It takes about five minutes once you learn how. Really. It goes quick.
Here's Mirko Silvestrini and his bike, ready to ride Amtrak.
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When checking my bicycle bag at the airport, sometimes they ask me what's in the bag.
I say "wheelchair" or "bicycle parts" or "folding bicycle" or "wheelchair parts". They've never charged me a bicycle fee, which could be $75, or even $75 per leg if it's a bad itinerary on bad carriers.
If you tell Amtrak and some other carriers you have a bike, they'll ask you to remove the pedals from your bike and put it in a bike box. Don't fall for that. For many bicycles, removing the pedals is more difficult than the process shown here, or even impossible.
Most airlines have the "62 inch sum-of-dimensions" rule for checked bags. That rule states that length plus width plus depth of a checked bag should add up to 62 inches or less. Most bikes will pack small enough to be less than that. Irregular packages are hard to measure. Usually the check-in workers will let you bend the rules a bit., in case you want to try this with a tallbike :).
Your bike will probably be different than this one. To see everything about how to disassemble, reassemble, and tune any kind of bicycle, check
and Park Tool.
Thanks to Mirko and Lorraine for the opportunity to document this!
Step 1: Remove Rear Rack
If your frame is shorter or your bag is bigger you can leave it on.
This one is held on with four allen (hex) socket bolts.
Set aside the allen wrenches you use for this, you'll bring them with you on your trip.