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Suitcase for folding bikes

Old 05-30-18, 11:27 AM
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Suitcase for folding bikes

We are working on the design of a new suitcase for travel with your folding bike, and I am interested to hear what is most important to you, and what dimensions are necessary for your bike.
One commonly used case is the Samsonite f'lite bag whose dimensions, including wheels and handles, are: 32.67" x 23.48" x 13.77" for a total length of 69.92". This exceeds the airline standard of 62" linear inches (L+W+H) to avoid oversize-bag fees, but I don't have a sense of how often the oversize-bag fees are actually enforced. I was only charged once for an oversized bag, and never used that bag again.
So, how important is it to you that the case be under the 62" limit?
Now, the second part of the question: what bag dimensions would be necessary to pack your own bike? You should include some disassembly if necessary to achieve a reasonable package size.
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Old 05-30-18, 11:52 AM
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Airline limits are very important to me. I wouldn't take a case that didn't meet them. My bike needs 28x17x8 inches plus room for packing materials around it. My samsonite is actually a bit big so I stuff with clothes. Bike is a BF pakiT.
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Old 05-30-18, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Airline limits are very important to me. I wouldn't take a case that didn't meet them. My bike needs 28x17x8 inches plus room for packing materials around it. My samsonite is actually a bit big so I stuff with clothes. Bike is a BF pakiT.
If you purchased your case from Bike Friday, it is the Samsonite 31" f'lite bag with the dimensions noted in my original post. The dimensions listed on the BF site exclude the wheels, handles, etc., but most airlines measure the overall size including the wheels and handles, in which case the bag is over the limits. The United Airlines website states: "The maximum exterior dimension (length + width + height) of standard checked baggage is 62 inches (158 cm), including handles and wheels."

American Airlines lists a $200 oversized-bag fee (each way) for US Domestic flights. Jet Blue charges for cases 63" in (160 cm) 80 in (203.3 cm)(including wheels and handles) $100 per bag.

Have you flow with this one yet?
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Old 05-30-18, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
If you purchased your case from Bike Friday, it is the Samsonite 31" f'lite bag with the dimensions noted in my original post. The dimensions listed on the BF site exclude the wheels, handles, etc., but most airlines measure the overall size including the wheels and handles, in which case the bag is over the limits. The United Airlines website states: "The maximum exterior dimension (length + width + height) of standard checked baggage is 62 inches (158 cm), including handles and wheels."

American Airlines lists a $200 oversized-bag fee (each way) for US Domestic flights. Jet Blue charges for cases 63" in (160 cm) – 80 in (203.3 cm)(including wheels and handles)– $100 per bag.

Have you flow with this one yet?
I flew my NWT in the samsonite once and had no issues (United of all things, lol). Maybe when a senior citizen says it is her mobility device, they are nicer, lol.
I now have a Delsey Luggage Helium Aero (large) which is smaller than the samsonite. A friend has flown her brompton in one multiple times so we tried my pakit and it fit great, so I bought one. Haven't flown with it yet, though. It is definitely under the 62" limit. *I should add my friend had to fully deflate her tires and remove her seat to make her brommie fit, I have to remove seatmast and front wheel.

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Old 05-30-18, 01:18 PM
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I have flown many times with my Brompton in the B&W case which is over the dimension limit by a few inches. They only checked the weight. So far no problems, knock on wood.
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Old 05-30-18, 01:56 PM
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I have talked to several Ritchey Breakaway bike owners, their case exceeds the size limit. One guy told me that once he had to pay the fee, the others I talked to said they never had to pay the oversize fee.

The weight is the thing that they will get you on. I always carry a luggage scale.

To get my folder with 24 inch wheels into the S&S backpack case (26X26X10), I have to pull off the fork, cassette, water bottle cages, saddle, and both crank arms. To keep things cleaner and to avoid damage, I also take off the chain and rear derailleur. See photo. The small wood plywood thing on top is a DIY center support. It is almost as hard to pack that bike in the case as it is to pack my S&S bike in the case.

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Old 05-30-18, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have talked to several Ritchey Breakaway bike owners, their case exceeds the size limit. One guy told me that once he had to pay the fee, the others I talked to said they never had to pay the oversize fee.

The weight is the thing that they will get you on. I always carry a luggage scale.

To get my folder with 24 inch wheels into the S&S backpack case (26X26X10), I have to pull off the fork, cassette, water bottle cages, saddle, and both crank arms. To keep things cleaner and to avoid damage, I also take off the chain and rear derailleur. See photo. The small wood plywood thing on top is a DIY center support. It is almost as hard to pack that bike in the case as it is to pack my S&S bike in the case.

Wow! That is a lot of work to get your bike in a case. But, your meet the size limitation.

Does the fact that this is a soft bag worry you? Does it offer enough protection?
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Old 05-30-18, 03:06 PM
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I would like to see some cheaper alternatives for the S&S suitcases. 26x26x10, although that seems to be a fairly non-standard size for suitcases.

My old Bike Friday Samsonite Oyster is a pretty plain suitcase. It really wouldn't take much to custom make injection molded cases.
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Old 05-30-18, 03:56 PM
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62 inches max, to avoid surplus charges. And maybe some custom foam or molding to pack the bike in the most efficient, optimal way, every time.
Right now, every time I fold and pack, I feel like each time it's a little different. And never perfect.
Derailleur up, is always a must. But everything else is a crap shoot and requires socks and rags to protect and optimize.
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Old 05-30-18, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
Wow! That is a lot of work to get your bike in a case. But, your meet the size limitation.
...
Yup. To try to make an extremely long story extremely short, when I bought the frame to build up, that particular bike was advertised as the largest wheels on a folder that you could get in a case without an oversize charge. Bought the frame, built up the bike. Then a couple years later tried to buy the case. You could not buy the case in the USA because nobody would buy it here, it exceeded airline size. I eventually figured out that the bike company is in the UK and that larger case did comply with British Air size criteria, but not USA airline 62 inch criteria. So, their advertising was correct, and unfortunately I had an expensive folder that I could not use the way I planned to. So, it sat in the back of my truck in case I ever wanted to go for a bike ride on short notice. Years later, I came home from Iceland with my S&S bike and I was looking in that huge empty space in my S&S backpack case after I took my bike out of it and thought that I probably could get my folder into it if I worked at it. Yup, I can. But it is not an easy task.

Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
...
Does the fact that this is a soft bag worry you? Does it offer enough protection?
The side pieces are quite stiff and offer very good protection. I added my DIY center support so that teh middle can't be crushed either. If you look at the luggage page on the Co-Motion web site, they comment that soft cases seem to hold up better, they suspect that airline personnel are more likely to treat a hard case rougher thinking that it can handle that kind of treatment.



In this second photo, I am wearing my backpack case on my back with the backpack straps.

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Old 05-30-18, 09:58 PM
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I would certainly prefer that the dimensions comply with the airline rules since air travel is my primary reason for having a folder. My Bike Friday came with the Samsonite Oyster suitcase which was later traded in for their Carlton case which appears to just meet the 62" limit. But I agree with comments that airlines are much less diligent about checking the physical size than they are about checking weight. I've also sometimes traveled with my folding kayak which doesn't come close to the size limit (it fits in a big duffle bag that's 48" x 16" x 12" - but under 50 lbs.) and haven't been charged the oversize fee. But I haven't flown with it recently so they may have gotten stricter. I still prefer to know that I'm within the official rules so I won't be hit with objections by an overly zealous agent at the baggage counter.

A convenient crush-protection system built into the design would be a nice feature to include. The ones provided by Bike Friday (round disks that screw onto plastic pipe) work ok but are subject to slipping out of position if not perfectly adjusted to the right length. And something I added after my first trip was lots of reflectorized tape after riding back to Heathrow in the late evening with the suitcase being towed behind the bike. I realized that while the bike had both a reflector and rear light, the dark gray suitcase on the trailer was very inconspicuous.
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Old 05-30-18, 10:16 PM
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I’m surprised a manufacturer should be asking such a question. Build your bag to the 62 inch limit. To do otherwise is a) inviting trouble in the future when airlines clamp down, and b) pissing off countless passengers whose bags are squeezed out by a thoughtless design.

Personally, I’d make the bag lightweight, crushproof and designed to go in the hold.
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Old 05-31-18, 02:47 AM
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I hear this is the one : Samsonite Stryde Glider Long Journey

https://shop.samsonite.com/luggage/s...78653XXXX.html
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Old 05-31-18, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by avole View Post
Im surprised a manufacturer should be asking such a question. Build your bag to the 62 inch limit. To do otherwise is a) inviting trouble in the future when airlines clamp down, and b) pissing off countless passengers whose bags are squeezed out by a thoughtless design.

Personally, Id make the bag lightweight, crushproof and designed to go in the hold.
Part of the reason that I am asking is because the Samsonite f'lite bag is commonly used (Bike Friday, etc.) and it is well over the 62" limit at about 69" and people don't seem to have an issue with it. The other is that the width, depth, and height of the case are to be chosen, so I would like to know what dimensions are necessary for your bike to fit.
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Old 05-31-18, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by pakeboi View Post
I hear this is the one : Samsonite Stryde Glider Long Journey

https://shop.samsonite.com/luggage/s...78653XXXX.html
The dimensions of this bag are interesting. I will have to make a mock-up to see how things fit.
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Old 05-31-18, 06:12 AM
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Mine goes in the hold, so I don't have to inconvenience other passengers, in a lightweight bag with no padding.

The reason for the bag is no more than it is easy to carry on the bike rack, which a rigid case is not.
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Old 05-31-18, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by avole View Post
Mine goes in the hold, so I don't have to inconvenience other passengers, in a lightweight bag with no padding.

