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Packing my Brompton B Bag

Packing my Brompton B Bag

For the past two weeks, I've been researching and planning how best to pack for my 1.25-week cycling trip + 1.25 week wedding/family time to Germany.

Mat Hollingsworth
Mat Hollingsworth

7 min read

For the past two weeks, I've been researching and planning how best to pack for my 1.25-week cycling trip + 1.25 week wedding/family time to Germany.

The primary challenge was to find a set up that would allow me to securely pack my bike and all my clothes to be checked onto an international flight while falling within the 23kg maximum for most short leg flights while also being able to easily carry and secure everything I take the bike to ride once I arrive. I had originally planned to camp but I decided it was logistically too difficult with the weight restrictions

This is my complete packing list for 7 days cycling in July in Germany plus 9 days with family in Hamburg and Berlin.

Off Bike Clothing

  • 2 x trousers
  • 1 x New Balance Sneakers
  • 3 x Casual T-Shirts
  • Light Jacket
  • Thongs
  • 3 x Casual Shorts
  • 4 x Collared Long Sleeve Shirt
  • 1 x Pyjama Shorts
  • 5 x Socks
  • 8 x Unmentionables
  • 2XU Compression tights for recovery

* Full disclosure: my parents are also separately carrying a suit, shirt and tie for me for the wedding *

On Bike Clothing

  • 2 x Bibs
  • 6 X Sports Socks
  • 1 x Synthetic Gym Shorts
  • Mac Pac Cap
  • Sun Glasses
  • Short Finger Cycling Gloves
  • 1x Merino T-Shirt
  • 2 x Cotton T-Shirt
  • Mac Pac eVent Rain Coat

Equipment & Bike

  • Brompton M6R
  • Brompton B Bag
  • Brompton T Bag
  • Fyxo 'King Bright Light
  • Knog Rear Light
  • First Aid Kit
  • Patch kit
  • Alien Tools Kit
  • 5mm Allen Key
  • 2 x Spare Tubes
  • Brompton Zefal Pump
  • Head Torch
  • Kryptonite Cable
  • Kryptonite Pad Lock
  • Black Diamond Head Torch
  • 2 x Korjo Luggage Straps
  • 1.5 M Bunnings Velcro Strap
  • 2 x 900mm Bunnings Velcro Straps
  • First aid kit
  • Wet Ones
  • Hydralyte
  • Zero hydration tablets

Electronics

  • 15" Mac Book Pro
  • Laptop Charger
  • Fujifilm X-T1 Camera and 18mm Lens
  • 2 x Spare Camera batteries
  • Camera Battery Charger
  • 32GB Sd Card
  • 16 GB Sd Card
  • Garmin 800 GPS Bike Computer
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Micro SD card to Mini SD Card Adapter
  • Energizer XP2000A Battery Power Pack
  • Europe Adapter Plug
  • Europe USB Plug
  • Cigarette Lighter USB Plug
  • Various USB Cables and adapters
  • Unlocked Nexus 5 Phone
  • Kindle Paper White eReader
  • Sony USB MP3 Player & Radio
  • Skull Candy Ear Buds
  • USB Hub for charging multiple devices

Other Items

  • Chamois Cream
  • Voltaren
  • Travel towel
  • Various Stuff Sacks
  • Soft Laptop Case
  • Camera Cleaning Cloth
  • Qantas Cash Card
  • Various Credit Cards
  • Euros
  • Wallet
  • Sim Card Key for phone
  • Printed Cue Sheets
  • Digital Garmin Maps
  • Temazepam
  • Passport
  • International Drivers License
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Body Wash
  • Comb/brush
  • Deodorant
  • Aquarium
  • Nurofen
  • Sleeping Mask

I considered a few options for luggage, including a backpack and hard case. But, in the end, I settled on the simplest and most obvious solution. I was generously gifted a Brompton B Bag by Prue and purchased a Brompton T Bag. The plan is to secure the bike in the B Bag and additionally pad it with clothing and then use my T Bag as carry-on on luggage with my laptop and other heavy or fragile Items.

ID, Cash & Carry On
On Bike Clothes
Off Bike Clothes
Everything in it's right place

Weight Limitations

I'll be flying with Qantas and Emirates, which both have a 30kg international checked luggage allowance, however, I may also need to take short leg flights so I wanted to make sure I was under the 23KG checked luggage limit for those flights. My first weighing of the fully packed B-Bag came in at 25KG. So I had to ditch the 250g Kleen Kanteen, move my rain jacket (400g), Fyxo light (500g), first aid kit (250g), Brooks Saddle (500g) and toiletries bag (300g) into my carry on luggage. I'll probably be able to check these items for most flights but I wanted to be sure I could meet the 23KG limit if required.

All packed and ready to go

Securing the luggage to the bike

After some quick tests became apparent that the built in straps on the Brompton rack would be inadequate to secure the B Bag to the rack, that heel clipping was going to be an issue and that I'd need to compress the bag; so I was going to have to get creative to secure the load. I also tried some ocky straps but they were far too stretchy and the load moved too much when the bike was tilted or stopped abruptly.

So, with a belly full of ramen I made a quick pit stop at Bunnings to assess what they had to offer. I ended up buying three 'quickies' tie downs (600mm, 700mm and 800mm) a 1.5m M velcro strap some shorter velcro straps and then two Korjo Luggage Straps from Strand Bags. I tried several configurations with the quickies but they were still too stretchy, like the ocky straps, and were too fiddly; the Brompton rack doesn't have a lot of good points to attach straps to secure your luggage. In the end, I decided that the two Korjo straps plus the 1.5M velcro strap was the best way to secure the load.

The Korjo straps weaved through the rack across the width of the bike and over the B Bag and then the 1.5M velcro strap the length of the bag weaved through the loop nearest to the seat stay proved to be the best combination of easy attachment and removal combined with a secure load that didn't move much when the bike was tilted or stopped abruptly. The only significant limitation of this setup is if the bag is too full the velcro strap is at it's maxed length and can be difficult to fasten; though the Korjo straps should still be sufficient to secure it. I also experimented with using the 900m Velcro straps looped around the easy wheels at the back to help prevent the bag sliding off the back of the rack.

I  did also try standing the B Bag up right and on a 45 degree angle from the seat post and while this eliminated heel clipping it also made the load much more difficult to secure to minimise heel clipping I found that I had to move the front edge of the bag as close as possible to the front of the rack. Hooking the B Bag wheels in front of the rack seems to help secure it in place. The photos don't show it but running the Korjo strap through the grooves on the underside at the front of the rack will also help prevent slipping.

Overall I'm quite happy with and confident in this setup. It allows me to use the luggage straps to secure the packing cells with clothing in them in place to protect the bike in transit and then reuse the straps to secure the B Bag to the bike. My only concern is that it is a little awkward to secure the B Bag to the bike with only one person as the fully loaded B Bag tends to lift the front end as I fasten the luggage straps. I also tested securing the bag with the bike leant against a wall but it is still a bit difficult. I suspect I'll get better at it with practice.