Review: Gavilan BFFBy Scott Mares | Published Jul 5, 2016
Getting on an airplane and flying to an event or a destination with your bike is something that most cyclist will do in their life time. If you race on a national or international circuit, it is a necessary evil. Packing your bike and lugging it to the airport and then unpacking it and putting it all together is some what of a chore. This brings me to my next point. It can get really expensive very quickly to fly with your bike. So what are your options? Shipping it there is an option. But then you have to time it just right so that your bike arrives before you do. Then you have to ship it back, which will get expensive too. So that brings us back to flying with your bike. Most airlines have an oversized baggage fee that makes it expensive to fly with your bike. Airlines will charge anywhere from $50 to 150 each way. Luckily, there is the Gavilan BFF. The Gavilan BFF is designed to be less than the standard oversize limit of 62 total inches. So how is this possible? What is this magic you speak of? To pack a bike in this small of an area, there are only 2 extra steps that you need to take. The first one is to remove the front brake. The second is to remove the fork. That's it.
We took a trip this summer down to Arizona. When we got to the airport, we went right up to the counter and checked our bags. We used our airline credit card to book the flight, which gives us a free checked bag with each ticket. The airline agent weighed the bag and checked it in without so much as comment or question regarding the contents of the bag or it's size. In short, our bike flew for free both ways! So here is a list of the strong points that make this bag a winner.
- Case is not oversized
- Takes a large bike (58cm)
- Looks like a large suitcase
- Removable shoulder strap is included
- Whole thing fit into the trunk of a compact car
- Upgrade options for wheels available
We Didn't Like
After you get this bag, we highly recommend purchasing a few extra things that are not included with the bag purchase to make packing the bike easier. You will need to get some pipe insulation (available at most hardware stores) to go around the tubes of the frame. You will also need a rear triangle axle stay brace for protection and plastic hub protectors (used for shipping wheels in boxes). Both of these items can usually be obtained from your local bike shop. Our bag did not come with caster wheels, which are a upcharge on the bag, and I think that they all should. Finally, I would like to see some hard plastic put in on the corners of the bag, which would help protect the drop outs.
The Final Say
So what do we think? If you fly often with your bike, you will want this bag as it will pay for its self in just a few flights. If you run a pro team, this bag will save your team thousands of dollars in bike fees. If you fly every once in a while, rent one. This bag does exactly what its suppose to do. It is under the oversize bag dimensions and we got our 58 cm bike in it just fine. The only people that this bag may not work for are those that have a 62cm or larger frame set. The main difference between the Gavilan BFF and other soft shell bags is that you have to do 2 extra steps. You have to remove the front brake and the fork. These two steps allow you to put the bike in a smaller than normal bike bag which enables it to fall below the oversize bag limit and not look like a bike case. We had no problems with checking this bag each time we used it. We used our airline credit card and got a free checked bag each way and boom! Our bike flew for free. Now, if you didn't have a airline credit card, then it would be just the standard checked bag fee. For most airlines, this is around $25, which is a far cry from $150-200 for a bike fee each way. Just taking 3 trips with the Gavilan BFF bag will pay for itself. The bag comes in several configuration options and I would recommend that you get the one with wheels. That will make life so much easier walking through big airports and hotels.
If you are going to travel with your bike, here is a link that lists thebike feesforjust about every airline in the world.