Saturday, July 20, 2013

Brompton Accessories #9 -Bagging The Brompton For Air Travel

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Bikes & Accessories / Brompton Accessories #9 - Bagging The Brompton For Air Travel
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(This blog is not a review, it's more on my foray in purchasing accessories for my 3rd Foldie - a Raw Lacquer Brompton P6R)
I have earlier written on bagging the Brompton for travelling (... see Bagging The Brompton), this touched lightly on travelling by air. I have put my bagged Brompton into the holds of buses, onto trains, etc. but so far I have not traveled by air with my bike.

I met and ask around the few friends who have taken their Bromptons onto a plane. People like Uncle Bil, Pang Wey, Chor Guan and Yong Sin gave me very good advice. All of them had opted to use just the simple IKEA Dimpa bag. With protection using cardboard from old boxes, it would be adequate. In fact, some are of the opinion that airport handlers will take more care with soft bags then a hard bags.

So now it's time for me to walk the talk. I will be going to Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a business trip and will be bringing my bike along to cycle during my free time.
Now I am facing the reality of it - how to practically bag my precious Brompton securely to prevent any damage to it by any rough handling of airport baggage handlers.
I got a couple of unfolded cardboard boxes form the nearby minI-market, these were made of 1/4" thick cardboard.

I cut the box into two L-shaped pieces, cutting the bottoms off too. But I maintained the top flaps for reasons which I will explain later.

For more clarity, I will present the bagging in a step by step procedure.

The first few steps involves preparing the bike even before bagging it.
Unscrew & remove the two holding hinge clamps that locks the handle tube & main horizontal tube of the Brompton when it is unfolded. This is done as any accidental knocking of these brackets may bend the screws and thus make it impossible to lock the tubes of the unfolded bike.

Wrap these up in some old newspaper and store them some where safe. Some carry this separately in their clothes luggage, I just stored them in my saddle bag which has a pvc tube to protect them. (... see Modifying The Saddle Bag).


Insert bubble wrap in between the handle and the rear wheel to protect the rear derailer. This is to avoid any damage to the derailer should any rough handling happen.


Line the bottom of the Dimpa bag with the cut off bottom flaps of the box. It was in two pieces; it would have been better in a single piece or I should have at least taped the two pieces to form one piece.

This is to protect the Eazy Wheels of the rack. At some airport check-in counters, especially for the over-sized baggage, they have pipe rollers as part of the conveyor system. Moving along this rollers, the bag will go bumpity-bump - definitely hurting the Eazy Wheels.


Insert the first L-cardboard at the back, slowly slotting it in until it reaches the bottom of the bag. As an added protection, I inserted some thin Styrofoam (this from fruit packaging boxes) in between fold-able pedal and the main horizontal post. This pedal sometimes can over-fold and scratch the post.


Insert the second L-cardboard on the outer side.


Pull the top of the Dimpa bag over the bicycle and insert the top cardboard (it's one of those cut off bottom flaps of the box). Bend down the cardboard over the rear of the seat to offer it some protection. I also added some bubble wrap above the seat for extra cushioning.

Bubble wrap was also wrapped around the top of the handle shaft and bag block.

To make use of the empty space at the top, I put my helmet there. Pang Wey saw this photo and advised that rough handling could crush the helmet. So out comes the helmet from this bag and in it goes to the normal baggage bag.
I also got a spare Dimpa bag and slot it in.

In place of the helmet, I put in some of my clothing, thus saving weight on my normal luggage and at the same time providing additional cushioning.


Zip up the bag and stick on "FRAGILE" & "THIS SIDE UP" stickers and we are ready to check in the Brompton at the airport.... well, almost ready ...

... don't forget to put in a combination lock to lock up the zip! Don't want trespassing hands to tamper with our precious bikes do we? I would recommend the type of lock that can be opened with the Customs master key.

Oh yes...  why use a box with top flaps instead of just a solid cardboard.

This is in case customs wants to see what's inside. Just unzip partly and flip the flap down - "See. It's a bicycle".

Then there is no need to take out the whole front cardboard.

In front of my hotel - Diamond Hotel, Monivong Blvd, Phnom Penh
Here I am, all smiles as my bike is safely back in my hands.
I am ready and eager to start my exploration of new places on my trusty Brompton.

Update: November 2014
In lieu of using old cardboard, using corrugated Impra plastic boards (those used for temporary advertising notices and which can be bought from most stationery shops) is an improvement. These plastic sheets are stronger and unlike cardboard they do not break at the pressure points, i.e. at the folded pedals on the right and at the handle on the left.

The plastic sheets are cleaner and more hygienic with no dust or dirt residue. This hygienic packing is important especially when faced with strict customs that do not want earth and dirt brought into their countries, like those of Australia & New Zealand.
Being stronger, the plastic sheets also pack more neatly.

The Inpra Boards folded and strapped to a rear luggage bag with bungee cords; the Dimpa bag has been folded and put into the bag.
With a part-way slit down their lengths, these plastic sheets can be easily folded and carried along, see above photo.
(... click here to see updated blog on bagging the Brompton For Air Travel using plastic Impraboards)

You may also like :

Brompton Accessories #8 :
Securing The Brompton #2
Hassle free ways of securing the un-bagged Brompton while on trains, boats, etc.
Leave the bike secured and have a more comfortable ride.

Brompton Accessories #7 :
"Akslen" Two-bulb 10-Lux Headlights
A headlight that mounts onto the Brompton handlebar post snugly.

Brompton Accessories #6 :
Brass Bells
A cute looking polished brass bell, and it sounds great too.

Brompton Accessories #5 :
Leather Pouch
A nice, rich-looking leather pouch that fits well onto my Brompton handle bar.

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  1. Wow! its my first time to see like this compact bicycle easy to carry,,
    Kashmir tours

  2. Followed your method to fly my Brompton from Sydney to London. Worked OK outbound but Dimpa bag zip broke while packing for return leg - had to have bag wrapped in plastic at Heathrow. Also note that Dimpa bag is a very tight fit for extended seatpost.

    1. Hi Michael,
      Glad that my blog on packing the Bromptom helped.
      Yes, there is a tight fit for Bs with extended seat posts; one of my friends who travel frequently solved this by using the telescopic seat post. Also, for those with P-bars, the fit is a bit tight too and a bit of pushing at one top corner is needed to get the bag zipped up.
      The Dimpa bags are fairly strong, but extreme rough handling do damage them that's why I always carry a spare. Also protruding parts of the bike do damage the cardboards. That is why most of us now use the plastic Impra boards which can take more lateral stress.
      I have updated the packing blog to show this method in:

      In the meantime, happy travelling with your Brompton.
      Ride Well & Ride Safe.

      The AhPek Biker