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  1. #1
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    S&S Coupler Packing questions.

    Can anyone with experience packing a S&S coupler bike help with some questions? I need to make a purchase decision on a case and need advise.

    First some specifics on my bike.
    50 cm frame - touring bike
    26 inch wheels
    1.75 inch tires

    Rear Rack - I have a choice betweeb Tubus Vega (small) or Surly Nice Rack (large)
    Front Rack - Tubus Tara
    Fenders - SKS

    Questions
    Is it possible to pack a 26x26x10 case with two racks and fenders? I have good packing skills.
    Should I purchase a 10" or the oversized 12"? I know the oversize is subject to fees.
    Anyone with a 12" case get away with not paying over sized luggage fees?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Yinkgo; 04-18-12 at 12:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    I recently made a purchase of an S&S coupled bike with case. Buying the oversize bag will defeat the purpose of paying the ever-increasing fees, IMHO. You just have to run into an airline agent having a bad day at the airport counter (even the 26x26x10 looks big) who will not hesitate to get the tape measure out. I personally went with the S&S backpack case. I think it is sturdy enough, well-padded to keep the bike protected, plus it only weighs about 8 lbs. Many airlines have a max of 45-50 lbs for sports equipment which will be extremely difficult to meet with the hard case. Packing the Tubus Tara should be no problem. I believe the SKS or most plastic fenders bend nicely so you should be able to remove them from the bike and pack them in the S&S case. The Tubus Vega rear rack might be an issue. If you're flying with a separate suitcase, pack it in there. I've seen pics of putting a Racktime Fold-it rear rack with no issues in the case (those come apart.) If you are able to fit everything in there, please do report back. I'm considering buying the Vega or Cosmo rear rack myself in the next few months. I will be flying with my new S&S coupled bike back to Mexico early next week and will report if I run into any issues, too. Flying with 56cm frame, 26 x 1.75 tires, a front randonneur rack and fenders.

    If anyone here has additional tips about flying with an S&S coupled bike and case, please let us know.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 04-18-12 at 01:56 PM.

  3. #3
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I've used the fold-it in the case. I think you could possibly fit a standard rear rack in the case, but its going to be a lot of work. I think it can be done, or you can pack it in your regular baggage. I'd get the 10" case and experiment.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I suppose the racks have to come off to get it in the case..
    plan on a hotel room at the start and end of your trip
    for a place to un and repack the bike and store the case


    [I bought a BikeFriday Instead]

  5. #5
    Bike touring webrarian
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    There are three issues I see with putting a rack(s) into an S&S case.

    1) I have the 10 inch case and it is a tight fit for just the bike. I have thought about trying to put the rack(s) in there but I don't think I could. Either was I have to take another case for my other gear and I just put the racks in there.

    2) When the bike is packed there is a lot of potential for metal on metal contact. Putting metal racks in the box will increase this by quite a bit and probably cause even more scrapes and chips.

    3) My bike in the case gets close to the 50 pound airline limit. I don't want to get too close to it so I use the other case for everything except the bike.

    My bike has 700cc wheels and I think it is bigger than yours. I don't know the exact height but I am about 5'11", if that helps.

    I created step-by-step photos of my bike packing process so that I could repeat it without having to "discover" the best way every time. I take it with me when I travel with the bike. I suggest you do the same thing as it will save you "figuring it out" time whenever you have to pack or unpack the bike.

    I do pack the fenders and the tires in the case. I have to remove both to get the bike in the box. I also have to remove the front brakes.

    By the way, get cable splitters for the cables that go across the couplers. They will save untold amounts of time by not requiring cable reconnection when pack or unpack the bike.
    Last edited by raybo; 04-18-12 at 07:17 PM.
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  6. #6
    meow bostongarden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    There are three issues I see with putting a rack(s) into an S&S case.

    1) I have the 10 inch case and it is a tight fit for just the bike. I have thought about trying to put the rack(s) in there but I don't think I could. Either was I have to take another case for my other gear and I just put the racks in there.

    2) When the bike is packed there is a lot of potential for metal on metal contact. Putting metal racks in the box will increase this by quite a bit and probably cause even more scrapes and chips.

