Friday Musings – Baggage Claim and Bicycles

Summer Bike Love

Summer Bike Love - courtesy of Oh Shoot

Cycle ladies and gents of the planet, let’s talk about summer travel and bikes, and how you get it done!  Friday means it’s time to muse, and I’m wondering how everyone’s summer has been so far… have you caught some extra rays, enjoyed commutes home sans blinky lights, and pedaled to destination  both near and far during balmy evenings?

I Miss My Bike

Vacation withdrawls... Bike Commuting Addiction?!

After spending quite a bit of time in the airports this summer (Dad’s wedding, teaching assistant programs, Eurail passes, and waaaaay too much MSG consumption with my family) I got to missing my bike quite often!  And don’t get me wrong, doing air cycling (like air guitar, but I do it lying on the couch instead) and borrowing ill-fitting bikes from friends has gotten me through my moments of withdrawls.  “Hi everyone, my name is Mir.I.Am, and I am a Bike Commuting addict.  I snort chain lube, always carry a backpack with a rain slick, wear zebra spandex, and get impatient while walking anywhere.”  Sometimes, when you’re away from home, you just want YOUR bike, because a commuter and her bike are bonded like an Avatar’s braid and one of those flying dragon things.

Flying Avatar

Commuter attachment issues: I braid my hair into my bike, just like this guy.

Elizabeth and I met up in Chicago last summer, and I rented a MTB from Bike n Roll – which allowed for scenic views along the Lake Front path.  Marion and I hit up the streets of Paris on the “best” fit we could claim out of the three working bikes in her garage.  And, while testing out the Xootr Swift, said Xootie and I hit the baggage claim and Pualani Platinum club so I could enjoy a week of car-free goodness between Venice Beach and Santa Monica over the winter hell-a-days.  And of course, there’s always the endless bike share options that I still have yet to straddle…

Paddle Bike

Oh yes, this will get me from Waikiki to Belize, easy!

But, there is a part of me that wonders if it’s worth it to make MY bike into a baggage-claim-friendly-beast with custom installed couplings from S and S!  Since I live in Hawaii, the challenge is to fly with my bike, since it’s the only way to get off the island (no trains, no road trips, and definitely no bike touring to other states).  Unless I get me a floating paddle bike and pack an enormous bag of shrimp chips.  What’s your best advice for bike commuting and jet setting? Anyone out there rocking a custom frame with renovated with S and S couplings, packable travel bikes, a folding MTB, or a chainless folder with teensy wheels?  Do you have a bike away from home that you rely on?  Would it be worth the $350-$700 extra and baggage claim hassle to make your bike more airplane-friendly?  Or are you down with renting bikes, borrowing two wheels, or resorting to transportation dogs?!  Bring on the comments, bike setters!

Commuter with Couplings

Holy Sexy Chocolate Espresso Moly - I'm pretty sure this commuter set up is outta my price range, but look at those S and S couplings, and what a rack!


  1. Ghost Rider

    I keep hearing tales of bike-travelers using a non-bike-specific case (like a hockey bag or golf bag carrier) to get around the restrictions airlines impose. No charge for a massive bag of golf clubs, or SCUBA gear, or whatevs…but a stiff penalty for bikes. The trick is to LIE!

    Another thing is to use one of those bike-rental directories, like so: Save the hassle of packing and just make arrangements for a rental bike at your destination.

  2. FredW

    I have a Bike Friday packable bike and can highly recommend them. Mine has traveled extensively and if I’d paid the $200 each way my airline wants I’d have paid more than the bike cost. (most recent trip was Dunkirk to Vienna this past June)

    I’m not a traditional commuter (work from home) but I use it for all my local errands and with a BikeRev utility trailer even do my grocery/CostCo/recycling runs. And if I’m going somewhere for more than a week, most likely the bike comes along (winter trips, excluded 🙂 )

  3. Austin

    Ghost rider is right, if you take apart your bike and pack it in a hockey gear back you will not get charged the fee, Tampa to Phoenix worked that way.

  4. meligrosa

    watta sassy first foto, loveeeit <3

  5. Mir.I.Am

    @Ghost and Austin – Hockey Bag, huh? That’s a sneaky tip! I liiike it… Maybe I will bring my Kona Dew to Costa Rica. No couplings involved? Just a regular ole bike packed like you would into a bike box?

  6. Danny
  7. Ghost Rider

    Mir, this may help, too:

  8. Mir.I.Am

    @Ghost – excellent link! Now only to convince the baggage claim peeps that I play Hockey in Honolulu… shooots.

  9. Ghost Rider
  10. Limbo

    If you’re purchasing a full size bike travel bag, make sure it’s one without any obvious bike labeling on the outside. I used an EVOC bag for a trip to Europe this summer and didn’t get charged the bike fee. Both ways they did ask if it was a bike and both times I said no and that’s as far as it went. I think the employees are just doing their jobs in asking, but for the most part they don’t really care one way or the other. If they questioned me anymore thoroughly, I was going to say it was ‘medical equipment’ in the hopes they wouldn’t want to open it up and break anything. The bag from Pika-packworks is also a great non-descript bag for traveling and avoiding the fees. Just remember to keep the total weight under 50lbs or you get the overweight fee.

  11. Rob E.

    I’m fixing up an old Raleigh 20 for travel purposes. Of course “fixing up” has only involved making it work (barely) and finding an old, Samsonite suitcase at the thrift store that I can squeeze the bike into. It’s not a Bike Friday, fold-and-go solution. It requires a considerable amount of dis-assembly. And the reality is that while I have taken the bike apart and packed it in its suitcase, the bike has yet to go anywhere. But my dream is that it will come along on the next trip to the in-laws, and I will be free to roam the streets on my own for a little while. My bigger dream involves figuring out how to convert that suitcase into a trailer so that I can use the bike and suitcase for car-free air travel. But that’s way down the road and requires that I actually have somewhere to go.

  12. Mir.I.Am (Post author)

    @Rob E – If you ever get around to completing your task -I’d like to see that Raleigh 20 squeezed into a Samsonite. I had to take off the derailleur on the Xootr swift folder when I packed the whole thing into an extra large suitcase.

    @Limbo – good tip on deceiving the check in agents with non-descript luggage. I’ll keep that in mind!

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