DISCLAIMER: I am not an experienced person when it comes to these things. I'm just a first timer who bought a bike case, stared at it for a while, read everything he could find on how to stuff his bike in it and went for it unafraid of the consequences. Ok... I was afraid. Very much so in fact. But I still managed to get it there and back successfully so I must have done something right. Undertake this effort at your own risk. If you are not comfortable doing this, then don't. Talk to your local bike shop about doing it for you. Often times you can ship it bike shop to bike shop and have the two shops take care of assembly, dissasembly for you. But if you are comfortable with a few hand tools and unafraid then read on. Again... if you screw something up... it ain't my fault!
Back in May I decided to plan an impromptu trip to visit a friend of mine on the west coast for two weeks to relax, escape work, and train my butt off for two weeks. Which meant I wanted to bring my bike with me. I also travel extensively with work so investing in a bike case to bring my bike with me on longer trips was something I definitely wanted to do. It seems like there are a wide variety of bike cases to choose from. The least expensive category of which are soft cases (not recommended for air travel, but good for car packing, bus trips), hard cases in the 200-300 dollar range such as my Pro Bike Case, and the Thule bike case, and hard cases closer to the 500 dollar range that offer more features such as special pockets for your wheels and more internal features. In the end I chose the Pro Bike Case available through Nashbar. ( I have no affiliation with either the manufacturer of this product or with Nashbar). I chose this particular case for a few reasons...
-its very large which meant I wouldn't have to disassemble my bike as much, and I could leave the tricky bits such as the rear derailleur attached.
-it comes with an internal metal frame that your bike attaches to which makes packing it a bit easier.
-you can also fit a lot of other stuff in it such as your wetsuit, helmets, water bottles, bike shoes etc.
-it came well recommended from a fellow triathlete in my local club. (Thanks Jon!)
-it was on sale for around 200 dollars and therefore fit into my budget nicely.
It arrived within about a week of ordering it in a very very large box. This particular case is not easy to move around by yourself. Its BIG! Its tricky to carry it up and down stairs even when its empty. So keep this in mind depending on your living situation. I had to get help to carry it up the stairs into and out of my appartment's narrow staircases.
The dimensions of the case itself are:
External dimensions: 49.6" x 33.5" x 12.6"
Internal dimensions: 49" x 33" x 12"
Weight: 40 lbs. (empty)
Keep in mind that once you stuff a bike in this case it will be considered an oversize and overweight package by just about every airline and shipping carrier out there. So check with their fees and policies before you ship/fly with them. In fact its a good idea to check on that before you buy your airline ticket as some airlines are much more expensive than others to bring a bike on board with.
So how do you stuff your bike in this thing? Below are the steps I took to make it work. I'm a fairly short guy at 5'6" so my bike is sized accordingly. Taller people with larger bikes may have to consider removing the handlebars entirely and attaching them to the frame with the cables still attached, and also marking the seatpost height and then removing it. I did not have to do any of this. (See there are some pluses to being short!) However, one of the pluses to a case this big is that larger bikes should fit in it without any trouble at all. Hec with careful packing (and not using the internal frame) you could probably fit two bikes in this thing.
So onto the process....