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Flight checkin friendly bag for folding bike

Old 08-04-20, 06:24 PM
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walkingCorpse
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Flight checkin friendly bag for folding bike

I have a Dahon Curl i8 with 16" wheels and folds in 3 just like a Brompton. I'm looking for a bag or case with 61" overall dimensions (L + W + H) which is the criteira with most airlines to checkin the bike for free, otherwise it will incur additional charges. Does anyone know of a brand or seller that suites this requirement?
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Old 08-05-20, 07:16 AM
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Most USA airlines use 62 inches, not 61.

I am not familiar with your bike, so I have no idea if it would work, but I use the S&S Backpack. S&S also makes a hard case and I think that Co-Motion might also make their own S&S style case. These cases are 26 X 26 X 10 inches.

S&S Backpack is a soft case, but has stiff side panels. The four side panels at each end are strapped to each other with velcro, I find it works best if leave those a bit loose. I also made a center support for it out of wood, and in the flat top and bottom I added a sheet of Corroplast (from Home Despot) that I cut to 26 X 26 with rounded corners.

First photo, my S&S bike, second photo my Airnimal Joey folding bike. Third is with my bike packed in it, ready to hand to ticketing agent.








If you have not figured this out yet, last year Delta and American both implemented a new policy to waive oversize fees for bicycles in USA, so you could put a full size bike in a bike box and the fee was the same as for a regular piece of checked luggage. I am not sure if that policy also covers international flights or not. But, double check before you buy your ticket.

Southwest I assume still gives you two free checked bags, the photo above of my Airnimal was from a trip where I flew Southwest, my bike flew for free.

I have carried my S&S Backpack case as a backpack using the shoulder straps.
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Old 08-05-20, 10:47 AM
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My friend Peter hits the charity shops for soft sided luggage to put his bike (Friday) into,
adds cardboard to stiffen the soft sides,

and then abandons them at the start of his trip.
He does not stay in and return to the same hotel, like you may choose to do ..
Having invested in better cases..
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Old 08-05-20, 06:23 PM
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My Dahon Helios 20" can be packed in a 62" Samsonite Oyster. Not sure if they still make that hard shell case, but you can find one in a thrift shop for a few bucks if you look hard enough. I paid $7 for mine after looking for a while.

It is tricky to pack the 20" helios in the case. Tricky enough that I might not have figured it out without seeing directions on the web. I'd guess the 16" models would be much easier.

There is probably better info on the folder forums.
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Old 08-06-20, 10:02 AM
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You need to give your folded bike dimensions?
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Old 08-06-20, 10:09 AM
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https://www.downtube.com/downtube-fo...soft-suitcase/
use straps to tighten bag around bicycle.
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Old 08-06-20, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
My friend Peter hits the charity shops for soft sided luggage to put his bike (Friday) into,
adds cardboard to stiffen the soft sides,

and then abandons them at the start of his trip.
He does not stay in and return to the same hotel, like you may choose to do ..
Having invested in better cases..
I have done the same as your friend for getting my gear to and less often from some of my tours, but not my bike. I find soft or hard sided luggage for $6-8 and use it for a one way trip.

I'd think it might be harder to find bags that were a fit for a folder. Mine will only fit in one regular piece of 62" luggage that I have found so far. I guess some folding bikes pack smaller and easier than mine especially those with smaller wheels. I never wanted to tour on my folder and have not traveled for business much since I have owned it so I haven't traveled with it much. It did get loaned to a friend who took it to Spain for a year.
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Old 08-06-20, 06:48 PM
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When I pack one of my bikes in a small case, such as the two examples I showed above in the photos, there was a lot of two way velcro and zip ties holding the larger pieces of the bike together in one bundle that TSA could lift out of the case, visually inspect and drop back in. And I had a note on top specifically saying that, with my cell number if they had any difficulty re-packing it.

There have been lots of stories about TSA carelessness in repacking expensive bikes that caused damage because of their carelessness. They take stuff out of the box or case, then put it back in but not in properly, and when it does not fit they use as much force as they can to force the lid closed.

