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Preparing for a Long Distance Bike Tour

Cycling holiday in the mountains
Photo by Lachlan Cruickshank

Cycling has recently outshined several sports and emerged as one of the most effective exercises. It popularity stems from several outstanding benefits biking presents its enthusiasts as it’s a multipurpose undertaking used for body workouts, commuting and touring among other indelible purposes. Despite its rainbow of benefits, bicycling has its fair cut of challenges including bike - purchase and maintenance expenditure, bike shipping intricacies and hazards. Besides, biking calls for costly investment in specialized bike gear like mtb helmets, bicycle lights and reflective clothing. This post aims at simplifying your preparation for a long distance bike tour.

The initial preparation for a bike tour is dreaded my several bikers the world over and it’s even worse when the tour involves long distance travel - it’s not only an arduous systematic and detail-deep process but also a costly and time-consuming undertaking that will most likely require you to take your bike apart, at least partly, and package it so it’s acceptable in subways, buses and airplanes. You may have an easier time if you are tagging a kid or folding bike but imagine the hassle involved in dismantling and packing a stiff-framed adult bike!

Stack up supplies for your tour

The most straightforward way to ease preparation for a long distance bike expedition is by starting to amass all essentials early in advance. This not only saves substantial time you are bound to waste in last-minute preparation confusion but also saves you the inconvenience of spur-of-the-moment spending. Moreover, heaping your oncoming bike trip’s basics prior to the trip will also ensure you have every item you need and are not affected by shortage of vital supplies in the market when the trip is nigh. Here, you’ll need to obtain all the bike’s replacement, repair and maintenance components as well as riding gear including bike gloves, mtb shoes, reflector vests/jackets as well as protective equipment like a helmet and knee and elbow-guard pads.

Pre-arrange bike cartage

Most long-distance bike tours involve bike transport by road, rail or air. Unless you will be carrying your precious bike privately, most public transport service lines have inflexible rules governing bike transport that you must adhere to lest you face punitive measures. It’s therefore critical to a successful long-haul bike tour that you carefully filter out transport means at your disposal to land the most plausible choice for your needs. This will involve looking into the bus, rail, and subway or air service bike transport policies to ascertain their bike cartage service provision as well as gain a clear perspective into their requirements, allowances, requirements, service costs, restrictions and insurance coverage.

Oftentimes, airlines will require you to partly disassemble your beloved two-cycle and enclose it in a clearly labeled package that stays within their luggage weight and size allowance. Similarly, majority of rail and subway trains expressly proscribe cartage of fully-assembled bikes during peak hours with the exception of folding and kid bicycles. Furthermore, most public transport bus companies veto loading of full complete bikes but provide for transport of folding, packaged and kid bikes at the discretion of the coach driver.

Since different public transport drivers enact differing bike-cartage laws, the surest way to pin-point your most fitting option is by conducting extensive due diligence checks on all choices on your list.

Dismantling your bike

In adherence to most airlines and train provisions, you’ll have to disassemble your bike in part before packing it. Most bikers detest the process of bike assembly due to disillusionment that it’s nerve-racking, energy-intensive and time-consuming. On the contrary, taking a bike apart is a straightforward and easy procedure as long as you possess the requisite tools and skill set. The following is the easiest and safest way to achieve this:

  1. Unhinge the bike’s front wheel to diminish the overall bike’s length. Screwing back the axle is critical to protect the front fork from impractical warping.

  2. Loosen the handlebars and tilt them horizontally to the frame to reduce the breadth of the bike.

  3. Remove the seat-post and push the bike’s stem down- this will slash the height of your bike quite commendably.

  4. Detach the pedals or turn them inwards if they are the folding type to limit your bike’s width.

  5. Isolate the bike’s rear derailleur and other fragile parts like lights and rear-view mirrors then cover them with ample cushioning for shielding against damage.

  6. Cover the bike’s frame and stem with pipe lagging to shield them from scraping.

Bike packaging

There are several bike enclosing options available today, each bearing unique pros and cons. Where hard-shell bike boxes and fabric bike transport bags are convenient and safe but heavy and costly, cardboard boxes and polythene bike bags are lightweight, extremely affordable and readily available but less reliable as they demand extra padding and exceptionally careful handling for optimal bike protection.

Normally, the choice of bike packaging means is determined by your budget, personal preferences, bike weight and ease of availability.


Hopefully this post has availed a practical solution to help you optimize preparation for a long-haul bike tour. Now you can confidently ready yourself for any long distance bike expedition with minimal hassle.

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