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The Brompton Backpack made with Liberty Fabric Jonathan is stylish, well constructed, more than useful with 14L of capacity, and works exceptionally securely as on-bike luggage with the Brompton front luggage mount. It's slightly less impressive off the bike, but still an excellent solution for Brompton owners.
It's always fun to see which other brands Brompton teams up, especially when it comes to big fashion and luxury names. The Brompton x Barbour and more recent Brompton x Oliver Spence clothing ranges have been particular highlights, but now Brompton has joined up with legendary London luxury department store Liberty to come up with a range of luggage options featuring Liberty's famed printed fabrics. The full range includes baskets, tote bags, zip pouches and arguably the most practical option, which I'm testing here: a rucksack.
This geometric Liberty pattern is called 'Jonathan'; Brompton also has a range with 'Metropolis' printed fabric but that's a tad brighter and, dare I say it, garish. As you'd expect from a tie-up between Brompton and Liberty, production quality is very good and the design is practical without being unnecessarily complex.
The pattern is printed in Italy on custom-made polyester fabric with a highly water-resistant coating. It feels durable and comes with a full, separate high-vis and reflective waterproof cover for truly awful days.
Total capacity is 14 litres, so it's a fairly capacious bag, with the vast majority of that capacity coming in the form of the large main pocket beneath the zipped top flat. This main section also has a wide zipped compartment with an internal padded laptop sleeve.
The outside has two elasticated side pockets and one zipped front pocket, which is home to the rain cover.
The bag's main USP is its compatibility with Brompton's front luggage mount. A metal and plastic frame built into the bottom and back of the backpack means it slides and clicks super safely onto a suitable Brompton front bracket. To make it even more impressively secure, the front of the bag has two little magnetic storage clips for the shoulder straps, which prevents anything from dangling in the front wheel. It's a really fantastic feature, and probably my favourite thing about the bag.
With the bag in place, there is no negative effect on a Brompton's ride. In fact, I used it while testing one of the Brompton P Line bikes (full review to come) and I found the extra weight of the bag and contents actually improved handling. Riders used to low rider front racks will recognise that too much weight attached to the fork can make control a tad skittish, but with Brompton, the weight of the bag is attached to the frame and actually makes front control just a little more solid.
The only disconcerting thing about the setup, which again will affect previous front rack users more than anyone else, is that the bag doesn't turn as the front wheel turns – indeed, you can't even see your front wheel turning with the bag in the way – but that's a side note novelty that you soon become accustomed to.
It's not all perfect, though. Off the bike and using it as a rucksack, I didn't get on that well with the bag. Because of its wide, almost courier bag form, the shoulder straps are set quite close at the top but quite far apart at the bottom. They're also quite wide and fairly stiff themselves.
I found it fairly uncomfortable to wear, with the shoulder straps digging into the sides of my chest. In fact, considering the design of the bag, it's a shame that Brompton didn't think to include one longer transverse strap so you could sling it, seatbelt-style, over your body. It does come with a carrying handle, though.
Finally, it's also a bit low on reflective highlights, which is something of an omission for an urban cycling bag. However, if it's fitted to your Brompton at the front as intended, that's less of an issue than with a backward-facing bag.
As you'd expect when encountering the twin brands of Brompton and Liberty, this is not a cheap bag. But in the world of aspirational cycling luggage, at £145 it's not as extravagantly priced as it could be. In fact, it's one of the cheaper options among Brompton's own luggage range. For example, its 12L Game Bag Medium is obviously high quality and made from waxed cotton, but does cost £225 and doesn't have rucksack functionality.
Beyond Brompton, there is no end of rucksacks and courier bags we could compare it with, but that would be a bit unfair considering the extra on-bike functionality. Carradice makes some Brompton-specific bags, including the Original City Folder starting at £104 or the Stockport City Folder starting at £136. Both are made from waterproof cotton duck and have a single shoulder strap rather than rucksack straps. But both will also require the additional £39 Brompton luggage frame to be compatible with the Brompton luggage mount, putting them effectively on a par with or slightly more than the Liberty option.
With that in mind, then, as long as you like the print, it's actually rather easy to recommend this Brompton backpack. It's well made, suitably practical and works perfectly with any Brompton front luggage mount. Not only does it not hamper your ride experience, I found it actually improved mine. And while the price might seem a trifle high in isolation, as a dedicated Brompton accessory it's probably all you need to turn your reliable commuting companion into an effective light-luggage-carrying workhorse.
Fantastic Brompton-specific commuting or urban bag just slightly let down by its off-bike comfort as a rucksack
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Brompton Backpack Made with Liberty Fabric Jonathan
Size tested: 14 litres
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This bag is aimed at commuters and urban riders. Brompton says: "A new autumn collection of Brompton bags in an iconic Made with Liberty Fabric print packed with functionality loaded with style. Jonathan references the creative process with a monochrome geometric pattern inspired by pencil shavings found on the design studio floor.
"The backpack that fits on your Brompton bike, an incredibly useful accessory for commuting, travelling and the daily ride around. This season, it's reworked in an iconic Made with Liberty Fabric print, specially selected from their 45,000-piece archive. Printed in Italy on custom-made Polyester fabric with a highly water-resistant coating to the Liberty Design studio's highest quality standards. This durable workhorse is loaded with comfort features and functional details, including a padded air mesh rear panel, expandable side pockets and a smart magnetic snap system to keep straps safely in place whilst riding."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Brompton lists these features:
600D printed polyester with 1500mm PU Coating & C6
Hi-viz reflective waterproof rain cover
Glove-friendly zip pulls
Magnetic Fidlock strap system
Padded air mesh rear panel
Zipped main compartment
2 x expandable side pockets
Soft webbing shoulder straps
Compatible with all Brompton handlebars
Very nicely made, with only a lack of reflective highlights letting it down.
Fantastic on-bike performance with the Brompton luggage mount. Not so good off the bike as a rucksack.
Seems exceptionally sturdy.
At under 1kg, including the frame needed to attach it to the Brompton mount, it's pretty good.
On the back, I was not impressed. The shoulder straps seem to be set close at the top, but wide apart at the bottom, and dug into my side.
In terms of dedicated Brompton-compatible pieces of cycling luggage, it's better value than it might first appear.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a functional bit of kit for transporting moderate amounts of stuff to work each day, or some light shopping, it's a very practical and secure option.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I love the magnetic securing clips on the front to keep the shoulder straps safe and out of the way.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The shoulder straps themselves – just not very comfy.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is one of the cheaper options among Brompton's own luggage range. For example, its 12L Game Bag Medium is obviously high quality and made from waxed cotton, but does cost £225 and doesn't have rucksack functionality. Beyond Brompton own-brand, Carradice makes some Brompton-specific bags, including the Original City Folder starting at £104 or the Stockport City Folder starting at £136. Both are made from waterproof cotton duck and have a single shoulder strap rather than rucksack straps. Both will also require the additional £39 Brompton luggage frame to be compatible with the Brompton luggage mount, putting them effectively on a par with or slightly more than this Liberty option.
Did you enjoy using the product? On the bike, yes. Off the bike, not so much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
While I have moaned a bit about the shoulder straps in this review, I still think overall that this a fantastic option for Brompton riders who need the option of some carrying capacity. It's superbly safe and secure on the bike, and you can always carry it by its handle off the bike. Construction quality is top notch and the range of features is just enough.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure