Instructables

"Fold" a Non-Folding Bike and Avoid Airline Fees

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"Fold" any bike and hide it in a bag in a few minutes. Avoid airline and train rules and bicycle fees.
It takes about five minutes once you learn how. Really. It goes quick.
Here's Mirko Silvestrini and his bike, ready to ride Amtrak.

Need a big bag to stow your bike? Sew a Duluth Pack!

When checking my bicycle bag at the airport, sometimes they ask me what's in the bag.
I say "wheelchair" or "bicycle parts" or "folding bicycle" or "wheelchair parts". They've never charged me a bicycle fee, which could be $75, or even $75 per leg if it's a bad itinerary on bad carriers.
If you tell Amtrak and some other carriers you have a bike, they'll ask you to remove the pedals from your bike and put it in a bike box. Don't fall for that. For many bicycles, removing the pedals is more difficult than the process shown here, or even impossible.

Most airlines have the "62 inch sum-of-dimensions" rule for checked bags. That rule states that length plus width plus depth of a checked bag should add up to 62 inches or less. Most bikes will pack small enough to be less than that. Irregular packages are hard to measure. Usually the check-in workers will let you bend the rules a bit., in case you want to try this with a tallbike :).

Your bike will probably be different than this one. To see everything about how to disassemble, reassemble, and tune any kind of bicycle, check
Sheldon Brown
and Park Tool.

Thanks to Mirko and Lorraine for the opportunity to document this!
 
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Step 1: Remove Rear Rack

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This frame is a bit long for my bag, so we'll take the rear luggage rack off to make it fit.
If your frame is shorter or your bag is bigger you can leave it on.
This one is held on with four allen (hex) socket bolts.
Set aside the allen wrenches you use for this, you'll bring them with you on your trip.
hvilleneuve6 months ago
Well step 3 saved my weekend. My kids dropped his bike lock keys into the sewer. My only option was to remove the handle bar to free the bike from the ulock. The handle bar where stock and I was about to give up. Then I landed on this page.

Thanks a lot !!
That's awesome. The transportation companies charge horrible rates for bicycles, and often destroy them! It is so bad that many people just buy a cheap bike at their destination, and re-sell it or donate it when their trip is through, or ship their personal bike ahead of time to a bike shop.
"Derailer" suits me fine. I think some people call them "mech" though. There should be a contest for a new name for derailleurs.
Cool. Niagara Cycle has folding pedals (They work like normal BMX or sneaker pedals, but fold up against the cranks when you are done riding).
andythemac2 years ago
Great instructible with excellent photographs. I would quickly get tired of disassembling and re-assembling my bike twice a day 4 days a week though.
I would happily do this for the occasional trip however.
Thanks.
alcalaino4 years ago
Derailer, Sir, derailer (Sheldom Brown dixit:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html )

Nice instructable, though
With terrific respect to Sheldon, who apparently speaks fluent French compared with my whatever-school-level-we-are-when-we-are-thirteen French (what we in NZ used to call Third Form before we got Americanised [hey, some of my best relatives are USAian]) and knows a whole BUNCH about bikes, gasp for breath, "derailleur" would be pronounced "day-rye-leuh" surely, rather than "day-rye-euh"? The consonant "L" would only not be pronounced when not followed by a vowel, oui??? eg S'il vous plait. He said humbly.
With perhaps less respect for your schoolboy French, you are incorrect. The double L in this instance is pronounced as a Y, so I'd say Sheldon's phonetic spelling is perfectly good. A couple of basic google searches would have enlightened you. Here you can listen to it: http://www.forvo.com/word/derailleur. And here you can read the rules: http://french.about.com/od/pronunciation/a/ll.htm.
Yeah, I don't have much respect for my schoolboy French either. It would appear that the French pronounce it your way and, according to Sheldon - who ought to know! - and a lot of the sites that Google first gives for "derailleur pronunciation", English pronounces it with the "ll"'s. I s'pose it depends on which language one speaks. As Sheldon says: "This is actually a French word, but it is commonly pronounced in an anglicized manner, as "de-RAIL-er" or "de-RAIL-yur." The actual French pronunciation is more like "day-RYE-EUH" but nobody says that when speaking English."
So yeah, you're right about the French version. I'd imagine, though, that if I went into an English-speaking bike shop and asked for a "day-rye-eur", they'd look at me blankly: most of them wouldn't be as erudite as you and I!
Besides, my bike has Shimano Nexus 8-speed hub gears, so I don't need "day-rye-eurs" anyway :]
Thanks for the reply, jeremybull: the truth is good to know.
Gen R4 years ago
Hola, Tim Anderson Sorry about my english but I'm a "For you non English speakers, that's an idiom which means "now we're cooking with GAS!". ( el mesaje no es claro por cierto) any way your instructable is a good idea, some bike carriers are really expensive, let me suggest to use some plastic tubes to cover the frame, & u can use some plastic or foam to keep frame covered from scratches made with the wheels and other parts, as the crank set or the cassettes. as same you use a wood piece to protect the rear dropouts I use some to protect the fork, for some other bike models you can use a little box to put inside all pieces n stuff like Quick Releases and Skewers, don't let them be jumping all around your precious bike hitting everything and getting lost, We r triathlon & bike fans and find your idea really great to travel cheaper. Saludos amigo. Pd. Like your bike looks real cool classic !!!
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9w2xyz4 years ago
I would pad the rear hanger..... once that misalligns... you are up for a miserable ride.
9w2xyz4 years ago
at the risk of sounding too extreme, you could cut the frame up. http://www.sandsmachine.com/ use bike couplers. Once you break/cut the frame, it packs smaller and has a far less chance of being mauled by the airport handlers. and... you dont have to disassemble the racks and the bars...etc.
fred2224 years ago
I don't want to spoil this with science but referring to the photos:-
1.  the wheelbase of the bike is about 1100mm (standard) and the longest dimension of the frame will be min 1100mm rear dropout to headstem.
2.  the bloke in the photo has my proportions and my hanging clenched hand is 750mm from the floor.

