Packing a (track) bike for air travel.

Flying to to Melbourne end of next week with my bike. Give me some tips so I can do this easily. It’s a steel frame track bike with a quill stem.


Take it apart before you pack it in a box

Borrow a Ground Effect Tardis from someone?

Get a bike box from your LBS and pad things out with cardboard/bubble wrap etc.

Pedals off, wheels out, seatpost & cockpit out. Get dropout spacers from the shop as well or make them from nuts and threaded rod.

Or; show up with your bike and tools, buy a $15 airline bike box (they’re huge), take front wheel, pedals, cockpit off (or just rotate the bars to fit), drop the seat down or take it out, wrap your chain in a cloth and tape to the chainstay, pack it all into the box and tape it up.

Oh: finger tighten everything that’s loose, you don’t want a nut or bolt falling out of a hole in the box.

YOutube has a heap of vids showing how to do this

the question you should be asking yourself is… why fly when you can ride?

or borrow a bike from a fellow melbourne rider…its not like everyone only has one bike =D

pretty much everything Blakey said, its so easy and also don’t bother putting down your tires, they’ll be fine

heres my pro tip. its a track bike, you only need to undo about 4 bolts to completely strip it. so do that and put it in a box.

what blakey said.

i go to town with the bubble-wrap and throw an old towel or two in there as well.

This- it’s a track bike so no derailleurs and hanger to worry about. Plastic dropout spacers are a good idea.


  1. Remove pedals.
  2. Leave your rear wheel on, take off front wheel, turn handle bars. If bike does not fit in box, take handle bars off. Try again.
  3. ???
  4. Profit.

Thanks for tips. I’ve only flown with a frame, and I went pretty nuts with packing it (it also had about four transfers between Japan and Adelaide).

I’ll be packing my bike and my wife’s bike (separately), so I’d thought I’d ask for tips here. I’m thinking of getting some foam insulation tubes for the frame as well.

It’s not rocket science but it’s also very, very easy for baggage handlers to trash your bike .

Each time I’ve done this I’ve found the less you take apart the better. They carry much bigger things than bikes, so whether you take your seatpost out really doesn’t matter to them.

  1. Take the front wheel out, out a spacer/spare axle in.
  2. Use old footy socks to tie the bars against the frame, and anything else that needs protecting. Also tie the wheel against the main triangle, so the rim is flat and won’t get squashed.
  3. Drop the seatpost down into the frame, or if you think it might get scratched, just leave it as-is.
  4. Remove the pedals.
  5. Put it in a big bike bag (or box). I prefer a bag, a really basic thin one that folds up small, so you can add it to your backpack and ride away from the airport.

Leave the rear wheel in. Saves messing around with a greasy chain, saves putting a spacer in, saves the wheel getting squashed laterally. The latter is the biggest worry - they lie the bike down on its side, and it’s common for other heavy things to be dropped on it. So the best place for a wheel is within the frame.

The catch with the above that you need a bigger-than-usual bike bag. Not many can fit a bike with the rear wheel in. I have this one, and it’s perfect (fits a 55cm frame with wheel easily).
Mine was $80 on eBay, a bit more elsewhere:
Phantom Cycles - TIOGA Bicycle Bag

It’s always a balance between safety (total protection) and hassle… cost, size of box/bag, weight etc

I have a clamshell bike case doing nothing at the moment if you need to borrow it, but then you need to factor in bigger taxis, storage etc

The bikes will be transported to the airport in our station wagon. Haven’t figured out the Melbourne part, but that will probably be with a taxi stationwagon as well…

Go to your LBS and get the plastic fork spacers that come with complete bikes.
I just flew back from Brisbane with my track bike and ziptied everything together with rags in between every contact point. Bike came out perfect. Make sure you put your tools in checked luggage otherwise you won’t be keeping them. Same with D-lock. If you think you’ll be over the weight limit slip your foot under the bottom of the box when it’s on the scales (Have to make sure a little bit of the end is hanging off) and talk to the air girl while you push up a little bit with your toes. Only needs a tiny bit and a couple Kg’s will come off. I didn’t do this btw but I tried at the airport and it worked.

haha classic

Put the clothing you will need for your trip into plastic shopping bags. Use these bags as packing.

  • Joel

I just did this. Bought the box from qantas. It’s MASSIVE. Realized it wasn’t going to fit in any car. Cut box in half. Made bike fit in that. Wheels off, fork out. Only thing I left in was cranks. Padded the shit out of it with bubble wrap etc. When I went to syd 16kg with all the packing/box. When I came back, 25 with all the clothes n shit I stuffed in there.

If I had my time again, I’d take the bike to the airport unpacked. Buy the box, leave as is, drop bike in, get to destination, throw out box, ride away. It’s only 16.50 to buy another I’m not that cheap.