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  1. #1
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    Looking at bikes

    I am looking at getting a touring bike for both touring and commuting. I currently commute to work on a 1988 Raleigh Technium, wearing a backpack. I enjoy going on longer rides by myself at times but have never done any touring. But, I am ready to take the plunge. I am very interested in doing both shorter and longer (heavily loaded) tours. By the way, I am 6'4", 220 lbs and measured my pubic bone height at 91 cm.

    This is my first post to bikeforums after lurking for a couple of months.
    I am really interested in a bike with the S&S couplers for transport and am leaning toward one with 26" wheels ( I have had a tendency for my 700c wheels to get out of true and like the idea that they would be a little easier to pack away for travel). I know that some ppl love the S&S couplers and others say they aren't worth the cost, but I am VERY interested in them on the bike. So far there are a few options I can see that fit this:

    1. Get a LHT Deluxe frame (LHT with S&S Couplers). LBS said they'd be available for order on Mar 15. Basically get the frame add my own components. The appeal here is that I can build it out, adding really good components on the bike and probably still be cheaper than other options. The bad part is trying to get a set of components that work well given that I no bike building experience. But, I do have a LBS that could support me in this.

    2. Rodriguez W2 UTB with the travel option (S&S couplers). Appears to be a quality product with many sizing options. It is made in the USA (which is a plus in my book). I haven't seen too much posted information from owners of these bikes. Price will be higher than the Surly obviously but for a frame made in the US, the prices seem very reasonable. This bike wheel also accept larger tires so if I decided to do some tours that were more off road, I could change out the wheels/tires.

    3. Thorn Nomad. I haven't researched this bike as much as the others, but it is available with S&S couplers, 26" wheels , etc. This bike does appear to be more of a heavy duty expedition bike. But for the price, it looks like a really good quality product and I know a lot of folks speak highly of Thorn.

    Any opinions on these or other options would be appreciated...

    Thanks

    Greg

  2. #2
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    I won't try to talk you out of S&S couplers. I've never heard anyone who didn't like their effectiveness, just folks who didn't like their cost. I do have one data point to consider.

    I'm looking at flying with my bike to a starting destination for a tour this summer. I haven't checked all the airlines, but Southwest Airlines (in the US) will charge me $50 (one way) to check in my bike in a box. The box can be large enough that the only real disassembling I have to do is to loosen the stem, turn the handlebars sideways, and remove the pedals. If I had a bike with S&S couplers, I could check it as one of my two allowed free bags. So, it would save me $50 per one-way flight as long as I fly Southwest. I didn't check into other airlines, but all of them I know of charge something for each checked bag.

    If I fly my bike in a standard cardboard bike box, I can throw it away when I reach the starting point of my tour. Most people with S&S bikes seem to have a special case they use to pack their bike when they fly. I don't know what I'd do with the case while I'm touring.

    I like to start with a frame and choose the components, building it myself. Not only do I get exactly what I want, but I also get experience with how it goes together in case I have a problem on the road and need to do some repair. It's useful to know exactly what parts are in your bottom bracket, for instance, to give you a better idea the seriousness of a funny noise coming from it. The price to build a bike this way is dependent on the price/quality/value of the components you choose, but it's never going to be as cheap as a complete bike purchased. That is, unless you have lots of spare parts lying around you don't have to buy. The manufacturers can buy components in bulk at prices you can't come close to at the retail level.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Co Motion is another US builder to consider , they're in Oregon, they do have some dealers they ship to.
    I agree about OEM advantage in buying pallets of cases of components ,
    rather than retail which has higher markups to cover cost of running a Business.
    Typically, whole bikes are 20% less than individual parts and accessories ..

  4. #4
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Typically, whole bikes are 20% less than individual parts and accessories ..
    +1 ... and that's a conservative estimate, if you don't go overboard with top-end components and if your LBS doesn't go crazy with labor costs. You will, however, get more satisfaction out of your bike by choosing all the components you like.

