Packing My Bike to go to Ironman Germany

This was for a Trek road bike with aero bars. Packing different types of bikes, for instance a tri bike would require slight variances. Also, if you can ship direct to a bike shop for re-assembly, then you wouldn’t need to pack any tools. (But make sure they can re-pack the bike for you also!)


Bike box with 3 layers of foam and 2 fork supports and 2 small foam sheets, plastic bags, bubble wrap, marking pen, packing tape, bike tool (appropriate hex sizes), pedal wrench, camera

Before starting I took pictures of the bike. It is important is to get pictures of handlebar and aerobar positioning, and seat position. Take pictures while packing the bike, especially as you put items in the box. This will really help for re-packing after the race as well.

1. Put the derailleur in highest gear

2. Take pedals off. I have Speedplay pedals which require a pedal wrench. Screw towards the front. Pedals are labeled, R/L. Pack a pedal wrench (or just find the right cm crescent wrench), and pack. It is easier than taking the bike to a bike shop at race site for 2 reasons. One, I had trouble getting a wrench at the race site. Two, in order to take apart and re-pack after the race I had to get a wrench from the hotel.

3. Loosen the seat post screw and take off the seat. (Seat has tape on tube to mark correct position. Saddle bag can stay on seat, but remember to take out any CO2). Re-tighten seat post screw for packing; remember to loosen before reassembling. Wrap seat in bubble wrap, then place in plastic bag, and label bag.

4. Take skewers (quick releases) out of wheels completely, wrap in bubble wrap and place in baggie. Label the bag.

5. Release some air pressure in the wheels. Pack at least a small hand pump in the bike box in order to pump tires enough to get myself to a better pump at the race site. Lay wheels in box on top of first layer of foam. For rear wheel, cassette side down. Put additional foam piece (the thinner one) between wheels where they overlap.

6. Put the two plastic supports in front and rear forks (important!)

7. Align crank with frame and wrap derailleur, chain, rear fork with bubble wrap.

8. Take off aerobars. (ideally you would not need to do this step, but in my case the handlebar/aerobar assembly would not fit in the box.)

9. Take off handlebar. Put 4 screws back in holes and reattach front plate for packing. Not too tight. Just firm. Be careful not to lose any of the washers.

10. Add misc small items on foam by wheels. Skewers, bike tool, pedal wrench, small pump, pedals.

11. Put foam layer over wheels, and place bike on foam. Position handlebar so it fits, and brake levers face down (like they would be normally) into foam (seems scary, but they should hold up fine). Place other parts in box. Bike seat, aerobars, aerobottle. On the return I put my bike shoes in as well, but took them in my suitcase for the trip out. Just in case something happened the bike.

12. Put in the top layer of foam, close box, and tighten straps a bit at a time on each side (straps should be loosened to start). Note that the top will fit in either direction, but there is a bottom and a top (feet on the bottom).

Also packed: Business card (name, phone and address. One taped inside the box, and one on the outside), cable ties and needle-nose pliers to re-attach clip-on for Garmin, and some scissors and a small roll of packing tape (for re-taping the bubble wrap). On the way out, I did not pack my bike shoes–just in case something happened to the bike box, at least I would have my shoes. On the return, I packed them, and other things that would fit. There was not room for my helmet.

United charged me $200 for the bike box, even though I am Premier Exec. British Air just counted it as my allowed checked bag, although there was a charge for the second checked bag.


One Response to “ Packing My Bike to go to Ironman Germany ”

  1. Gayle s says:

    I’m doing ironman wales. Any shipping company that transports to wales or should I pack it on the airplane?

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