If you're anything like us, the thought of traveling to an unfamiliar city without some form of two-wheeled transportation is just frustrating. Not only is it more enjoyable to tour a new urban area by bicycle, but trying to navigate a new subway or bus system is tough. Who knows where you'll end up? (Ask me someday about my first experience in Chicago - I'm lucky to make it out alive!) So, like David Byrne in his Bicycle Diaries, you want to bring your folding bike to various places and treat yourself to a proper, above-ground tour. So let's see which of the folding bicycles is the best for airline travel, because there are a lot to choose from.
Dahon Folding Bikes:The Airporter Case
With the most well-known name in folding bikes, it's no wonder all of the Dahon folding bike models can fit into a sturdy, hardshell case for airline travel. Whether you're riding a 16" bike, a 20" bike, or even a full-size 26" folding bike, every Dahon, one way or another, will fit into the Airporter Case. Of course, this brings both good and bad news to the frequent flyer. On one hand, you have your pick of the 30+ Dahon folding bikes to choose from (plus most other brands will also fit into this case - check with us first). The downside is that, with the outer dimensions measuring 33"x27"x13", this suitcase will have oversized surcharges on many airlines. Well look at it this way - how much money will you be saving on public transportation and taxi costs? That oversize fee doesn't look so bad anymore, eh?
Brompton Folding Bikes: The Travel Suitcase
If you happen to be the proud owner of the English-made Brompton folding bike, you're in luck! The Brompton Travel Suitcase is a much more manageable piece of luggage, and fits the Brompton bike like a glove! It also has an extendable handlebar and wheels, so you don't have to lug it around the airport.
I packed my Brompton in a Travel Suitcase on my trip to Portland, Oregon, and found that I even had room to put some clothes and books around the bike. Packing light, I was able to bring just my bike case, and a small carry-on bag to hold everything I needed for the trip. The clothes and books even helped to keep the bike extra-protected inside the hardshell case. There's nothing better than reaching your destination and going on an immediate bike ride, without having to track down a rental place or rebuild a full-size bike.
Oh, and did I mention? The Brompton Travel Suitcase does not usually qualify as an oversized piece of luggage. Score!
Bags, Covers, and Boxes: Risky Business
I talked to a woman who worked half the year in the U.S. and half the year in China, and when she checked her folding bike at the airport, she just wrapped it in caution tape and gave it to the airline. She said they were more careful with her bike because they could see it was a bike. Now, I'm not saying that it's a good idea to check a bike without ANY protection, but sometimes it might be a better idea than buying a thin cover or duffel bag. Frequently, I've seen cases where bikes have been damaged because there wasn't enough protection around the bike when using a bag. In the case of airline travel, you never know how rough the baggage claim is going to be, or how many feet in the air they're going to chuck your bag. If you're thinking about checking your bike in a cover bag, it might be a better idea to just wrap it in bungee cords and label it "fragile."
There's no doubt about it - a folding bike will be much more secure inside a hardshell suitcase than anything else. For frequent airline travelers, why even risk it? Imagine the hassle of showing up to a foreign city having to seek out a bike mechanic because your bike was damaged in shipping. Come into our shop and get outfitted with an airline suitcase. It's better to be safe than sorry!