Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack
Side view, front bag

Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack

As a relatively new owner of a very new Brompton, I’m learning how adaptable it is for bike touring. The thing that’s taken a while to sink in is the nature of the bike means I have to do things very, very differently. Having spent the money on the bike, I’m trying to avoid getting gear that “only works” with the Brompton. I have plenty of good touring gear, especially my beloved Ortlieb classic backrollers. While I could easily purchase an expensive bag for the front bag block, I decided to see if I could find a way to use what I had and avoid the extra cost. This lead me on the quest for a Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack .

The basics

On the front of the Brompton, if one so chooses, is a Brompton bag block. Many accessories fit onto this block, from bags to baskets and more. It’s sturdily built and can handle officially or unofficially about 22lbs or 10kg. That’s plenty of carrying capacity for an Ortlieb backroller. The only trick is they aren’t designed to fit on the block… like at all. Sure Ortlieb makes a bag that does… several, in fact. But as I mentioned earlier, I’m looking to use what I have.  The good news is Ortlieb sells a bare bag rack so you can fit a bag of your choosing on the front block. The trick is… it’s shape is nowhere near the right size for the backroller. It’s too short and too wide for the way it needs to mount. For it to work, you’ve got to get a hackin…

It’s been done before… the hard way

I’m hardly the first person to come up with the idea. No, far smarter people have found a way to hack a Brompton bag frame to fit an Ortlieb pannier on the front block. I found this insanely clever guy from Mali and his solution. The only thing was it took patience, skills, tools and… well, you get the picture. The end result is amazing and well-crafted. Clearly something beyond what I wanted to do. Also, I was nervous about the process… he essentially drilled apart a perfectly good looking Brompton bag frame, and I was fairly sure I would just destroy mine, making the $30ish purchase a giant flush of decent money. No, I needed a better (if less beautiful) way.

The simple solution for my Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack

Drumroll… ten zip ties. Rather than tear the bag frame apart and get into rivets, I instead chose to use zipties to secure the frame to the rear hardware of the Ortlieb backroller. It worked like a charm. Why the overkill with ten ties? I’m under no illusion (or delusion) that zip ties are a proper load bearing device. However ten of them? I figure the tension distributed across that many gives me plenty of leeway and redundancy to survive a typical tour. Would I trust this on a six month expedition? Not without replacing some zip ties. but I think this thing is road ready. I’ll carry a bunch of spare zip ties to be safe though.

Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack
Lots of zip ties to distribute the tension and the weight.
Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack
Rear view
Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack
Front view, attached
Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack
Top view, attached
Brompton Ortlieb pannier hack
Side view, front bag

2 comments

  1. Matthew Norton says:

    Wow. Thank you was wondering if this was a possible hack. I like you have lots of gear from ‘normal’ bikes but use my Brompton for commuting. Would the top clips on the outlier for the top rail of the frame?

    • Tim Mooney says:

      The top clips don’t attach to anything in the configuration I have… I think, if I’m not mistaken, one could ust remove that entire assembly if it’s held on by the same hex screws as much of the other hardware. I chose to keep it on and found it to be totally fine on this trip!

What do you think?