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Travelers Check

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I recently purchased a Surly Travelers Check. I wanted to be able to bring a bike with me while traveling, but I didn’t want to pay extra airline fees for my bike, nor did I want to carry an awkward cardboard bike box around.

At first packing it was really difficult and frustrating. I had a hard time finding good instructions on the internet about how to pack this frame. I’ve done it enough now that I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

These instructions should apply for pretty much any S&S bicycle. You can also view these as a slideshow on Flickr. Click the ‘Show Info’ button to see the instructions on top of the photos.

Anyway, we will now turn this

Bike & Bag (& Girl & Computer)

into this!


You’ll need a few hex wrenches, a crank puller, and a lock ring wrench. The Travelers Check comes with one, but probably any lock ring wrench will do.

The Stuff

Deflate the tires, take of the wheels, and remove the skewers.

Remove the wheels

Remove the rear derailleur. You don’t need to break the chain. Wrap the chain up in plastic and tape it and the derailleur to the frame so they don’t move around too much.

Remove the rear derailleur

Remove the cranks. I store the crank bolts in the bottom bracket.

Remove the cranks

These little guys are really handy. You don’t need them, but it’s nice to be able to separate the two pieces of the frame completely.

Unleash the cables

Remove the stem from the fork, then remove the handlebars from the stem. Also remove the seat.

Remove the handlebars

This is a steer tube extender. For me, it is essential.

I am 6’1” and I like to sit a bit more upright than some people. The fork was shipped uncut and was very long to begin with. I didn’t want to cut it much, but I found it impossible to fit the bike in the bag without cutting the fork. I cut it, and then found this extender to compensate.


Remove the fork.

Remove the fork

Separate the frame.


Tape up the head tube so that your headset and bearings don’t get lost.

Tape the head tube

Cover the frame with padding. I used the original packaging and some pipe insulation I bought at a hardware store.

Pad it

The bike is ready for bagging.

It took me 7 or 8 tries at packing this bicycle until I got it right. I’ve got a large rack and a rather large (56cm) frame. If you don’t have a rack or have a smaller one, then you will much have less trouble.

I’ve fully packed and unpacked this bike 4 times now, so I’m starting to get good at it. It just takes a little practice.


  1. If you have a rack, put it in first. You will be fitting other parts of the bike in the between the sides of the rack. Mine is a rather large rack, and this gave me a lot of trouble at first. You’ll probably have an easier time packing with a smaller rack (or without one at all).

  2. Place the fork and front triangle in the rack on the bottom of the bag. It is important that the fork and the triangle do not sit on top of each other. They must rest flat against the bottom. The fork will have to fit in the bag lengthwise in order to pack the rest of the bike. If it is too long, you will have to cut it.

  3. Fit the cranks in near the edges. You’ll have to wiggle these around as you proceed. Rack, Fork, Front Triangle

  4. Slide the rear wheel (drive side up) inside of the rack and place it on top of the frame and fork. The rear wheel is dished. By putting the drive side facing up you are conserving precious space as the non-dished side fits partially inside the front triangle. Rear wheel

  5. Slide the drive side of the rear triangle inside the rack. You want the derailleur to live in some extra space somewhere, either in the corner beside the rear tire or inside of the rear triangle. The bottom bracket spindle is on the outside of the wheel. Get the dropouts as far into the corner of the bag as you can. Rear triangle

  6. Loosen the brake levers and turn them inward. Slide the drop bars underneath the wheel. Handlebars

  7. Fit the seat in the middle of the rear triangle. Seat

  8. Place the front wheel on top of everything. Rear wheel

  9. I like to stuff the rest of the bag with soft things. This helps to pad the bike and keep things from rattling around. It also means I have fewer bags to carry. Be careful though, the bag is heavy enough with just the bike in it, so the more you put in the more you will have to hobble around with. Stuff it!

Here it is, all zipped up.



I love it. I wouldn’t go backpacking around with it. It’s just too much trouble to pack and unpack and carry all the time.

It is regulation airline luggage size, so they don’t charge any extra. I’ve brought this with me on 4 different planes so far, and haven’t had any problems. I’ve never brought a bike with me on a plane before, so I don’t know how much they usually charge, but I have heard it is a lot…$100 maybe? If so, then so far I’ve saved $400.


Having a bike wherever I go is fantastic.