    I've read many good things about Rodriguez bikes in this forum.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 01-28-11 at 12:54 PM.
    Handcrafted panniers and bags for the discerning cyclist


  5. #5
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    I'm looking at flying with my bike to a starting destination for a tour this summer. I haven't checked all the airlines, but Southwest Airlines (in the US) will charge me $50 (one way) to check in my bike in a box. The box can be large enough that the only real disassembling I have to do is to loosen the stem, turn the handlebars sideways, and remove the pedals.
    Maybe SW has loosened up a bit since last August, but then they insisted that the box be no more than 80", L,W,H. This is at least 20" smaller than a standard bike box. I had to do some whittling and more disassembly than was convenient.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Maybe SW has loosened up a bit since last August, but then they insisted that the box be no more than 80", L,W,H. This is at least 20" smaller than a standard bike box. I had to do some whittling and more disassembly than was convenient.
    That's worth checking into. I was only going by what their web site says about baggage policies:

    Non-motorized bicycles, including Bike Friday and Co-Pilot, will be accepted in substitution of a free piece of checked baggage at no additional charge provided the bicycle is properly packaged and the box containing the bicycle fits within the 62-inch sizing limit and weighs 50 pounds or less. (Maximum weight is 50 pounds and maximum size is 62 inches (length + width + height per checked piece of luggage.) The handlebars, kickstand, and pedals must be removed and placed inside the box. A $50.00 each-way charge applies to bicycles that don't meet the above criteria. Bicycles packaged in a cardboard box or soft-sided case will be transported as a conditionally accepted item.

    I took that to mean a bike with S&S couplers that will fit into a 62-inch box (length + width + height) could fly for free as one of your checked bags. All other bikes fly for $50 in a suitable cardboard box or soft-sided case. I interpreted that to mean a standard size bike box. They might very well have a different interpretation.

    Since I'm only flying one-way, I'll check with the airline desk at my departure city well in advance. Thanks for the warning.
    Last edited by xyzzy834; 01-28-11 at 02:58 PM.

  7. #7
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    I have never built up a bike, but I'm thinking about it as a fun project. Seems like there are often good deals on parts, especially this time of year. You probably have to be somewhat flexible on what will end up on the bike, or at least how long it will take to get all the parts, but my guess is that you can probably do okay by getting some stuff on sale and even some stuff used. But, like I said, that's just a hunch. And, of course, it only makes sense if you want the experience of assembling the bike.

  8. #8
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    Since I'm only flying one-way, I'll check with the airline desk at my departure city well in advance. Thanks for the warning.
    Also, remember that airlines are absolutely notorious for saying one thing on the phone or the web, and another at the ticket counter when you have no choice. The best bet is to get the information either in writing from an agent (unlikely) or to have them explain the fare rules in such a way that you can direct a ticket agent to find the same solution when you're at the counter. Also, it's a good idea to call the airline back before you leave just to make sure. I'm in a similar situation for my trip to Europe this summer - the bike is supposed to fly free. I'm crossing my fingers, but I'm also going to call the airline again to confirm it before I leave.

  9. #9
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Maybe SW has loosened up a bit since last August, but then they insisted that the box be no more than 80", L,W,H. This is at least 20" smaller than a standard bike box. I had to do some whittling and more disassembly than was convenient.
    Their policy is a bit confusing. They in practice do not limit you to 80", if they did no regular bike could fly with them. The language in the bike section of their policy does not list the size limit for boxed bikes at the $50 charge. The regular baggage section of their policy does say that the limit is 80", but I know that many people have flown with boxes of over that size. I spoke with them before my June 2010 tour and was told that a box over 80" would be fine. I was still nervous so I asked on a couple forums and heard from quite a few people who flew on SW with boxes like bikes come in when new with no problem and heard from no one who was turned away.

    I think it prudent to not go crazy and use a huge box like the Amtrak one. It seems to me as if that would be asking for trouble.

    On the coupled bikes with a hard case, I don't think they would work for me because I do not typically start and end my tour in the same city. Because of that I would have to figure out how to get my case from the start of my tour to the end. That would seem to me to defeat the whole purpose of having a coupled bike.

    If on the other hand you typically fly to a city with your bike and fly home from the same city it may work out better. Also I guess you could use a cardboard box the correct size for the coupled bike, but again getting the right box seems like a big complication at the end of a tour.

    On the building up vs buying a complete bike, I bet most find they wind up spending MUCH more building one up. I find the component selection on most complete touring bikes to be quite good and the bikes a good enough value that it seldom pays to build up your own unless you just want to do it and are willing to spend more doing it.

