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Old May 25, 12, 5:50 pm   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2009
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Two Wheel vs. Four Wheel Spinners - Specifically Tumi

I travel quite a bit, both domestically and internationally and I am looking for a new carry-on piece.

I currently travel with a 22 inch ballistic nylon Tumi with two wheels -- and it has been great. However, I have noticed that the spinners seem so much easier to maneuver and I have been thinking about purchasing one.

That said, I haven't noticed many business travelers using the four wheeled pieces -- and I wonder why that is. I feel like maybe I'm missing something.

Secondly, I'm a loyal Tumi customer and I was looking to see what they have by way of a carry-on with four wheels. The options seem to be limited to their international carry-ons -- like the Alpha, Vapor and Tegra-Lite int'l carry-ons, (Alpha measures 21.75" x 13.5" x 9.75" including handle and wheels).

So my questions for my fellow travelers are:
  1. Why don't more business travelers use the four wheeled pieces?
  2. Does anyone have any idea as to why Tumi limits their spinners to just their int'l carry-ons?
  3. Does anyone have an opinion on the Tumi Alpha 4 Wheeled International Carry-On (http://www.tumi.com/product/index.js...ndSrc=paramNav) or the Vapor (http://www.tumi.com/product/index.js...ndSrc=paramNav) or the Tegra-Lite (http://www.tumi.com/product/index.js...ndSrc=paramNav)
  4. Do the dimensions of the Alpha Int'l Carry-On really make it easier to fit the bag in the overhead bin of non-domestic airlines (I'm in the US)?
  5. Is there another spinner out there that people would recommend for business travel?
Many thanks in advance to all!
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Old May 25, 12, 7:02 pm   #2
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Why don't more business travelers use the four wheeled pieces?
- because the extra wheels effectively take out 1.5 inch from the length of the bag. If your suit size is anything bigger than 42 inch, you'll have a problem.

Does anyone have any idea as to why Tumi limits their spinners to just their int'l carry-ons?
- because more wheels mean more breakage....
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Old May 25, 12, 8:30 pm   #3
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I think for spinners two things are very important.

1. It should be a hardside case with a rigid frame and clasps. I'd prefer a hard shell to a softer EVA shell even.Why? Because this way you have the rigidity needed to fully profit from the better maneuverability that 4 wheels are supposed to give you. Anything else is a compromise.

2. A good warranty. The added, swiveling and exposed wheels are much more prone to damage than the integrated 2-wheelers. Finally, I'd also like to have double-wheels for better stability.

Something like this fits the description pretty well:

The Samsonite Silhouette 11 (not 12) would also fit the description well. Nice case, looks good, too.

Otherwise get the Rimowa Topas or Limbo models.

Besides these points I really think that a spinner is not needed for a carry-on piece. When it's a really heavy, loaded, big suitcase, possibly containing fragile items, then there is nothing that will be as good as a hardcase spinner. It really makes life easier and is worth the risk of broken wheels. So especially for business where you must be on the move and you can't wait around for your case to be repaired, there are many better options to get a 2-wheeler repaired than a 4-wheeler. Plus the 2-wheeler won't be as easily damaged in the first place.

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Old May 25, 12, 8:43 pm   #4
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I switched to 4 wheels and I will never go back to 2 wheels. I can easily travel with a full size bag and carry-on now that I have 4 wheels. I can push them with one hand if I need. The other hand sometimes just needs to be free for coffee

I can't say anything about Tumi but I have Victorinox Avolve. They are light and easily mobile. I have pushed them around the streets of Paris and London easily. The only time I seem to have trouble, oddly enough, is on hotel carpets. I just tilt them on two wheels. The wheels have been banged up and down stairs and they are extremely durable. I definitely don't baby my luggage, and the Avolve's have survived for two years of travel.
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Old May 27, 12, 10:44 am   #5
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Thanks everyone. Lots of great info and suggestions...

Originally Posted by tfar View Post
I think for spinners two things are very important.

1. It should be a hardside case with a rigid frame and clasps. I'd prefer a hard shell to a softer EVA shell even.Why? Because this way you have the rigidity needed to fully profit from the better maneuverability that 4 wheels are supposed to give you. Anything else is a compromise.
Regarding this, I'm not sure I understand why a hard shell is needed to fully profit from the better maneuverability. How is a hard shell case going to be better for a spinner than something like Tumi's ballistic nylon bags? Just curious...thanks!
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Old May 27, 12, 11:08 am   #6
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A hardshell provides more overall rigidity. Rigidity gives better control. It's like a sports car. They try to make them as stiff as possible so that steering impulses are properly translated to the chassis. In this process the entire structure counts, not just the platform the wheels are affixed to. That's why sports car convertibles often have a lot of additional bracing and reinforcements.

