Take the stress out of travelling with your bike!
Now that there’s signs of spring in the air, you may be contemplating a trip overseas with your bike to soak up some sun and enjoy some warmer riding.
Whether you’re jetting overseas for cyclotourism, a training camp, or an early-season race, there are a few essential things to know in order to ensure that your bike is ready to go, and to help ensure that it arrives safely at your destination.
The essential areas that we’re going to focus on are:
- Pre-trip bike checks
- Tools to take with you
- Packing tips
Essential pre-trip bike checks:
If you’re going away with your bike, we presume you’re going to be spending a lot of time on it while you’re away! As such, you want to be sure that your bicycle is working faultlessly before you go so that you can have the most stress-free and enjoyable trip possible.
The key areas of the bike to focus on are those that become worn over time and may require replacement. Luckily, all of these areas can be esaily assessed for wear and condition through a visual inspection, and rectified with some basic tools.
It’s surprising how quickly your chain becomes worn if you’re riding regularly. It’s good to replace a chain before it gets totally worn out so as to prevent wearing your cassette and chain rings, which are expensive to replace. Check out our guide below regards checking for chain wear to help you assess whether it’s time for a change. If you need to change your chain, you can easily do so with either or both (depending on the type of chain you have) of our chain pliers and chain tool.
Like your chain, tyres become worn very quickly and easily, particularly in the winter. Give your tyres a check for any large holes and gashes, and for the level of wear in the tread, and replace them if needs be. We’d generally recommend changing your tyres to brand new ones if you’re going on a special biking trip – you can always keep the old pair and use them when you get home again! Check out our Pre-Ride Checks video below (skip to 2:15) for advice on how to gauge your tyres’ condition.
Don’t forget these guys! It’s quite easy to forget to look after your brake pads as they’re hidden from sight and such a small part of the bike. But needless to say, they’re vital, especially if you’re off on a training camp to somewhere mountainous such as Mallorca or Tenerife. Our video above shows you how to assess the condition of your brake pads (skip to 1:25). Changing them is a quick 5-minute job that needs no special tools, and if you’re unsure whether to swap your pads or not, we suggest you do so just to be sure.
Gearing and wheels
Before you travel, consider the terrain you will be riding in and whether your bike is suitably equipped. If you’re riding in the mountains, you want to have shallow-rimmed wheels and a nice big cassette that will allow you to spin up the gradients. Day after day of grinding up mountains in a heavy gear will fatigue your muscles, whereas being able to keep a nice high cadence will allow you to keep the legs feeling fresh. Likewise, deep section wheels are heavier and so best left at home if you’re going to be riding somewhere lumpy.
Tools to take with you
Whether your destination is a cyclists’ mecca with bike shops on every corner like Mallorca or Tenerife, or is an isolated cycling paradise without another soul in sight, there’s a basic set of tools we suggest you take on all trips. These will ensure that you can re-build your bicycle when you unpack your bike box, and so that you can be self-sufficient on your rides.
A torque wrench is absolutely essential when you’re building your bike. As this blog explains, if you don’t want to damage valuable components by over-tightening them during assembly, you should use a torque wrench. Our Adjustable Torque Wrench is a great portable option for throwing into a travel bag and should be made one of your go-to travel essentials.
Along with a torque wrench, a multitool is a must for rebuilding your bike. Our 8-in-1 Multitool has all the toolbits needed to fully rebuild most bicycles, including attaching the pedals. And because it’s so slim and lightweight, it’s ideal for keeping in your pocket as you ride in case you need to make any adjustments when you’re out!
Mini Floor Pump
As discussed further below, you need to ensure you deflate your tyres before you travel. As such, you need to get them pumped up again when you arrive! Our Mini Floor Pump is the quickest and easiest way to do this thanks to the massive pumping power of its long barrel and steel foot peg. As it is supplied with a frame mount, you can easily carry it with you if you’re touring, or if you’re based in one location, it can just be left at your accomdation.
Your Everyday Ride Essentials.
As well as the above tools you need to get your bike rolling again, you need certain essentials you should be taking on every ride. Check out our blog which outlines the key items you always need to be carrying on all rides.
There are a few little tips and hacks that are helpful to know if you’re putting your bike into a case and putting it onto a plane:
Check the rules about CO2 cartridges
All airlines have different rules over these little ride-savers. Some airlines don’t let you take any on board, either in your hand-luggage or in the hold, whereas some carriers allow you to take a certain quantity of cartridges. So check in advance with the airline what’s allowed, and make sure you don’t forget a CO2 inflator!
Deflate your tyres
As mentioned above, make sure you fully deflate your tyres before you pack your wheels into the carry case – there’s a risk that tyres will explode due to the differences in air pressure when the plane is in flight if you pack them fully inflated. Simply open up the valve and push down the head to allow all the air out.
Keep the key items to hand
If possible, keep your shoes, helmet and pedals in your hand luggage to eliminate the risk of them getting lost. As everyone has particular preferences in function, fit and set-ups of these items, you can never be sure that you will find those that match your needs when you arrive at your destination if yours are lost in transit. However, if you have your own shoes, helmet and pedals, you can hire a bike and will be able to ride in comfort as you have these personal items at your disposal.
Carry a spare derailleur hangar
The rear derailleur on your bike is designed to be fragile and easily bent. This protects the much more expensive rear derailleur, as it’s the cheaper and more easily replaceable hangar that will absorb any damage if the derailleur is knocked. All bikes have slightly different hangars and these cannot be easily sourced at short notice when overseas. Given the fragility of a hangar and the possibility of them being bent in transit, we suggest you always carry a spare that is compatible with your bike just in case!