Airline Travel Cases- need recommendations!

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by dkota_rt, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. dkota_rt

    dkota_rt New Member

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    I am planning a European airline trip in September and need some advice on Bicycle airline travel cases.

    I have used the Trico Sports Iron Case in the past. It was a great case, but I sold it because I think their might be something better. I agree that the hard Iron Case was fairly easy to pack and always protected my bike perfectly which is the most important thing to me. The reason why I am looking for something else is because the Iron Case is somewhat bulky (which I could live with), but the thing that really bothers me is that the large gray case draws a lot of attention at the airport.

    One time I returned from Germany to Atlanta shortly after September 11th and they denied the Iron Case belonged to me although my name and address was on the case and I had a claim ticket for it. After I assured the oversize baggage attendant that the case was mine, then I was asked to unlock it and pull everything out where they could inspect it. I said "no problem" and proceeded to pull everything out and then re-pack so I could exit the airport. I got stopped 2 more times before I was able to exit the airport because I was told that I was moving a "suspicious package". Needless to say that it took me 5 hours to get from baggage claim to my parked car in the Atlanta terminal. This is why I sold the case, however, I still need to take my bike with me on air travel.

    I am looking at the soft sided cases like the Bike Pro USA Race Case and the Sci Con Bike Travel Bag. I think these may be less conspicuous and at least easier to show the airport securitry folks what's inside. Please give me your experiences or opinions on these points. Are there any issues with how well these soft sided cases protect the bicycle from the airtport baggage gorillas?. Thank you.
     
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  2. BikeyGuy

    BikeyGuy New Member

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  3. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    The new reality of our hightened security! There is going to be more incovenience for us, even if you have a less "suspicious" case. You want and need the case to be a secure as possible and built for th job. Iron Case is about as good as it gets. Soft cases are great once you are in control, but not as secure as a good hard case.
    I rented a Bike Pro USA Rase Case once, but am back to my hard case and dealing with the new wecurity reality. I needed to open and totally remove everything 4 times in one trip from Chicago to Portland, ME with the BP USA RC. It might have been a little easier, but not enough to make me forgo the additional protection of the hard case.
    We also travel with our S & S coupled tandem. It fits into a huge purpose built hard case. It attracts plenty of attention. We were stopped by airport security upon entering Midway Airport in Chicago. They wanted us to unpack it right there on the terminal floor. We told them we would upack it, but we needed a safe and secure place to do it. We we ushered into a room where we took a little over an hour to unpack and repack the tandem. Fortunately, we had arrived a little over 3 hours before departure. It took almost all the remaining time to process us and our " baggage" through the airport and get us to our gate.
    I don't know that there is a really convenient and secure method to take your bicycle with you through airports, but I encourage you to keep persisting and using the case that is most secure in ensuring that your bicycle arrives in good condition at the other end.
     
  4. jasong

    jasong New Member

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    I just returned from Europe through Madrid/Philadelphia with an S&S coupled bike for which I built my own suitcase, that is 26x26x10. I couldn't justify spending $350 for their case, so built my own. I covered it with blue canvas, but its homely appearance definitely made me suspicious. Covering it was a good idea as none of the metal is visible. I took thris through several train stations and metros in Europe with no problems.

    If I ever anticipate travelling with a bus, taxi, or subway, there's no way I'd go with a normal bike case. You'll either get hit with oversized fees or be completely rejected. OPn the contrary, with a small box it will fit in the baggage bins normally and is a lot easier to move around. I threw it on a portably baggage trolley you can find in many places (ie. Wal Mart) which I pulled off of it when I gave it to them to check it. It's hard for them to break the wheels and handles off when they don't exist.

    Total parts for the box was around $50. Nice part is that if anything is evewr crushed, I can actually fix it. Try that with a model someone else makes. All luggage is going to break eventually. In any country anywhere I can fix mine.


     
  5. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    One thing that you need to consider is that the soft cases usually has to be carried whenever there isn't a trolley around, while the hard cases usually have wheels of their own. And once you've got the padding and all of the other extras into the case it quickly gets rather tiresome to lug around even for shorter distances.
     
  6. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    I've built two cases, one really sturdy one for my frequently travelling brother. That cost about $150 in parts but turned out really good, looks a lot like the cases that are used for PA equipment for concerts.
    The next one was a budget option for a limited number of trips, cost me around $30. It has done its job well but will not be as long lived as the first one. Neither has caused any problems on public transportation and only minor hassles on flights.
    That's a good point. I've used webbing for handles, with extensively strengthened attachment points. I also used several handles on every side, which I think reduces the risk of someone pulling too hard on only one handle and/or dropping the case.
    On the first one I used an old set of skateboard trucks, rolls well and are nearly indestructible as long as they don't get knocked off the case completely. On the second one I used inline wheels that sits nearly flush to the surface.
     