In that regard it is particularly important to have a rigid frame between the two halves of the suitcase. A zipper has too much play. The wheels on the outer half will always lag, especially on carpet.

Now, if you don't want the hardshell with rigid frame, I could imagine that a Tumi 22060 might be a usable compromise. It is basically one big box (hard), clad with nylon. But the wheels are all on the same structure. It will lose a bit of rigidity in the vertical direction because it has a soft, zippered, nylon top but it should still work better than anything that is halved in two by a zipper. Obviously, when expanded, the proportions will shift and maneuvering will suffer. Something that doesn't happen with a Rimowa for example. Besides, I am not sure if the 22060 can be used pulling it like a roller. The Rimowa switches effortlessly between the two modes. Using roller mode is still advantageous in areas with curbs, thresholds or carpet.

Unfortunately, the Tumi still only has small, single wheels instead of larger, double wheels. A disadvantage on carpet (soft surfaces) and cobble stone (uneven surfaces). Plus the wheels stick out a lot, prone to damage. Add that to the (from what I read here) less than forthcoming service from Tumi and I would not consider a Tumi spinner at all, even this one - and I normally like the brand. It's just that their spinners aren't sound.

Like Briggs and Riley, great luggage, but the outsider handle system is a failure in guise of a unique selling proposition. Or Victorinox with the monopole handles.

So if the reason you want to get a spinner is that you want to profit from its superior maneuvering (especially when heavy) and take some stress of your arm because you don't have to carry any weight with a spinner, then I suggest using a spinner where the construction matches its conceptual advantage, i.e., hardshell, rigid frame (no zip), large double wheels (ideally somewhat sunk into the case) plus a forthcoming warranty because those wheels are still more fragile than the normal ones on a 2-wheeler.

I hope this explains some of the engineering/structural ideas behind these cases that do have a bearing on how the user experiences them.

If you just want to try a different type of case and would like to stick to your favorite mfr, go ahead. You may perhaps not even be disappointed because you will not have thought of these "details" beforehand and won't have experienced the difference they make.


Last edited by tfar; May 27, 12 at 11:14 am
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Old May 27, 12, 7:18 pm   #7
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Wow. Great food for thought! I was pretty sure that I knew what I wanted, but now I'm not so sure.

For one thing, it didn't even occur to me that I may not be able to pull it like a roller. The reason I wanted a four-wheel model was because it would be easier for me to move while standing in lines, tight spaces or when I need to move suddenly and quickly. It is always such a pain to maneuver a two-wheeled piece in those scenarios. However, I imagined myself pushing it in any direction needed while in line or tight spaces and then dragging it whenever I walk (or run) with it. So, I definitely need to be able to drag it.

Secondly, I'm now a little concerned about the fact that the wheels are exposed. I hadn't really though about how they may be more prone to damage, but it makes sense. And, I'll admit that I am not easy on my bags either -- mainly because sometimes my bag is heavy for me to lift out of the overhead bin and place carefully on the floor. I'm also a little concerned about rolling these kind of wheels over cobblestones and other various terrain when I travel abroad. I wonder if this is a concern for anyone else or if anyone has bumped into trouble on different types of terrain with these spinners.

And finally, I really wanted to find something that will fit in the overhead bin better than my current Tumi. I bring it on board and always manage to find a way to make it work, but it isn't easy.
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Old May 28, 12, 1:23 am   #8
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If I am not mistaken your main concern is to be able to maneuver it easily around small distances when standing in a queue. Believe me, the downsides of a spinner are not worth that little upside. In other words, just put up with maneuvering a little less easily while standing in a queue and take all the advantages of a 2-wheel roller including better stability and better durability.

Imagine, if one of your 4 wheels breaks, the rolling function is close to unusable. If one of your 2 wheels breaks you can still drag it. It won't be smooth but you won't have to carry it.

The wheels also take up quite a bit of space. That means that if you still want a compact bag that fits in the overhead alright, you sacrifice on interior volume. While if you still want decent interior volume, the outer size gets so big that the overhead will be even more of a problem. Something's gotta give.

As I said in my first post, the spinner is useful on a big heavy suitcase on even surfaces. That's where it shines. On a small, light suitcase meant to operate on a variety of surfaces and to be reliable, a 2-wheel roller is clearly the better choice, if you ask me.

Now, if you were ready to pay close to $700 for a Rimowa Topas Cabin spinner ($1000 if bought in the US) in the 20" format, I am quite sure you'd be thrilled by its performance and looks, but you might have to give up some interior volume and some practicality because the Topas don't have any exterior pockets.

