Monday, June 9, 2008

Packing A Brompton M3L Into An Airline-Approved Suitcase.

10/19/08 Update. According to poster snod911 below, a brommie with a rear rack WON'T fit in this case. Mine doesn't have one, but perhaps you can remove it before you travel if you do. Thanks, snod911.

8/2/08 Update. It worked! I just came back from a trip to Alaska and had no problems taking the Brommie in this suitcase. Upon check-in, the case weighed 42 lbs. The airline person didn’t measure its dimensions. They did tag me with a $25 2nd bag fee (jerks). On the return trip, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) looked at it because they left one of their pamphlets in the case. No problems! I wrapped it crosswise with a luggage strap, but the case may not have needed it. BTW, I flew Northwest airlines.

As I mentioned earlier, I bought the Brompton M3L because I wanted to be able to quickly pack it in a suitcase and take it with me on my various business trips. After researching the various options on suitcases, I think I’ve found THE one: the Delsey Axiom Suiter 29”. It is a hard-sided suitcase. Even though many recommended the Samsonite F’lite, it was too small. The largest F’lite is 31” but even that was too small.

As you can see from my pix, the M3L fits nice and tight in there. Not loose at all. This should be an advantage as a bike that is loose in a case could tend to be more easily damaged in transit. Maybe I’ll pad it further with some clothes or foam to make it more snug. I plan to get a luggage strap to wrap around the case just to be sure it won’t break apart if some baggage handler launches it like a shot put.

I was a little disappointed that I had to remove the saddle in order for it to fit, but I guess that’s the compromise with going with an airline-sanctioned suitcase. I will have to pack a wrench to remove and attach the saddle. This is certainly better than the type of disassembly some folder riders have to do with their bikes, though. The Brompton weighs about 25 lbs and the case is about 10 lbs I should still be under the 50 lb limit.

The Delsey Axiom is widely available in most independent luggage stores in my area. I was able to take my Brompton and drop it in both the Delsey and the Samsonite to do a comparison test. Most online places sell the Delsey for around $200 but I was able to find it for a little over $100 at a luggage shop in New York (w/free shipping). Local shops wanted around $250 for this Delsey.

I have a big trip coming up in July to Alaska. It’ll be the maiden voyage for this case and Brompton. I’ll report back to see how it goes.


Christopher said...

How snug of a fit it the Brompton? I have a 3 speed with normal handlebars and a rack and I'm trying to find something I can use to take the bike on airlines with as well.

pedaling fool said...

It's pretty snug. From my 1st pix, north and south is pretty snug. To the left, you have more space which allows me to drop my helmet in there with plenty of room. Not sure how much a rack protrudes in a brommie, though.

Best thing to do is test it out at your luggage shop. If it works, tell them you'll be back and go home and order online. You'll find much better prices online.

Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

Yep, this was a well documented solution from bikeforums folding bike forums. Be wary of the hinges. Had bottom one trashed on recent voyage.

snod911 said...

If my experience is any guide, a Brommie with a rack won't fit in this suitcase.

Helen said...

I just got back from NY/SF round trip packing a Brompton, with a rack, in the Delsey Axiom. I did have to remove a couple wheels on the rack. Very easy. We're going to get another Axiom and Brompton for the husband.

Andrew said...

I have a M6R with a telescoping seatpost and it fits fine in there. Here's a pic:

Dr. Michel Bouchard said...

Thank you! I am planning on buying the S6R and buying the Axiom 30". This suitcase looks like the ideal option. I hope that the "s" handlebar won't take any more space than the "m".