Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brompton Accessories #15 - Packing The Brompton For Air Travel 02

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Travelling with the Brompton to other places by air is great! But one has to be careful on how to pack it and protect the more sensitive or "protruding" ends. Many use hard cases or semi-hard cases; but if you are ending your cycling tour at a point other than your start point, these hard cases are going to be a problem carrying around on the bike.
I frequently travel with my Brompton packed into an IKEA Dimpa Bag. It's a soft bag so some additional protection has to be done. This bag folds into a small, convenient piece making it easy to carry around. Now the thing is to ensure that the protection boards and pieces used are also fold-able and easily carried on the bike.

I had previously wrote on Bagging the Brompton for Air Travel using the Dimpa Bag with cardboard sheets for protection. But these cardboard pieces are not that strong and often are easily damaged by the rough handling of baggage handlers. Also the cardboard may not be so clean as some dirt can get in between their plies. This could be a problem when facing the customs of some countries (like Australia and New Zealand) that are sensitive to dirt being brought into their countries. Of late instead of using cardboard, many of us are using the plastic Impraboard. These are hardier and cleaner than cardboard. After comparing notes, we have also protected our bagged bikes in better ways. Included here are tips on protection and how to cut the Impraboard. Cutting dimensions are shown at the bottom.
NOTE: In Europe & the 
USA, similar boards are the ones from Coroplast.

The tools required - a metric ruler (a steel one is preferable), a mechanical pencil with thicker leads (or a thick pencil), a cutting blade.

Although only three pieces of Impraboard are required, get four pieces in case one makes a mistake. They come in dimensions of 770mm x 690mm, sizes may vary slightly depending on the supplier, so adjust accordingly. A thickness of 2.5mm should be suitable and select a colour to your liking.

Above are dimensions of the Side Board. Two of these are needed. First cut the top away so that you will have a 605mm high board that will fit just nicely into the Dimpa Bag. Then slit three vertical cuts down the length. These should be half cuts, and should not be all the way through the board.

Mark out the required widths per the above sketch and draw light pencil lines along them. The board is ready for cutting. TIP: use a blunt pencil to press down and draw down along the lines; this won't cut the boards at all but will form a groove to guide the cutter along during actual cutting making cutting easier.

A close up view of the half-cut line.

NOTE: The half-cuts should be on alternate faces of the board AND not on one face of the board; other wise it will not fold properly.

The cutting dimensions for the top & bottom boards. From a single piece of board, three pieces of 200mm width and a piece of 170mm width can be obtained.
NOTE: Cut the board against and NOT along the corrugation line of the Impraboard. This will let the corrugation ribs lend strength to the top & bottom boards; as later during assembly the ribs will lend strength to hold up the side boards when the top and bottom are inserted between the side boards.

Do not cut along the "Bend here" line; if done correctly the ribbing will run parallel to this line. Bending along this line will maintain a certain amount of spring to push the Dimpa Bag outwards and maintain a good shape.

NOTE: See update #1 at below for method on having this bottom board with sides turned up.

The very first thing in preparing the bike is to remove the hinge-clamps. This is to avoid any accidental bending of the screws arising from poor baggage handling; if the screws are bent then they can't lock the hinges of the bike... no locking means no riding!
Wrap them up and store them somewhere safe. I normally store them in the saddle bag which will be packed together with the bike.

Protecting the bike will requires some round hard foamed plastic pieces like the one shown above. Also needed will be rectangular pieces. Both should be about 12mm thick. These can be obtained from you neighbourhood bicycle shop as they are used for packing of new un-assembled bicycles.

While the bike is still un-folded; insert these round plastic pieces in between the mudguard and the tire at the four extreme edges of the mudguards. These will prevent the mudguard from flexing if push against during rough handling.

Fold the bike and secure them with a bungee cord strapped around the front fork and the main top tube. This is to prevent the bike from swinging open while being handled.

Wrapped a longer round plastic foam piece over the top main tube to prevent scratching as sometimes the right pedal over-folds.
UPDATE June 2016: I have simplified a few protection steps to reduce having to carry around so many polystyrene pieces. For the above, like some friends, I used an old sock to wrap around the foldable pedal. See more simplification below.

Wrap the hinges (one for the main top tube and one for the handle tube) with plastic foam pieces and tape them down with masking tape, this is important as this hinge areas are at extreme end of the bike. During your travels, it will be good to bring along a small roll of masking tape along for re-packing later on.
UPDATE June 2016: Don't have to carry a roll of masking tape along as am now using double bungee cords to strap these in.

Wrap another piece around the rear deraileur...
UPDATE June 2016: Not used anymore as found this not really necessary. For those who want to have the confidence of added protection, do go ahead.

... another larger piece protects the main gear cog ring.
UPDATE June 2016: Not used anymore as found this not really necessary. For those who want to have the confidence of added protection, do go ahead.

The saddle bag with contents (including the hinge clamps) are tied to the main top tube and the handle bar. A baklava is used as a temporary top cover (for more details see : Mini O - Packing Light & Tight blog).
Okay, the bike is now ready to be put into the Dimpa Bag.

Th Dimpa Bag can be obtained from the nearest IKEA store, in Malaysia it sells for MYR12-90 (at time of this blog). The good thing about the Dimpa Bag is that it zips halfway down, making inserting/extracting the bike easier. Get two of these at least, one as a spare.

Insert the first Impraboard bottom piece with one end turned up...

Insert the second bottom piece with the turned-up end on the other side.

Insert the inner side piece with one end turn inwards at the side of the bag. Apologies on the condition of my Impraboard, they look old and crinkly as they have been used many times.

