Best Brompton Hard Case for Flying
Let’s get right down to business. The best Brompton hard case for flying? Hands down, it’s SKB’s injection molded water tight case. Its interior measurement dimensions are 22.5″ x 22.5″ x 12.5″. Currently about $300 through Amazon. The length and width dimensions make for a snug fit for an M-type or S-type Brompton, but it works. One minor disassembly requirement, the saddle needs to be removed. Or, if your Brompton is equipped with a telescopic seat-tube, just pop-out the seat by it’s extension, pack alongside your well-protected bike, and you’re good to go. I use two thick pieces of foam, on the top and bottom of the case, to keep my Brommie from rattling around. In the photo, below, the Lagoon Blue M6L is equipped with an the telescopic seatpost. Sadly, an H-Type Brompton, with its slightly taller head-tube, will not fit.
Take note of the pipe insulation around the seatpost. No matter how carefully you pack your Brompton, assume the harried TSA checker will not have the ability/time/care to get everything exactly back the way you had it. Hence, for things that might bounce around a bit in the case, like a dissembled seatpost, better safe than sorry. Also plenty of room for extra items, such as clothes, tubes, and other whatnot-necessities. Don’t forget, this case has an exterior total measurement of 63.94 inches, a bit over the maximum 62 linear inches, but not by much.
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I always use TSA approved locks. I’m not worried about my beloved Brompton being stolen. Rather, it’s a bit of insurance to be sure the case is, hopefully, properly re-latched by TSA. The commonly available cable TSA locks are frequently lost in-route, likely because they’re not correctly re-locked following an inspection. I’ve had much better luck with these TSA locks, which have a rigid clasp and are just big enough to work with this SKB case.
B&W International’s Fold-On case:
I wanted to like this one, really bad. But it was more expensive, didn’t seem as robust as the SKB case, and the Velcro straps are perplexing. Why not just have better hinges and clasps? Like the other Brompton-compatible hard cases, it’s also greater than 62 linear inches, by a more noticeable amount, and measures 65.8 linear inches.
B&W International Foldon Folding Bike Box:
I also like this B&W case, especially that it folds down to a nice collapsible size when not holding a Brompton. But unfolded and ready for action, this one’s a gargantuous 67.91 linear inches. It also costs more than the others at roughly $275 to $300.
HPRC Brompton Case:
What about the BRO4800W-01 by HPRC? Even BIGGER than the others with a total linear-inch measurement of 71.1 inches. And a bigger price tag, too, at over $500. However, you get what you pay for. In a world where price and oversized luggage surcharges don’t matter, I’d buy a few of these. The protection and mobility offered by this case is superb. As the younger, cooler crowd would undoubtedly say, this one’s FIRE! But in the not-so-cool world of soccer dad’s trying to save a few bucks on luggage fees, the SKB once again wins this Brompton Hard Case Shootout.
A more traditional piece of luggage, the Samsonite Stryde, which comes in a variety of sizes. The one that works for a folded Brompton bike is the ‘Long Journey Glider’ version. Pricing is on the lower end of cases reviewed here, but still about $240. Although it’s technically a hard-ish case, it closes with a long middle-zipper. Consequently, not as terribly rugged as the others. Lastly, as with all of the cases here, it exceeds the maximum linear dimension of most airlines at 62.99 inches. But I’ll give this Samsonite kudos for coming closest of the workable cases reviewed here. For just a little more in price, the SKB’s bomber shell, super-tough hinges and clasps, and hard-core wheels and handle are worth, I believe, the extra cost.
S & S Butterfly Latch Hard Case:
If you’ve got a full-size bike with couplers, which allows the bike frame to be disassembled, this is the case, period. This case is made by S&S, the same company that manufactures the same S&S couplers. It’s external dimensions are exactly 62 linear inches. YAY! But, unfortunately, the 26″ x 26″ x 10″ internal dimensions are too short on the thickness.
Because of that skinny width, this one won’t work for a folded Brompton. In fact, a confession, I love this case and I’ve used it several times for my own S&S Coupled bike. But I tired of the hour+ time it takes me to carefully pack, then unpack, then pack, then unpack, again, when taking my bike with me on vacation. Four+ hours of packing and unpacking, then more time to tune and adjust after the bike is re-assembled. Several of those excursions got me curious about actual folding bikes, and that’s what eventually fostered my long love of Bromptons.
As far as the perfect Brompton hard case that meets the 62-liner-inch rule, perhaps that day will arrive. Unfortunately, that’s not yet happened.