2011 Co-Motion Nor'Wester, 2007 Co-Mo Speedster copilot tandem
Foam tube padding for travel bikes
Can anyone offer advice on the use & cutting to length of foam padding for travel bikes?
I purchased Velcro padding for our co-motion copilot tandem and I am trying to decide the best strategy. Since most of our bike vacations are via car we did not purchase the suitcases. We typically disassemble the tandem and pack carefully in our hatchback. The foam will give us an added measure of protection. Our vacations tend to be multi-activity/multi-sport so the car is packed quite full.
I have considered cutting the foam to fit around the bottle cages, tire pump, brake attachments etc, but this would not be ideal if and when we invest in travel cases for airline travel. I haven’t decided whether its best anyway to remove them for car travel.
I have looked at co-motion’s video on packing as well as the pictures on TG’s site, but its not real clear to me the best way to protect some of the more awkward areas with foam, like where the top and lateral tubes meet the seat tubes and the head tube. Also what to do around the eccentric and bottom bracket and cranks, etc. It appears for the tubes with S&S connectors the foam should be cut to extend slightly beyond the S&S connections to protect them. The foam is pretty expensive, so I was hoping to avoid my usual ‘measure once, cut twice’ approach.'
We got our bike used. The padding was cut when we got it. I don't know if the previous owner cut it or if the supplier did so. Each piece is marked with a grease pencil to indicate its location. Most are pretty easy. However, around things like the head tube & bottom bracket, they don't fit very cleanly. Also, we have cutouts for the V brake arms & front derailer. As far as the WB cages go, we usually remove these for packing in the airline case. So, for your in-car packing, you may want to make cut-outs but not for airline travel.
I have not seen an example of perfectly fitting foam padding pieces for all components but I'd bet that if it can be done, TG would provide the gold standard.
I try to leave as many 'bits and pieces' on the tandem as possible and wrapped around the water bottle cages, rear brake, front derailleur, and the like. I like to pull all the cranks off since they can cause the most damage inside the case and would also pull off the front caliper (one bolt) so that I could flip the fork/stem around 180* and left it attached to the frame for packing. My frame pump just happed to be just the right size for fitting inside my boom tube.
I don't know that there's a right way or wrong way to cut the individual pieces, as it really depends on how much disassembly you do, how and where your frame breaks (mine have always leave the front & rear triangles in tact), and how you'll pack it. They key is making sure tubing that could come in contact with anything that could scratch, scuff, nick or put a compression dent it it are padded.
FWIW: I haven't even put an ounce of thought into how I'll pack our carbon tandem, aside from exploring the use of large foam sheets or something along the lines of Santana's safecase with molded higher density foam just to get away from the velco covers. The velco cocooning and shedding process is what really takes most of the time when packing and unpacking a tandem. Physical knock down and build-up is a breeze.
I looked but didn't see anything at the home improvement stores that would cover anything larger than 1" diameter, but I am no hardware expert.
You could always double-up and use more than one piece of insulation. It's pretty cheap stuff; try scoring the back and duct-taping some strips together. The foam pipe insulation is pretty flexible, maybe you can put one piece on from each side.
Labelling the parts will definitely speed up the repackaging.
The padding we have is foam with ballistic nylon backing and Velcro at the edges. Pipe insulation from the hardware store is just foam and not nearly as tear resistant as the nylon. You could probably use pipe insulation but be careful that stuff like chainring teeth don't have the opportunity to cut through it.
pipe insulation...about 1.50 per 8 foot lenght... if the tubes are larger than the diameter of the pipe padding just paded with two open tubes... then tie it up with electrical ties... ties are so cheap you can cut and replace everytime you pack... if not make some out of velco strips...
All other items...buble wrap..works great is cheap and can be reused... in a week or so i'll be packing my bike for airplane travel..will place some jpegs on the forum...
+1 on pipe insulation. Cheap, comes in several diameters. Zip ties/velcro work fine, but often not needed.
Bubblewrap works OK but has to be discarded after one usage. You could also use combo of pipefoam/bubblewrap.
Will be packing up our tandem and single for our summer escape up north next week.
Removing wheels, all pedals and pilot seatpost (with stoker handlebars) to keep things realtive flat inside our Honda wagon. Everything else stays on the bike. Pipe foam where needed on all major tubes.
Couple suitcases will be laid flat as bottom layer on station wagon floor. Then the tandem. Then blanket. Then singe bike on top of that. Another blanket and wheels for tandem + single on top of that. Other stuff gets put in either plastic bags or small boxes where there is space. We have also utilized garment bags that lay flat.
There is room behind passenger seat to put 2 more suitcases + daily travel needs for easy access.
Been doing it that way for years; have traveled from AZ to east and west coast and Canada.
Works fine for us!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
One note about using the hardware store pipe foam... DON'T get the kind that has a self adhevisive glue on it. It sticks to everything and you'll have to clean if off all of your tubes. It comes with a piece of plastic over the glue edge, but even if you try to leave this on to avoid the glue, you'll find that handleing it will pull the plastic off in places anyway. This is not nearly as good at the velcro/ nylon protectors used for coupled bikes. YMMV