Bike Hugger Travel Bike

As per usual somebody’s nose was out of joint about the boy that had the bicycle off the London bridge road always riding up and down in front of her window. (James Joyce, Ulysess, Nausicaa, 16925)

Later this Fall, we’ll build up Bettie 2.0 and looking forward to it. This summer, in time for more travel, Mark V, Bill Davidson and bicycle experts at Elliott Bay Bicycles are working with us on the Bike Hugger Modal™, a travel bike.

Mark has traveled extensively on an S&S frame and is about to embark on a tour of Japan with one sweet set up. Bill has been building bikes for like a hundred years and I gave them some creative direction, the parameters I had in mind, and they’re going to design and build it.

Credit goes to Mark for conceptualizing a bike that’s at home in the city and out in the country on farm roads. The Modal is being built out a titanium with S&S couplings and the ability to quickly switch between gears and a single speed. More details, photos, videos, and of course travel to follow.


I think the biggest challenge to travel with an S&S equipped bike is keeping the total weight of your bike, accessories, and bike case to a minimum, to avoid airline excess baggage fees.  I own two S&S bikes now, and it’s the 16 lb bike hard case that’s got to change somehow.  That’s 16 lbs of weight that could be other gear, mementos, or other things.  US Airlines have higher checked baggage weight limits than foreign airlines not flying into or out of the US.  This makes things tricky, and since I don’t have the funds for a titanium bike, my steel bike will have to do - with a slight weight penalty. The solution of the future lies in the bike bag - something nearly indestructible, lightweight, and easily opened at the airport by homeland security checks.


Thanks for the comment and a very good point. The airlines are also very random in what they charge for and how much and if they insure or not.

I’ve used a SciCon with mixed results. The concept is great and the padding can handle the big hits, but not compression. I’ve had “bent” wheels twice as well as derailleur hangers. Then, if you go with a hard case, problem is that the TSA will take apart and then you’re really screwed. On that, I saw S&S added a anti-TSA net to their case. To Dahon’s credit, I travel to Beijing with a folder no fees, no damages, and not even a blink from the gate agent. While the Dahon—[the Breezer model](/tag/foldingbikes)—is great for the city and zipping about, but not out riding (at least for me).

Yes, I have that anti-TSA net to go with my hard case - and I have to say it has worked flawlessly, especially when I put a piece of paper on top of the “wrapped-in-net” bike saying something like “this is a bicycle, and this net is here to allow inspection of it.”  I’ve had plenty of overseas trips where TSA on the outbound or return placed their card inside notifying me they inspected it but left the wrapped-in-net intact.  So really, the hard case and net combination have worked, and I’ve not had any thing bent in about 12 overseas trips, mainly because the hard case handles compression very well especially if you use the compression support members.  However, I am almost always just slightly over the weight limit at some point.  On one trip to Patagonia, I actually purchased the canvas case, and made my own aluminum support frame to go inside the canvas case.  The thought was, to allow me a case I could break down into parts and take with me, allowing a point to point trip, rather than having to come back to the same airport and pickup my hard case.  This worked, but after about 3 flights the aluminum frame structure was getting bent too badly and couldn’t handle the baggage gorillas.
For myself, I’m still insisting on a full-size bike, so S&S will be the way to go for me for a while.  I think the solution to the case issue will have to come in the form of a tough air bladder protection - an outer nylon case, and two inner air chambers that can be blown up with a bicycle pump that can sandwich the bike somehow.  That way the case could be broken down and carried with me - and would hopefully weigh less than 16 pounds.

ok., I’m following you now . . . an air-bag approach to a bike case. Wouldn’t that cause more problems with the TSA?

Whether an airbag would cause problems, it may.  I don’t know for sure.  Just theory at this point.

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