Author Topic: home-made, cheap, easy S&S coupled bike transport container challenge  (Read 11808 times)

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Offline esassaman

I'm considering getting an S&S coupled bike to make travel easier. However I was wondering how reasonable this is for a completely unpredictable trip - in other words, what if I have no idea where I will be at the end of my trip - since best laid plans always go completely haywire and I really love being able to go completely change your route if you wanted to.

So... the question of how to pack my potential future awesome transportable S&S bike comes up, obviously I can't lug a hard case with me and even the soft cases look pretty freakin' heavy if you have to lug it around for a few months - forget it. So I wonder if it's possible to cobble together some kind of disposable, temporary but really good box to get your bike one way and just throw it away at the other end of the flight. Something I could build from materials you can find at any typical town on the road. Maybe construct some kind of cardboard + duct tape + some kind of thin but strong material for a liner... mutiple layers of plastic siding I can cut to size or something. I'm thinking out loud here. Assume there's a hardware store, what kind of materials can I find to build something that will work really well starting with nothing but a credit card, a shopping list, and the typical stuff you'd have on a bike tour (knife, inner tubes, leftover oatmeal, dirty socks, etc.). Something I can check as luggage at the airport so it can't be too big or too heavy (whatever that means, exactly - depends on the airline I suppose) and survive the baggage handlers.

Even better yet would be materials I can buy at a hardware store then transport to the airport where I'd build the container - that might be asking a lot but building and boxing my bike at the hardware store 20 miles from the airport leaves another problem, getting to the airport, but I guess there's aways a taxi or shuttle. But I could in theory bungie cord a bunch of building materials to my bike and get myself to the airport eary and construct my transport container right there on the spot for the ultimate in self-supported touring and cheapness :) However building it right at the hardware store kinda makes sense, I wouldn't want to be at the airport then realize I forgot a vital building component for my case :(

Now that I think about it if there was a way to build something cheap and sturdy that can be used once or twice, considering that if you only need to fly your bike once a year for your annual summer adventure, it might be more sensible than springing $400 for a hard case anyways.

What I could do is build one at home so that I can create a complete bill of materials, with accurate measurements, and then have a good idea of the time needed. Then I'd have one I can use for my next trip if I'm flying out of my home town.

Joe B

  • Guest
Re: home-made, cheap, easy S&S coupled bike transport container challenge
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 02:40:08 pm »
One word: inflatable.
I envision a airmattress style pouch that could be used . No, I didn't do a prior art search for a patent but just off the top of my head it seems a viable product.
Complete deconstruct will begin in the following posts...

Offline nomad

Re: home-made, cheap, easy S&S coupled bike transport container challenge
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 08:19:39 pm »
Transporting a bike, especially an expensive one, is an awful risk.  Why not just buy a Walmart bike that you can pick up at your destination?  (sorry to everyone with a Walmart allergy).  If baggage handling would end up bending one of your wheels, you'd end up having to replace that anyway.  If you don't want the bike once you're finished with it, you can do somebody a favor and resell it.

Offline DaveB

Re: home-made, cheap, easy S&S coupled bike transport container challenge
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 08:35:31 am »
Frankly, your build-it-yourself-at-the-airport bike travel case seems unworkable and impractical.

S&S coupled bikes were a very attractive option when baggage below a maximum size (62" combined L+W+H) flew for free and their 26"x26"x10" case qualified.  Also, that case fit into most busses, trains and taxis where a full size bike case wouldn't.

Now that the arilines charge for every suitcase, the S&S option loses a lot of its attractiveness so consider just packing a standard bike in a cardboard bike box (free at almost any LBS) and paying the extra fee.  For a few trips, this is a lot less than the cost premium for the couplers and the packing case.

Otherwise, Bike Fridays also fit below the maximum baggage size and get charged only standard luggage rates and their packing case can double as a trailer and go with you on your trip.

Offline BrianW

Re: home-made, cheap, easy S&S coupled bike transport container challenge
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 11:00:31 am »
Yes, it is possible to create your own travel case, either at the airport or before you get there. I've done it on two occasions. See below for more details.

I have a couple of S&S single bikes (Co-Motions), and a Santana S&S tandem and S&S triplet. Yes, I like them! But, more to the point, I've traveled a lot with them. Usually I use the S&S Backpack cases, but I also own an S&S hard case. Coupled bikes aren't for everyone, and they do add to the cost, but I disagree with DaveB in that IMO they are much more likely to pay for themselves now than in the past, now that airlines are charging very hefty fees to fly bikes. But that's another discussion, and one that's been hashed over many times elsewhere.

Let's get to your original question!

Anyway... several years ago we were planning a two-week tour in Europe with our tandem. As part of the trip we'd fly in/out of Munich, but add another one-way flight leg from Munich to our start point. To enable this I took a cardboard bike box and cut it down/fabricated it to the standard S&S case size of 26x26x10, and put it inside the hard case. I rolled up some corrugated cardboard into a few tubes that were 10" in order to act like the "compression members" that S&S sells. The idea was that once we got to Munich, we'd simply pull the cardboard "case" out of the hard case, store our hard case at the airport and then continue on using the cardboard box for the next (one-way) leg. As it turned out, we had to change plans once we landed at MUC and I never used the box for what I intended, but I have no doubt that it would have been fine. I still  have it in the loft in my garage ready to use at some point. S&S actually makes a nylon cover they call the "box cover," designed for just this sort of use. It weighs 2 pounds and costs $50. I guess it would provide a bit more protection for the box, but it doesn't really seem necessary. But it shows that the cardboard box idea is something that S&S explicity endorses, as they sell their own version.

The short of it: get a cardboard bike box, cut it down to 26x26x10, and then just pack your bike in it like a regular S&S case. Get lots of heavy duty packing tape and use it liberally to strengthen the box. Depending where you are, find some cheap foam pipe insulation to protect your bike tubes, or wrap liberally with newspaper or the like.

Alternately, if you have access to a home store like Home Depot in the USA or Obi in Germany, you can make a simple box using 1/4 plywood (underlayment) and 1x10 dimensional pine wood (which is actually 9-1/4 x 3/4) to construct your own "legal size" box. Pay them (they charge $1 a cut or something like that) to cut the plywood and 1x10 to size and then simply nail or screw it together and you are good to go. I bet if you go off-hours and are nice to them, they might even let you use some tools; otherwise get a cheap hammer and some finish nails, or a screwdriver and some drywall screws. Cost? Probably $20 or so in materials and an hour or so of time to construct. Pick up some pipe insulation while you are there for $1 a piece. You'd need two panels at 26x26, two 1x10s at 26" and two 1x10s at 24.5" to keep in size.

I made something along these lines for the center section of my S&S Santana Cabrio triplet in order to take it on a plane. The center section is not designed to fit in an S&S bag, so in order to get it on the flight with no extra charges I had to figure something out. It's a bit more complicated than what I suggested above due to the nature of the frame section, but it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Here's a link to the BF thread with pictures if you are interested: