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Bicycle Suitcase Packing
Your Swift bicycle will fit in many different types of suitcases. Of course, it will not fit in all suitcases.
This suitcase is a Samsonite "vertical 30 inch" hardshell suitcase, which seems to work pretty well. It has "in-line skate" wheels on the sides and rolls nicely. It seems to protect the bike quite well. We bought it new on eBay for $120. We removed the doohickies from the inside for organizing clothing and toiletries. After doing so, the inside dimensions measure 21 5/16" wide at the bottom and 19 5/8" wide at the top. The inside height is 27 3/4" and each half is about 6 3/4" deep.
We are not sure if this suitcase fits all airline baggage requirements, and some say that there are some persnickety international carriers out there that strictly enforce maximum size limitations. All we can do is report that we have not heard of anyone not being able to check this pretty common Samsonite case.
WARNING: The Swift packs more easily than most travel bikes. Nevertheless, packing a bike is a fussy task. If you are careful, and pretty good with things mechanical, you won't have a hard time. If you are easily frustrated by projects like putting a child's toy together, you're not going to like packing a bike.
- 15mm wrench for the pedals.
- 5mm hex key for the derailleur mounting screw.
- Assess your bike mechanic skills. Do you know which way your left pedal is threaded? Do you know how to release the brake cables? Can you remove the rear wheel? If the answer to any of these questions is "no", then don't try this on your own. Get someone to teach you these basic techniques before you try packing a bike.
- Pack the day before your trip.
Remove the pedals (15mm wrench). To loosen a pedal, push your wrench towards the back of the bike. You will need a small bag of some sort to safely keep these smaller parts together (i.e. a heavy Zip-loc bag, old toiletry bag, etc.). Add the pedals to the bag.
Release the front brake cable by slipping the curved cable guide out of the yoke connected to one of the brake arms. Loosen the quick release lever on the front wheel and remove the quick release skewer from the axle. Put the entire skewer assembly in your bag of small parts. Remove the wheel from the forks.
Shift the bike into Gear 8 (smallest cog) and remove the chain from the chain ring.
Remove the derailleur (5mm hex key). Do this by loosening the derailleur mounting screw. (This is the recessed hex screw about which the derailleur pivots.)
Release the rear brake cable by slipping the curved cable guide out of the yoke connected to one of the brake arms. Loosen the quick release lever on the rear wheel and remove the quick release skewer from the axle. Put the entire skewer assembly in your bag of small parts. Remove the wheel from the frame.
Note in this picture how the Swift is resting on the suitcase. This particular suitcase has a strap for holding smaller bags. We set the Swift on top of the suitcase and used the strap to hold the Swift steady while removing the rear wheel. Not a necessity, but it does make things a little easier.
Now that the wheels are removed, open up the suitcase (if you have not done so already). You can rest the Swift on the suitcase as shown. Loosen the quick release levers for the seat post and remove the seat post from the frame.
Note: Depending on the size of your suitcase you may also need to remove the top quick release lever from the seat post clamp on the frame. This is necessary for this particular suitcase. Keep the QR lever in your bag of small parts if it needs to be removed.
Turn the handlebars 180 degrees so that they are facing the rear of the bike. Loosen the quick release on the stem riser and remove the handlebar assembly from the steer tube.
We are now ready to begin putting the bicycle into the suitcase. Fold the Swift in half and place it into the suitcase as shown. Note that the entire frame does not fit into the bottom half of the suitcase. The part of the frame at the top seat post clamp will go into top half of the suitcase when you close it (which is why we needed to remove the QR lever).
Place some padding between the suitcase and the fork/headset area of the bicycle. Your choice of padding (i.e. bubble wrap, foam, cardboard, etc.) is up to you. We will show the instructions with cardboard being that it is the cheapest and most readily available to people. You will also want to pad/wrap the derailer. We like to use a tightly wrapped rag so that we have one to wipe our hands with after we reassemble the bike. A large rubber band around the rag will keep it from unwrapping during the journey.
Now add the handlebars and riser assembly to the suitcase. The riser and the twist shifter will rest under the frame. Add some padding to protect the frame from the riser and the rear brake lever.
Now add the seat and seat post to the suitcase. Place the point of the seat into the rear wheel area of the frame. The post will rest between the rear brake pads and under top seat post area of the frame.
BelowTo the right is the same picture but with no padding, so you can clearly see how everything fits together.
Add your bag of small parts to the area between the chain stays and front fork. This is the area where the wheels will go. The wheels will keep the bag from moving around too much.
Add the rear wheel to the suitcase. Wrap the gear cluster and place it down between the seat and chain stays.
Lastly, place the front wheel in the suitcase. When closing the suitcase, you may need to lift up on the frame just a bit to make sure the area of the frame by the top seat post clamp goes into the upper half of the suitcase.