What setup would you have for a road bike for overseas travel?

Over the past few years I’ve been renting bikes when I travel to Europe. I’m a road cyclist and usually don’t have any problems finding a place to rent a bike. That is until this year. The city was smaller and had no road bike rentals available (just mountain and city bikes). Now I’m thinking about bringing a road bike.

Based upon others experiences, what setup would you recommend or avoid? Some things that come to mind:

  • Carbon frame vs. Aluminum frame
  • Electronic shifting vs. mechanical
  • Disc brakes vs. Rim brakes
  • Alloy wheels vs. carbon
  • Tubed tires vs. tubeless

The thought process being that the bike is reliable, easily repaired and replacement parts readily available.

Any personal experiences or input would be appreciated.

Thanks - Brent

Gravel bike frame with carbon wheels and electronic shifting. Travel tends to expose bad hydraulic bleeds so depress the brake lever during transit. Depending on your bike box, remove the rd and bring your charger. There are some very small electronic portable pumps. I’d run tubeless, probably refresh sealant before the trip or pack a tiny container of it.


Hi Brent,

Ive taken my bike to France, really all I needed was a good hard case I borrowed. Tools to remove stem, torque wrench. Usual spares, few inners, patches, co2, nothing new to me so I knew I could fix side of the road. It was pretty easy really, pushed the case through the airport. I have a rim brake bike so super easy.


I’d personally prioritize a cockpit with non-integrated cable/hose routing. External cables make it much easier to partly disassemble your bike for travel, which is required for many travel cases. But even if your case doesn’t require disassembly it would still make for easier repairs in general.


this is a high-value response. The more you can see the more you can generally fix. This goes further when you consider having a mechanic work on your bike while potentially having a language barrier.


I just take the bike I have.

SL8 with integrated cables, di2, tubeless etc.

It’s no bother at all, I can pack/unpack it in 15 minutes.

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Ritchey Outback Breakaway is my ideal travel setup.

S&S couplers on a custom frame would be awesome too if you have the money.


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Really it’s about things that can and do get damaged when transporting a bike by plane. Derailleurs, disc rotors, hydraulics etc. The airline may ask you to deflate your tubeless tyres. Do you have a means to reinflate is the bead has come off the rim? Internal routing is the work of Satan whether travelling or not.

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Personally, rather than n+1 I’d just buy a case like bike box alan aero easyfit!

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You could probably get away with any convo :sweat_smile: but like @SeanHurley mentioned, I would probably prioritize cockpit with non-integrated cable/hose routing as it can be a pain to fix it on the go.

I would also consider your fixing skills and what you feel most comfortable fixing. If something on the bike that you don’t know how to fix breaks then think about how easily you’d be able to fix it where you are. Will you be riding in places where there are bike shops available, or will you be going off the grid? These are questions I would consider to make decisions on what to pick.


I have a dedicated travel bike and as mentioned above by @SeanHurley, I definitely wanted a regular cockpit.

Opted for a Cannondale CAAD13 frame with 105 mechanical and tubed tires. I want to be able to ensure self-reliance when traveling (no family Uber available! :crazy_face:) so it was mechanical shifting, no tubeless and an alloy frame because I won’t sweat a few small dings and dents.

I can take the bike into almost any shop when traveling and get service / replacement parts relatively easily. A key issue if you travel frequently with the bike.


It is certainly more cost effective to just get a bike bag. I would also consider the hassle of traveling with a large bike bag vs an S&S size bag. Particularly with euro rental cars and trains, I’ve been very glad to have had a smaller bag. Also some airlines (Vueling) will try to charge extra for a bike regardless of the size of bag. A smaller bag gives plausible deniability that it’s not a bike. So far I’ve yet to pay an extra fee with my couplered bike.

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Yes. Commonly available parts and easy to work on. For me, external cables, mechanical shifting, J bend spokes, tubed tires, alu rims.

I went with a ti frame from Carver with couplers and customized geo. The one significant downside is it is not a light bike by any stretch of the imagination. https://carverbikes.com/frames/ti-all-road/

Yes, a few years back (and a different bike) I bought a Post Carry Co. Transfer Case (135L). I used the exact criteria that you mentioned. Being able to put the bike bag in the trunk of a regular car or fit it in the luggage area of a train or bus has been great.

Did you go with rim brakes on your CAAD13?

My travel bike is a Ritchey Breakaway (cross) which I can’t believe is almost 9 years old now. Steel is real, weighs about 20lbs. All mechanical, external cables, cheap mavic wheels, etc. Has been checked in (and occasionally delivered down a luggage carousel) about a dozen times around the US and Europe with no damage so far.

Here it is at the bottom of Sa Calobra…


I think its time for that “Solved” badge…

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I thought about it, but decided that discs were ultimately the right call. I can run 35’s in the frame (I think) so can take it when I travel for either road or light gravel duty.

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I’d get a folding metal bike (so you can take it on trains) that can take 35c+. Cables or SRAM AXS(spare battery). Probably rim brake so it packs up better.

I’ve had pretty good experience traveling TL, but I’d have two spare tubes with me.

Wheels- doesn’t matter. If you can get a hub that allows you to pull the rear axle, that’d save some packing space.

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My only experience is within Europe, where no issue booking a bike. And then generally followed by tour group trailer or train. So I guess the need to fit in a car hasn’t really occurred.