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  1. #1
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    Would you take it on a plane? Would you take it on a train?

    I am shopping now for a folding bike. I was just checking the dimensions and was getting a little discouraged. My main reason for getting a folding bike is to take it with me when I travel by train or plane. I just looked at the luggage requirements for most airlines and they all say that each piece of luggage must be less than 62" (l+w+h) I am combing through the Dahon website and they all seem to be at least a bit larger than that.

    Does anyone have personal experience with taking a folding bike on a plane as checked baggage?

  2. #2
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Hi - I have with a Brompton which has one of the most compact folds you can get. I packed it in a dedicated hard-case and it was no problem this christmas taking it from London to New York and back on a plane.

    The weight is as much an issue as size and some airlines will be happy to put in outsize as long as it doesn't exceed your weight quota - just like if you took a long pair of skis or a cello or something.

    Opinion on these forums as to whether it's better to take a folding bike on a plane in a soft bag so it's clear it's a bike and therefore fragile - ergo better looked after - or in a hard case for protection is divided and it's likely the luck of the draw with the handlers you get;

    With a lot of the not-quite-so-compact folding bikes, such as 20" wheeled Dahons - people often do a little more disassembly for long journeys where space is tight. It's one thing to do a quick fold and hop on a bus, but another to fly continents with luggage, so people often remove pedals, seatpost, sometimes the wheels so it can fit into your more usual samsonite-style hard case, then spend an hour or so at the other end reassembling. High end folding bikes like the Bike Friday range are specifically designed for this kind of travel-disassembly and don't really 'fold' in the traditional sense at all.

    Have a bit of a search in these forums too - it's definitely a question that's come up before and you may find more info than you expect, including opinion on whether it's ok to take folders into hotels, ride from the airport, that sort of thing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mrbrown's Avatar
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    Go to http://www.gaerlan.com/

    They have some tips on how to pack 20-inch Dahons into standard luggage:

    http://www.gaerlan.com/dahon/pack.htm
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  4. #4
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Totally agree with LP. The Brompton is the only one you are liable to get away with checking without a charge *provided that* [edit for clarity] you only want to fold the bike. Some people have toured on them, but they don't ride as well as other bikes. However, all other bikes require at least some disassembly. There is a case that will swallow the Brompton whole. (Anyone have a link?) I have talked to people on the road that put in serious miles on those bikes. Maybe it's just a bit of getting used to.

    The one strong point is the tires. I use Brompton Green tires for commuting on my 349 Birdy. These are probably among the best commuting tires I've ever used.

    If you can manage to take the tires off and pull the seatpost out, Birdies and many Dahon models fit into an airline legal suitcase without tools. But it does take some getting used to.
    Last edited by pm124; 04-14-08 at 04:58 PM. Reason: Clarity

  5. #5
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbrown View Post
    Go to http://www.gaerlan.com/

    They have some tips on how to pack 20-inch Dahons into standard luggage:

    http://www.gaerlan.com/dahon/pack.htm
    There's an interesting account of a five day ride along the Danube Cycle Path on that site too. Looks very attractive.

    Also a nice video of the trip.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/travelbike
    Last edited by EvilV; 04-09-08 at 12:10 PM.

  6. #6
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    So far so good with my Bike Friday. Fits in a suitcase (standard 29" Samsonite). Gotta watch the weight, though, especially because I cram all my stuff in there with the bike.

  7. #7
    Opt-in Member GreenGrasshoppr's Avatar
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    I had a Montague frame built single speed with 24" wheels, front brake only, that I managed to fit inside a hockey bag along with some foam padding. I also loosen up the handlebars (which I narrowed) for bagging.

    I'd say it's about 62 linear inches, but due to the irregular shape of the bag, it's difficult to measure. With a floor pump, essential bike tools and a few spare tubes in the bag, it weighs about 30 pounds.

    I've had no problems bringing it with me on vacation, but it's not a bike that I would tour with. It's built to get around beach resorts and a 15km radius, and to be virtually unbreakable, with as little maintenance as possible.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Most 20" folders can be checked. The airlines are much more concerned about weight than size these days.

    The plus of a Brompton is that you can pack it very quickly and easily. The minus is that it isn't really optimal for tons of riding, or at least not challenging riding. 20" folders will take time (30-45 minutes) to pack and are rather heavy (40+ lbs).

    What is the plan here, by the way? Casual riding when you're traveling? Or actual touring?

  9. #9
    Avoid trauma Lake_Tom's Avatar
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    Kudos for the coolest thread title!
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  10. #10
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    Thanks! I travel a lot in China, mostly using trains but will soon start to fly a bit. Airlines in China are not too picky about either weight or size. Every two or three years I fly back to America and will need to find some transportation to get around the city but also to do some exercise. The cost of gasoline and the cost of renting a car is prohibitive now! When I am in the U.S. I will be biking around the neighborhood or as far as 20 miles at a time. I plan to put a motor on the bike, though, to help me get by. I found a dealer where I live who sells the unite motors www.unitemotor.com I can get them for about 40% of the cost of the price in the U.S. My big challenge is batteries.

  11. #11
    Hughesy michaelh001's Avatar
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    I've ignored the airline regs and take my Dahon MU SL in a cheap 32" case. I can fit it in the case using its normal fold with the wheels on (tyres let down) and the seat post out.