If your bike would fit in the large Samsonite case, that would probably be ideal. I am thinking of the case that Bike Friday uses as a trailer. Years ago I bought one of those suitcases at a garage sale for less than $5 USD. At the time I worked outside for my job and had to transport a lot of field equipment when I flew, that was in the good old days (80s, 90s) when you could check two free bags on most airlines. And that suitcase worked great, at times I had over $5,000 worth of electronic equipment in the suitcase and it was never damaged by airline luggage handlers.
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Old 08-07-20, 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
There have been lots of stories about TSA carelessness in repacking expensive bikes that caused damage because of their carelessness. They take stuff out of the box or case, then put it back in but not in properly, and when it does not fit they use as much force as they can to force the lid closed.
I worried a lot about that with mine. The process of packing it was pretty tricky and there was no room for error in packing or it just didn't fit. It was really snug when everything was perfect. I tied loose parts together and cable tied it the weird way the fork needed to be folded into the rear triangle. I also put in a large type note to TSA with clear packing directions including illustrations. Even given that I figure I was lucky I never had any damage. I credit that more to the fact that I didn't fly with it much than anything else.
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Old 08-07-20, 05:08 AM
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The Dahon Curl folds in the same shape and just a bit smaller than the Brompton*. Any travel case that will work for the Brompton will work for the Curl. There are numerous web pages discussing a myriad of nuance on the subject of travel on airlines with the Brompton.

I use a Samsonite Stryde Glider Long Journey hard-sided suitcase to fly with my Curl. The folded bike drops right in with no disassembly. You'll want to pad around it. The commercial Samsonite suitcase 1) has a less expensive street price than the hard-sided Brompton-specific flight cases 2) is lighter than other hard-sided Brompton-specific flight cases, which gives you more 'headroom' under the max bag weight limit of the airlines.



*I've had the two bikes folded side-by-side. I've had Brompton owners dispute this information - even after I posted pictures of the Brompton sticking up above the Curl.
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Old 08-07-20, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Southwest I assume still gives you two free checked bags, the photo above of my Airnimal was from a trip where I flew Southwest, my bike flew for free.
Yeah the folder in a 62" bag goes free, Since Southwest gives you two free checked bags the $75 bicycle fee for a bike in a box over 62" isn't too painful either. I have put a full size bike in a soft case and flown with a total baggage fee of $75 on Southwest. I even managed to stay under 50# and fit my gear in the soft case with the bike by using very carefully selected ultralight backpacking gear. I did have just a few items in a little "personal item" sized backpack. If you pack heavier you could take a lot of stuff between two checked bags, a carry on, and a personal item. With my single bag (with shoulder strap) and the tiny personal item size backpack I could easily carry it all. I could also roll up the soft case and carry it on the bike when I rode out of the airport. It is easy to mail home or ahead.

All of that, for me takes away any desire to tour on a folder which already was pretty unappealing to me. I am not trying to discourage others who may love their folders, but for me any that I have ridden are just not as much fun to ride. Some of the higher end bikes may be better, but the flex with the tall masts just sucks IMO. Also I was never able to get a ride position that I liked on any folder that I tried. Again maybe the application of more $$$ for a different brand/model may have been a solution, but I have been happy just dealing with a full size bike.
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Old 08-07-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Yeah the folder in a 62" bag goes free, Since Southwest gives you two free checked bags ...

... If you pack heavier you could take a lot of stuff between two checked bags, a carry on, and a personal item.
....
Did not fly Southwest with this luggage, was an international trip. Thus I had to pay for the two checked bags, my S&S bike was in the black one and a lot of my camping gear was in the orange backpack. The two panniers, one was personal item and one was the carry on. I wore the helmet onto the plane and put it into the overhead, I did not want baggage handlers to damage the helmet.



This trip had complicated logistics, from leaving home to arrival at my destination was about 30 hours, involved two bus rides, two flights, border crossing, taxi and shuttle van rides, etc. If I had to deal with a full size bike box on that trip, I would not have gone.