  7. kgruscho

    kgruscho New Member

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    It deserves mentioning that you can just use a bicycle box from a bike shop and do a good job packing. I've been over and bike twice with two bikes in boxes and it was okay. One time the handlebars poked out the side and the handlebar tape got messed up. A couple odd paint scratches too.

    never been checked by security, except x-rays at oversize baggage. Big warning they will in fact set the bikes flat on their sides stacked!!!

    www.crateworks.com seems like a pretty good deal, given my experience. I plan to buy two next time I travel across the atlantic.
     
  8. jasong

    jasong New Member

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    Where did you guy immediately after the airport? How did you coordinate that? If you're going to rent a car or go in taxi, maybe it's possible, but a store bike box isn't going to fit into a trunk or in most public transportation.

    Man, they really charge a LOT for those boxes they sell at crateworks.

     
  9. jasong

    jasong New Member

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    I'm going to build a site with some of the ideas I put in my case. I'd definitely like to reduce the weight of my case, as it's around 15-18lbs. But that's not all that bad considering that a good large samsonite plastic suitcase is 13-15lbs. I know I didn't spend more than $50 in parts and then I think $15 - $20 on the removeable trolley. I used a sheet of 1/4" plywood, metal corners for drywall, some fastening accessories (galvanized steel) for heavy wood construction (MUCH cheaper than the nicely packaged ones), drywall screws, and then normal screws with nuts in some places. Oh, blue canvas material and spray on glue to cover up everything. That last step added probably 2-3 lbs at least, but definitely made me less suspicious than having a bare wood box with lots of metal.

    I used two strands of climbing rope for the mainhandle (which was perfect, but would use webbing next time, both very lightweight), and no hinges whatsoever as that really isn't necessary and just adds weight and cost. I made little loops on each of the four corners for pulling the top off, which has a decent compression fit onto the case. Main reason for only one handle was that I wanted to force them to only pick it up in one orientation.

    How much did your cases end up weighing?

     
  10. kgruscho

    kgruscho New Member

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    crateworks is still cheaper than the cheapest hard cases, and stores much better for those of us living in apartments. You are basically paying for the mounting hardware etc. that said ive not tried one out myself.

    anyhow ive made two roundtrips. this past summer we actually managed to get both bike boxes in the back of a two door fiat hatchback that a friend picked us up with. pick up is relative, we took the bus :)

    The other time I just destroyed the box, built the bike up at the airport and took the bus with the bike into town. Locked bike up at bus/train station and came back for the bike.

    Got another box from LBS in germany for the way home.
     
  11. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    We had a hotel booked for the first night, which is always a wise move. Gave us a chance to sort the bikes out in peace and quiet before we set off. Spent part of that day to find another hotel for the night before the flight back, and that hotel graciously agreed to store our cases until we returned. Took somme attempts but it worked like a charm. Our travel cases haven't been a problem on public transportation, and in southern Europe cabbies are helpful and creative. Tying a store bike box to the roof of their car is one solution we've seen.
     
  12. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Don't know really. I remember I just about made the 20 kg weight allowance. That's with a hardtail MTB that weighs in at about 12.5-13 kg in itself, shoes, bike locks, my share of tools and spares, helmet and some various bits and pieces.

    Otherwise our designs sounds quite similar. But for the sturdy one I used thinner plywood (1/6=4mm) reinforced with a fibreglass layer and didn't bother about hiding the metal. It's going to show ut at the x-ray anyhow, so why bother? I spent some effort making sure that there wasn't any sharp corners or edges that could snag things though.

    The cheap one I made out of masonite, a sort of fibreboard and I used triangular wooden ribs to reinforce the inside corners.
    The cheap (heavy) bike went into the cheap (light) case and the expensive bike went into the expensive (heavy) case, so it turned out pretty much even.

    One thing to think about to cut weight is to optimize the size. My cheap case isn't rectangular, but shaped to fit the frame. Saved some weight and made it easier to drag along with you all in one go.

    But siz during storage IS a problem. I've been working on a collapsible design but I will probably not test it until I need to build a new case anyhow.
     
  13. Bruce L

    Bruce L New Member

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    Just got back from Europe. The Bike Pro Race Case was great. Went round trip from Maui to Amsterdam without the slightest problem. The case is easy to get into back of car(station wagon) and easy to store. Also was able to put extra clothing ,books etc. into the case. There is plenty protection for the bike and going through customs was a breeze. Highly recommended!!!!!!!!
     
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