Packing a bike for a trip by plane is a delicate operation, but don’t underestimate a trip by car either. Here are the suggestions from Alessandro Degasperi, Martina Dogana and Alessandro Fabian.
The transportation of a bike is a delicate affair but is often neglected. Current bikes are light and aerodynamic, robust, easy to disassemble and to put together, even for beginners. However, they are also fragile gems and need to be handled with care, not only in case of long trips by plane or train but also short trips by car.
THE BIKE DISASSEMBLED - For those who do not own a big van, a solution is to pull down the backseats of the car to make room for the load. The ideal solution would be to put the frame in a bike bag and put the wheels, best without pins and hooks, in wheel cases. “But for short trips, it’s enough to wrap the frame with foam rubber – explains Alessandro Degasperi, who won second place at the Ironman of Nice in France – while taking care to protect the most delicate parts.”
DURING A FLIGHT - The situation is different when you need to fly to races abroad and training camps or when you go on a holiday and are taking your own bike with you. “You can choose between a rigid or semi rigid bag – says the Italian who uses the Scicon Aercomfort Tri 3.0 –protection is everything. And with this model you don’t need to disassemble the handlebars, you only take off the wheels and pedals and the bike fits perfectly”. In 5 minutes, guided by the instructions in the bag which are always under your eyes during packaging, your racing bike is packed solidly thanks to the frame support and the straps that ensure stability and protection of the most fragile parts. When the bike is put back together, "you just inflate the wheels and mount them. You check the brakes, make some adjustments and you can see right away if everything is ok", continues Degasperi, who tells of a past misadventure. “I ran in some trouble around the World 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas: I found my bag completely destroyed at the airport because it had been crushed by a forklift. It could not be repaired but I found a bike at the race expo. We mounted the gearbox, miraculously unharmed, and I started, but while cycling the saddle went down. As if I hadn’t had enough problems, but I still got a great result: I placed 10th."
SMALL WORKSHOP - When you need to travel long distances, it’s important to bring along hex keys, a wrench, a chain tool, a derailleur hanger, spare tubes and tires, and a fast repair /inflation kit: usually, you will find stands with all kinds of equipment and assistance at the race, but often also the most common pieces are sold at outrageous prices and you lose time looking for that what you need.
ALSO FOR WOMEN - Even if bike bags can be heavy and cumbersome, they should be no problem for girls. “They are really easy to move, thanks to the wheels. – confirms Martina Dogana - With the Aerocomfort Tri 70.3 I can easily and safely transport all that I need. I also put my helmet and my wetsuit in the bag and actually use these as added protection of the frame. Of course, you need some dexterity putting the bike back together but some practice should be enough. Alessandro Fabian underlines that: “It’s better to spend some minutes in your garage in peace disassembling, reassembling and packaging the bike for some peace of mind when you arrive at your hotel or at the race. Often, it’s also wise to invest some extra euro’s in the right equipment, rather than using do-it-yourself methods that are not effective.”
COMFORT - But what are the qualities of a good bike case? “Simply the ease of use, its resistance and durability. With a bike bag the more fragile parts of your bike will be protected and if you use a bag for which you do to not need to disassemble parts such as the saddle and handlebars, the bike is ready to be used in just a few minutes – Fabian says – The motto is “package well and travel safely”.