Bike touring is my passion, and bringing a bicycle along is my favorite way to discover new places. Over the last eight years, I have used a Brompton folding bike, and I can confidently say that it exceeded my expectations. It has become my bicycle of choice for cycling tours ever since. When I fly, I pack the Brompton into a soft folding bike bag. My setup for carrying all I need on my tour consists of a Brompton T-Bag at the front and a standard rucksack fitted on top of the bike rack, as described in this article. Over the years, it has become a tried and tested way to carry luggage on the folder, utilized by Brompton travelers worldwide. It offers a stable and well-balanced ride, proving extremely versatile in any multi-modal tour where some form of transportation is an option. In just a few minutes, you can switch from a fully loaded bicycle to a packed setup that you can hold in your hands and carry on a car, bus, train, or plane.

Every bicycle traveler loathes the difficulties of transporting bikes to destinations, finding boxes to pack things, and managing two or more panniers simultaneously. This setup prevents all that and makes it easy and mostly hassle-free. Concerns about the reliability, comfort, and ability of a Brompton folding bike to cope with hills, descents, and long days of riding with the weight of my luggage proved unfounded. Touring on a Brompton has been a pure joy. I believe there are three conditions and a few trade-offs worth considering before you begin cycle touring on a Brompton. If these don't seem too limiting, I would have no hesitation recommending it.

  • You are planning a tour on decent, mostly surfaced roads.
  • You will not be touring in extreme cold temperatures.
  • You will not be in any extended time in remote areas where self-sufficiency is a must.

( 1 ) Bromptons are sturdy bikes and can withstand more abuse than you might imagine. Still, their small wheels and thin tires are not best suited to rough terrains and muddy tracks. At times, I have cycled on unpaved roads, and you can cope with the occasional exception by walking. However, if most of the roads you will travel on are in such condition, an expedition touring bike or a mountain bike would be a better choice. Bromptons are not made for mud due to the low clearance of the mudguards and limits on the choice of tires.

( 2 ) This might seem a bit arbitrary, but I have found that my setup has to be really compact and light to work best and provide the benefits that a folding bike brings. Traveling in freezing temperatures means having to carry much more weight and gear to be comfortable during the tour. Each kilogram you add to your setup will put further strain on the bike and make it harder to be carried on public transport if needed.

( 3 ) Bromptons are reliable bikes, but they're not bulletproof. In addition, they utilize numerous specific and proprietary spare parts. If you find yourself on an extended journey through remote areas and encounter a technical issue, fixing it might prove challenging. Navigating remote areas requires self-sufficiency, meaning you'll need to carry a substantial load of supplies compared to a more conventional setup. Hauling ample water, food, and all the necessary gadgets and utensils for the journey is no easy feat on such a compact bike.


Over more than 10,000 kilometers, I've encountered hardly any reliability issues—likely on par with or even fewer than the problems experienced on mountain bikes or touring bikes I've used in the past. Throughout all my tours, I've only had to deal with punctures and the odd tire replacements. The key is to maintain your bicycle diligently, ensuring it's well-tuned and fully functional before embarking on a tour. My approach involves being more proactive than I would be with another bike. I routinely replace parts that require changing after reaching a recommended mileage. Chain and sprockets are swapped when necessary, and gear cables and brake cables are also newly fitted every few years, reducing the risk of failures during a tour when spare parts might be hard to come by. Marathon tires, even in such a tiny size, are exceptionally tough. However, one thing to consider is that the rear tire will wear out faster than on larger wheels. It's only natural that the increased contact of the small wheels results in increased wear. If possible, I try to bring a spare quality 16" tire, as these are not always easy to find in bike shops around the world. In the past, I have simply swapped tires when I felt that they were not evenly worn, but a tire failure shouldn't be a reason to wreck your plans. Being small, a spare tire can be easily carried. Wheels always performed faultlessly, staying perfectly tuned to the last day. I always carry several replacement spokes too, again due to the fact that if you need to fix the wheels, a shop might not have the right sizes. These are stored in the hollow tube holding the rucksack. Something I am always aware of is to try to be gentle on the bike. While climbing a steep hill, I refrain from standing on the pedals and rocking the bike as I would do on a regular bike. When the road is bumpy and uneven, I ride in a very conservative way and do not hesitate to dismount and have a little walk if I believe it safer for myself and the bike.