    I haven't been refused yet, but then I haven't taken it out of europe

    The dahon airporter case is designed to take on a plane but costs a fortune and doesnt' comply with the size constraints...

    One thing to bear in mind is the weight of the case. You'll need the case and the bike to be below 20kg to avoid charges for excess baggage. My case and bike are light enough so that I can also throw some of my gear and spares into the case as well.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by pengyou View Post
    I am shopping now for a folding bike. I was just checking the dimensions and was getting a little discouraged. My main reason for getting a folding bike is to take it with me when I travel by train or plane. I just looked at the luggage requirements for most airlines and they all say that each piece of luggage must be less than 62" (l+w+h) I am combing through the Dahon website and they all seem to be at least a bit larger than that.

    Does anyone have personal experience with taking a folding bike on a plane as checked baggage?
    I bought my Bike Friday Tikit in August. It's been on two train trips and is currently on it's third flying trip. It's been folded to go on a bus or in a car dozens of times. Previous to the Tikit I've owned a S&S bike, Swift Folder, and Bike Friday New World Tourist, all of which have been flown with.

    Bike Friday explicitly designs their bicycles to fit into a regulation sized suitcase. It isn't clear that Dahon does this. There are ways to fold and disassemble some of their models to make them fit, you just need to find someone who's done it before or take the risk that you'll be able to figure it out.

    The Tikit goes from rideable to being in a suitcase in less than 10 minutes for me. Rideable to being in a train sized fold in about 15 seconds, 30 if I need to put a cover over it.

    alex
    Last edited by awetmore; 04-14-08 at 10:26 AM. Reason: (adding personal folding bike history)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pengyou View Post
    Does anyone have personal experience with taking a folding bike on a plane as checked baggage?
    I've commuted on a Brompton since 2005. Winter 2007-08 I took mine to Denmark (DK) from New York City by plane. I packed the bike into the same cardboard box it ships in from the UK. I got the box from my dealer (B-Fold, NYC) at no charge. At that time, the airline I flew (Continental) checked baggage WITHOUT surcharge, no hassle, if it weighs less than 50 lbs. The size limitations are the standard ones, which I believe are 62 linear inches (others have posted the correct figure).

    My Brompton, in its shipping box weighed about 30lbs (heavier due to Brooks Saddle, hub generator and Schwalbe marathons), which gave me another 20 lbs in that box for clothes, which also served to -- needlessly, mind you -- cushion and protect the bike. The only place that really needs protecting is where the folding pedal touches the top tube. Otherwise, both the box and the bike are more than strong enough, though I did reinforce the edges with tape.

    No problems of any sort.

    Also, the Brompton is designed to fit between the seat backs of British trains. It also fits perfectly between the seat backs of DK trains as well as the seats of New Jersey Transit. It's also easy to carry onto trains due to the compactness and tightness of the fold.

    In terms of riding it for distances, here's my 2 cents.

    - I commuted on it everyday 15-25 miles roundtrip (~100 to 150 mi / week) for three years through New York City's worst streets and traffic, loaded up with 10-25 lbs of personal luggage (laptop, change of clothes, books, paper work, shopping, etc.). The ride always felt safe. My longest ride was about 40 miles, with hills, to New Jersey, but that did give me some light knee pain. The bike is not highly adjustable, so you are largely stuck with the size of the stock cranks and geometry.

    - The bike is slow (~8-10/mph cruising). I believe this is because of wind resistance from the upright riding position and the large flat-fronted front pannier. But slow also makes it safer, e.g., stopping fast for a opened door and avoid broken glass, pot holes, etc. Also, a large pothole more easily swallows the small wheels, so I've preferred a slow, safe speed.

    - BUT being fast is also about having a smooth road and being strong. When I have no extra luggage on the bike and a smooth road, I can go faster than big-wheelers. Also, you can easily get into an slight aero position on the Brompton with hands on the base of the handlebars or forearms on the hand grips.

    - I only use Schwalbe Marathons and I've only had one flat over about 15,000 miles. Important, because I don't know how to remove the wheels.

    - I used to break a huge number of back wheel spokes with the stock build, but my dealer rebuilt the wheel with stronger spokes, solving the problem.

    - The bike folds small enough and looks sufficiently cute when folded that IF you do a long ride and get stranded, you can hitchhike to your destination.

    - The Brompton brakes are soft and breaking is slow, so high speeds seem dangerous to me and I have been hesitant to attach my Burley trailer to it, being afraid that it won't properly stop going downhill with the extra weight.

    - The advantage of riding a "slow" bike for my daily commute is that I'm a LOT stronger on my "fast" bike.


    Even today, with the higher BP to USD exchange rate, I'd still buy a Brompton. Good luck with this.

  14. #14
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    In the 2008 Pacific catalog, it looks as if there is also now a suitcase for the Birdy in which the bike can simply be quickly folded and placed inside. http://www.pacific-cycles.com/upload...20download.pdf

  15. #15
    Hauja
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    I would take it on a train, I would take it on a plane .For your your info James I am I do not eat green eggs and ham.(Note this refers to any folder i can put in a suitcase and check.)

  16. #16
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RMatson View Post

    - I used to break a huge number of back wheel spokes with the stock build, but my dealer rebuilt the wheel with stronger spokes, solving the problem.
    How much do weigh?

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