Since we weren’t camping in Mexico, we travelled pretty light. I know the photo below is not Instagram worthy, but just so you have an idea, this is what I (Heather) brought:
I did decide to leave the solar panel and battery behind, which was a good call. Our camera batteries easily last a full day, so it wasn’t necessary. I also could have done without the guide books (I did so much research ahead of time I didn’t need to reference them) and the folding keyboard (I didn’t have time to blog while travelling so I didn’t use it). Other than that, I needed everything else.
Oh! You probably noted the packing cubes in the photo do not look like they hold two weeks worth of clothes. That’s because they don’t. We brought laundry detergent and hand-washed items throughout our trip, but that’s what you gotta do to travel light!
Airplane/Bus Travel Set-up
Brompton has a new travel bag that I want so bad! It solves all the problems I have with the B bag, which are: 1) Two wheels are insufficient for rolling (new bag has four), 2) It’s difficult to pack down (new bag packs flat), and 3) It doesn’t provide enough protection (new bag has plastic boards inside).
But alas, I have to save up for that purchase. Until then, our trusty B bags are still our best option. Here’s how we pack our Bromptons for air travel:
- Deflate tires. Some people say you don’t need to do this, but why take the risk? It’s not that hard to pump them back up when you land.
- Remove C-clamps and put them in zippered pouch inside B bag.
- Wrap pedals.
- Reinforce sides with cardboard.
When we landed in Cancun, we caught an ADO bus downtown, then found a quiet corner of the bus station and unpacked in just a few minutes.
Flying with Brompton Bicycles
Check-in baggage people usually recognize our Bromptons as bicycles, but none have charged us the extra bike fee since the bikes in the B bags fit within regular checked luggage size and weight. They simply put FRAGILE stickers on the bags and direct us to the Oversized/Fragile area. However, at our destination often the bags come out with the regular luggage (as they did in Mexico). But this time when we returned to Canada, the bags came out in the Oversized luggage area. So we always have one of us in each place, because you never know on which conveyer belt the Bromptons will appear!
The first time we travelled with the Bromptons (to Cuba in 2013), all we had were 20-litre O Bags and our B Bags rolled onto our back racks.
You can read more about that in this post: Brompton Packing Test. But suffice to say that set up wasn’t perfect. Since the O Bags are too small to fit everything, we put our clothes in the B Bags. This is fine if you are only cycling and not also hopping on other means of transportation. However, in Mexico we’d be taking a couple buses, which meant we needed to pack our bikes in the B Bags, and that’s easier if the B bags aren’t being used to transport other stuff.
Since Brompton’s big 31-litre front carry bag doesn’t work with our S-style handlebars, we bought 30-litre backpacks. For our trip to The Netherlands, we strapped these backpacks to our Brompton back racks, and tied the B bags on top.
I was fine with this set-up, but Pier didn’t like it (too back heavy). He decided to find a different solution…
He tied his backpack to a Brompton bag frame with some packing straps from MEC and put it on the front block:
It works great! I still used the old Netherlands set-up…
… but in an effort to not be so back heavy, next trip I may try putting my big backpack on the front block too.
So now that we’re done nerding out about our cycling set-up, how was biking in Mexico? Well, I’ll tell you in these next posts:
- Cycling Cancun – The Pleasures & Pitfalls
- VIDEO: Cycling Cancun
- Cycling Cancun Cuidad – 4 Tips + Time-Lapse VIDEO
- Biking Around Isla Mujeres
- Cycling from Merida to the Dzibilchaltun Ruins
- Biciruta Merida – Car-Free Sunday in Mexico
- The Adventurous Cycling Route From Merida to Izamal
- Izamal to Chichen Itzá – Cycling the Scenic Route
- Cycling Mexico’s Highways – Chichen Itza to Tulum
I like your article, interesting and very informative, we are new Brompton owners, and looking forward in some adventure’s, after I improve my riding skills with the Brompton, I’m more use to 26 inch wheels, thank you 🙏 for the article and keep up the good work 👍👍
Thanks! And happy Bromptoning to you!
When you get onto trains and coaches, does it mean you have to remove your B bag and other stuff on the rack? If you were to start all over again, what travel bag will you get?
Great questions! We’ve discovered that when taking a train, it’s easier NOT to put the bikes in the B-bags. Why? Because the Bromptons fold so small and compact, they fit easily and securely in train luggage areas without a bag. Also, if you’re just on a commuter train, it’s more convenient to carry and roll the Brompton as is, without the B-bag, because you don’t have to pack the bike in the bag, and the Brompton itself is easier to roll around the station than the B-bag. So when we’re travelling on trains, we roll up the B-bag and carry it in one hand, and carry the bike in the other hand, and wear our packs on our backs.
Buses (or coaches) are a different situation. Because most coaches require that luggage goes in a big, open storage area in the belly of the bus, we put our Bromptons in the B-bags to protect them from bumping into all the other luggage that may be sliding around in there.
Finally, if we could get any bag we wanted, it would be the new Brompton travel bag. I know a lot of people use cheap IKEA Dimpa bags, and that’s fine if you’re okay carrying your Brompton, but since I am short I really appreciate having a bag with wheels. However, in hindsight, we probably could have gotten away with the Dimpa bags compared to the old B-bags, since they both need to be padded, and the two wheels on the old B-bags aren’t that useful.
Hope that answers your questions! 🙂
Thanks for this useful post. I also “only” have the B-bag. The new one looks good but I wonder how robust it really is. What did you wrap around the pedals? I may be flying to Toronto with my Brompton later in the year. Do you find that the Brompton consistently comes out at the oversized area at YYZ?
Glad you found the post useful! To answer your question, we wrapped wash clothes around the pedals. I’ve heard other people use bubble wrap or cardboard, but the clothes came in hand for wiping grease off our hands or wiping down the bikes after a rain. As for which luggage area our Bromptons usually appear, that’d be the regular luggage carousel. I think they’ve only shown up in the over-sized area twice in ten flights.
Thanks for the story, it’s great to see other people’s Brompton ideas. I’m pleased to hear that the B Bag has been improved, because we discovered all the problems you listed when we first tried them a few years ago. We have moved onto B&W Foldon, but if I get sick of these it’s good to know the B Bag might be worth trying again.
Is that a folding helmet I see in your gear? How did it go??
Thanks for the comment! I like seeing other people’s Brompton ideas too, so I’m glad people like mine. 🙂
Yes, that is a folding helmet! It’s a Closca. At first I thought it looked kinda funny and fit tight, but it was on sale so I got it. Now I LOVE it! Not only does it pack down flat (perfect for traveling), but it’s comfortable and light too.