    Some people do manage to build up a bike cheaper than buying complete by buying a piece here and there on deep discount or used on eBay. They are the rare exception. They also probably spend a long time collecting the parts
    Last edited by staehpj1; 01-28-11 at 03:37 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Their policy is a bit confusing. They in practice do not limit you to 80", if they did no regular bike could fly with them. The language in the bike section of their policy does not list the size limit for boxed bikes at the $50 charge. The regular baggage section of their policy does say that the limit is 80", but I know that many people have flown with boxes of over that size. I spoke with them before my June 2010 tour and was told that a box over 80" would be fine. I was still nervous so I asked on a couple forums and heard from quite a few people who flew on SW with boxes like bikes come in when new with no problem and heard from no one who was turned away.
    When I spoke to them in August last, the agent stated that 80" was the MAXIMUM they would except for a boxed bike. Guess it depends on who you talk to, and what mood they're in that day.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  11. #11
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    One good thing about Southwest is that the employees are taught to be consumer friendly instead of looking for ways to squeeze every last dime out of them. That can be a big help if there is some confusion about box size and/or pricing at the ticket counter.

  12. #12
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I've built up several bikes, including my 62cm LHT. (I'm 6'4" also, but weigh 195.) When you have lots of time and are willing to take a chance on used parts on Ebay, you can build for not much more than a complete. But on my touring bike I didn't want to be out in the middle of nowhere with failing components. I wanted strength, reliability, and quality. Hence I went with almost all new parts, and equal or better than the complete LHT (it wasn't available as a complete when I bought mine - it was about half a year beforehand.) I'm sure I spent at least $1,500 on the whole rig, maybe more. (I didn't keep track, because I didn't really want to know.)

    The cost was the downside. The upside was that I got exactly the bike I wanted, I learned a lot about working on it, I ended up with some good tools (not included in my estimate of the cost), and I had a lot of fun and gained a feeling of accomplishment out of the whole project.

    Mine has 700 wheels, but they now offer a 62cm with 26" wheels.

  13. #13
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    I own a UTB but will give a shout out to bilenky.

    A big yes to sns, 26in wheels, and threadless headsets if you plan on lugging it around on airplanes.

    Two things pushed me over the edge on my bike purchase. The largest road bike "Blazing Saddles SF" had in stock was a 58cm allez which was -almost- physically impossible to ride. My 25in T series c-dale is just a beast to lug around places and sketchy as heck bad on roads.

    PS: I only fly SW domestic.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    another approach .. Bike Friday .. Built in Eugene, Oregon, and made to rider size and weight requirements.

    406 wheels, 20" strong and lighter, [plenty of tire spares to be found]

    and is made to Knock down and go in a suitcase.. no bike surcharge.

    and drive train choices are many..

    Rohloff Hub? SRAM Dual Drive , just 2 ..

  15. #15
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    Hi Greg,

    I am Brian Myers from Ravello Bikes in Tucson. I read your posting and I have some ideas for you. I think the downside of ordering a LHT or something else online, would be finding out that you don’t like it for any number of reasons. I could talk with you about other options, ranging from retrofitting a used or craigslist bike, to a custom bike. I build take-apart travel bikes using my own proprietary system (I used to build with the S&S couplers, but didn’t like being limited to round steel tubing). The advantage of my system is that it works with aluminum, steel, or carbon, and non-round or round tubing. My customers have positive comments about my system, which I can also install as a retrofit on stock bikes for between $350 to $500. For touring, I built myself a take-apart 26" wheeled bike with a rigid fork, because it sure is nice to have the option of riding dirt roads and trails. Check out our website at www.ravellobikes.com, and give me a call if you have any questions.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for all the info/opinions everyone! You have been very helpful. Still not sure what route I will take.

    The Co-motion Pangea has been added to my list of bike options. Although this is quite a bit more than I was looking at spending initially, it sure looks like a sweet ride.

    The Bike Friday NWT definitely looks interesting and after reading reviews and searching on this forum, ppl sure seem to love them! I'm just not sure how well it would fare as an all rounder for me. Don't think those 20" wheels would handle off roading too well. Then again, the prices seem very reasonable on them and with what is leftover I could probably afford to get another decent bike that would be suitable for more off-roading style expeditions.

    So many choices! At least it is better than almost no choices.