    3) My bike in the case gets close to the 50 pound airline limit. I don't want to get too close to it so I use the other case for everything except the bike.

    My bike has 700cc wheels and I think it is bigger than yours. I don't know the exact height but I am about 5'11", if that helps.

    I created step-by-step photos of my bike packing process so that I could repeat it without having to "discover" the best way every time. I take it with me when I travel with the bike. I suggest you do the same thing as it will save you "figuring it out" time whenever you have to pack or unpack the bike.

    I do pack the fenders and the tires in the case. I have to remove both to get the bike in the box. I also have to remove the front brakes.

    By the way, get cable splitters for the cables that go across the couplers. They will save untold amounts of time by not requiring cable reconnection when pack or unpack the bike.
    Impressive!

  7. #7
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Racktime folding rear rack in case w/ 700c SNS bike....


    bikeboxed with rack.jpg I think I stuffed some raceblade fenders in there too for that trip.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  8. #8
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    I've had no problem packing my ~20" S&S 26" wheeled and 52cm 700c bikes in an S&S SOFT case with front and rear racks and accessories (no fenders, though). For front racks, I highly recommend the Tubus Duo over the Tara (assuming you have through-the-fork braze-ons), as it's much easier to pack. I'll also say that flat bars are MUCH easier to pack than drop bars, especially if you are using STI levers on the drops.

    I have both S&S hard and soft cases, and greatly prefer the soft for packing flexibility, storage while touring (they aren't as cumbersome as the hard cases), and ability to fit clothes, etc., in the outside pockets (which also provide padding).

    You can see a photo of my Co-Motion S&S bike packed for train travel here. Note that I was handling the bag myself on/off the train, so I didn't worry about padding the frame at all. (Usually I use the S&S supplied Velcro pads.) I got the bike, the front Tubus Duo and rear Blackburn Expedition racks, my MSR Hubba Hubba tent, and other stuff in there. I'm sure it was heavier than 50#.

    I suggest using the search feature both in this forum and in the BF tandem forum for lots of other discussions about S&S cases, packing, etc.

    For the record, I have 5 S&S bikes, including a tandem and a triplet, 2 26" bikes, and a 700c bike, so I have just a little bit of experience packing them! You haven't lived until you've tried to figure out how to get a three-seater S&S triplet packed for a trip to Europe :-)

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the replies. It's a great help to learn from your experiences. I've eliminated considering the 12" case. Now I'm leaning towards getting
    the soft case cover with the cardboard box inside. I'll just have to come up with someway to make it roll.

    Thanks for the help!

  10. #10
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    To me, the soft "backpack" case is the way to go. It's easier to pack, and in multiple international flights I've never had any damage. The trick is to fill the outside pockets with clothes and other soft items to serve as padding. Works great.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yinkgo View Post
    I'll just have to come up with someway to make it roll.
    The soft case doubles as a backpack. I tried with a full load (45 lbs. in my case) and it wasn't so bad. Definitely not ideal to carry it on your back for several hours, but I can definitely use it to walk in and out of a terminal, for example, without having to roll it. If you have back issues or other physical disability, yes, it would be a good idea to find a different solution.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    I said I would report back on my trip this week...

    Did my trip from San Diego back to Mazatlan yesterday with my new S&S coupled bike. Being the first time, it did take me several hours to disassemble the entire bike, put the frame and parts in the S&S protectors and make everything fit in the soft backpack case. BTW, I was able to fit the small front rack and fenders in the case. I bought the optional netting to keep everything together in case any customs agent or airport personnel wanted to check underneath the case. I also put a bunch of clothes (towel, dirty laundry, etc.) in the external side pockets for extra padding. The case arrived home last night without a single scratch! Although I haven't checked thoroughly, everything inside looks neatly packed, just the way I left it on Sunday night. The packed case weighed 42 lbs. on the scale. I used the backpack feature and was able to walk with it for about 5 minutes on a long stretch to catch a cab. Believe me, you wouldn't want to carry it for much longer than that! At many airports there are skycaps who work for a tip and will carry your luggage. I used one and it was SO worth it! Overall, I great experience using this soft case bag.

    Now I gotta work on reassembling the bike, but the fact that it is now at its final destination is very comforting.

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