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S&S Packing Words of Wisdom

By Mark Livingood

Unless you purchased one of Santana's travel tandems with the over-sized
case and foam inserts, you'll have to come up with your own technique for
packing your travel tandem. Based on our first experiences traveling with
our tandem I would recommend that you practice packing and unpacking your
tandem at least one or two times when you're not in a hurry or pressed for
time so that you can be sure you've got it figured out. There are a lot of
variations between different brands, models and sizes of travel tandems so
what works for one tandem may not always work for another.

You'll also want to close the cases and then put them through your own
little torture test: stand them up on their ends, turn them over a few times
and bounce them on the ground a little bit to simulate what will happen to
your tandem inside the cases when you and the baggage handlers lug them in
and out of cars, onto conveyor belts, luggage carts and airplanes. When you
open it back up you'll hopefully find it didn't shift around too much. If it
does, that's what your cycling clothes or packing materials will help to
prevent. Keep in mind, your tandem is more likely to sustain damage from
things moving around in the case during handling than from being bent by a
crushing blow that deforms the shell of an S&S hard case.  Speaking of
crushing blows, that's another reason to make sure you don't have frame
tubes crossing over other frame tubes or your fork steerer as most of the
dents I've seen in travel tandems occurred when a case was compressed and a
tube was pressed against another tube leaving a dent in the least thick of
the two tubes.

You'll also want to figure out how to pack your tandem with any accessories
that you'll want to take along (e.g., rear rack, mud-guards). I perfected my
system under the premise that I'd be using a seat-post mounted rear rack.
However, when I realized I needed to take along a full-size rear rack that
could handle panniers I found that I had to completely re-think how to pack
the tandem to make room.

Once you have figured it out consider packing the tandem one more time and
photo-documenting your "system" as you unpack it, one layer at a time. Keep
the photos in your case so you can refer to them whenever you pack or unpack
your tandem. The photos that are on our Web site
(http://home.att.net/~mark.livingood/Ericksonpack.html) were created for
that purpose and a color copy of the packing sequence and notes are in a
clear protector sheet taped to the lid of our hard case. It's nice not
having to think about how everything fit together since just a minor mistake
can throw everything off and leave you scratching your head as to how you
got it all in the case the last time.

Other fine points:

1. Consider putting old hubs or sections of 1/4" Schedule 40 PVC in your
front & rear drop-outs (held in place by your skewers) to protect your fork
and rear triangle. You can also check with your local bike shop to see if
they have any plastic drop-out spacers left over after assembling new bikes.
By all means, make sure you put something in between the drop-outs.

2. Make sure all the components, tools, etc... are padded and/or wrapped in
something that will keep them from moving around and/or rubbing up against
and marring other components in the case.

3. Consider taking along a lightweight white drop cloth (plastic-backed
paper ones are cheap and pack flat) and some rags. The drop cloth could come
in handy if you have to assemble or disassemble your tandem on a carpeted
floor, both for protecting the floor and to make it easier to see what
you're doing if the carpet is dark. The rags will come in handy when you
re-pack your tandem. There is nothing worse than trying to pack a dirty
tandem or a wet one if it rains.

4. How far can you go to ensure everything stays put? I lay two packing
straps criss-crossed on the bottom of my hard case and then put two terry
cloth bath towels on top of them forming a case liner, if you will.  All the
components go into the case on top of the terry cloth bath towels. Once
everything is in the case the towels get folded over the the tandem &
compression members and then I cinch up the packing straps to hold the whole
thing together. The entire tandem -- less the front and back wheels -- ends
up being one neat little package that you can lift out of the case in which
nothing moves around. The wheels go in a soft case with the [trunk] pack,
tool box, panniers, and cycling clothes, etc.

This may seem a little over the top, but it gives me piece of mind.

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