Spring is just around the corner and those long monotonous hours spent indoors on the trainer will soon give way to the great outdoors once again. This approaching change of the seasons always gets us Midwesterners fired up about the outdoor riding ahead and dreaming of those trips and events that we've had on our radar since this time last year.
No matter what you ride, why you ride, or where you ride; traveling with your bike has so much to offer, and we encourage you to make this the year you finally check that riding destination off your list.
Between the guys and girls at SILCA HQ this year, we'll be checking off: the Dirty Kanza 200, a trip to Norway with Trek Travel, the Taiwan KOM, Hincapie Fondo, Phil's Cookie Fondo, the Sagan Dirt Fondo, the World Master's Track Cycling Championships, an unsupported ride from Amsterdam to Spain, and more.
It goes without saying that traveling with your bike to and from events requires additional training and planning in order to perform well and enjoy the experience to the fullest. That said, the majority of the information out there focuses more on the training aspect of preparation while the planning and little details too often fall by the wayside. Details are sort of our obsession here at SILCA so our staff; along with a few of our pro riders, and friends got together and created a list of tips and tricks to consider when traveling with your bike.
Tips and Tricks
Lachlan Morton - Professional cyclist with EF Education First and star in Thereabouts film series
Ride and event resume: Pro Cyclist on the UCI World Tour since 2012 and has participated in multiple unsupported rides around the world as part of the Thereabouts film series.
LM: “My advice is to pack light. It’s amazing how little you really need, pick clothes that can double up on and off the bike and grab items at your destination if need be. Always check with the airline regarding bike boxes and book ahead if possible. There’s no easy way to travel with a bike so give yourself plenty of time to minimize stress.”
Manuel Buck (Mach Bar) - Cycling influencer and photographer
Ride and event Resume: Maratona dies Dolomites, Trans Continental Race, Spring Classics Challenges, Taiwon KOM. Manuel also travels to riding destinations all over the world for week long getaways on two wheels.
Question: Can you walk through the process of packing your bike into a bike bag?
MB: "I always use a proper bike bag (EVOC) as it offers the best protection and low weight to still be able to pack some extras in the bag like Kit and shoes. (1) disassemble the seatpost after marking the saddle height with a tape (2) shift to the big ring and smaller sprocket (3) disassemble the handlebar and strap it onto the frame (I avoid removing the stem as you mess up the finely adjusted tension on the headset) . (4) disassemble the wheels and deflate them to around 3 bar (way enough and saves some hustle at the destination) . (5) wheels in the wheel bags on the outside, cassette always on the outside for more distance to the spokes (skewers removed and packed inside the bike bag) . (6) disassemble the rear derailleur as you don’t want a bent hanger which would mess up the holiday. Wrap it in some bubble wrap or similar protection and fix it between the rear stays (7) strap the bike in the bike bag (8) pack small bags of kit (Musette size) and stuff them into the gaps for extra protection."
"Additionally, if you're flying with your bike...(9) check the allowed weight with your airline before (23 or 30kg is a big difference) to avoid extra costs (10) no CO2 canisters or other Aerosol Canisters (you really should get a nice mini-pump anyway). (11) stick some ‘handle carefully’ sticker (normally for parcels) on the outside - not sure it helps but I never had an issue since."
John Watson - The Radavist
Ride and event resume: mixed terrain events and unsupported weekend/multi-day getaway rides all over the world
Question: If you had to recommend one piece of gear or kit for people that travel with their bike, what would it be and why?
JW: "For international travel, I always like taking a power strip with multiple outlets and putting an adapter at the end of its chord, so you don't have to worry about using multiple power adapters. Last year, I didn't fly all that much and opted to drive to events which made it easier to pack everything I need. For that kind of travel, I always bring a travel coffee kit with a porlex grinder, an aeropress, and a Snowpeak stove to make sure I can have fresh coffee wherever I go. I'll try to buy local beans from a shop, or carry my own. Just be sure to use it in a well-ventilated area - I see people using it in their hotel rooms, that's a no-no!"
Max Burgess (Mxburg) - Podia
Ride and event resume: The spirit of adventure took Max from London life and to the Polish medieval city of Krakow that he has used as a base to explore hidden Europe on two wheels. When he’s not seeking out new places to ride, he’s busy running his cycle clothing and tour organizing company Podia.
Question: What's a must have tool to have when traveling with your bike?
MB: "The tool that I 100% have to take when I travel is the T-Ratchet + Ti-Torque kit. While I favour the Italian Army Knife Venti on rides, I always take the T-Ratchet + Ti-Torque kit in my bike box. Once I reach my destination and put my bike together I really like to have things torqued properly, but taking a full sized torque wrench is too heavy. This is perfect and feels so good to use!"