The orange backpack is like a duffle, no frame. I folded that and put it in the S&S case to store while I was on my tour, returned to the starting point and got my luggage from the luggage room at the end of the tour. The side panels in my S&S Backpack remove to make it much thinner for storage. To stiffen the case, I added 26 inch by 26 inch Corroplast panels, but if I had not done that the case could have been folded up much smaller than shown in the photo below.




That said, the luggage would have been heavier and more cumbersome than I would have wanted if I had to carry that on my tour. I would have used another option like a disposable cardboard box for the bike.
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Old 08-07-20, 12:42 PM
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One more thing. When you get a packing case, and once you figure out how to pack it, if it is a tight fit you might want to take lots of photos of each step as you unpack it so that next time you can refer to those photos in reverse order to pack it again. And it never hurts to take some notes while doing so.

We did not describe padding and protecting the paint, etc., do a search as that is well described in past posts.
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Old 08-07-20, 12:54 PM
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If a soft side bag will do, without any disassembly a folded Dahon Curl will drop right into a $5 Ikea Dimpa. Padding + coroplast will provide some small level of additional protection.


Last edited by tcs; 08-07-20 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 08-08-20, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
This trip had complicated logistics, from leaving home to arrival at my destination was about 30 hours, involved two bus rides, two flights, border crossing, taxi and shuttle van rides, etc. If I had to deal with a full size bike box on that trip, I would not have gone.
My trips are usually more simple in that I fly to another city and ride out of the airport. I do generally fly home from a different city though so hard cases are not a great idea for me unless they are thrift store disposable stuff. Something that can be discarded or a soft case that can easily be mailed ahead or home works best for me.

That said, the luggage would have been heavier and more cumbersome than I would have wanted if I had to carry that on my tour. I would have used another option like a disposable cardboard box for the bike.
Thrift store used luggage can be a decent option sometimes if it can be found to fit what you are carrying. Bags can often be found for under $10. I have generally paid $6-7 for bags that I dispose of at my destination. Walmart has some cheap duffels that are almost cheap enough to be disposable Depending on the mailing cost and the condition of the duffel I may mail them home, but they generally get used for a quite a few trips before being disposed of. The bigger ones have wheels. It is a bit more of a gamble, but it isn't impossible to to get home the same way. Worst case paying a bike shop to pack everything and ship it as an option. I have often done that and wasn't soaked too bad on the price. Absolute worst case was letting UPS do it; they totally screwed me on the price the one time I did that and the one time we shipped a buddies trailer ahead that way.

One thing about cardboard boxes is that airlines generally make you sign saying they are only responsible for loss and not damage of contents.
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Old 08-08-20, 09:17 AM
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I've traveled with two "suitcaseable" bikes: an S&S coupled one and a Bike Friday NWT. The S&S bike is, by far, much harder to get into its hard-sided case and maneuver around. The Bike Friday lives in the UK and came with (purchased separately) hard-sided Samsonite case for travel.

Packing the S&S bike takes me about 90 minutes when all the disassembly is added in. At first, I used the padding that came with the bike. But, it added enough weight to push the entire case over the magic 50 pounds. So, I switched to wrapping the bike in old tubes sliced up and zip-tied to the bike's frame parts. This saved weight and, frankly, protected the frame better. I tried a number of ways to make it easier for the TSA goons to search this case, which is opened most every time I fly with it. I tried zip-tying the entire assembly together, but TSA always just cuts the zip-ties. I've tried putting notes in the box with photos. They seemingly were ignored. I've flown with this bike dozens of times and not once has anything been broken or has the case not arrived with me. That said, the frame's paint is so dinged up that I no longer care what it looks like.

These days, my preferred destinations are in Europe. Since the Bike Friday lives in the UK, I don't have to fly from the US with a bicycle. Packing up the Bike Friday takes about 15-20 minutes as the entire bike frame, minus the wheels and the handlebars, when folded fits into the suitcase. This bike also came with padding, but I already know it will get dinged up so I don't bother using it as it adds a fair about of both time and bother to the process. Instead, I just insert padding between the metal parts. One downside of the BIke Friday case is that it is bigger than 62 linear inches by a bit. But, the international rules are different than the ones used in the US. Also, I've never had anyone measure it. So far, the case, which scraped up, has held up and always arrived on time.