I am skeptical that the frame is in the bag in the photo or will fit in the bag!

Your number are right! And I'm sure the frame fits in the bag. Don't forget the lenght of the frame fits into the full diagonal lenght of the bag. Let's be more mathematically precise : remember that ol'fellow named Pythagora? Let's assume that the diamond shaped frame roughly is a right angled triangle. A squared + B squared = C squared (750mm*750mm) + (750mm*750mm) equals what ? 1,125,000 of which square root is .... ta da!!! 1060mm QED
trebuchet035 years ago
Hi Tim! When I flew into SF last summer, I brought my bike on the plane too! It needed a fair bit of disassembly, but it fit in a bike box and I was able to bring it with me on the plane - but I had to pay an over sized luggage fee :( Bilal and I are actually about to travel all over the US - this seems like a totally good alternative to finding folders :) Did the bike survive the baggage handlers?
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TimAnderson (author)  trebuchet035 years ago
great to hear you're doing that hackerspace quest! I'm looking forward to seeing your videos! Baggage handlers used to be a lot more brutal with baggage before homeland security goons were watching their every move. They bent my derailleur once, so I started taking it off the frame after that.
Yup. During my first bike camping trip in Ireland, the luggage handlers managed to bend my tire pump clamped on the frame *while* the bike was disassembled in a bike box! When I went to luggage to get my stuff at Shannon, I heard gorilla-like crashes in the handling area behind that slitted splastic curtain meant to stop photo journalists from documenting luggage handling. rashes, rattled, and luggage was being hurled through the access door so that the bags were missing the conveyor belt.

I wish folding bikes came with big wheels. I am going to Ireland again for a month this October I hope, and was looking for a design-to-fold bike. But Irish country roads are rough, and I need bigger wheels.

First great instructible. For Wade have you looked at these http://www.montaguebikes.com/  or for more references http://www.foldingcyclist.com/.

 Why not just use some couplers?
www.sandsmachine.com/
frogmeetcog4 years ago
I am truly amazed this takes only 5 minutes. Bravo.

The nifty thing about threadless headsets is that you can do all these steps with a single, very portable 5mm allen wrench, and avoid using the hammer and headset wrenches.

Would the bike not fit in there with the stem removed but fork still on?

I could be wrong, but I think the threaded holes that the rack bolts into might suffer with frequent torquing and detorquing.

Also, something cushy covering the deerayloour hanger would be a good idea: I know firsthand what a headache it is trying to straighten those things.

And TSA are still overpaid gorrillas!
altomic5 years ago
a hack saw would get the bike into a smaller bag. well done!
joudas5 years ago
yea I bought bag for folding bike and fit inside my big fullsuspension bike (stumpjumper size L) if you have big disc brakes I suggest you to remove them as well to prevent bending...
Farewell88s5 years ago
What about the seat?
p7tms5 years ago
That is very clever :) I have a very small apartment with no outside location to park a bicycle. If I can find a cheap bike, I might use some of your ideas so I can have a bike stored in my apartment. Thanks
Wow. That can all be done in about five minutes. Holy crap, that's sweet.
S1L3N7 SWAT5 years ago
I can't believe that whole bike fit in that bag! Great job.
Nice idea here, I've been wondering how i would get my bike down to my mom's without paying a stupid fee. My friend took apart a few bikes to build one, piece of junk one and lost the fork and headset bearings. Great instructable, sorry, no errors in this one.