Written by Co-op member and touring enthusiast Stuart. Check out some his adventures on his site, www.meanwhileontheroad.com.
Using a Brompton or other folding bike for touring is a great idea; You can fold the bike up if you need to get in a car or on a plane, pack it away in small hostel rooms or houses, and keep your bike with you rather than locked up outside somewhere.
Plus, here’s how you can take 100+ litres of luggage with you:
Prime real estate for touring luggage, panniers such as these can swallow up to 70 litres worth of stuff. You’ll need a Seatpost Pannier Rack which attaches to the seatpost; a Brompton’s back wheel is so small it would likely leave the panniers too close to the ground if you use a ‘normal’ pannier rack.
2. Saddle Pack
Although small, a saddle pack is the perfect place to keep essentials you might need in a hurry, such as an inner tube and repair kit. Brompton Saddle Pouches come in different colours to match your bike – surely the most important thing to consider.
3. Rack Pack
You get up to 16 litres of storage in a Brompton Rack Sack which sits on the rack above your back wheel. For smaller loads, you can get 7 litres of storage with the Altura Transit Lite Rack Pack. If your bike didn’t come with a rear rack, you’ll need a Brompton Rack Set.
4. Large Rucsac
A bit of a “bike hack”, but a popular one all the same. Get a large rucsac, sit it out the rear rack above the wheel and attach it to your seat post using bungee cords. Be careful of errant straps. Or you can throw caution to the wind and just pile a whole bunch of bags onto the rear rack, like Paul did.
The front-facing load of your pack horse, these roomy Brompton-specific bags require either a bag frame or a mounting block depending on the model.
A couple of things to think about
Brompton are fantastic for tailoring the bike for what you need, so use this functionality as much as you can. A firm suspension block will compensate for the extra weight and give a smooth ride. Try out different handle bars and saddles as you’ll be spending a lot of time here, so get comfortable. Think about the terrain you are covering; lots of gears means that you’re ready for hills but more weight and more moving parts means the possibility of more problems.
A smaller bike equals smaller spares
A bonus of the smaller wheel size of a Brompton or other folding bike is that the inner tubes, spokes, and tyres are all smaller. This means less weight and less space taken up reducing the issue of space. Carrying spares is essential though, as parts will be more difficult to come by, as will expertise on the bike. Mechanics are an ingenious lot and will be able to fix most things in a pinch, but if they break something it can be expensive and potentially trip-ending. Get familiar with the working of the bike and what key components can’t be bodged. Knowledge doesn’t weigh anything but it can be the most valuable thing you can carry!
These are just a few things that might help, please share your own tips & tricks in the comments.