With a ratio of nearly one folding bike for each team member across the AR staff, it's fair to say that we are big Brompton fans! Having recently added some gorgeous Brompton-compatible bags from Carradice to the site, we thought it would be nice to have a bit of an explore of our cycling bag range in terms of which bags would be good for Bromptons, or indeed other folding bikes.
Some riders who tour by Brompton carry impressive amounts on the bike using a whole range of bag options. We have focused mainly on options for city riding, considering luggage options which complement the Brompton’s key characteristics of convenience, flexibility and ease of fold - therefore all the products mentioned below are either easy to take on or off the bike or can be left on the bike when it folds.
The Brompton front carrier block luggage system really can’t be beaten for convenience. A bag on the front carrier block is an excellent option for taking things with you on the Brompton, and, although the weight is at the front, the steering of the bike isn’t adversely affected since the bag is attached to the frame rather than the handlebars. Many people actually find a bag on the front carrier block makes the steering of a Brompton more steady. Handily, we've just started selling the Carradice City Classics Stockport Folder bag (suitable for all handlebar types, including the more sporty ‘S’ type) and the Carradice Originals City Folder bag (suitable for all handlebar types except the ‘S’ type).
Both offer unique combination of features which offer something a little different in terms of style or functionality compared with other styles of front Brompton bags: both are made in Britain, include a padded laptop sleeve and are constructed from Carradice’s 100% waterproof Cotton Duck fabric. Classically styled, these bags just look like a (very nice) regular bag (not a ‘cycle-specific’ bag) and would not look out of place in the office, down the boozer or generally round about town. The Stockport is a nice slimline design, and off the bike it is easy to carry round and fit into any spare space in constrained places like peak hour train vestibules. Both are sized to accommodate a typical day’s worth of stuff.
If, for some reason you don’t want to use the front carrier block system, or you need quite a bit of extra carrying capacity, rack packs are a useful option for riders with an ‘R’ type Brompton. Rack packs are designed to be easy-on easy-off and several will fit on the Brompton - the Blackburn Central Trunk Rack Top Bag is suitable for carrying on and off the bike looks good, has a useful carrying handle for off the bike and straps onto the rack with two velcro straps. For riders looking for really substantial carrying capacity, the Chrome Knurled Welded Front Rack Duffle, which we've seen speeding around London, is certainly one to consider; note the lower buckles that secure the bag to your Brompton rack! Off the bike, the duffle has two sturdy carrying straps for lugging your life around with you.
With most Brompton bikes naturally city-based, it's worth noting that away from the need to haul larger loads, accessorising your Brompton with a well-placed top tube pack and saddle pack for smaller items, is certainly well-advised. These smaller bag options for Bromptons are perfect for carrying those bits and bobs you might want to have easily accessible whilst riding: a packable waterproof for unexpected showers, water bottle, phone/wallet/handbag, ‘freshen-up kit’, lights, toolkit, or perhaps a little snack to be eagerly snaffled between stops. Top tube packs are easy to attach to and remove from the bike - the Mack Workshop Top Tube Pack is attached with tough velcro straps - easy to take on and off but super-secure whilst on the bike, whilst the Berlin made Schlingel bag from Fahrer can be attached to the seatpost with its secure and simple wrap around design.
Many smaller saddle bags can be left on the Brompton without affecting folding or increasing folded size much. The Brompton saddle has tabs for attaching a saddle bag and these ensure the bag aligns and hangs nicely when on the saddle (likewise all Brooks saddles have these tabs). The Carradice zipped roll bag (two litres) would look great paired with the Carradice Originals City Folder front bag, whilst the Brooks Challenge Tool Bag looks incredibly handsome and has a neat buckle closure.
For less city-based Brompton riding, there are some clever bag options which work well on Bromptons. The Carradice SQR (saddle quick release) system allows you to easily take a saddle bag on or off the bike, an example of which is the CarraDry bag, which offers an ample 12-15 litre capacity, a super waterproof robust PVC construction, but off the bike, a dedicated shoulder strap and carry handle. Likewise, Restrap saddle bags are designed to be really easy to get on and off the bike and are strong, lightweight and capacious. With less off-the-bike carrying functionality these options would work well if you’re not planning on carrying your stuff far off the bike.