Felkerino and I made one airplane trip on a non-coupled tandem bike, and found it to be a big pain in the patootie. Because of that, we made sure our Co-Motion tandem had S&S Coupling (couplers) to facilitate the transport of our bike through airports.
The couplers (visible in the photo above) allow our bike frame to come apart into three pieces.
While we traveled oversees with our previous Co-Motion Speedster, this is our (okay, Felkerino’s) first time packing the Java so it took some time to break that baby down yesterday and see how it would fit in the cases.
Technically, our tandem could (I guess?) fit into two S&S coupler cases. However, we have a burly bike and do not like all that metal crammed into two cases. In addition to the two S&S cases, we use a large Samsonite suitcase which we purchased for one of our Bike Friday’s.
What we like about these cases is that they are the largest suitcases that are considered regular sizing for the airlines (at least for the moment). As long as we do not exceed the 50-pound weight limit per bag and can each check two items as part of our flight, we do not incur any additional fees for the bike.
In the Samsonite, we place the head tube and fork.
In the first coupler case, we place the middle section of the bike and then the front wheel.
The second S&S coupler case holds the rear part of the bike as well as the rear wheel.
Things were going fairly smoothly until the rear piece. Because our Java was built with slightly longer chain stays than our Speedster, it does not fit as tidily into the case as we would like.
The rear piece fit okay, but the rear wheel that goes on top of it had to be positioned “just so” in order for the case to close without any concern about bending or grinding. We made it work, though.
After inserting the bare essentials into the cases, we fill out the space with fenders, water bottles, tools, our Carradice Camper, the Acorn front bag we will use, and other necessary items.
We are not using any panniers for this trip. Rather, we will use an Acorn Mini Rando front bag (packed in the Samsonite and slightly larger than the Sackville you see in the first photo), and a Carradice Camper (see below).
It took over two hours of nonstop work for the bike to come apart and fit into the three cases, but now that we know how each piece must be placed we hope that the next time we pack it will take a little less time.
I thought you would like seeing our tandem breakdown of the S&S coupler kind, and please fire away with any questions.