Sunday, August 12, 2012

B&W was the case that they gave me

I took another trip to Portapedal yesterday to take care of a couple of things. First was to take care of my 100-mile service to make adjustments to the Brommie as cables stretch and other things break in.  Everything looked pretty good, but then they took a look at my tires.  They noticed about half a dozen thorns and a piece of wire in my treads, along with the tell-tale sign of sealant.

Plugged!
Thank god for Flat Attack!  I ride along some gnarly terrain!  I saw that they had Schwalbe Marathon PLUS tires in stock... I'll switch to those when my current ones wear out.

The second item on the agenda was to pick up a B&W hard case for my upcoming trip to Colorado!  This case is specifically designed to pack a Brompton and be within size and weight limits for normal check-in baggage (no extra fees!).  Here's how it looks:




The Brompton in the B&W hard case. 
The Brooks saddle had to be removed in order for the Brompton to fit.
There are a couple of things to note...

 First, the Brooks saddle must be taken off in order for the Brompton to fit (apparently the standard Brompton saddle can be kept on if you slide it forward).  At first I was a little concerned about this because I didn't want my seat positioning and angle to change.  But as it turns out, it is possible to take the seat off of the seatpost without affecting the seating position by loosening the pentaclip just enough.  Loosening it too much will obviously allow seat adjustments.

Loosening the pentaclip just enough will retain the seat position.

Secondly, it seems that the case doesn't open or close very well under torsional load (twisting).  The latches don't align very well when the case is not lying on a flat surface, making it difficult to open or close.  

Al from Portapedal mentioned to me that one time a customer had told him that the latches on his B&W were in pieces after inspection by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration in the USA).  Al believes that the TSA agent didn't notice velcro straps that help secure the case and thus used brute force to open it.  That may have been the case, but I also think that the agent may not have laid the case down on a flat surface, thus making the case difficult to open.  With that in mind, I wrote some helpful hints on the case.



The case does roll on its wheels very nicely.  I will probably stuff some of my clothes in the case to act as padding.  Slipping socks over the pedals should prevent them from scratching the bike.  I'll see how it works very soon!

25 comments:

  1. Very interesting, I will be looking forward to your views when you do actually take it on a plane etc as I may take Bumble B on holidays in the future

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    1. I'm sure there will be follow-up post very soon with the B packed up with some clothes strategically placed for padding.

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  2. Fernando:
    Great points on the carrying case.

    1. The seat needs to come off - YES!

    2. My B&W suitcase got damaged in transit, when I purchased it.
    I got a free replacement from my dealer.

    3. At SEATAC airport, TSA broke my very nice Samsonite suitcase that my dad bought me. The case had a combination lock which wasn't locked, but the TSA didn't apparently see the suitcase was unlocked, before they pried open the combination lock latch with some object and broke it, once and for all. So, good idea to let TSA know, in as many ways as possible, that the case can't be opened without releasing the velcro straps.

    4. Re-purposing a bubble-wrap envelope might be a good thing on the pedals too.

    Great post!

    Peace :)

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    1. Thanks for the insight, Chandra. I might do some additional tagging on the case now. I'm going to use some worn out socks for the pedals, hopefully that should work well.

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  3. Hi Fernando:
    Did you use paint to write that stuff on the B&W case?
    Thanks.
    Chandra

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    1. No, I used a "Metallic Silver" Sharpie marker. It writes pretty nicely on there.

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    2. Great, thanks, Fernando.
      I am going to copy you, if you don't mind, when I travel next time.
      Peace :)

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    3. Of course! Hopefully it looks better than my hack job.

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  4. Dear Fernando,

    I hav a B and W case and a Brooks saddle and I don't have to remove the saddle from an M model with ergon bar ends. Here's my trick: loosen the seat post quick release slightly and rotate the saddle so the nose is pointing slightly upward in the case. Everything will then shut quite nicely. Thanks for your hint on getting the suitcase to open and close easily.

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  5. My pedal obstructs the case closing, also just lifting the case by the handle with bike inside you can see latch flexing.

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  6. Are the locks on the B&W Case TSA approved (ie TSA is able to open them on their own) or do you fly with the case unlocked and just velcroed?

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    1. Alex, I'm not sure if the locks are TSA approved...I doubt that they are since the manufacturer is a German company that is geared towards the European market.

      Regardless, I travel with with the case unlocked. I figure that if someone were to steal the Brompton, it would be easier to spot them if it is out of the case rather than in the case. Plus there's less chance of TSA breaking the case. The strength of the Velcro straps is enough for me not to worry about it opening up accidentally.

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  7. Thanks so much for this very helpful post! I have been doing quite a bit of international travel with my Brompton in the last year or so. It is just great to have the freedom of a bicycle when I arrive at a destination and need to get to meetings, and particularly great when I have some free time to do sight seeing.

    I have considered buying a B&W case. However, I was put off by a few things - I'd love to hear if you have any further thoughts on any of these. First, it weighs a little more than the B Bag. I normally pack my Brompton and all of my clothes, shoes and toiletries in the Brompton B Bag (shirts, jackets etc. go into a suit bag. The rest gets rolled and put in packets in the spaces around the bike which is in a cover). I worry that an 8KG case could restrict how much clothing etc., I can pack. Second is the internal space of the hard case. Of course the B Bag is flexible so one can fit a fair amount of stuff in there! How much can you get into the hard case with your Brompton? Is the hard case relatively flexible and spacious in that regard? Lastly, I worry about durability - the locks seem to be a real problem on the hard case. I often travel to the UK and US from South Africa. Sadly, one cannot leave your bag unlocked in South Africa. I have had stuff stolen from my bags in transit in South Africa a few times. The B Bag allows me to use a standard TSA lock on the zippers. Also, what are the rolling wheels like on the hard case? They look a little small and perhaps even delicate?

    The B Bag is certainly not ideal! It doesn't offer the kind of protection one gets from a hard case. Every time I unpack my Brompton I end up having to reshape my fenders. At least the clothes offer some padding. But it is not great. Also, the B bag is almost impossible to wheel for anything more than a few meters. It is tall, heavy and flexes at the base. The straps are in the wrong place. I normally take the B Bag on a foldable luggage trolley. Once I check the B bag I take it off the trolley and then put my hand luggage (a Brompton T Bag) onto the trolley to wheel around the airport etc. The hard case would certainly roll a lot better! I dread dragging my B bag in and out of airports and hotels, getting onto trains and into taxis.

    Thanks once again for your great post! See my thoughts I travel with my Brompton here (by the way, if you click on the Brompton tag you'll see more posts about my Bromptons) http://www.dionforster.com/blog/2013/8/8/packing-my-brompton-m3l-bicycle-for-a-trip-to-london-and-oxf.html

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    1. Hi Dion, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.

      My Brompton is a P6R with a Son dynamo, which is probably the heaviest and bulkiest configuration. The Brompton and case combines is around 47-48 pounds, and most airlines restrict baggage to 50 pounds. Most Bromptons are probably 3-5 pounds lighter, so that give you a little more leeway weight-wise. I think there is still room to stuff some clothing around a Brommie, maybe a week's worth of socks and underwear and maybe some shirts... probably not shoes and toiletries though. The case is pretty stiff and won't really flex to accommodate a whole lot more.

      I don't think that the key locks work all that great... they are kinda finnicky. The wheels on this case are actually superb. They roll smoothly and I feel that they'll handle rough surfaces pretty well.

      I don't think the case is perfect by any means, but it's a pretty good option until something really good gets developed.

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  8. Hi there. Very, very helpful stuff, thanks. My partner and I are fortunate to have a Brompton each and we have taken them around the world literally a couple of times. I must have the world record on folding demos having done them the very southern tip of South Island NZ and Alaska!
    Anyway, re the B&W case has anyone had problems in USA because they are actually non compliant in terms of overall linear inches. 62 is the maximum allowed and these are annoyingly nearly 66. Of course, it is very close but an officious check in person could pick up on it which would mean huge expense.

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    1. I've been lucky to not have been called out on the very slightly oversized case. But that worry has always lingered in the back of my mind. I do know someone who builds a Brompton case that is under the 62 linear inch limit, and will probably be checking it out in a couple of months.

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  9. Please would you be kind enough to let me know who makes the case that is less than the 62 linear inch limit.

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    1. http://www.cycletogo.com/accessories-parts/bike-box-to-go-transport-case-for-brompton/

      I have to go over there and verify for sure that it is indeed 62 linear inches...I'll report back when I do.

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    2. The cycle to go box is 25x24.5x12.5 inches, so exactly 62 linear inches.

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  10. Hi there, Im would like to ride from the airport, do you think the small wheel on the B&W will be capable carry the case behind the Brompton?
    //Peter (from Sweden)

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    1. Peter, the wheels on pretty small, so I wouldn't recommend trying to wheel it behind you while riding.

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  11. Great review these are the best box for Brompton Folding Bikes I've seen. http://www.saltdogcycling.com/b-w-hard-case-for-the-brompton-folding-bicycle/ They also do spares if it gets a bit roughly handled at the airport. http://www.saltdogcycling.com/bike-box-spares/

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  12. Would it be possible to strap the case on to the Brompton's bike rack? Need to ride with it once I get off the plane.

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    1. I'm pretty positive that it would not fit on the rack in a way that you could ride with it.

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  13. Your URL for the cycletogo hardcase is a 404 so try this one instead: https://www.cycletogo.com/product/brompton-bike-transport-box-black/

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