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PRO Cycling Weekend Prep – The Ghetto Bike Bag

March 1, 2010

Performance "Transit Soft Case"

Somewhat unreasonably, I have decided to take the Felt when I fly to California to spend three days with Team VBF. More than likely I would be welcome to borrow a bike, but traveling with one’s beloved ride seems to be just another rite of passage in the cycling life. But I lack the funds to purchase a really nice case, which would have set me back around $300 on top of the $500 I already dropped to make the trip. (My day job is funding my freelancing. That seems a bit backward, doesn’t it?) Thanks to accumulated store credit, an online sale and a birthday gift card, I acquired a “soft case” from Performance for a mere $30.

I didn’t have to unpack the bike bag from its one-inch-thick shipping box to know that it was just that – a bag, and had no padding whatsoever. A mere five days away from my departure, I was staring at something completely useless. Some improvisation was in order so I went to Bike World, picked up a cardboard box and set about constructing the ghetto bike bag.

It took an hour, but I dismantled the box with a dull utility knife and a heavy dose of patience. After a few measurements and a lot of wrangling with the shapeless mass of fabric, I re-built the cardboard bike box inside the bag, reinforcing the ends and bottom with the leftover pieces and taping the heck out of the seams. The tough outer fabric will allow for the re-use of the box instead of wondering if it will survive the trip and where I’m going to find another one before I leave California. Smaller and easier to carry than the original bike box, the bag should make my solo trek through the San Jose airport more manageable.

To hopefully aid the survival of the ghetto bike bag, I decided to be honest at the airport about what I’m carrying. I also bought insurance for $8 and chose to fly Frontier, who was rated by Bicycling as the airline friendliest to bikes. They also charge the smallest fee – a mere $50 to hand-carry your bike from gate to gate – compared to American and United’s $175. Insurance can also argue its way out of paying to replace a bicycle if it wasn’t declared at check in.

Somewhat ominously, I opened my mailbox and pulled out Bicycling’s 2010 Buyer’s Guide a mere half-hour after I finished constructing the ghetto bike bag. Hopefully I won’t be needing it any time soon.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Leon Thompson permalink
    March 2, 2010 1:42 am

    Just curious, are you going to be able to carry on the bike or will you have to check it at the check in gate. I am not quite sure what you mean about “a mere $50 to hand-carry your bike from gate to gate”. I hope you will be able to carry on the bike and not have to trust it to the baggage handlers to load in the cargo area. Have you ever seen them load baggage on a airliner? It’s not pretty…….

  2. March 2, 2010 4:26 am

    Hey, thanks for the review. I’ve actually never tried one of these so it was nice to hear your comments. Let me know how you make out traveling with it. Have a great trip.

  3. March 2, 2010 3:59 pm

    Your Ghetto bag looks like it will work great. If only you had some beat up travel stickers to plaster all over it. Are you wrapping the small parts(pedals, tools) with bubble wrap so they don’t move around and ruin your frame?

  4. March 2, 2010 4:06 pm

    Yep – more on that when I pack the bike, but I am using bubble wrap, foam pool noodles around the frame and possibly our yoga mats on the sides for extra padding. Whatever works!

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