Here are some pictures of the piggy-back frame I made to allow me to carry Ortlieb panniers on my Brompton. This was a proof-of-concept frame I knocked up in a couple of hours with no access to tube bending tools. I never got round to tidying up the welds properly nor have I painted the frame. So be warned, it is not a pretty sight. However, it has functioned perfectly whilst fully laden all summer (1100km including the Rallarvegen). The total load on the luggage system was 16-18kg depending on how full my water bag was.

1) The view from the rear of the Brompton touring bag. The frame is attached at the top with a pair of jubilee clips. Most of the weight is transferred directly to the mount at the centre of the Brompton bag frame. This mount, in turn, sits directly on the Brompton luggage block. This seemed to be the most sensible way to do it at the time. I am not sure I would do it differently now, as it still seems to make sense.

Brompt-o-lieb piggy back frame

The piggy back frame from the back. The top bar looks more curved than it is. This is due to distortion from the wide angle lens.

2) Close up of the lower mounting point. There is an L-section piece of metal welded onto the middle of the bar. The bottom of the L protrudes forwards and sits in a little trough at the top of the plastic mount. I don’t know if newer Brompton bag frames have the same feature.

Detail of the lower mounting of the Brompt-o-lieb piggy back frame

Detail of the lower mounting of the Brompt-o-lieb piggy back frame

3) View of the top of the frame and how it is fastened to the Brompton frame. The jubilee clips work a lot better than the fastenings I made myself. The clips pull the frame down so that the L-shape tongue is clamped to the plastic Brompton bag mount. One of the problems of this design is that later Brompton touring bags cover the Brompton bag frame almost completely. You’d have to unpick part of the stitching at the top of the bag to be able to get a jubilee clip or other fastener round the top bar of the Brompton bag frame.

This is one of the reasons why I plan to do away with the Brompton bag completely in the Mk 2 version. The other reasons is to be able to use Ortlieb front panniers on both sides of the frame and save the weight of the Brompton bag frame.

Brompto-o-lieb piggy back frame

View of the top of the piggy back frame

Bromptons on the Rallarvegen

Last weekend we decided to give our 16 speed Bromptons another test. The test was to cycle the Rallarvegen in Norway from Haugastøl to Flåm. We have wanted to do the Rallarvegen since we moved to Norway almost three years ago and the Bromptons would make getting back home on the train a little easier.

We took it gently, mainly because Damae is now 26 weeks pregnant. On the Friday we cycled from Haugastøl to Finse and camped at the DNT Finsehytta ‘campsite’. Saturday we cycled from Finse down to Flåm and took the Flåmsbanen back up to Myrdal. The weather was brilliant and the Bromptons created a lot of interest.

Stan, Damae and their 16 speed Bromptons at the highest point on the Rallarvegen

The trip gallery is here.

16 speed Bromptons: Part 5 – ready for action

Our 16 speed Bromptons are now just that. We built our own wheels earlier in the year and I then went through the process of getting everything to work together. I had already spread my rear forks a couple of years ago and did the same on Damae’s Brompton. A few tweaks were needed on her bike to get sufficient clearance between the spokes where they come out of the Nexus 8 hub and the fork and the rear derailleurs had to be shaved with a ‘Drehmel’ to provide enough clearance for the Nexus 8 gearchanger.

We’ve managed to put around a hundred kilometres on the bikes and they will be used for our summer tour. This will be a sedate affair because of Damae’s condition, taking in part of the NSCR in Germany and Danish cycle route 5 between Fredericia and Grenå. A travelogue will eventually get written as will a full report of the conversion.

From our point of view the conversion has been well worth the effort and money. The gearchange (with the single twistgrip) is fantastic compared to the 2×3 SRAM Brompton setup we previously had. The high range on the 50t chainwheel is good for general cycling, with a bigger range than the old SRAM 6 speed, and the low range on the 34t cog allows climbing up steep hills fully laden. Only time will tell if the setup is reliable.

For the time being, here are three pictures of my bike set up for touring. We’re using my “Brompt-o-lieb” adaptor frame to mount two front panniers on the back of the Brompton bag. We’ve used these a couple of times for short trips and the bikes are very stable even when loaded with weights of around twenty kilograms. At the moment the front bags and contents weigh around sixteen kilograms which is a lot less than we normally take when touring with ‘proper’ touring bikes.

My main worries for the trip are:
a) the Brompton derailleur breaking
b) our home made wheels failing
c) being unable to get the Schwalbe Marathon tyres off the Sun CR18 rims. Getting the tyres on is trivial with the Simson Tyre Mate (recommended purchase) but I managed to break the Var Tyre tool the first time I used it to remove a tyre.

Finger’s crossed, wish us luck (although “Hals- und Beinbruch” might be more appropriate). Here are the pictures:

16speed Brompton conversion

Rear view of my Brompton. Both bikes have two bar bag mounts and we will be using both of them. I fitted a rear rack to my bike, for two reasons:
1) it acts as a damper reducing high frequency buzzing from the rear wheel
2) The bike, when folded rolls better with a rack than without it

Front of Stan's Brompton showing the Brompt-o-lieb frame

The outer edge of the Brompt-o-lieb is just visible in the picture. Loaded with 16kg the bike is much more stable than with 10kg in a Brompton bag alone. The bags can be removed as a single unit with a little extra care and carried around without removing the Ortlieb bags.

The cockpit of Stan's 16 speed Brompton

View of the ‘cockpit’. There is plenty of knee room when cycling. Starting off takes a bit more care with positioning the pedals for the first down stroke. The handlebars are adjustable with a long allen key the lower sections can rotate upwards. In this position the bike still folds. I modified the handlebar stem using a rigid seat post rather than a sprung one as is more usual.