Fly Bikes for Free

busted latch

Busted latch

Not much confidence in the duct tape + rainbow strap fix, but all I could do in a hotel. The S & S cases have done well, but the hit that broke the latch happened when both cases came down the conveyor belt together. The second case slammed into to the first, against the metal wall of the luggage carousel. I watched it happen and winced.

duct taped

Taped and strapped

didn't open it

Not opened

Our next flight was inter-island between Honolulu and Maui. But hey, isn’t the TSA just going to open the case, after that awesome tape job? Yup and I was concerned and prepared for a worst-case scenario of a bike strewn across the belly of the plane.

Maybe it was the holiday spirt or more likely the agent didn’t want to hassle with it, cause the case wasn’t opened! +1 for bike travel karma. Delta will replace or repair the case while we’re here and I’ll follow up on that a bit later.

Fly Bikes for Free

Ask and everyone has a tale of how a friend of theirs flew a bike for $5 blah, blah, blah…. Let me tell you, there was a period of time where I logged 100,000 frequent flier miles over two years. I know about flying with a bike … nothing beats the S&S system for flying a 700C wheeled bike. – Mark V

Except for the one-time when I flew with my race bike, I never get charged to fly a bike. That’s becaue I either travel with S and S-coupled bikes or folders like a Tern or Brompton. The reason that airlines charge so much for bikes is to discourage passengers from flying with them. It’s not personal and they’re not antibike. A bean counter in a cube somewhere inside of an office building noticed a spike in bike-related claims and issued new rules to lower that cost. It’s expensive to repair and/or replace bikes. If we still rode 35 pound, indestructible steel bikes, we wouldn’t get charged and the ground crew could just toss them into the cargo hold. Lighter, faster bikes break and the but golf clubs fly for free argument is irrelevant. Golf clubs don’t break like a carbon bike does. That big hit that case took, didn’t harm the bike inside at all. It’s made of titanium.

So if you want to fly with a full-sized bike for free, you’re strongly encouraged to do so with an S and S bike. Andrew had a Baron Whip made for his trip to ride L’Etape du Tour. Mark wrote about traveling with S and S in 09 and I covered the TSA last year.

At the ticket counter, I also suggest you use a Jedi Mind Trick blank stare that indicates “these are not the bikes you’re looking for.” When asked what’s inside those large, gray cases say

  • Camera equipment
  • Tradeshow gear
  • Makeup
  • Drums

or mumble something with a mushmouth.

Back to the busted case, this is what the inside looks like.


Read about Spatial Relationships and the Perfect Pack. I’m unpacking the case next and using my favorite tool to build the bike up.

Then we’re riding.

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