Ginger Boyd - Machines For Freedom
Ride and event resume: I've been racing road and fixed gear for a few years now. Currently still trying to crawl out from under a 6 month burnout period if anyone has advice
Question: When traveling to an event with your bike, what do you typically do for a pump?
GB: "I'm probably crazy but I have a floor pump that lives in my car and one that lives in my house. Yes, it's inconvenient back there and an awkward shape and usually in the way... But since I generally refuse to check my tire pressure until seconds before a race, it's saved me many times! I've also helped many a poor soul who rides around the parking lot saying "Anyone have a pump? Anyone?"
Chris Cosentino - Celebrity chef, founder of Pave Bar, and organizer of CampoVelo
Ride and event resume: Dirty Kanza, Rebecca's Private Idaho, Grinduro, and other mixed terrain events all over the United States.
Question: What advice do you have for people planning to fly with their bike?
John Balmer - Director of Product Management, SILCA
Ride and event resume: Various track cycling events and Master's Track Cycling World Championships
Question: What are some concerns you have when traveling with your bike?
JB: "Having what I need for proper assembly, maintenance and tire inflation are key concerns when traveling with my bike to events. I need to carry everything required in a place that is easy to access, so a fully loaded VIAGGIO Travel Pump is always in the bottom of my bike carrier or Maratona gear bag. Competing at different velodromes in different events, tire air pressure requirements can be anywhere from 110psi to 200psi. With the VIAGGIO, I can easily and accurately get to the exact tire pressure needed. And with my chain whip, hex keys and torque wrench neatly organized, I know that the bike will be ready to roll"
Daniel Oss - Professional Cyclist BORA-Hansgrohe
Ride and event resume: Professional cyclist on the UCI World Tour since 2009 and widely regarded as one of the most versatile domestiques in the pro peloton. Outside of professional racing, Daniel enjoys week-long trips on the bike that are broken out into several stages.
Question: You travel a lot as a professional rider so typically have the help of your mechanics. What's something that they always tell you to travel with before those unsupported rides that you do?
DO: "Of course I travel a lot as a professional rider. One of the best things being a pro rider is that the mechanics drive with a big truck to all the races and training camps with all the bikes inside. So I never really need to think about that. That said it can be difficult if you have to pack your bike by yourself once in a while, because you are not used to it. Most important, and most people forget about this, is a torque wrench, as nowadays all is made of carbon. But if you ask me about an advice: don’t pack stuff on your bike - just ride. Riding is the best part and it also can be very entertaining to ride for traveling, for a few days in different stages. I always do that once a year for at least one week and this feels like coming back to the roots of bike riding.“ - Daniel Oss
BrittLee Bowman - Cyclocross Racer for The Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team
Ride and event resume: Having raced back to back road and cyclocross seasons for the past 11 years, BrittLee has raced her bike across the U.S., in Canada and in Europe. She has spent her road seasons pushing her limits in high level criteriums and cyclocross seasons in UCI races. She has landed on podiums at USA Crits Speedweek, Tour of America’s Dairyland and multiple UCI cyclocross podiums.
Question: What advice do you give to someone who's not used to traveling with their bike all the time about packing for a weekend event or race?
BB: "Have a system. Have bags. With packing for a bike trip or race weekend, it's really important to me to have a system and bags to support that system. Since I bring mostly the same items to every bike travel trip I go on I like to save myself time and effort by actually leaving my Maratona Gear bag mostly packed for five months of the year while I race cross every weekend. I basically just wash my dirty clothes/kit at the end of the weekend and put them directly back in the bag. Using a bag with a selection of pockets to organize items and especially mesh pockets so I can see whats in them without opening is super useful."
Jon Woodroof - TwoTone Amsterdam
Ride and event resume: 12 years of amateur racing in USA and Europe on road, track & CX, Rapha Festive 500 in one ride 2015, Torino-Nice 2016, Grinduro Scotland 2017 & 2018, and The Silk Road Mountain Race 2018
Question: Any gear advice for those planning to do unsupported events?
JW: "A good mini-pump! You're not gonna get there without air! I've been traveling with my bikes for almost 15 years now and finding something you can take with you that tells you how many PSI you have as you're about to rollout from the hotel with is a massive challenge!
The TATTICO Bluetooth changed that for me. Increasingly dialing tire pressure is key not only due to the likelihood of mixed terrain on rides that I do but the knowledge that "good enough"can simply be better and even ideal.
Being able to accurately measure pressure on the road provides peace of mind & confidence that you're rolling with the optimal inflation for your ride far away from home. It also helps ensure that you won't pinch flat immediately after the first flat due to not having sufficient pressure.
This applied for both my 2 weeks on (off) the road last year in Kyrgyzstan but also as recently as this week with my kids on our Tern GSD commuting in Florida. Guessing with tire pressure with two kids, their bikes and more on a cargo e-bike is no way to go! I love how easy the chuck switches between Presta & Shrader and easily secures and disengages from the valve too!"
Cody Woods - International Sales Specialist, SILCA
Ride and event resume: The Rad Ride, Tour of St. Louis Omnium, Founders Brewing Co. Barry Roubaix, USA Crits Speedweek Spartanburg, USA Crits Speedweek Athens, USA Crits Speedweek Commerce, Snake Alley Criterium, Melon Cities Criterium, Quad Cities Criterium, Madiera Criterium, Hyde Park Criterium
Question: What's something you take to every race you go to that most people probably wouldn't think to pack?
Sarah Sturm - Professional Cyclocross Racer
Ride and event resume: I am a professional cyclist, writer and designer. I have lived in the Southwest my entire life and my love for the desert and mountains has kept me in Durango for the last decade. I enjoy all sorts of riding, from long high country rides mixed with a little bike packing to the pro cyclocross scene. I've even dabbled with some gravel rides here and there. You'll probably catch me and my dog, Norman riding around town, he'll bark but he is friendly...so am I.
Question: When traveling with your bike by air, a bike box is the obvious piece of additional equipment that you need. What else do you need to have? What do people commonly forget about traveling with their bike this way?
SS: "I have done a fair amount of travel with bikes, and while a fancy bike bag keeps your baby nice and save and it's really easy to load things into, sometimes a box works better for trip logistics! You can just throw that sucker away after you build your bike, or if you have to travel with a bunch of gear or a second bike you can jam a whole bunch in there and keep in under the weight limits. I would say I travel most times with a cardboard box, for the cross season I was able to fit two bikes plus loads of gear in there and just ship it around the country. In addition to having a box large enough for your bike (or if you're lucky like me, you ride tiny bicycles), a clutch piece of equipment is a bag that keeps all of the bits organized. By bits, I'm talking your rotor bolts, your pedals, your rotors, axels, stem bolts etc. I have 4-5 small pouches where these things always live, make it a habit to put them in the same bags (labels work wonders) so you always know if and when you're forgetting something. Also, specific packing material is a must, with or without a fancy bike bag. Knowing that TSA will tear through it either way, I suggest having pieces that you retrofit to your bike's more vulnerable places and are obvious where they go. Last bit of advice...PACKING TAPE."
Frank van der Sman - TwoTone Amsterdam
Ride and event resume: I started cycling in 2006, your typical fixed-gear cyclist turned roadie, then CX and gravel. My bike has taken me all around Europe and beyond. I participated in some ultra events like Paris - Brest - Paris (2015, 60h finish) and Transcontinental Race (2016, 19th place). Last year I rode from Maastricht (NL) to Santiago de Compostela (SP).
Question: You've done a lot of unsupported rides across Europe, how do you decide which tools you take with you and what you can leave at home?
FvdS: "Last summer I completed the build of my first custom bike, a Lester Cycles from Amsterdam. I immediately brought it on a big trip, from Maastricht (NL) to Santiago de Compostela (SP). It was important for me to keep the weight of luggage (and tools) down as low as possible, while still keeping the possibility of breaking down (/repairing) the entire bike.
Despite it being a steel bike with a lack of carbon components (aside from the rims), every screw and bolt has its specific torque requirement. So the T-Ratchet/ Ti-Torque kit was a must. Along with the Italian Army Knife Venti, for the pedals and crankset, and a little cassette tool for the disc rotors and cassette. Some Tire Levers and a tubeless repair kit aside, that's all we carried between three riders.
Thinking out the process of what you need for a full break down of your bike, and keeping this light-weight, is essential for any trip. It gives you ease of mind and prevents you from spending your day in search of a bike shop that might be open. A mistake I've made once to often in the past."
Jiri Parizek (Parez) - Amateur cyclist, PRO Father and Photographer
Ride and event resume: unsupported rides on a variety of bikes all over the world
Question: When packing for an event or bike trip, what comes first? Where do you begin?
JP: "The basis for me is to be well packed. That's why the most important thing about traveling with bike in addition to my bike bag is also a travel bag where I have all the clothes that I will need for a ride. To me, SILCA's Maratona is the most important piece for traveling by car or plane. I usually pack two pairs road shoes, and I still have a lot of space for helmet, few kits, bidons and basic tool kit.
Rasmus Helt Poulsen (Traedekongen) - Cycling influencer and content producer
Ride and event resume: Unsupported mixed-terrain rides throughout Scandanavia
Question: You do a lot of different types of riding on a lot of different bikes. What's something you always have with you?
RHP: "I always travel with the Premio seat roll. IMO the best pack out there with easy access and secure attachment under the saddle in all conditions. The last 3 years I have ridden more than 20.000km with this item containing a mini-tool, Silca tire levers, patches and an extra tube. Saved my ride many times and I always have it in my travel bag - also when renting bikes on my different travel destinations."
Questions or additional tips and tricks from your travels? Let us know in the comments section below!