For my recently canceled trip, I had planned to take some trains. I bought a bag designed for the Bike Friday that handles the folded bike and a bag or two. I planned to put the bike in the bag and carry it onto the train, saving the hassle of either getting a special ticket for the train or being told I can't take the bike on the train. I'll have to wait to see if this works, if I ever get the chance to tour by bike again!

A couple things:

I fully agree with the above suggestion to take step-by-step photos of how you put the bike in the box and take these with you. Without these, I'd have to reinvent my packing method on the S&S bike each time and it isn't all that easy to do even with the instructions.

Get some touch-up paint or nail polish to cover the dings the bike is going to get when it travels.

When I don't ride a loop route, I simply send my hard-sided case to my destination. This usually costs from $70 - $100 from a private shipper (UPS, FedEx, etc). In the Netherlands, the postal service sent it to Germany for about $25.
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Old 08-08-20, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
... but I already know it will get dinged up so I don't bother using it as it adds a fair about of both time and bother to the process. Instead, I just insert padding between the metal parts. One downside of the BIke Friday case is that it is bigger than 62 linear inches by a bit. But, the international rules are different than the ones used in the US. Also, I've never had anyone measure it.
...
Same here on the padding, I do not put sleeves over the frame tubes, instead just put padding between the parts before I zip tie it together so the parts do not rub on each other.

Touring bikes are supposed to show some scrapes and nicks.

I was on a van supported tour a couple years ago, two of the group had Ritchey Break Away bikes, their cases are a few inches over the 62 criteria. One of them said that on one occasion, he had to pay the oversize fee, the other one said that he had never been charged the oversize fee. And both of them had traveled a lot. Since then I bought a Break Away bike, but have not flown with it yet.

I carry a luggage scale. My S&S bike and the case exceeds 50 pounds, I carry the rear rack, pedals and saddle in my other checked bag but I use the scale to double check every time I travel. I try to carry the least amount of weight that I can when I walk through the airport in my carry on or personal item, thus I try to load up the checked bags to 48 or 49 pounds each.
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Old 08-11-20, 06:16 PM
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Dahon Curl i8 in airline 'legal' hardside luggage. OK.

One (1) Dahon Curl, one (1) Samsonite Stryde Glider Long Journey:



Normal fold - no disassembly, no parts removed; open case:



Put the bike in the case:



Zip it shut:



This all takes about 30 seconds. Weight is about ~41 pounds at this point. Add padding/dunnage around bike.


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Old 08-11-20, 08:15 PM
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Dahon offers a folding semi-hardside case. Your local Dahon dealer can get you one or the US Nat'l distributor, thorusa, stocks them.

Folded, no bike inside:


Two sizes; the one for the Curl is the smaller one and airline 'legal':

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Old 08-11-20, 08:21 PM
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Another option is the Radical Design Cyclone IV Chubby bicycle trailer. Small-folding bike and the trailer both pack up inside the trailer's bag for travel. Deployed, the bike pulls the trailer. This eliminates the "what do I do with the box/suitcase once I arrive?" question. The trailer uses the same tires/tubes as the Curl.

Video on the 'system':

​​​​​​

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Old 08-12-20, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
When I don't ride a loop route, I simply send my hard-sided case to my destination. This usually costs from $70 - $100 from a private shipper (UPS, FedEx, etc). In the Netherlands, the postal service sent it to Germany for about $25.
For me that would be a pretty big hit. I like to ride right out of the airport. Shipping the case would add ground transportation and probably a motel/hotel stay at the start of the trip. Rooms in the departure city are often expensive so that hit is likely to be $250-$350 or more+ for shipping/transportation/room in some cities. Given all that I'd rather figure out how to use something disposable whether that is a thrift store case or a cardboard box.
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