Transporting a Brompton

Transporting a Brompton folder by airplane to your tour destination is much easier than any other bike. The way a Brompton folds is clever as far as reducing its size to a minimum but crucially in the way the fold protects the most vulnerable parts. Derailleur and gear shifters as well as brakes and chainset are neatly tucked inside the fold and not easily damaged if mishandled. 

Hard Case vs Soft Case

For those who want a bullet proof system to carry the Brompton by plane the B&W Hard Case though not cheap, will protect the bike better than most suitcases as it is designed around Brompton bikes.
I find that this limits your choices as far as touring goes. I like to be free to design my tour as I wish and more often than not this means starting from one location and ending somewhere else. A hard case is not ideal for this as you will need to find a place to store it once you start your tour and get back to the same location when it is time to return home. If you mostly take tours that start and end in the same location this won't be a hard thing to plan as most hotels if you stay on the first night will be happy to store your empty case and let you collect on your return.
If you are willing to trade a little security and ship your Brompton in a soft bag that you can pack small and carry with you during your tour, you have the perfect setup to be free to make choices as to where you start and end your trip and always know that all your gear is with you and ready to be backed whenever you need. In my experience so far and reading from other people who do use soft bags to check in the bike on planes the likelihood of the bicycle being damage is pretty slim.

How I Pack my Brompton

I get hold of a heavy duty soft bag that will fit the bike without leaving too much space. Ikea Dimpa Bags are just perfect for Bromptons. I always carry a spare along with me as they are really light and compact and can be used to quickly pack the bike when you need to take a bus or train along the way.
I remove the saddle and remove the clamps and screws that hold the folds of the bike. The only extra thing I then do is to tightly tie some heavy duty rope between the frame and the front wheel as you can see from the picture. This is an extra step to further secure the bike fold and ensures that the plastic hook that keeps the front wheel attached to the frame is not over strained. 
I line the bag with few pieces of cut cardboards to the bottom, the top and all sides to further protect the package.

Finally I put the saddle and T-Bag in plastic bags and insert them in the empty spaces together with my sleeping mat and wrapped bike tools I need. These will fill up the few spaces available and also function as shock absorbers if the package is put under some pressure. 
After zipping the Dimpa Bag I then put it inside a soft bike carrying bag that is easy to fold and adds some further protection and is easier to handle while transporting it to and from the airport. This is not exactly sized to a folded Brompton and leaves quite a bit of space to the back and front of the bike. This further space can be used for your tent or other non valuable and light things you might be happy to store there. To make the bag more compact I usually buy some Black heavy duty tape and wrap it tight around the bag.


Bicycle Touring Pro - Darren Alff said...

I've never traveled with a Brompton, but I have a ridden a similar Bike Friday folding bicycle across Europe and several other countries around the world. If you plan to travel with your bike on lots of planes, trains, buses boats and automobiles, it's a great way to go!

When I cycled across Europe on my folding bicycle in 2009, I took 35 different trains and only had to pay for the bike on 2 of those trips. The other 33 train rides were free because my bicycle folded down. Read more here:

Gianni Filippini said...

Thanks Alff, same idea different bike! In fact from what I heard these are the only two folders that can reliably do these sort of trips. As you mention in the blog it is a small trade-off in comfort for the ability to take the bike on a plane, train or bus in a matter of minutes.

Doc said...

I have just taken my first flight with my new Brompton. Vincita bag. Included garment bag held one day of work clothes, two days of riding clothes. My wife found a couple of small shoe bags around the house for my dress shoes. I have MKS pedals, so the pedals and the frame clamps go into the pedal bag (I read that the clamps can get bent/broken). Two flights, and then a 22 mile ride. Nice. Stopped in a local bike shop, and they were amazed - they had heard about, but never seen a Brompton.

Alastair said...

The Airnimal Traveller case works well for flying with the Brompton and can be turned into a trailer, so you can ride to and from the airport.