The perfect bike for private pilots?
May 7th 2022
Lately, we’ve been been getting calls from a lot of private pilots. They like to fly into public use airstrips near national parks, tour scenic trails with a spouse but no crowds, and then fly back to civilization.
But how do you get a 3′ x 5′ mountain bike into your plane–or take two of them if it’s a couples trip?
A common way, apparently, is to disassemble your favorite mountain bike into all its component pieces–frame, wheels, handlebars–much like the tin man in The Wizard of Oz. And it takes just as long to put back together.
So there’s a lot of appeal to the idea of a rugged touring or mountain bike that can just fold small and be ready for action without all that work. The question is… how small?
How small do you want it to be?
Often, retailers or manufacturers will fudge on this point. They’ll choose the smallest size and say that represents the folded size of that model. Not helpful if you are tall and your cargo space is limited!
So we went the opposite direction. We picked our largest CHANGE 812 mountain bike, folded it, and took two measurements: height and length. Width doesn’t really matter much, because you can take the quick-release-removed front wheel and put it any place in the plane.
We’re going to fold this.
Here is the fastest folding and unfolding job for a CHANGE 812. Just unfold and attach a front wheel, in about a minute.
Overall length is determined by the length of the handlebar. This is with a standard handlebar of 680mm, but a 780mm carbon fiber bar can be swapped in upon request at ordering.
If you’re willing to spend a minute with a 4mm hex wrench, you can fit a CHANGE 812 into much smaller spaces. Now, the minimum length is a hard number, determined by the frame and crank.
This is pretty much how your bike arrives in the original box. For all CHANGE mountain and rugged hybrid bikes, we undo these four bolts and include a 4mm hex wrench in the box. Total box size is 35″ long x 30″ high x 15″ wide, with both wheels included.
What about a typical tiny folding bike?
Well, they certainly do fold small. And they can “gear up” so they ride normal on flat ground. But the Jackson Hole has the only private airfield actually inside the park. With the others, you’re going to be riding quite a few miles on little wheels…
If you’re going to be doing any trail riding that involves obstacles, uphills or downhills…well…we’ve already written about those physics. A CHANGE bike is the safest and most enjoyable way to go.
Of course, if you’re already into airplane camping with a full-size folding bike, you probably already know that.
(Photo credit: Disciples of Flight)
Got photos of your latest Camping/CHANGE adventure? Send them our way!
Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.