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yangmusa 03-30-13 03:19 PM

Found suitcase that fits Brompton H-type. Now seeking advice on packing..
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I got a Calvin Klein "Woodstock" 28" semi-hardsided suitcase at Ross Dress for Less for $70. The stiff fibrous material it's made of seems very similar to the Polaris Folding Bike Pod my wife has (retails for around $250). The dimensions are roughly 28"x21"x12" = 61" (i.e. legal size for checked baggage). It fits my H-type, more or less...

As you can see, the sides of the case do bulge out - the main problem is the steering riser on the H-type is at least an inch taller than on the regular size Brompton. (I took the photo of me for reference - I'm 194cm/6'4")

I have a few questions for those of you that have flown with Bromptons before:
  1. I've added a bit of padding to points that might damaged the suitcase, e.g. pedals, steering column, top of seatpost (see photos). Should I add more? Should I try to rig some kind of crush-protection? The handlebar ends are two of the highest points and don't seem the most sturdy part of the bike.
  2. I have the telescoping seat post, which makes it easy to take the seat off. Good thing, because it couldn't possibly fit with the seat on! As you can hopefully see in the photos, I put the seat between the wheels - there's one strap holding it to each wheel, and a bit of padding to stop the saddle scuffing on the tire. It seems to me that this should work without damaging anything. Has anyone done similar and experienced damage as a result? I suppose I could leave the saddle loose in the suitcase, but this seems tidier.

Anything else I should think of?

Thanks in advance for advice!

jur 03-30-13 03:32 PM

The twiddly screws are a bit vulnerable.

I have flown with an unprotected bike a few times, worked well, just took the saddle off the top of the seatpost, tucked it between the wheels, and stuck a sturdy rubber crutch foot over the seatpost. I had a strap holding all together, and a double layer of helicopter tape on the outside of the steering column.

smallwheeler 03-30-13 04:24 PM

bubblewrap the bike. then pack rolled-up jeans, shirts, socks, underwear, and whatever other soft goods you will be taking with you into every available nook and cranny of that case. people like to imagine their luggage going from the conveyor belt directly and gingerly into the cargo hold of the plane..

better to picture the case being thrown.

"A brave baggage handler spills his guts on what happens once passengers checked their bags. To be honest it isn’t pretty:
“I’m not going to lie, your checked luggage takes a beating. They call it ‘throwing bags’ for a reason. There isn’t an easy way around this. Airplanes are only making money while in the air and no airline wants an airplane on the ground too long. Due to the nature of some aircraft, it would be impossible to turn around a 737 or 757 in an hour or less without throwing bags because it’s just faster.”"


1nterceptor 03-30-13 04:43 PM

I've flown only once with my Brompton so far. I bought my bike in Puerto Rico
and asked the store to give me the box it came in. So I rode the Brommie a few
times then folded the bike(S type, 6 speed) and slid it in the box. Taped it shut
and brought it as checked luggage on Jetblue, Puerto Rico to New Jersey. No
damage after I took it out of the box. Even though Jetblue doesn't charge for the
first check-in bag, most US carriers do. So on my next flight, I'll probably bring the
bike on the plane as a carry-on luggage:

HGR3inOK 03-30-13 04:57 PM


Originally Posted by 1nterceptor (Post 15449292)
... on my next flight, I'll probably bring the
bike on the plane as a carry-on luggage ...

Keep in mind that most carry-on items are limited to ~45 linear inches. Just because it the item will fit through the x-ray machine doesn't mean the airline will allow it as it as a carry-on. :) Please let us know your experience.

Norman, Oklahoma USA

2_i 03-30-13 06:13 PM


Originally Posted by smallwheeler (Post 15449223)
“I’m not going to lie, your checked luggage takes a beating. They call it ‘throwing bags’ for a reason.”

At a couple of US airports I actually saw the rough handling of the luggage being automated. The conveyor belt would throw a bag high into the air, the bag would land against some barrier and try to make it onto a conveyor belt moving in transverse direction. Disconcerted passengers would try to push the bags that were spilling over that barrier and push them back onto the conveyor belt.

yangmusa 03-30-13 06:35 PM

I have gate-checked my bike a few times (return trip SFO - LAX - NARITA - LAX - SFO), and although the United staff made a fuss about it they did eventually let me do it (it took 3 levels of supervisors). The last time I tried, SFO had tightened their security and absolutely refused to allow me into the line for security. I ended up checking the Brompon in the slip cover (all I had), and got some substantial scratches on the frame.

I've had friends gate check their bikes at SFO since then, but the unpredictability is not acceptable. Hence the suitcase - I know that they will accept my checked bag, no questions asked.

yangmusa 04-02-13 10:57 AM

The flight yesterday went well. Airline accepted the case without blinking an eye. Case and bike arrived without any damage. I had added foam pipe insulation on all the exposed corners. That wore through in one place on the folded handlebar hinge. I'll see if I can find something tougher to add there before the return flight.

So far, the case seems to work well. It's easier to wheel than my wife's Polaris Bike Pod - the handle is longer. On the other hand, with the custom made case she can just fold the bike and put it in. No need for 5 minutes to add padding.

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