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  1. #1
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    How to pack a folding bike?

    I am a bicycle commuter, riding a traditional bike most of the time. I also travel for my work, and have often thought how nice it would be to bring a folding bike with me on some of my business trips - more as a form of transportation than anything else. I found a used Yeah! folding bike locally which looked like it would fit the bill, and was very reasonably priced. Now I am trying to figure out how to pack the bike for air travel.

    The bike that I got has 16" wheels, rack and fenders, and when I fold it up, it is about 30" from end to end, and about 24" wide - I think that if I were to remove the seat-tube I could save a couple of inches on width. The height of the package is about 12".

    When packing folding bikes for air travel, do most of you use a standard suitcase? What suitcases work well? Is disassembly required, or just folding? - what other questions should I be asking?

  2. #2
    Thinks-too-much member
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    Gaerlan's site explains how to pack 20"-wheeled Dahons: http://www.gaerlan.com/dahon/pack.htm This may apply to the Yeah, but you would have a bit more room in the suitcase due to the 16" wheels. The frame may not be much smaller since the axle-to-axle distance should be similar.

    The Samsonite Oyster is a hard-shell, fairly reasonably-priced suitcase that is often used. Someone earlier mentioned a deal at eBags.com (around US$60 using Google Checkout): Oyster29

    Hard-shell suitcases can still be compressed when a dozen other suitcases are piled on top of it, so adding some flanged posts between the top and bottom (in the short dimension of the suitcase) helps protect against crushing the wheels. These posts also help hold things in place.

    You may want pack photos of how to repack the bike if the security folks open the bag.

    Good luck, -Paul

  3. #3
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    I've flown many times with my Bike Friday in Samsonite suitcases. I had been using the Samsonite 29 ' Oyster, but used the slightly larger F'Lite on my last trip. The F'Lite is actually just over the maximum dimensions allowed by most airlines, but so slightly that most people figure they won't notice. Some disassembly seems to be required for most folding bikes, but this is something you can experiment with yourself for your particular model.

    Be aware of the weight limit. Putting other stuff in the suitcase to help protect the bike may be a good idea, but it can also bring you over the 50 lb. limit for individual items on most US domestic flights. If the airline notices, you can get hit with an extra fee.

    Pay attention to what parts of the bike will be hitting the outside of the suitcase when packed, and put some extra protection there. As Paul mentioned, I use standoffs like these (http://tinyurl.com/qzjwr) to keep the suitcase from getting mashed too far. I actually didn't buy them from that dealer, but that link will give you the idea.

    The TSA may take your bike out to inspect it. It may be helpful to fasten the folded bike together with large zip ties, twine, or some kind of straps, so it doesn't unfold when they do this. Some people even put pictures in the suitcase showing how the folded bike should go back in, and even giving their cell number and offering to come back and help. I've done this in the past, but neglected it on my last trip.

    Taking your bike with you can be a little bit of a hassle, but it's worth it if you don't like to miss out on riding.
    Last edited by DaFriMon; 12-07-06 at 04:44 AM.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  4. #4
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Our SpeedPros have traveled with us a good deal this year. It took a few tries to get it "right" (scratches on the frames <sigh>) and I'm still looking for the ideal padding. I wrote it all up once or twice on the Dahon forums. Samsoninte 29" Oyster too, like DaFriMon, BTW.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
    I do not want to be associated with the kind of riders that come through my neck of the woods on weekends, dressed in superhero costumes
    Do they wear capes?
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    http://www.cycopaths.net/

  5. #5
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oboeguy
    Our SpeedPros have traveled with us a good deal this year. It took a few tries to get it "right" (scratches on the frames <sigh>) and I'm still looking for the ideal padding....
    Try gaffer's tape on the spots where scratches are frequent or likely, you can also use it to secure the bike & parts in the case during transit. Gaffer's tape is designed so it won't peel off the paint when you remove it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Try gaffer's tape on the spots where scratches are frequent or likely, you can also use it to secure the bike & parts in the case during transit. Gaffer's tape is designed so it won't peel off the paint when you remove it.
    Thanks for the advice, although I am not so worried about scratching this bike - although it appears as though most people take the wheels off to pack, which is not what I had expected, I thought that I would be able to just fold it up and stuff it in a suitcase - seems to be much more complicated!

  7. #7
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    I did a test-pack on my Downtube VIII-H last night and while it does fit into the 29" Samsonite Oyser it does require a pretty complete dis-assembly. How do people pack all the misc. stuff like pedals, folding stem, stem post, and other metal parts that will be banging around in the case with the frame?

    Anybody have some tricks they would like to pass on? I like the zip-tie and gaffer's tape ideas. I was thinking of making some 3mm neoprene bags and sleeves that might pad things, but wonder what others are doing...

  8. #8
    Air
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    Destroyer of Wheels Air's Avatar
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    Bubble wrap?

    Also - PVC pipe is great to help stiffen the outside of the suitcase and protect it from crushing. Get a good sized length and cut to size.

  9. #9
    Thinks-too-much member
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    Here are a couple more links from past threads showing clear photos of bikes packed in suitcases. I assume they add more padding between parts before they are done.

    Bike Friday packed
    Note his note.

    Raleigh Twenty packed

  10. #10
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    Those links were great! That Bike Friday page had lots of good hints and ideas. Last night's test made it clear that I needed some help and a bit of practice before getting the bike into the suitcase becomes a no brainer. At least the re-assembly was fast and easy.

    The blue tarp bit is a good idea, especially since it would give me a work surface on top of the carpet while I disassemble the bike. Looks like he has cut up smaller pieces to help seperate and contain things too. I was thinking that a cutup yoga mat might help with padding as well.

  11. #11
    Member, Schmember DaFriMon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Cone
    . . .The blue tarp bit is a good idea, especially since it would give me a work surface on top of the carpet while I disassemble the bike. Looks like he has cut up smaller pieces to help seperate and contain things too. I was thinking that a cutup yoga mat might help with padding as well.
    The smaller bits of "blue tarp" are actually sleeves of tarp like material that BF includes with their bikes, at least when you buy them with one of the travel cases. They include a variety of specialized packing materials, but improvised equivalents should be possible for most of them. Using the larger tarp at the bottom of the case looks like a good idea.
    You're right, I do have more bikes than I need.

  12. #12
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sauerwald
    Thanks for the advice, although I am not so worried about scratching this bike - although it appears as though most people take the wheels off to pack, which is not what I had expected, I thought that I would be able to just fold it up and stuff it in a suitcase - seems to be much more complicated!
    I agree. I gave up on each and every folding bike that requires more than 2 minutes to fit in a travelling luggage. 100% satisfied with Merc and Brompton.

    R

  13. #13
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    Hi all, new here. Just wanted to share a couple of great products for suitcase packing a folder (Dahon Speed P8 in my case).

    TSA Security Net from HERE and
    Compression Members from HERE

    Allows the bike to be lifted out of a suitcase by the TSA for viewing, and put back in reasonably intact, without having to figure out the jigsaw puzzle. Also protects the bike from side crushing, and from moving/rubbing too much inside the suitcase. Not very expensive either.

    Airline legal size 29" Samsonite Oyster:
    Pix1
    Pix2
    Pix3
    Pix4

  14. #14
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by reppans
    Nice pack job! Hope you use dropout protectors too.

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