    -Greg

  17. #17
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Keep in mind that the S&S couplers will add at least $600 to the cost of the bike. And if your bike box / bag goes over 50 lbs, you'll still have to pay.

    Are you really planning to fly that much with the bike? If not, I'd skip on the couplers and make "bike fit" your top priority.

  18. #18
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    First night on this forum and found something i had to add my 2 cents to.

    I'm just starting to get into touring. but i am a professional flier on southwest. as stated earlier it all depends on how clueless or experienced the person at the ticket counter is regardless of anything you hear on the phone. I fly with calibration equipment and get away with 3 checked bags for free periodically. the trick for that is just luck of the draw and finding the senior attendant at the counter who is busy helping ask questions and just wants to get you thru. when they're busy sometimes they just check it without the charge to save themselves 2 minutes. managed to save at least 100 a month on my 3rd bag on average this way. chances are you will get the full 50 bill every time you fly with an over-sized package. but if you plan on flying with your bike what is the offset in cost? is it worth the $500 to $1k extra to the bike to save $50 a trip?
    When i get around to it, i'm going to contact the manufacturer and see how lax they are on selling the couplers to someone that isn't a frame builder. I don't know any frame builders in Austin but i have access to a few machine shops for the equipment i don't have so i can do it myself.

  19. #19
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    Nashar touring fork $49.00
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_511246_-1___
    Nashbar touring frame $99.00
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_511239_-1___
    Shimano Deore LX trekking (touring) groupset (crankset, rear derailleur, front derailleur, shifters, brake levers, brakes, cassette, chain) as low as 271.21 euro (depending on which options you choose); with shipping to North America (means you don't pay European VAT tax) is $368.33 US dollars (the exchange rate fluctuates)
    http://www.bike24.com/p29129.html
    WTB Freedom Ryder 23 rims 36 hole $18.45 (times two = $36.90) (I put the link here from eBikestop for people who want to order from Canada, shipping for large items is cheaper from eBikestop last time I ordered)
    http://www.ebikestop.com/freedom_ryd...rim-RM2241.php
    Shimano Tiagra rear hub 36 hole $27.89
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=414678
    Shimano Tiagra front hub 36 hole $19.84
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=407883
    (I haven't chosen that yet, you can look below why)
    Velox rim strip $1.83 (times two = $3.66)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=432533
    Dimension spoke protector $3.00
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=419815
    Sunlite wheel reflectors $2.49
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...oducts_id=5777
    DT Swiss Champion 14g (2.0mm) spokes
    for rear wheel
    (I measured both hub and rim and used two sizing calculators for that rim and rear hub and chose 287mm and 289mm spokes, 18 of each length)
    287mm $0.43 (times 18 = $7.74)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=32422
    289mm $0.51 (times 18 = $9.18)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=32640
    for front wheel using this calculator http://lenni.info/edd/ says it's 290mm both sides
    290mm $0.51 (times 36 = $18.36)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=32638
    DT Swiss Champion 12mm, 2.0mm brass nipples $0.26 (times 72 = $18.72)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=32619
    Dimension chainstay protector clear $5.95
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=501118
    Origin8 classique sport seatpost 27.2mm x 300mm silver $26.08
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=509738
    Origin8 seatpost clamp 31.8mm gold $5.99
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=431892
    Origin8 headset spacers 1-1/8" (ten x 10mm) silver $6.20
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=431892
    Origin8 headset threadless 1-1/8" gold $31.99
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=431753
    Origin8 stem threadless 1-1/8" 25.4mm silver $21.99
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=431946
    Origin8 handlebars 625mm long 25.4mm clamp 40mm high silver $19.80
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=431636
    Black Ops platform pedals clear $14.99
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=432203
    WTB Freedom Relax saddle light brown $36.98
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=433923
    Dimension hand-stiched leather grips light brown $14.88
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=408543
    Continental tubes 700x28-47mm Presta $6.26 (times two = $12.52) (or the thicker Michelin tubes)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=424089