The great benefits in portability mean that you have to make some compromises in comfort, but these are less noticeable than you might think. With a 6% to 12% reduced gearing bike setup, you can climb most hills or even mountains where gradients are not too extreme. You will find these gear ratios adequate to cover various terrains, fast descents, flat sections, etc. Using a Brompton makes you more conscious of the weight you carry; you'll travel light, making you faster or as fast as any cycle tourists you might encounter along the road. On descents, the opposite is true. Always be aware of rolling on small wheels and therefore be more cautious and focused. Your pace and the daily distances you can cover will likely match those of other tourers with more traditional setups. A front T-Bag with the heaviest load and a lighter rucksack at the back turns out to be a very efficient way to load the bike. It is well balanced, secure, and the handling of the bike feels more stable than unloaded. Having a rucksack instead of dedicated bike panniers is much more versatile. If you want, you have the ability to take a day off the bike and go for a trek, and when you have to take the bike on buses or trains, you have a fast way to put luggage on your shoulders while having your hands free to carry the folded bike and T-Bag. Older Brompton versions had brake deficiencies, especially on long descents, but more recent models, certainly from 2013 on, come equipped with adequate brakes and feel secure on the steepest descents even with the extra weight you are carrying.


In my opinion, Brompton offers the best setup for a multi-modal tour where the odd transfer by other means of transport is involved. There might be times where the road is too steep, and you might need to break your cycling with a short walk, but I turn this limitation into

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Week 1, JAPAN


It has been more than twenty years since I first cycled in Japan, a country I am quite familiar with. Despite the unique customs and culture, it feels like a home away from home. The Japan I am most familiar with is the overpopulated part, where cities seamlessly merge into each other, utilizing every inch of flat land in a mess of cement and electrical cables. While this Japan has its own fascination and breathtaking cities, when it comes to cycling, I always wanted to explore a different corner of the country—a rural part where space is plenty, and nature still holds its place.

After enduring many hours on an airplane and battling horrendous jet lag, I finally arrived at Chitose International Airport on the outskirts of Sapporo. Under a promising sunny sky, my first task was the usual one—assemble the bicycle and get started. Once done, I filled a black rubbish bag with layers of cardboard and packaging. In the spotless and sanitized terminal, I pondered what to do with it.

The disposal of rubbish is a common conundrum faced by any foreigner visiting Japan. Whether it's truth or myth, there's a saying that, after the 1995 Tokyo subway Sarin attack, authorities removed rubbish bins from roads, stations, public places, and even the vocabulary. In a country known for convenience and efficiency, this stands out. Residents who pay utilities can dispose of their waste at home, but for everyone else, carrying daily rubbish becomes a creative challenge.

Not wanting to resort to fly tipping and further damage the already questionable reputation of foreigners' etiquette, I walked into the terminal with my tidy, albeit large, black bag and inquired about disposal options. The security officer in the domestic terminal looked a bit panicky, as if my question was unprecedented. He aimlessly led me around until we ended up at a ticketing desk. The airline employee, equally puzzled, made a phone call, or at least pretended to, before admitting that a few rubbish bins would indeed be useful. In the end, the security officer, losing patience, suggested I discreetly dump the rubbish bag in a hidden corner by the cleaning staff office.

As I left on my bike, the chain unexpectedly snapped open, and I lost my footing—a consequence of complacency. I had disassembled the chain links to wash them after my trip to Colombia and reassembled them. While it held during the pre-trip test, I forgot about Murphy's law—if something can go wrong, it will. I managed to temporarily fix it, reaching the nearby town of Chitose, where I had booked a night in a hostel. After visiting several bike stores, I found a mechanic willing to fit a new chain.

What seemed like a straightforward job turned out to be tricky. The mechanic, like myself, was unaware that chains come in different widths. After fitting a chain that was too wide, he opened another box with a perfect one but managed to fit it the wrong way. Determined not to mess up more chains, he successfully fitted a third one. Feeling a bit sorry for him, I decided to buy some lubricant oil as a token of appreciation. He thanked me, probably relieved to see the end of my visit.

