The comments below refer to earlier Birdys. The latest models now have mountings on the front forks to allow a low-rider rack (Birdy specific version) to be fitted, allowing up to a 10Kg load to be carried in small/medium (universal) sized standard pannier bags. Providing the load is evenly distributed between the two panniers, the effect on the handling is very small. The best way to load a Birdy seems to be suing several small carriers spread along the bike - front panniers, under-frame bag, saddlebag, small bag on the rear rack - rather than trying to carry a large load just in rear panniers, as one might on a more conventional machine. Those with earlier Birdys, which lack the front carrier mounting may be able to get replacement forms (though this would probably be costly) - contact your dealer for more information. Further mention of the luggage options can be found in our reports on the Welsh Trains Ride and a visit to Scotland. [4 October 2001]
One of the less good points about the Birdy is that its luggage carrying facilities are not as good as machines such as the Brompton and Bike Friday - at least in standard form. The original rear rack is very small and carries the load on the unsprung part of the bike, which is not good practice. It also does not make it easy to use panniers, and it would be difficult to adapt to use more than one small pannier in addition to a small top bag. The under frame bag is quite small, and is exposed to dirt thrown up by the front wheel. It also interferes to some extent with folding. The new, folding, rear carrier does make provision for using panniers, but the mounting is not very substantial.
a suitable bag for use on the top of the rear rack (original type) can be
a problem. The bag illustrated here is a Jessop Town and Country
photographic bag, medium size version (there are small and large versions
as well). The partitions in the bag can be removed or moved around, and
there are side pockets too. The capacity is not very great, but it's fine
for a small bag for odds and ends, whether of a photographic nature or
not. When not on the bag it can be carried by a strap or can be belt
mounted. It should be available from any Jessop store, and there are many
of these spread around the UK.
Some people like a bag at the front, although generally it's best to start loading at the back, and to keep the front load fairly light. Bar bags are a common accessory for conventional bikes. Mounting one on a Birdy must be treated with considerable caution - not only can the steering be affected, but the load is also rather high up, and it places additional loads on the folding mechanism of the bars for which it was not designed. Purely for experiment I have mounted a Carradice bag, which is easily removed via a KLICKfix mounting, on the bars - though I haven't ridden the bike in this state yet. If I use it I will limit the load to only very light items for the reasons explained above. Other problems with bar bags are that they hinder access to the brake levers, they can obstruct other bar mounted items (in this case I cannot fit both a front lamp and the bar bag at the same time), and they are relatively heavy for their size and capacity. Incidentally, this Carradice bag fits quite nicely on the rear rack, secured by a bungee, if it is mounted across the rack (it is a little too big to fit lengthways).
Additional remarks: I tested the Carradice bar bag with the Birdy today, 15th November, in the interests of research. There's nothing wrong with the bag and its mounting, but I was very unhappy with the effect on the steering and, after 15 miles I took it off and did the rest of the journey with it bungeed on the back. Removing it certainly improved the handling dramatically. With the bag in place at the front, as soon as you stop and remove your hands from the bars, the steering turns sharply through 90 degrees and the bike tries to topple over, which is indicative of the undesirable effects. For the test the bag only contained one banana (this was removed later in the trip for obvious reasons!), a small lock (not a heavy U-type), a small APS camera (Ixus) and a packet of peppermints. I certainly wouldn't use the bar bag again myself for normal riding, though I suppose it might be pressed into service if I couldn't carry everything elsewhere on the bike.
Bob Gelman uses an REI bag,around $15 in the USA.
Right: The bag used by Hiroki Ono - larger than I would care to fit!
It looks as though the high mounting allows a lamp to be mounted below
the bag. Incidentally, this is typical of the superb photographic quality
of Hiroki's site - I shall have to take a lot more trouble over my photos
if I even hope to match his results.
Steve Parry has developed an ingenious rear rack to carry a Brompton bag using the Brompton quick release mechanism. The carrier also takes a bottle holder. Steve has also mounted a Brompton block at the front, allowing a quick release bag to be used, although this needs to be something smaller than the standard Brompton one. More information is available, with pictures, on The Folding Society pages.
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Copyright (C)2001 Ferrets Anonymous
Last updated: 24 December 2001