The most important part of packing for Lejog is getting Kuroko ready for the trip. I didn’t think my Ostrich bag would provide enough protection for a flight, and so back in January I ordered the highly rated Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro. And it’s been sitting on the balcony under a tarp since then.
Today is my last non-work day before catching the flight, so I knew it was time to grapple with the task of getting Kuroko into her bag. Before starting, though, I wanted to check the fit of the tent on the rear rack. There’s no problem, although I’m glad I ordered the longer bungee cords. It’s likely the tent will block the dynamo taillight, though. (I’ve removed the light in this photo because the clamp for the bike stand would crush it.) Maybe when the panniers are on the bike I can have the tent off to one side.
With the tent question settled, it was time to get the Evoc bag out from under the tarp, roll up my sleeves, and see what it takes to get a bike in the bag. The first step turned out to be quite a challenge: fitting the stays into sleeves that had been tightly rolled up for five months and more.
All good things must come to an end, and after struggling with the stays and sleeves for a good 10 minutes, I turned my attention to prepping the bike. Putting the frame pad on meant removing the cockpit bag. I’m loathe to do this because I’ve lost skin to the velcro straps that secure the cockpit bag to the top tube, but it’s necessary in the case of the Evoc bag: the frame pad also holds the handlebar (which yes, must come off the steering tube). The good news is there’s no need to remove the seat — just loosen the clamp and lower it as far as it will go.
Between those two steps, though, I set the bike frame into the carrier. This entailed several operations:
- Removing the wheels
- Finding and inserting the proper fittings for the carrier
- Adjusting the carrier mounts to the frame wheelbase
- Securing the frame to the carrier with the thruaxles
Somehow I managed to get it all done without dropping Kuroko on her unguarded chainrings after removing the wheels. (For future reference, this prep can all be done before lowering the saddle, and hence with Kuroko still securely held in the bike stand.) This was the one part of the procedure that was not documented well. The manual stated which fittings suited which type of axle/spacing, but there was no mention of the fact that I should use my thruaxles to secure the frame, among other omissions. A few additional diagrams and words of explanation at this point would have been helpful.
I lifted Kuroko and carrier into the bag and spent a few minutes securing the whole get-up with various straps, velcro and otherwise. I took a couple of minutes to put on the greasy old chain cover I had originally bought to use with yet a different bag many years ago, when I took Ol’ Paint on the shinkansen to Kyoto for a ride around Lake Biwa.
At this point the job was largely done. There are separate pockets on the outside of the bag for each wheel. I let the air of of the tires before putting them in the pockets, because I’ve seen several recommendations for this. Apparently some airlines insist on it. (I can imagine a poorly maintained tire blowing in an unpressurized cargo compartment.) In the case of Kuroko’s fat tires, this probably also helps things fit without too much of a fight. Of course, I’ll have a pump along to top the tires up in London when I reassemble the bike.
And there we are. Kuroko fit with room to spare. I’m lucky that I take a small frame, because the pannier rack fit into the bag as it was — there’s no need for me to carry it separately and reattach it when I’m prepping Kuroko in London (although I should remember to bring along the requisite tool just in case some mid-ride tightening is required.)
I’d bought a cheap luggage scale to see how close to the limit this bag would be, and used it to weigh Kuroko before beginning today’s packing. With dynamo hub and lights, rear rack and cockpit bag, but without panniers and water bottles, Kuroko came in right about 13kg. Once everything was zipped up tight in the Evoc bag, though (having removed the cockpit bag and front light in the process), I discovered there’s nothing in the middle of the bag from which to hang it from the scale. All the handles are on the ends. So I used the tried-and-true method of weighing myself on the bathroom scale, with and without the bag, and subtracting the difference. And the answer is: 22kg. The videos I watched to help with packing this bag mention including other gear along with the bike, but they’re all based on the premise of sub-10kg carbon fibre bikes. As things stand, I’ll probably stick two empty water bottles and my helmet in the bag, and leave it at that.
- 150 x 86 x 43cm (l x h x w)