The reason for the bag is no more than it is easy to carry on the bike rack, which a rigid case is not.
Has the bike held up well with no padding?
I assume that the case is over 62" if you are just folding the bike and putting it in a soft bag; have you encountered any extra fees?
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Old 05-31-18, 08:59 AM
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It's a Brompton, and the bag is a tight fit, but I've no idea whether it is over 62", because I've never measured it, plus it never goes on as cabin baggage. No extra fees, it counts as normal baggage and is within the weight limit for both the airlines I use. Handler is Air France, and they normally put soft baggage - backpacks, canvas bags, bikes in soft bags etc - on last. No damage I've noticed, but bear in mind I use trains and buses way more than aircraft for travel than you ever would in the US.
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Old 05-31-18, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Pinigis View Post
The dimensions of this bag are interesting. I will have to make a mock-up to see how things fit.
Wouldn't fit a Bike Friday but might fit most of the more square folding bikes out there. Pricey.
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Old 05-31-18, 09:59 AM
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In the past year I have flown 10 times using the Samsonite F'lite (so 20 times checking the case in) without issue. Good case for up to a 20 inch folder with plenty of spare room. I always keep the weight at 48.5 pounds. Just did 2 trips with the Bule case (handles a 24 inch bike), also no issues. For American domestic travel I don't think the measurements are as important as the weight. What would be cool is a hardcase that can slide within itself, making the measurements adjustable to various bikes. It that was made of plastic it would add at most a pound or two. That would have potential to be a backpack in a collapsed form.
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Old 05-31-18, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Wouldn't fit a Bike Friday but might fit most of the more square folding bikes out there. Pricey.
It's cheaper on Amazon :
https://www.amazon.com/Samsonite-Str...2BJourney&th=1
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Old 05-31-18, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by pakeboi View Post
Still pricey. My new Delsey Helium Aero was $125.
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Old 05-31-18, 01:02 PM
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-62" would be important to me - I'd hate to get stuck with OS charges, might as well take a regular bike
-Hardcase-like protection - I see those gorilla baggage handlers tossing luggage onto conveyor belts all the time
-Empty portability (low volume and weight) is my Grail feature though - I'd really like to be able to fly into one location, ride and tour, and then out another location completely self-contained with my air travel case. B&W's Foldon collapsable hardcase seems closest so far, but would still add a bulky third piece to my single pannier+bike touring rig and would kill the quick conversions to hand-carry, baby-stroller, and back-pack modes for public transport, restaurants/shops/museums, and stealth camping.

Course, there is always the option of dumpster diving and building my own cardboard box bike case, and I have another tiny yet protective 'travel case' idea to try out, but it will have its own limitations.
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Old 05-31-18, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post
-62" would be important to me - I'd hate to get stuck with OS charges, might as well take a regular bike
-Hardcase-like protection - I see those gorilla baggage handlers tossing luggage onto conveyor belts all the time
-Empty portability (low volume and weight) is my Grail feature though - I'd really like to be able to fly into one location, ride and tour, and then out another location completely self-contained with my air travel case. B&W's Foldon collapsable hardcase seems closest so far, but would still add a bulky third piece to my single pannier+bike touring rig and would kill the quick conversions to hand-carry, baby-stroller, and back-pack modes for public transport, restaurants/shops/museums, and stealth camping.

Course, there is always the option of dumpster diving and building my own cardboard box bike case, and I have another tiny yet protective 'travel case' idea to try out, but it will have its own limitations.
The B&W Foldon case is interesting, but far exceeds the 62" limit. We have chosen to offer a trailer kit so you can take your case with you once you reach your destination, but we are still open to other ideas.
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Old 05-31-18, 06:36 PM
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Some airlines are much more fee-happy than other airlines. I would not be surprised if certain airlines (Delta) were more inclined to charge the oversize fee than other airlines.

I mentioned above that some Ritchey Breakaway bike owners I talked to generally do not pay the oversize fee, but I did not ask them which airlines they used. Next time I will ask.

Considering the low cost to ship a bike by BikeFlights.com, next time I travel with a bike domestically, I will have to think about the advantage of not lugging my bike through an airport. If I am flying Southwest where two bags fly for free, I will be more inclined to take a bike on the plane in a 62 inch case or a slightly oversize case. But other airlines where even a 62 inch case that is not oversize would still be more expensive than the cost to ship a full size bike by BikeFlights.com, then I would have to think twice about taking the bike on the plane. At least that is my thought process, I do not know if that is how most other people think about this.

There also is the clear advantage of a small case that will go into a taxi trunk. In my community, most taxis are Prius and their trunk is larger than I expected but it is not like the Ford Crown Vic trunks. That clearly makes a 62 inch or slightly oversize case a clear advantage over a bike box for a trip to the airport.

But, international travel, the bike will be on the same plane as me and that is when I want a case for my bike. And for that I want to make sure I do not pay the oversize fee, thus I really want a 62 inch case. I think I paid $300 round trip for my 62 inch S&S case when I flew to Iceland and back.

Now that Li Ion batteries are coming into question for checked baggage, do not build a luggage scale into your case that uses a Li Ion battery. But a luggage scale is a travelers best friend. I usually aim for 48 to 48.5 pounds, airline scales usually read an extra half pound over my luggage scales. Some international flights are 20 kg which is a bit under 45 pounds, so make sure you know what your limits are when flying international. My luggage scales (I have a few) take two AAA or one CR 2032 coin type battery.
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