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Carrying Luggage on a Folding Bike (Brompton, Tern, Dahon)

Folding bikes are great for travel, but are often a bit less capable of carrying loads than a dedicated touring bike. This resource will help you find out the different ways you can carry luggage on your folding bike… there are actually more options than you think.

Front Rack and Panniers

Tern Front Pannier Rack
Tern Spartan rack with a pannier

Most 20-24” folding bikes can cater for a front rack. These mount at two points on the fork, typically at the end of the fork legs and at the crown. This setup will allow you to use two panniers with a total weight of between 10kg (Tern, Dahon) and 22kg (Bike Friday).

Rear Rack and Panniers

Tern Rear Panniers
Rob of 14Degrees.org uses rear panniers on his Tern in New Zealand

Again, most 20-24” folding bikes can cater for a rear rack. These mount from near the rear dropout and up to the top of the seat stay. Rear racks can carry two panniers and a rack-pack bag to a maximum capacity of 25kg. When you carry weight on the rear of the bike it has less of an effect on the bike’s steering, than on the fork. You can also mount racks/panniers to 16″ folders, but the bags tend to drag when cornering given the lack of clearance – it’s simply not recommended.

Luggage Truss (Tern, Dahon)

Tern Luggage Truss

Tern and Dahon Bikes come with a ‘luggage socket’ on the front on their frames. This low-capacity luggage solution (7kg max) is excellent because when you load it up, it doesn’t affect the bikes steering at all; you can even ride your bike around corners without your hands on the bars!

Tern Kanga Rack + Ortlieb Backroller Pannier
My Tern using a Kanga Rack + Ortlieb Backroller pannier on its side.

My favourite setup has been using the Kanga Rack and an Ortlieb pannier on its side. This 100% waterproof setup is easy to take on/off the luggage truss, and while you’re riding along bumpy roads it’s super secure.

Tern Luggage Truss
Tern Kanga Rack, Tern HoldAll Basket, Tern Tour Bag

There are a number of different ways to utilise the socket:
– Klickfix handlebar bag
– Klickfix basket
– Tern Kanga Rack and any bag you like
– Tern Kanga Rack and a 31L drybag
– Tern Kanga Rack and a pannier

Luggage Truss Bags
Tern Kanga rack holding Ortlieb Drybag 35L (left) and Crumpler Rustle Blanket bag (right)

Postrack + Bag

Tern Postrack

Some people with light loads will prefer the PostRack system with a Biologic Commute bag. Clamp the rack onto the seatpost, connect your bags and go.

CrossRack / Extenders

Xootr Crossrack
Xootr CrossRack
Klickfix Extender Handlebar Adapter
Klickfix Extender

Another light load mounting option is the Xootr CrossRack which can take one pannier and will mount from either your handlepost or seatpost. This is especially good for folding bikes that lack luggage sockets or any rack mounts. It will also allow you to use a pannier that you may already own.

Klickfix makes a similar product called the Extender with Handlebar Adapter. You can use this adapter with any of the Klickfix accessories, such as the Vario rack or handlebar bag.

Carrier Block (Brompton)

Brompton Carrier Block

Modified Brompton Carrier Block Tern Dahon
A modified Brompton Carrier Block to use on a Tern/Dahon luggage socket

The carrier block by Brompton is annoyingly a different size to what is offered by Tern/Dahon, although people have modified these blocks to fit all styles of folding bike. Like the socket, luggage weight is carried by the frame itself, which doesn’t affect the steering of the bike. The Brompton block has an exceptional carrying capacity (10-15kg), as well as lots of luggage options available too.

Note: Brompton’s 16″ wheels are too small for traditional racks and panniers

Front Carrier Block Options
Brompton folding basket, Brompton T Bag 31L, Brompton Carrying Frame
Kinetics Brompton Front Rack
Kinetics Front Pannier Rack for Bromptons
Custom Brompton Pannier Rack
MistyMornings’ custom twin pannier mount
Brompton Front Pannier
Brompton Carrying Frame + Ortlieb Pannier on its side

Here are some carrier block luggage options:
– Brompton bags (up to 31L capacity)
– Brompton folding basket
– Brompton Carrying Frame + any bag you like
Kinetics front rack for two panniers
– Twin pannier mount (custom)
– Brompton Carrying Frame + front pannier (there’s an upright pannier hack too)

Brompton Rear Rack and Hiking Pack

Hiking Pack on Brompton
Matthias uses a wooden rod and straps to hold his hiking pack on

Many people have made custom kits to attach their hiking packs to the back of their Bromptons. This allows you to have everything all in one bag that is easy to carry.

Brompton Hiking Pack
Closer detail of Matthias’ hiking pack system

Brompton Rear Rack with Pannier

Brompton Rear Panniers
Shane mounts an Ortlieb pannier + drybag to the back of his Brompton

A Brompton can carry a pannier on the top of its rack. You’ll need to move the pannier clips inwards and use a strap to keep it down, but it seems to work surprisingly well. Have a closer look at ShaneCycles for mounting instructions.

Bikepacking Bags

Bikepacking bags
Using a Revelate bikepacking saddle bag to carry luggage

The lightest weight option available is using bikepacking bags.

These bags strap onto your seatpost and handlebars, providing a small amount of space for an overnight trip. Check out the following bikepacking bag brands for more: Revelate, Adipura, AlpKit, Bike Bag Dude, Oveja Negra, Blackburn.

Trailers

folding bike trailer
Left: A Radical Designs Cyclone trailer pulled by a Brompton. Right: A Burley folding trailer pulled by a Brompton. Image: Michael McGettigan

Trailers can be a great solution for folding bikes.

They take the weight off the bike and allow you to move your luggage around when you get to your destination. There are even folding trailers available from companies like Burley. If you’re carrying more than 10-15kg and you have a budget-folding bike, I recommend using a trailer, as it will put less strain on your bike. Look for trailers that are 16-20″ compatible.

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