Transporting a Brompton Hardcase vs Soft Bags

Folding bikes do come with a great advantage. A small footprint that makes it easier to pack them ready for transport. How you pack them depends on the risk you are willing to take and to a certain extent the type of tour you are planning.

There are two main choices here. You could use a hard case or go for a soft bag.

Hard Cases

They use their hardcore shell to protect from damages and have lots of padding on the inside to further ensure your bike will be found as you left it no matter what happens. They are usually expensive, large and cumbersome but on the plus side quite comfortable to move about as they typically include wheels for easy rolling. Airlines charges vary. As a general rule you will find that a bicycle carried in this type of luggage falls into the ‘sport equipment’ meaning that extra fares will apply. You will pay more due to the weight but also the size of the package. You might often need to check in your luggage at special gates designated for Extra Large items. They do not have much space left for anything else beyond the bike. This means that you will have to carry much more weight in the cabin. Often airlines will not let you bring more than one bag for example and will also want to know the weight. You see where this is going. This can result in additional charges, adding to the frustration of negotiating through stressful situations.

As far as affecting what kind of tour you will be able to have, a hard case poses a practical problem too. You will have to store it somewhere when you start cycling. For a tour from point A to point B, you'll need transportation to return to the starting point once you've completed your journey.

Provided the above conditions are not too limiting, a hard case ensures that your bike will be safe and undamaged.

Soft Bags

Especially when traveling by airplane, soft cases are not as effective as hard cases in protecting your bicycle. On the other hand, they provide you with the freedom to decide where to stay and how to travel. Being light and foldable, they can be carried as part of your luggage, giving you the flexibility to use them when taking transportation in the middle of a tour. You can find an effective bag for not much more than the cost of a cup of coffee, and being lightweight, they minimize the chances of incurring extra fees during transport.

Certainly, the last thing you'd want is for your bike to get damaged during transport. With a soft bag, extra attention and care are essential when packing. Enclose the bike with soft items, and for a Brompton with a rack, I have found it crucial to place a sponge or some kind of soft padding at the bottom making sure the bike is not resting on the rack which if dropped with some force can bend it and damage it. Consider also inserting cut-down cardboard as an extra protective layer around the frame of the bike.

Soft cases are the only type I've used for all my touring travels. Experience has taught me how to compensate for their vulnerability with the ideas you've just read and more, which you can also find in my videos on the subject.


Ian Marsh said...

Hi Gianni, I have your book Touring on a Folding Bike and have watched many of your Youtube videos, these are very informative and enjoyable. I want to ask what is the soft black bike bag you use for packing your Brompton. I have the clear IKEA bag but am unable to source a bag like your black bag you use to double pack for transport? I know Brompton do a bike bag but this is expensive. Thanks Ian

Gianni Filippini said...

Sorry Ian this comes really late! I have used a general folding bike soft black bag. You will find plenty of options online and they cost around 30 GBP or around that. Saying that the main reason I used one was to hide the bike as the Dimpa is transparent. Over the years I have discovered that the Dimpa itself is really strong and reliable and to hide the bike I put it in a large black rubbish bag and then into the Dimpa.