The rule or formula for the maximum size bag that can be checked onto an airline as regular baggage without an oversize charge is very simple.
(Length + Width + Height) must total 62 inches or less.
Standard S and S cases are 26" x 26" x 10" which totals exactly 62 inches.
Many travel bicycle manufacturers claim that their travel bags or cases meet airline regulations for standard checked luggage but if you do the math, you will see that they don't.
One travel bike manufacturer that produces a frame that separates, provides a 9" x 26" x 29" case yet they claim that their bike bag falls within the airline regulations for standard checked luggage. NOT SO. Their total is 64" which is a full 2" oversize so buyer beware!
One folding bike manufacturer sells a 30" x 26" x 11" case that they claim is designed to be checked on a commercial airline as luggage. NOT SO. Their total is 67" which is a full 5" oversize so again, buyer beware!
We frequently get inquiries from consumers that purchased another manufacturer's travel bike wanting to buy one of our cases. Unfortunately, in most situations, their bike won't fit into our case.
Question: Why do many travel bicycle manufacturers use an
oversize bag or case?
Answer: It's because their bikes typically won't fit into a 62" regulation size case.
Question: How can S and S Coupled bikes fit into
such a small case?
Answer: Because bicycle frames built with S and S Couplings can be separated precisely where they need to be to allow both frame sections to fit efficiently into a 26" square. The 26" dimension was chosen because it is the minimum space required to fit a 700c or 26" wheel. By sticking to the 26"x26" dimension, it leaves a full 10" inches of case height without exceeding the 62 inch maximum.. Also, since our frames separate instead of folding, we can independently position each frame half to best utilize the available space within the case.
|Example: The photo on the right illustrates how the front triangle fits into the case. As you can see here, the top tube coupling is against the top edge of the case and is pushed into the corner which means the top tube coupling is located in the perfect spot. If the top tube were longer, this section wouldn't fit right. Fitting the front triangle below the rear wheel utilizes the space below the wheel in an efficient manner. Essentially, the wheel is tilted on the freewheel to provide space for the front fork. The next item placed in the case is the rear triangle. Since the dropout area is wider than the rest of that section of frame, it needs to go on the left side of the case.|
Question: Why do some full size bikes that
separate require an oversize case.
Answer: Where a bike separates is very important when it comes to packing, especially for the top tube. S and S Coupled bikes can be made to separate in front of the seat tube to balance the size of the frame sections so both the front and rear triangle will fit into a 26" x 26" case. On bikes that don't separate in the top tube, the front triangle is typically too long to fit in a 26' x 26" case or the down tube ends up in the middle of the case where the hubs need to be.
Question: Why don't full size folding travel bikes fit into a
26" x 26" x 10" case?
Answer: When a frame folds, the halves are still attached to one another which makes their footprint larger than 26" x 26" even though either or both halves might fit by themselves. Together, they require a larger area. Another problem with folding bikes is that it becomes one large thick assembly that takes up most of the case leaving no room for the wheels. If the two halves could separate, they could be positioned in the case independently to better utilize the space within the case.
For more information regarding what the regulations are for check baggage go to:
Southwest Airlines web site states the following regarding bicycles:
Bicycles (defined as nonmotorized and having a single seat), including Bike Friday and Co-Pilot, properly packed in a hard-sided bicycle box that fall within the dimensions and weight limits established for normal Checked Baggage, (i.e., 62 inches or less in overall dimensions and less than 50 pounds in weight). Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other Baggage. Bicycles packaged in cardboard or soft-sided cases will be transported as conditionally accepted items.
In addition to the physical size of luggage, there are also restrictions on weight. Many airlines have recently reduced the 70 pounds per item limit to 50 pounds. Be sure to check with the airline you will be using for their limits. When traveling with a tandem, many people split their tandem into two cases instead of one so they can avoid penalties for excess weight.
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