A close up view shows that the side piece is tucked outside the bottom up-turned piece; this allow the top & bottom pieces to act as a brace to hold the two side pieces nicely apart and prevent them from folding inwards.

 With the top of the Dimpa Bag folded outwards and away, insert the bike.
Actually, it is easier to insert the bike if both top sides are folded half way down so that they don't block the top.

Ensure that the Eazy wheels sit within the bottom pieces.
(See Update #1 below to see how to avoid this)

Insert the top pieces and then fold the top of the Dimpa Bag over them. Then insert the outer side piece, ensuring that it sits on the outside of the Eazy wheels.

If your air luggage weight allowance has spare, you could insert clothes, the Mini O bag, etc inside; and it's time to zip up!
For the Bromptons with P-handles, zipping is a bit tight at the rear edge of the seat and a bit of squeezing of the boards together may be required. If necessary, turn down the sharp corners of the boards to prevent them poking into and damaging the bag.

And here it is - the Brompton all nicely and neatly packed up; a spare bag has been put in between the outer side piece and the Dimpa Bag. A TSA approved lock is used to lock the two zip handles together.

And here's my Brompton after landing at Christchurch Airport with the folded Impraboard and Dimpa Bag strapped onto a luggage sitting on the Rear Rack - ALL READY TO RIDE!
Neat and very transportable aren't they?

This update is to arrest the problem of the Ezy Wheels slipping off from the bottom board. If this happens, the wheels could be exposed to being damaged. To address this, I have revised the bottom piece to have turned up sides (a similar piece can be used for the top).

The cutting dimensions for the turned-up board. Cut the squares at the four corners away and do half-cuts along the dotted line. Turn up the four sides at the dotted lines.

This is how the bottom piece should look like.

The turned-up piece at the bottom of the Dimpa bag, sitting squarely between the sewed edges. Fit the Ezy wheels in between. Put the side boards on the outer sides of the turned-up edges; these edges will push the side board outwards and form a firm boxing.

The Ezy Wheels sitting in between the turned-up edges will not slip away and will remain protected.

Update: Found the two short edges not really neccessary, can do away with them as make packing easier.

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  1. i wonder whether this would work for my dahon

    1. Which Dahon are you using Noor?
      I don't think it will work with most Dahons escept for the Jifo & Curl.
      The Dimpa bag just fits the Brompton nicely.
      the AhPek Biker

  2. I have two. The smaller one is Dahon Vybe C7A

    1. Noor,
      I am uncertain whether the Dahon Vybe C7A.
      Check the bike's folded dimension against the dimensions of the bag (click on any of the words Dimpa Bag in the blog will direct you to IKEA's site on the bag).

      the AhPek Biker

  3. A further update will come:
    To prevent the Eazy Wheels from slipping off the bottom piece, will update for a bottom piece with side upturned to form a U.
    Will provide photos later.

  4. Thank you for sharing about the use of impraboards. I will try this next time!

    1. You are most welcomed Kris,
      Hope it will be helpful.

  5. Thanks for sharing and I just did as per your example with some modification. How much total weight?

    1. Hi Stanley,
      Mine weighed in close to 16kg. I had to take the saddle bag and some accessories out to reduce down to 15kg, the free check in luggage weight allowance given by some airlines. Most important is not to take tools in with your carry on luggage when doing this, drop them back into the Dimpa. Forgot this once and got stopped during security check and had to go back and drop the tools at the airline office.
      Also I have simplified some of the protection and now just protect the hinge clamp area and mudguards.

      Do share you modification and tell us how much yours weighed in.

      the AhPek Biker

  6. Have you thought about adding 1/16inch foam on certain inside sections of the box? Do you think it would have any added benefit? I was thinking where stress points would be.

    1. Thanks for your suggestions.
      I think it would not gain much additional benefit. If wanting to protect further, using another piecd of Impraboard would be better as the board take much more stress than a foam board and can be fan-folded. But so far what I have done is adequate, could add more boards but that would mean more to casrry around.

      The AhPek Biker

  7. Isn't there a mistake in the text?
    'cut the top away so that you will have a 690mm high board'
    The drawing shows to cut the 690 down to 605.

    1. Thank you for spotting the error.
      Yes it should be cut down to 605.
      Have corrected the text.


  8. Hello JZ,

    Great informative post and I much enjoy seeing the adventures.
    Does anyone of your buddies have any experience doing similar packing as yours with Reach R20 foldable bike? I concur having a hard case for the bike may hinder the trip if the adventure ends up at different location, which is quite likely.


    1. Hi Susanto,
      Thank you very much for your comments, and I hope my adventures and blogs have been helpgul to you.
      There are some bags similar to the Dimpa and slightly larger. These are made in China and should be found in most bag shops. Perhaps these could fit the Reach R20. Important is to get thos that have the handle strap sewed looping round to the bottom and up.

  9. Hi I love this thank you for posting!I can only find 8mm of polycarbonate board would that be too thick to use? Otherwise I can source 3mm of a thinner same style but not as strong plastic. Please let me know I hope the 8mm is usuable!! Super thanks

    1. Hihi!
      I think 8mm will be too thick as when you fan-fold it, the total width will come to about 32mm thick for each board for two boards that will be 64mm, a bit bulky to carry around. With a total fan-folded thickness of12mm, the 3mm boards will be fine. Use double piece for the bottom.

  10. I did this and it was good. Thanks for the instructions and cheap and effective solution

    1. Glad it has been helpful.
      Ride Well & Ride Safe!