    Continental TourRide tires 700x37mm $26.96 (times two = $53.92) (or Michelin Tracker tires) (you can also get these in cream color with reflective strips from bikexperts.com in Germany if you ask them)
    http://www.amazon.com/Continental-To.../dp/B0013DZGVG
    Well, here the total without the shipping cost for amazon.com, niagaracycle and eBikestop and cost of assembly is $915.40
    Sunlite bottle cages $1.99 (times two if you want $3.98)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=12697
    Sunlite Tec HD tourer rack $24.99 (these were actually all silver when they arrived)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=430988
    Axiom Rainrunner trekk reflex 700c fenders $54.00
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=426889
    Avenir Softside City panniers $42.56
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=507460
    Trek Lime bell $7.99 (you can click on additional views to see the 8 colors, I would choose white)
    http://store.trekbikes.com/jump.jsp?...ProductID=1439
    Civia two leg kickstand $27.00 (right now I'm not sure what the top plate model means yet)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=710999
    Halo hex key skewers $15.00
    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=12529
    Cateye Strada cycling computer CD-RD100 $21.51 (this one is the black on sale but I've seen the white on sale before)
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=13708
    The total at this point would be $1112.43
    Kryptonite Kryptolock Value Series 2 (make sure to grease the mechanism inside) $32.16
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=30504
    Giro Hex helmet $67.95 (depends on size, color)
    http://www.amazon.com/Giro-Mountain-...6885571&sr=8-2
    Dimension eyeglass mirror $10.50
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=411405
    Fox Racing gloves $21.95
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=702678
    Bellwether rain jacket $119.99
    http://www.amazon.com/Bellwether-201...888369&sr=1-44
    Bellwether AquaNo pants $60.39
    http://www.amazon.com/Bellwether-Aqu...6895452&sr=8-3
    The total at this point would be $1425.37
    If you chose to go with a dynamo front hub and front and rear dynamo lights, this could be a choice
    Busch&Muller D'Toplight Plus rear dynamo light 17 euro
    http://www.bike-x-perts.com/en/produ...ucts_id/133927
    Busch&Muller Lumotec Lyt Plus 25 lux front light for dynamo hub 24 euro
    http://www.bike-x-perts.com/en/produ...ucts_id/359500
    (you could also choose the IQ Cyo 60 lux front light but that's 64 euro)
    http://www.bike-x-perts.com/en/produ...ucts_id/359497
    Shimano DH-3N72 dynamo hub 58 euro (actually, I wanted to choose the Deore LX model for this message but the spoke calculator did not include this one, I can only measure it once I order it)
    http://www.bike-x-perts.com/en/produ...ucts_id/242167
    (The spokes for this would be 283mm both sides with the WTB Freedom Ryder 23 rim)
    DT Swiss Champion 283mm spokes $0.49 each (times 36 = $17.64)
    http://www.cambriabike.com/shopexd.asp?id=92390
    So, if you chose a dynamo hub 58 euro, front light 24 euro, rear light 17 euro (plus the 283mm spokes minus the 290mm spokes and Tiagra front hub), it would be $1539.26 without the shipping from bikexperts
    I'm a little surprised I did all this work. But, please tell me if I missed any bike parts.
    You can always use the frame sizing calculator at ColoradoCyclists.

  20. #20
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    I'm planning on buying a bike that DOES have S&S. Will I save in the long run? I don't know, but it's worth the peace of mind in knowing that I can pack it in a suitcase built specifically for this purpose and not have to worry the entire flight whether or not it's safe. I'd rather have them and not need them. If you're still not sure, don't forget that they can be retrofitted.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Just a thought- My wife has a bike with S&S couplers, and once you put a rack and fenders on your bike; I don't think those neat little suitcases will work very well. If you look at the pictures they use as examples, they show "bare" bikes. Granted, you can still get it into a smaller box, but I'm not sure if it will meet the checked bagage criteria. On previous trips we each carry a light weight duffle, about 8 ounces, that will hold all of the contents of our panniers. The empty panniers go in the bike boxes. It is a lot easier than trying to handle 6 panniers, 2 rack packs and 2 handle bar bags.


    The "train bag" is in the foreground, but it also works on planes. It will hold the contents of my 4 panniers.


    The contents of 6 panniers are in the 2 bags on left side of the the cart. It means handling three pieces of luggage apice, instead of 6 in my case and 4 for my wife. Here we were waiting for a train. The bikes and empty panniers (inside the bike boxes) go as checked luggage.
    Last edited by Doug64; 02-07-11 at 10:51 PM.

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