (bad light, uneven ground, wildlife stealing your tools, etc, sometimes all at the same time).
If you don’t have one of these fancy ones, it does not matter. Most bike bags come with a removable plastic bottom bracket support; you can use that. Or just find something thick and high enough to support the bottom bracket, the fork legs can rest on a piece of cloth. Just remember to screw your axles back in now, not later! You will thank us for this.
Get some plastic brake bleed blocks from your bike shop (they will know what they are) or some folded cardboard to stick between your brake pads so that you don’t set them inwards in the event that you accidentally squeeze the brake levers with the rotors out. Resetting your callipers can be a really annoying thing to deal with at the other end, so best try to not let it happen in the first place.
So you have a direct way to secure the handlebar in one simple motion and avoid the potential confusion of how the bike's cables should be oriented.
tip: Take the stem off with the handlebar attached, not just the handlebar alone. Fewer bolts to undo and your handlebar roll will be as you set it. Screw the top cap back on and use a zip tie on the steerer to separate your stem spacers; this will help you remember the order they were in. A sturdy zip tie will also help keep the headset compressed and limit the fork from slipping out of the head tube too, which can be annoying when handling the bike at this point.
tip: Especially if you have a large frame, and even if you don’t, it’s better than leaving it sticking out and potentially damaging it or the drop out/derailleur hanger if there is an impact to the bike bag at that corner. We usually wrap the rear derailleur loosely in paper, secure the bundle with some tape and let hang freely below the rear axle. Note parts of the rear derailleur that come off with little effort, especially around the back of the hangar bolt. And be wary to not cross-thread the dropout when screwing the derailleur back in. Do that slow, nice and easy.
tip: If you have a large frame running air shocks, it helps to let the air out of them. The bike becomes just a bit more compact overall when the shafts retract, and the airlines rather you do deflate your air shocks anyway. Just make sure you have a high pressure shock pump (not a tyre pump) when you arrive to re-inflate the chambers.
Should you remove your rotors? If you worry about them getting warped in transit, then do. Remove them and pack them between any of the soft items you are taking along in the bike bag (eg: your ride jerseys and shorts). The other option is to ask your bike shop for a MTB cassette retail box. Those generally are good to stash all your bits and pieces in one place.
tip: 29” Wheels can be a snug fit into the bike bag's wheel pockets- especially if running beefy, wide DH tyres. You should deflate the tyres to a point where you can massage the wheel into the bag, but leave some air in the tyre so that the bead stays seated despite your massaging. The last thing you want are the stiff sidewalls to unseat the bead in a less rigid, fully deflated tyre, and if you arrive in a place with no access to a high pressure pump to re-seat the tyre bead, it will be a nightmare to get your tyre inflated again!
*Your mileage may vary.