From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.
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1. (Not shown) Remove pedals. If you don’t know how, this site describes an effective method. Unfortunate experience has taught me to do this while the bike still has wheels.
2. Remove wheels. First shift all the way into the smallest cog on the cassette. This will make it easier to remove and put on the rear wheel.
2. a) Remove skewers from wheels and store in the handy little bag provided by Thule. Do not lose the springs that are likely to pop off when you take the skewer out of the wheel.
3. Put the wheels in the box after letting all the air out of the tires (this is particularly key if you plan to fly with your bike).
3. a) Put the rear wheel in first with the cassette side up, and the front wheel in second, overlapping. Be sure to wrap disc brake rotors, which will be against the outer wall of the box, with lots of bubble wrap to try to avoid bending them. The picture below doesn’t actually show wheel configuration in the box.
3. b) Place the large black plastic sheet atop the wheels, with the larger hole around the cassette. Top with one of the foam pieces.
4. Align the cranks with the chainstay. Then wrap the chain in one of the Thule-provided wraps and use the velcro to secure the wrapped-up chain to the chainstay. This keeps your chain from getting muck all over or scratching the paint.
4. a) If you have fenders, remove them at this point, screwing screws back into their places after removing the fenders so as not to lose any of them. It is much easier to take fenders off without wheels on the bike. This is also a good opportunity to clean hard-to-reach bits of the frame.
5. Remove the handlebars by loosening the bolts on the headset. Lift the handlebars off, carefully not losing the screw or top of the headset. Put the headset back together when the handlebars are removed to ensure all the pieces are there.
5. a) Remove the saddle and seatpost, preferably in one unit, and set aside. Before doing so, make sure the seat height is marked somehow. Also remove saddle bag, pumps, and, if necessary, water-bottle holders.
5. b) Carefully place the frame-and-handlebars network, now only connected by cables, into the box, orienting them so no parts stick off the edges of the box.
NOTE: Be especially careful with odometers that have wires from the front wheel to the handlebars. It is very easy to snap that small of a wire while maneuvering the handlebars and frame into position.
6. Use the Thule-provided straps to secure everything that could move as firmly as possible. There are two places to thread the straps through on each side of the box. Wrap delicate or easily scratched parts with bubble wrap or pipe insulation cut to size.
6. a) Find a home for all the remaining parts: The saddle and seatpost, which may have to go in separately; pedals, wrapped up to keep grease off bike and padding; and miscellaneous items such as pump, saddle bag, and front light, etc.
NOTE: If you plan to fly with the bike, remove any CO2 cartridges from your saddle bag if you have any and leave them at home. Buy some at your destination if you have to. Flying with compressed air is strongly frowned upon.
7. Cover the secured bike and its parts with the other piece of foam. Carefully place the lid on the box, making sure no bike parts protrude. This will require some finagling and probably a judicious application of force, so check to be sure all the edges are securely closed around the box. Usually it is easiest to clip the top and bottom straps first. For the side straps, loosen them all the way, clip them, and then tighten the side straps in increments, making sure the lid is really closed all the way around.
7. a) Optionally you can lock both sides of the case with long locks. However, if you plan on flying, be sure to use TSA-approved locks or leave it unlocked. Also be warned that the TSA is likely to significantly unpack your careful packing job and not seal the box effectively when finished with their check. (As you can probably tell, I do not advocate flying with a bike unless you don’t have the time to ship it ground.)
8. Congratulations! You have now spent at least an hour becoming intimately acquainted with your bike and how to take it apart. Don’t forget to bring the instructions with you so you can put the bike back together again on the other end.
8. a) Unless you feel extremely confident with your ability to rebuild your bike, it is a good idea to have a bike mechanic take a quick look at the bike once you put it back together. The handlebars and headset in particular can be difficult to get back together securely and straight (at least in my experience).