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Schwalbe Marathon Kevlar 16"

I am a big fan of Schwalbe Marathon tyres. I have used them on regular bikes as well as more recently on the two folding bikes I own. I have always found them worth their premium price.
The main reason why I really think they are the best tyres I have owned so far is duration but even more importantly, puncture protection.
I have often heard bicycle mechanics praising them for the same qualities but my praise comes from direct experience. On my Dahon folder that I mostly use on city rides I haven't got a puncture in 3 years which I think is a testament to the quality of these tyres.
During a 1350 kilometres tour on my Brompton the tyres held on really well even when carrying the load of extra luggage. Over sixteen days I have found myself a few times needing to cycle on dirty side lanes with lots of debris and only on a particularly bad section, I had to ride for over three hours did I experience one puncture. On repairing the tyre I found out that a sharp and thin metal staple had somehow managed to get straight into the tyre. After inspection of the tyre at the end of that day I thought it was still remarkable that no other objects had managed to get into the tyre despite the weight I was carrying.

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Terranova Zephyros Lite Tent

I decided to buy this tent as it was extremely light, very compact and had very good reviews both on the web and from outdoor magazines here in the UK.
I have used the  Zephyros 1 Lite Tent on my most recent tour on the US Pacific Coast and found it to be an ideal tent for any cycling tour where weight reduction and a small packing size is important.
Traveling with a Brompton bicycle I needed a tent that would  fit in my rucksack or T Bag, and this seemed the best option for my budget.

Setting it up is very straight forward and really fast after a few times practice. The flysheet and inner tent are attached meaning that the tent is erected in one simple step after the single pole is inserted. On setup,  the flysheet covers the inner tent, meaning that it can be pitched under the rain without getting the inner part wet. I often encountered cold temperatures, fog and some light rain during my trip and the tent functioned really well in keeping me dry. Condensation was not excessive and could be reduced if you use it in warmer seasons when the flysheet door can be kept slightly unzipped, improving the air circulation. Having to keep warm at night meant that I didn't have this option, still the vents on the inner tent functioned really well to disperse excessive condensation and in certain conditions I found myself waking up in the morning to a completely dry flysheet.
The size of the packed tent as I said was an important feature to me and it proved a fantastic compact tent that easily fit in my Brompton T bag during the tour.

The tent being compact means that one has to make some compromises in space. The Zephyros 1 Lite Tent has a rather small inner tent footprints. I am 1.80cm ( 5ft.10 ) tall and sitting in the middle of the tent at its highest point, my head almost touches the top of the inner tent. The vestibule is spacious enough to store my backpack, shoes and even an extra bag should I need to. If one uses a tent not only to sleep in but also to spend time and relax during the day,  a more spacious option would be recommended.

To conclude on a tour where weight and luggage space is at a premium I highly recommend a compact tent like this model and despite the light components of this tent, often the sign of a hefty price, I found the cost to still be affordable too and it will serve me on many more trips in the future.

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Portland To San Francisco On A Brompton

I thought it would be hard to replicate the first cycling trip to California that i took in 2003 but this tour proved I was wrong. For the first time using a Brompton folder bike I was once more astonished by the beauty of the Pacific Coast on a ride that would take me from Portland Oregon, to San Francisco.  I will never forget those days spent cycling with good friends met on the road or at the campsites, staring at the vast oceans and at the majesty of those redwood trees.

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Some More Mobile Phones Filming Tricks

One of the best things about a cycling trip is the ability to take pictures and nowadays with technology becoming more and more compact and easy to use taking videos too. Searching the web for a solution I found several options but most of them meant fitting an attachment to the handlebar or to a helmet.
I liked a lower view while taking a video or a ride and thought I would test something much more simple.
I found that using a belt with some kind of elastic rope and a plastic stopper works a treat! Tied to the waist and with very slight adjustment to get the right frame one can get a perfect video with handlebar view but not only this. You can move the phone to your side for a roadside view or to the back to get a rear view of your ride.
Seems much more than any of the commercial solutions can offer!
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Brooks B17 Saddle Galore

Having tested a Brooks B17 saddle during a long distance tour on a Brompton folding bike, here are my thoughts. I had read how uncomfortable they could be for the first few weeks if not months and as I started my tour mostly wearing thin cargo trousers rather than the usual cycling shorts with padding, I was prepared for the worse;
I can say that despite finding it pretty firm during the first couple of days, it soon became clear to me that this on the contrary was the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden on. Having used all kinds of saddles on racing bikes and mountain bikes in the past, I found out that it is often the hardest ones with less padding that in the end offer a better support and comfort.
This saddle also simplifies the rucksack set up I used and detailed on this blog, through the two metal buckles ( one clearly visible on the picture above ) that allow leather straps to hold the top part of the sack into place.
The vain note of the B17 being so stylish and somehow a hand crafted work of art is still there but most importantly now it is supported by the fact that it is a perfect marriage of look and comfort.
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Zéfal hpr pump

