This thread was great inspiration thanks to Rafael. I was a bit concerned about the F'lite suitcase though, because it's slightly above the airline limit for size on domestic travel (limit is 62", the F'lite is about 65" linear). I wanted a case that was strictly legal, so tonight I got a Samsonite oyster, which they claim is 62.5". I found it at the local Samsonite outlet for $99.
After some (ok, a lot) of messing around, I got the bike to fit. Here's the procedure I used, with a couple pictures below.
0. All "commuting" paraphernalia, such as kickstand, rack, and fenders has to be removed (less of a hassle on the FS bikes, I hear - I haven't received mine yet)
1. Remove handlebar/upper stem.
2. Fold lower stem towards the inside of the bike (required adjusting the angle of the quill by loosening the allen key)
3. Remove wheels, and remove skewers from the wheels.
4. Remove pedals (need pedal wrench)
5. Remove seat & post
6. Remove derailer hanger & derailer (I couldn't get the bike to fit w/o doing this - it has the added advantage of minimizing potential damage to this very sensitive area).
7. Fold bike.
8. Now, turn the forks so that they swing around to fit in-between rear chainstays (see picture #3) - necessary to minimize thickness of bike to fit
9. Now, set bike in case, with forks facing towards front of case (picture #2).
10. Put in seat, followed by handlebars on left hand side (I had taken the bar ends off, but may not be necessary)
11. Deflate tires (helps the fit, but also good idea for high altitude travel in a cargo hold)
12. Place rear wheel with freewheel facing down on the right side, making sure rim clears the frame to the right. I had to shift bike slightly left to get it to fit minimally.
13. Place second wheel to the left, overlapping somewhat the first.
14. Place tools necessary for reconstruction (all purpose bike tool, pump, and pedal wrench) in suitcase (picture #1 is everything packed in)
15. Close it up carefully, making sure no cable housings are caught, and pushing in on the one v-brake that slightly protrudes in the front due to it's spring
It sounds pretty extensive, but it didn't take that long for the first shot (maybe 45 mins). Putting it all back together took 15-20 minutes while watching TV.
Total weight with a few tools: ~41 pounds.
I'll be doing my first trip with it next week.
ps - I had put slightly wider (and lighter) Bontrager Race handlebars on, which I thought improved handling. Unfortunately, they did not allow packing in the suitcase
- so it was back to the original.