How to prepare bikes for loading / storage

Compacting a bicycle

The aim is to make the bikes as compact as possible both in height and in width to enable as many bikes as possible to be loaded at a time. The more bikes we fit into a container, the better value for money the container will be. Even an extra inch saved in the width per bike can mean an extra 20 bikes being loaded.

Even once you've packed in as many bikes as possible, there will still be an awful lot of unused volume. Bikes are pretty light, and these containers are very strong so we'd advise you fill the space with tools, spares and other supporting items. However, check this is OK with customs first as some countries can be very strict.

As well as fitting more bikes in, removing pedals also makes loading and unloading easier as there is less risk of bicycles getting caught on each other.

Preparing bikes for loading into a container:

  1. Take off pedals - tie pedals to top bar of frame with cable tie or string. If pedals are missing use a spare pair from stock and tie to frame
  2. Take off any lights & light holders - keep lights and fittings
  3. Take off any wire baskets on handlebars and saddle bags etc. over back wheel - keep basket/bag and fittings
  4. Loosen retaining bolt on top of handlebar and turn handlebar to be parallel with frame - if stiff spray with WD40 leave for a few minutes and/or carefully (to avoid damage to the head) hit bolt sharply with hammer to loosen then try turning. Re-tighten bolt hand tight so handle bar is not loose.
  5. If drop handle bars are fitted loosen retaining bolt to enable bars to be rotated under top bar of frame after they've been turned sideways
  6. If saddle is up high drop down as low as possible - undo bolt, drop saddle & re-tighten.
  7. If seat post is stiff spray post with WD40 leave for a few minutes then try again.
  8. Cut off any padlocks - do this with care - cut the lock not your fingers!

Tools needed: size 15 pedal spanner, size 13 ring spanner/socket, allen keys, bolt croppers

A prepared bike:

A racer bars turned and rotated:


  • PLEASE DO NOT force anything that 'won't move' - you may pull a muscle, hurt yourself if your hand slips or damage the tool you are using or part you are working on...
  • If you try and take off pedals and not budge, please put yellow tape on the crank arm, for identification, so the next person doesn't waste time and try the same thing...