An irregularly shaped black bicycle travel bag sitting on a balcony. Many small buildings are visible far below through the balcony's glass banister.


In just 48 hours I’ll be boarding a plane to fly to the start of the next adventure. Following my last jaunt up the Edogawa, I had a short list of maintenance items I wanted to address, and then it would be time to pack up Kuroko for the trip.

The Edogawa ride was largely trouble-free, apart from the squeaky saddle. I noted a couple of other minor problems, and mentally tallied a list of things to look at before packing up the bike.

  • Adjust the rear derailleur
  • Charge up the Di2 battery
  • Have a look at the right pedal cleat
  • Clean and lube the chain

The rear derailleur was just that little bit off, and on two or three shifts (out of more than 1,000 on the ride) needed a second try to get into gear. I realized I’d had a go after the previous ride at the derailleur hanger alignment, and I’d given it a tweak. That of course would shift the derailleur slightly and require an adjustment.

So after swapping the Di2 battery for a fresh one, I followed the Better Shifting guide to sort out the derailleur. It only took a minute, and — on the stand, at least — the shifting is now perfect.

The right pedal cleat is a mystery. I can hear it clicking at times when I’m riding, and coming homeward from the Edogawa I could feel my shoe shifting in the cleat. But when I checked the pedal, there’s nothing loose or obviously bent. Ditto for the cleat on the sole of the shoe.

Cleaning and lubing the chain is just regular maintenance, of course, and a good prep for a longer ride. I didn’t bother washing the rest of the bike — I’ll save that for after the adventure.

Filthy old bag

I’ve used the Evoc bag only once, five years ago for Lejog. Since then it’s been standing on end in the Workshop in the Sky, lashed to an air conditioner stand for support. I’d initially covered it with a blue vinyl tarp to keep it clean, but that got ratty over the years and I finally threw it away a year or two ago when Nana complained about it flapping in the wind of a typhoon.

So before I even opened the bag, I took some time wiping away the accumulated dust and grime with a wet towel. A surprising amount had found its way into every nook and cranny.

When I finally opened the bag, I looked inside and was mystified by all the bits and pieces. I remembered there were white plastic staves to put in sleeves at each end of the bag to give it shape, a metal frame to hold the bike, and a frame pad to attach the handlebars. But what were these white plastic poles for? I downloaded the guide from the maker’s site before continuing. Ah, the poles go in sleeves in the outer pockets to protect the wheels. Done.

I already had the pedals off Kuroko, so I put those in the bag and then put Kuroko back in the stand to take the wheels off. Next comes the pad around the front of the main triangle, which has loops to hold the handlebars after the next step.

Getting the bicycle sat in the frame single-handedly is a bit of a faff. I have to hold up the bike while I align the front fork with the mount and insert the thru axle to hold it. Then the rear, taking care not to put stress on the derailleur that I’ve just finished fine-tuning. In the end I managed without undo stress on the derailleur or resorting to resting the chainring on the floor. (It helps that I’d set the mount height and distance between the front and rear axles when I first did this back in 2019.)

With the bicycle securely in the frame, it was time to remove the handlebars and secure them in the loops on the frame pad. I was a bit hesitant as this is the first time I’ve done it with hydraulic brake lines and Di2 wiring. (In fact, the same operation in preparation for Lejog probably contributed to fraying the shifting cable — Shimano 105 at the time — which ended up with me through incompetence putting the rear derailleur in the spokes and nearly making an end to that ride.)

The Di2 junction box popped off the stem while I was twisting the handlebars in place, but this is probably not an issue. I’ll just have to make sure I have the band that holds it in place when it’s time to get the bike ready for riding.

All that done, and after lowering the saddle, I was ready to wedge the whole shootin’ match into the bag. It just took a little bit of persuasion. After that a minute to buckle up all the straps and then I zipped up the main compartment. After letting the air out of the tires, the wheels fit easily in their pouches and I was done.

An irregularly shaped black bicycle travel bag sitting on a balcony. Many small buildings are visible far below through the balcony's glass banister.

It’s all a bit tight in there. I hope Kuroko comes through the experience this time without any additional issues like a misaligned derailleur or frayed hydraulic brake lines. In all it took me about an hour to get the bike into the bag, including the time spent cleaning the bag.

Without putting anything more in the bag — just the bike and wheels, with lights and tire pump, but no bags — I got out the bathroom scale: 22kg. I’ll probably fit in my helmet and a couple of water bottles and hope we’re still under the limit. The last time I traveled there was no additional fee despite having the oversized bag, because it was within the weight limit. This time it’s Delta so … at least I’ll have my credit card handy.

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