So I’m anticipating my Brompton, and I’m getting antsy. I bought the T bag, and the Brompton folding basket, but knew I’d want a light, closed, bag some of the time, instead of either of the two Brompton bags. Inspired by a Brompton owner named Jane, and her write-up about her own roll-top bag, I made my own. Gotta pass the time somehow, right?
I read Jane’s pages carefully, examined my own T bag just as carefully, and made the bag up using my own pattern, and customizing it to my own anticipated needs and requirements.
Here’s my bag, lightly stuffed, mounted on the Brompton luggage frame. It’s made of bright yellow nylon with black accents, black zippers, and black nylon fittings. (Yeah, I would have loved Racing Green trim, but just try to find the color in the USA. Go ahead, I dare you.)
My front pocket isn’t as nice as the one on the Brompton bag, which is elasticized, and much more stylish. Mine is a plain mesh pocket, which I anticipate using exclusively for magazines and the like. Stretchability wasn’t necessary on this light bag.
My bag closes just like the Brompton bag (and Jane’s bags), with nylon buckles, but I did change up one little thing. My buckles aren’t symmetrical — they’re designed so that they can be snapped closed on the sides, like the other bags, but the snap side is attached at one top front, and the casing side to the other top front.
This means that I can roll the top down and close it across the top, by joining the buckles, as well as securing the top by buckling the rolled edge down on each side. (Above, the buckles snapped across the top of the bag, crossing the center strap; below, a buckle snapped shut on the side.)
The T bag has an interior pocket for the rain cover; I added one to this bag for anything I didn’t want to be immediately accessible outside the bag:
I used the same nylon webbing as for the straps to reinforce and support this pocket.
Making my own bag allowed me to customized the panel facing me to exactly the way I wanted to. You can see the handle of the Brompton frame up top in the picture below (the hole it slips through is outlined in lycra binding), and the block under the curve is the fitting that clips into the luggage block on the Brompton’s head tube (the lower edge of this panel is also bound in lycra):
From the left side: a large, adjustable mesh pocket for any size water bottle; a zip pocket for power bars, gel, or Shot Roks (that’s human kibble for long rides); a cell phone pocket with a strap-and-lift-tab closure; and, below, a zip pocket for a pocket camera.
The mesh I used is extra-sturdy; I cut up a new laundry bag to make the pockets. Careful cutting meant no hemming on all that holey material, which my sewing machine appreciated.
The camera pocket is reinforced internally with a piece of plastic craft mesh, which allows it to keep its semi-circular shape, and lets me pull out my camera without fighting with the pocket. My camera has a silicone sleeve, so it tends to stick unless the pocket material stands off a bit. (You can see the pocket in side view in the buckle picture above.)
I added strap clips, and made a shoulder strap, too, though I still need a pad for it. Like Jane, I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what I want to do about the necessary padding.
This bag was intended to be a lightweight version of the T bag for trips that require carrying light or small cargo, but not the heavier or bulkier items that the original Brompton T bag can handle well. My version is a fair-weather friend; it’s not waterproof, and very light. It will do for an extra water bottle or two, and for collecting small shopping or parcels, but not much more than that. It’s simply meant to provide me with minimal carrying capacity when making strictly recreational rides.
I may still want a closed bag the size of the Ortlieb Mini O. That might be my next project, as Ortleib hasn’t come out with a bag in either Brompton yellow or British Racing Green. I’d consider buying a real Mini O if Ortlieb made it in my colors, but if Ortleib combines either color with white, as they’ve done with their current Mini-O bags, I won’t be buying them, anyway, as white strikes me as the worst possible color for a hard-working piece of vinyl.
For inspiration (and a pattern, if you don’t fancy making your own), visit Jane’s page, and take a look at her fantastic gallery of photos here. (There’s a cowbag, a clear vinyl one, and Jane’s also made one in velvet snakeskin. And more, lots more.) As soon as I have a Brompton on which to hang my bag, I’ll be sending my own picture along to Jane, too.
9/3/2012: Edited to insert a better photo of the bag bucked across the front.