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Old 12-12-19, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I occasionally read that someone assembled their bike at the airport and rode from there, but every situation I recall reading about is using a non-coupled bike. Most of those situations I recall reading about were full size bikes, but occasionally were a folder.

I can see taking a bike out of a box, putting pedals on, the front fender on, handlebars and stem, setting the seatpost to the right height, then trying to find a place to dispose of a large box. My S&S bike just barely fits in the S&S case, the manufacturer in their literature says it can't be done. I have to pull off the crank arms & pedals, pull the fork out, saddle and seatpost, all three water bottle cages, both racks, etc. to fit my bike in the S&S case. None of it is difficult, but it is time consuming and tedious.

I can't fit the fenders in the case, so that is the only thing that speeds up the process since fenders were left at home. Assembling my S&S bike is best done at a hostel in the town near the airport, preferably not on a rainy day. On a positive note, it is much easier to get my luggage and S&S case to a hostel from the airport than a full size bike box which some shuttle buses can't take. My luggage shown in the photo above in post number 9 all fits in a Prius, which is fortunate since most of the taxis in my community are Priuses.
I've done all of those things. Sort of. I did fly into an airport with my S&S bike, and I decided not to assemble it at the airport, but instead to bus myself to the other side of town, get a bite to eat, and assemble it out near the end of useful bus service, so I could bike the rest of the way. Turned out bus service was kind of a mess. After squeezing my case into a seat on the light rail, and then dragging to to a connecting bus because the light rail track was under construction, and then transferring it to another bus, and then learning that I had to abandon that bus a mile from my planned stop because the street was torn up and the bus had to detour, I set off on foot with my case on my back, but after two blocks, I stopped and assembled my bike on the city sidewalk. It would have been better to have done it in the relative comfort of the airport, and I could have condensed my other baggage into the S&S case and had one bike and one, giant bag rather that two giant bags. As long as the bus had a rack, the bike is easier to manage than the case. Assembling the full, uncoupled bike takes longer than an uncoupled bike, possibly twice as long, but it has to be done at some point, and while I agree that if you can get the case your first night's destination and assemble it in a leisurely fashion, that is a good idea, but that really depends on a lot, and there's definitely something satisfying about leaving the airport with/on your fully-assembled bike.

I've done this with a folding bike, and that bike still had to be split to fit in case. It was probably a little faster than the S&S bike, but not much. To get out of the airport with my folding bike, I had a Bike Friday trailer frame that I attached to the suitcase my bike traveled in. I imagine something similar could be done with a hard-sided S&S case, although, as you say, it can be a tight fit in the case for just a bike. What I have done in some situations is to put the less awkwardly sized pieces into my checked duffel bag: fork, seatpost, seatpost-mounted rack. That allows the other pieces to fit in the case a little easier.

By far, the easiest is the full-size, uncoupled bike. If you pack it in a cardboard box that you will not be needing again, you can ditch that at the airport and ride away without a care. But even that is not necessarily a speedy process. The one thing I've learned from having flown my bike multiple places over the past few years is to allow plenty of time for building the bike up. It's great if you can get up and running in short order, but if you count on that happening, then it can throw you off schedule when you hit a snag. Better if you find yourself with extra free time than if you find yourself rushing through the set-up.

And you make a good point about an S&S case being easier to put in a car than a full sized bike box (or a full-sized bike). For the OPs purposes, the the desire is to ride out of the airport, then the choices would seem to be:
  • Avail yourself of airport adjacent shipping services. I've seen these listed when planning a trip, but I've never actually used them, so I don't how practical that is.
  • Use a soft-sided case that you can fold up and travel with until you can ditch it. Even soft-sided cases are bulky and heavy, and I wouldn't want to tour long-term with them.
  • Turn your case into a trailer. This method has some appeal for me since I've done it with a folding bike. It's handy and self contained, and you should be able to fit a full tour's worth of luggage into an S&S case, depending on how light you travel. But as much as I like the self-sufficiency of this method, I don't actually like traveling with a trailer.
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