So here’s the challenge of the week. You love your CHANGE bike. You unfold it and ride it everywhere. And now you’re going on a much-anticipated vacation in Austria, and want to take your mountain bike because…mountains. How does THAT happen?
First, know what problem you’re not solving.
The first thing most folks think about is the need to save oversize baggage fees. That is NOT the main problem. Here’s why.
Airlines measure 3D bags in linear inches. If your baggage is over 62″, even by a quarter inch, you’re into oversize territory.
Picture a 26″ rear wheel with a standard 8″ axle. That’s 26″ + 26″ + 8″ = already 60 linear inches, without any frame!
It actually is possible to fit into this small size with one manufacturer’s specially-built collapsible frame–if you disassemble and rebuild an entire bike. How much is your hard-earned vacation time worth?
And the real problem is…
You’re handing your valuable bike over to a series of people who treat it as just another package.
You can write FRAGILE and HANDLE WITH CARE on anything, but at the end of the day, the workers charged with moving your bike are paid to move baggage efficiently on and off planes to keep up with the passengers. It’s up to you to pack safely for that trip.
The problem with most hard cases is that they weigh a lot. All that reinforcement to strengthen the case can push the case weight over 25 pounds. Add a 26-lb mountain bike, and suddenly you’re dealing with a 52-lb package that exceeds the 50 pound airline limit for overweight.
The ideal would be a rugged hard-side container that’s just big enough for a folded CHANGE bike, weighs less than 25 pounds–and, since we’re aiming high, can also fold up to a storable size when not in use.
Tracking down the perfect hard shell case.
Following up on an excellent tip from a multi-order Flatbike customer, I spoke to Stephen Maris of SRM Consulting, who handles US distribution for B&W International. He pointed me toward two possible options that address the CHANGE bike needs above.
The Foldon Box M looks promising, with internal dimensions of 32.1″ x 28.7″ x 16.3″.
At that size, you’ll just need to remove the quick-release seat and the handlebars, with four 4-mm hex bolts.
Is this the airport solution that Flatbike customers are asking for? We’re purchasing a sample as a test case (no pun intended) to try on all models of CHANGE bike.
If it works, we anticipate the cost to be about $350.
Two other cost options.
If $350 is too much, you can keep doing what we do when shipping across the US or to bike shows. With good packing practices, we’ve used the original pasteboard shipping box up to six times across the US. But that’s shipping by BikeFlights.com over FedEx. Commercial airline baggage is handled differently.
Or, if your main concern is having to disassemble anything, there’s also the Cadillac of bike boxes, the Bike Guard Curv. Your package is oversize anyway, so roomy internal dimensions of 51.2″ x 33.1″ x 11.2″ allow you to transport your bike without any tools at all. And the advanced polypropylene design brings the weight down to about 18 pounds, so you can even include a helmet and clothing while staying under the 50-lb limit.
For now, we’re betting that a hex wrench is OK, and are focusing on the Foldon Box M.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of dollars and sense.
In addition to fees for size and weight that vary by airline and season, airlines are notorious for charging extra fees specifically for bicycle shipping, and assigned them unevenly. Bike racers often report having to pay one rate when flying to a race and another when returning.
In this chaotic environment, an effective strategy is to maintain a low profile. Ship your “exercise equipment” in as small a box as possible, in a box that doesn’t scream BIKE, and keep your total baggage weight under 50 pounds to avoid weight charges. All you have is a routine oversize package with only one fee.
What do you think? Does the Foldon Box M meet your shipping needs?