This is the pump that comes attached to the Brompton frame. I tested it yesterday while learning how to repair a puncture, remove the rear wheel and so on.  Despite the small size the pump seems to be more than capable of inflating the tyres to a hard pressure without too much effort. Seems to be the best compact pump I have used so far and clipping to the frame means it is always ready for use.
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Brompton Technical Guides

First few rides on the Brompton in London have proved that this little bike has lots of character and really rides well. One has to get used to the fast responsiveness of steering and the fact that the small wheels are more susceptible to uneven road surfaces but those are very quick adjustments and soon become natural.
I am far from an expert when it gets to mechanics but the minimum I need to be able to do before I start thinking about a tour, is to be able to fix a tyre puncture!
Before I purchased one, I read some pretty daunting articles on the difficulties of removing the rear wheel on a Brompton and the effort it takes to remove a Marathon Schwalbe tyre from the small wheel rims.
Yesterday armed with the best of patience and the whole day to overcome these obstacles I thought it would be time to test this for myself from the comfort of home in order to be prepared to do it on the road should I need it.
I am really happy to report that I was actually surprised finding out how easy all those tasks were! I followed the Brompton Technical videos showing step by step what you need to do; despite being the first time and not being exactly a mechanic wizard, I was quickly able to remove the front wheel, remove the rear wheel,  removing and resetting a tyre and adjust the gearing.
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Welcome Brompton!

Finally my new touring machine has arrived! After about 5 weeks since ordering it I was somehow more excited than when I got my new car months back...The reason I bought it, is mostly to get me back to what I really loved doing in past holidays, bicycle touring. It might not look exactly like the touring bike one would expect but too often I put off bike touring mostly due to the hassle it entails if you want to carry a bicycle on a plane. Having recently seen that quite a growing number of tourers have successfully used the Brompton to travel to the most unusual places and knowing how reliable this folder can be, I couldn't resist the temptation, hoping it will inspire many more journeys to come. This blog will be the chronicle of such adventures!
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Crazy Guy On a Bike

The ultimate database and since 2000 a great online journal resource for cycle tourists. If you want to cycle in a particular place around the world and are planning your route, chances are that you will find someone who has cycled it before here!
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Anker Astro E4

Years ago my only gadget I would take along on trips was a trusted digital camera but those days have long gone! While bike touring nowadays I like using phones or tablets as my main resource for directions, entertainment, taking pictures, videos, etc. Not to say the usefulness of being able to link to the internet wherever there is a wifi connection keep in touch with friends, upload pictures, blog and search for a good place to stay, eat or visit.
As one of the joys of cycling trips is the freedom to pitch a tent wherever you are it becomes necessary to be able to have some power to recharge your gadgets so will look forward to start using my newly arrived Anker Astro E4 which should be able to give about 5 full charges to my mobile phone!
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Dahon Speed TR

Searching for a perfect folder for touring my first attempt was the Dahon Speed TR. I purchased this bicycle in 2010 and even though I wanted to like it and wanted it to be the easy solution to traveling by bike again it turned out to be not as successful.
The positive of a very comfortable ride, gear options and already fitted racks that can take standard panniers were hindered by the fact that the handlebar stem folding system turned out to be very unreliable. After about one year of not a lot of use the steering started to feel strangely hard and a visit to a bike shop in London confirmed that parts inside the steering wheel were damaged. Believing it might just be bad luck I visited several shops in the last two years trying to figure out how to permanently fix this but instead realised that this is a well known limit affecting several Dahon bikes and not uncommon at all. They never encouraged to change the parts as it seems the mechanics itself of the handlebar folding system are not well thought through and I would probably experience the same in the future. This means that every few months when I feel the handlebar developing some slack or getting hard I bring it to my local shop and they just botch fix it and this usually keeps me going for a few months. Recently I was told by a mechanic that the best thing I can do is never fold it, hardly a good sign of a functioning folding bike but I must say now that I just use it as a standard bike the handlebar is working ok.
This unreliability of course meant that in four years I have never contemplated touring on it.

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Syracuse to Buffalo by Brompton

Weeks of preparation and anticipation have finally ended. Since I bought my Brompton in September of last year, I have been looking forward to taking the bicycle for a self-supported bicycle tour. I've watched hours of youtube videos and carefully prepared, because I have not ever cycle toured before. While I have camped and hiked and love to travel, this is my first swing at cycle touring.

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