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Old May 28, 12, 6:39 am   #9
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Unlike tfar, I've had very good luck with spinners. Every one that I've ever tried pulled on two wheels like a normal roller, and I tried several back when I was looking for a set. I bought a set of cheap spinners a couple of years ago. The 27" one came back with a big dent in the side after its first encounter with baggage handlers, but all four wheels still work on it and I've checked it many times since then. I've dragged it over brick and cobblestone in Europe, on and off buses, and up stairs without damaging the wheels. That bag is in no way a hard shell, but it maneuvers just fine when fully loaded and 50+ pounds. I won't argue physics, but it glides easily, moves well in tight spaces, and makes standing in line much easier.

Its companion "carry-on" is great for moving down the plane aisle. Not so great for fitting in the overhead bin, but I've used it on several driving trips. I would definitely make sure that any dimensions went from the floor to the top of the bag, since the exposed wheels add an inch or so to the height.
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Old May 28, 12, 10:08 am   #10
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I, for one, welcome our new four-wheeled overlords.

But I have one word to say to you all, "Rimowa". Their spinners have recessed wheels which make them much, much less prone to catching on something and snapping, and also it means you lose less of the internal volume - you lose a bit at each wheel corner rather than the whole 2 inch slice where the wheels are on an "ordinary" spinner.

I am going 100% spinner (but the cabin bag is last to go). I find the saving on wrist-strain is easily worth it, and when you're running for the flight I find the spinner is much, much easier to run fast with, and you can pull it like an old-fashioned suitcase if you wish.

For cabin luggage there is no need to go for a Topas/z, a salsa deluxe will do just fine.

And in all the above I do realise there are drawbacks to the Rimowa - lack of pockets being the main one - but I really can live with that.

Edited to add - I'm afraid I don't have much experience of Tumi, so my ramblings above might not enlighten you much.
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Old May 28, 12, 11:45 am   #11
Join Date: Apr 2012
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I bought my 4 wheelers last year during my trip to Germany and it was great experience. It was very easy to push it everywhere. I didn't feel tiered while pulling it and it can also be pulled in 2 wheels style when needed in hilly areas and uneven surface. I have many 2 wheelers which I used for shorter trips but for my long journey, I love my 4 wheeler.
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Old Jun 3, 12, 6:24 pm   #12
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I have the carry-on and 24" medium Tumi Vapor (hard side).

Obviously, the 24" only came with four wheels, but I got the carry-on with two wheels...at first. I used both, and immediately changed the carry-on for the four wheeler. I personally value the maneuverability much more than the 1.5 inches of extra space. This is especially true if you are traveling with multiple bags. I don't think I can go back to two wheels.
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Old Jul 12, 12, 10:39 pm   #13
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Tumi 22060 could briefly be had for just over $350 online today with the extra 20% off their sale items. They are all gone now, but I picked one up early and am looking forward to it. Bought an ultra cheap Ricardo hard shell spinner from Costco as a test, thought it made a huge difference on my last trip, and wanted to upgrade. Will report on it when it arrives.
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Old Jul 29, 12, 9:20 pm   #14
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I had many of the same questions about the spinners. I got an inexpensive one on eBay to test on a short trip (3 days) from the US to the UK where I didn't need a suit. I absolutely loved moving it around in the airport. There was so much less strain on my wrist. It took a little getting used to, but it was definitely easier.

But there is also a minus side. The interior room is reduced to allow the wheels into the overhead. And the case is a bit tougher to use on only 2 wheels, as in going up steps.

Since I often use EU carriers, there is a frequent problem with the definition of proper sizes. I have seen many folks get their US-legal cases rejected by the EU airline agents.

I will use the spinner when I need less stuff; but the 20" spinner definitely holds less than the 20" roller.
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Old Jul 29, 12, 11:42 pm   #15
Join Date: Jul 2012
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recently purchased a 29" Rimowa Limbo. Moved it around the Milan Central station from one side to the other side, stone and cement roads, 10 minute walk, and it was very easy. Then the case went to Venice, moved it thru from the airport to the water taxi station, a 15 minute walk, then thru a single wood "rail" onto the Alilaguna water bus, then out of the boat, and walk to the hotel. Very easy. I was also moving a Travelpro crew 21 inch bag, and I can tell you the Rimowa is much easier to move.

After this experience, I am buying a 29" Topas alu version in the near future and will retire all my Travelpro soon.

I also have B&R Baseline carry on, Hartmann PC4 carry on, and I like them also. But Rimowa is top on my list now.

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