by MILES SCHNEIDER on JUNE 18, 2013
If there is one thing Brompton owners are planning to do with their beautiful folding bicycles, it is travel. Not just by pedal power, but by train, plane, boat, bus, and more. Recently I had a delightful conversation with Bill, an airplane pilot who visited NYCeWheels while passing through New York City. He always flies with his Brompton, tucking the ultra-compact folding bike behind the pilot seat. We got to discussing the best ways to travel with a Brompton, and afterwards, he sent me an email offering some sage advice:
Miles, nice to meet you at the shop today, NYCEWheels has a great selection of Brompton gear.[My Brompton] fits easily through the TSA X Ray machines, but I would suggest that customers who plan to carry on a Brompton get the telescopic seatpost, as it makes it easier to fit the bike in an overhead bin.
For a tour, a cyclist could show up at the airport with the bike and a T Bag, go through security, and then gate check the T Bag and carry on the Brompton. If the Brompton has to get gate checked, just hang out in the jetway until the baggage guy comes up to collect the bags, and tell him to put your Brompton on last, on top of the pile. When you arrive at your destination, you can get set up in a couple of minutes.
Bill also showed me his homemade Brompton case, a re-purposed Bike Friday cover which he secures to his rolling airline luggage using a carabiner and some nylon webbing. While the cover is slightly too roomy due to the Brompton’s footprint being smaller than that of the Bike Friday, Bill says it works OK for him. Using this system, the pilot can stow his folded Brompton with him in the cockpit or even in the overhead storage compartment of a standard Airbus 320.
For those looking for more form-fitting, Brompton-specific luggage options, here is a quick run down of what NYC eWheels has to offer.
The Hard Case
- Provides the most protection from overzealous baggage handlers
- Tows easily
- A little extra room around the edges
- Best for traveling by plane
This case is a must-have for anyone hoping to check their folding bicycle on the flight to Paris. Its thick internal padding compresses to ensure that the bike is immobilized, and the hard composite exterior wards off serious impacts of all kinds. Smooth rolling wheels and a telescoping handle ensure that you won’t miss your connection, while built in combination locks keeps your Brompton safe.
The Soft Case
- Plush inner cushioning
- Tough nylon exterior
- Fits Brompton snugly
- Best for traveling by train
The Brompton B Bag is designed to protect your customized folding bike from everything short of a catastrophic collision. In my opinion, it is both the most form-fitting and most versatile bag. Rollers on the bottom allow the bag to be towed in much the same way a half-folded Brompton can be, while a strap and handle also provide carrying options.
The Cover Case
- Stows underneath saddle
- Simple and quick to use
- Durable nylon keeps scratches at bay
- Best for sneaking your Brompton past suspicious doormen
This handy cover is designed to travel easily with your bike. By clipping to the back of your saddle and seatpost, it stays compact and out of the way until needed, making this an affordable and highly useful Brompton accessory.
Changing how you travel
No matter how you are traveling or what your destination is, being able to take a high quality bike like the Brompton with you is nothing short of ideal. As Bill puts it, “Having a Brompton really changes the nature of airline layovers…I took it down the elevator in ‘shopping cart mode’, and just rolled it through the lobby, much to the great wonder of onlookers. On the way back after the ride I carried it through the lobby folded up, and nobody seemed to notice.”