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I now own a Brompton folding bike.  (Fortunately, I bought my plane tickets first, as I am also now broke!)

Anyone here ever checked one into baggage in a B-bag, and suffer damage?  If so, what parts were damaged? I want to protect those parts, and I don't want to disassemble/reassemble. I suspect the bag itself is more likely to be damaged than the bike, but would like to learn from the experience of others.

Anyone here ever carried one on?  I've read that this can be done, but after seeing it in the bag, I don't believe it.  In fact, I think they're going to charge me extra for the size.  (See update below.)  Which reminds me of another related question:

Has anyone ever been charged extra on the grounds that the picture of a bike on each side of the bag makes it "sports equipment"?

UPDATE: Checked from IQT to LIM on Star-Peru.  Completely unusable on arrival.  Repairs very expensive.  Also, it does NOT fit in most airline overheads and is significantly larger than the explicit limits for carry-ons at many airlines.  Perhaps (as I've been told) it can be done on Southwest, but Southwest doesn't go anywhere that requires an airline.

UPDATE TWO: Every trip with the B-bag, there has been minor damage, but not nearly the disaster of Star-Peru. I finally went and got a Chubby which protects it much better and carries all my other stuff between flights. At the airport, fold the Brompton, empty the Chubby, put the Brompton in it, pack some of my things around it, and carry on the rest. Have to pay an oversize fee, or a bike fee, depending on the airline. Sometimes it's hard to predict which. Some airlines will treat it more gently if they know it's a bike; some the opposite. Also hard to predict.

  • One more: Should this have been posted as three independent questions? (and should this comment have been on meta?) :-) – WGroleau Dec 29 '15 at 19:56
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    @WGroleau yeah, t-bag is a whole other thing. – jqning Dec 29 '15 at 20:35
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    @DanielRHicks bromptons usually have a complex, custom derailleur that you really, really don't want smashed in transit. But the fold puts it on the inside so it shouldn't be necessary to remove it. – Móż Dec 30 '15 at 0:36
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    When folded the right pedal of the Brompton is protected by the rear wheel and the folded back front wheel protects the derailleur. The left pedal folds to rest on the crank. The bike comes with a standard carrying bag although hard or soft carrying cases are available. (The wife owns a Brompton.) – Carel Dec 30 '15 at 8:58
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    Just in case anyone cares, StarPeru pretty much destroyed the thing. After its repaired (or replaced), I'm going to get a hard case that folds up to fit on the rack or on my back. – WGroleau Jan 14 '17 at 3:01
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I check in my Brompton when I fly. I built a special case for it in my workshop using 2020 extrusion and coroplast that is 24x24x11.5 inches and exactly fits the Brompton.

They also sell hard cases but I didn't want to spend $300 for one of them.

It doesn't look like a bike case so I don't get charged the bike surcharge. When asked what's in it, I say "circus equipment" which is appropriate as one of the sides was made with coroflex from a circus sign. 24x24x11.5 is exactly under the maximum size specification for luggage and so I don't get an oversize surcharge -- however, it still get put in the oversized luggage area, most notably because it doesn't have handles.

Works well. It's not collapsible so I have to store it at my destination. I think the next iteration of it will be to put wheels on it so it can turn into a bike trailer at the destination.

my brompton case

With your soft bag, I'd put duct tape over any bicycle logos. Not just to avoid the surcharge but to avoid theft. Baggage handlers ignore any fragile labels so that won't work.

The fragile bits: The parts most likely to break are the hinge clamps and the pedals. Be sure to take off the folding clamps and bolts completely as they are known to snap when exposed. Carry a small pedal wrench or hex wrench (depending on your pedals) so you can take off your pedals. Taking the seat off and tucking between the frame is also a known tip to prevent damage.

I'd also put pipe foam over any exposed tubing (especially the handlebars) and maybe a sweatshirt or other clothing on the rims to protect them and the spokes. You can also unloosen and rotate the handlebars with a hex wrench so that the controls aren't as exposed.

Finally, you asked in comments about convertible trailer / cases. The Cyclone IV Chubby is one of them:

  • The trouble with a box is, how do I get it to the airport? But if it's also a trailer, that solves that. I was hunting for a trailer that could double as the bikes shipping box. I guess I could build one. – WGroleau Jan 14 '17 at 3:02
  • There are trailers that convert to Brompton shipping containers. When I get to a real internet connection, I'll post a link. – RoboKaren Jan 14 '17 at 12:10
  • The SRM hardcase folds up to fit on the rear rack, but today, it's $450. It has wheels that MIGHT be tough enough to be a trailer if I could build a towing hookup. Other hardcases exist that can be carried or towed when riding? American just told me carry-on limit is 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 CM (including handles and wheels) which leaves the SRM out and probably the Brompton soft bag. – WGroleau Apr 29 '17 at 21:21
  • I looked at the Chubby. It's a lot more expensive than the SRM but it's much more versatile. Not hard sided., though. – WGroleau Jul 11 '17 at 12:21
  • I did buy a Chubby, s stated in my update. And not long afterward, found that the Brompton Junction in London has the SRM for only £120. – WGroleau Dec 29 '17 at 21:48
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Flying with a Brompton [as a carryon] is typically dependent on the airport staff and flight crew, rather than airline policies and procedures. I've had success getting the bike on larger planes no problem, mostly because overhead compartments were very large, or because there was sufficient space to store the folded bike (with seat and pedals removed) with strollers and folded wheelchairs. I'll even refer to it as a "mobility device", which will sometimes spook TSA into thinking that they're denying me accessibility or civil rights.

Again, this is mostly dependent on the gate/flight crew's level of tolerance/patience. The easier you make the process for them, the more likely they are to let you take the bike on the plane.

Here is a good blog post about the process itself.

A second, great blog post with tips as well.

Technically speaking, here are a few tips:

  1. I use "Superior" MKS pedals that are completely removable. Nothing sticking out of the bike; they go into a separate bag in luggage.
  2. I'll typically put a small bungee cord around the bike (inside the bag) to keep the bike from rattling/moving too much. It's also much more stable when being handled by flight crew/TSA.
  3. Remove the seat; put it in your luggage/carry-on.
  4. I also deflate the tires a little. This helps when the luggage compartment is a tight fit, and let's the tire sticking out give a little when the latch is shut.

Generally, the bike has suffered no real damage when I've carried it on or gate-checked it.

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    So, I think you are answering the second question, that it DOES fit in an overhead as a carry-on? But then you say I should put the seat in a carry-on, so I guess not. I realize that handling is "dependent on the airport staff and flight crew," which is why I am wondering whether anyone has experienced damage and where (so that I could try to figure out a way to protect that part). – WGroleau Dec 29 '15 at 20:30
  • Too late and too little money to buy a different kind of pedals! – WGroleau Dec 29 '15 at 20:32
  • And the need for a bungee cord puzzles me. Mine seems to lock all the parts together when folded. – WGroleau Dec 29 '15 at 20:33
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    @Wgroleau The bike overall has a little bit of wiggle room (mine is from the late 90's and has quite a bit of wear. The bungee cord keeps everything very snug, and there is no rattling if the bike is set down, or moving in the overhead bin. – JonR Dec 29 '15 at 23:27
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    Nothing specific about parts that have been damaged or might need extra protection. But without that info, this is still a very useful answer and so I will mark it so. I will probably check the bike rather than try to carry on. – WGroleau Dec 31 '15 at 5:03

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