Brompton C-Bag update

I’ve now had a C-bag for a month so here’s an update to my review of the C-Bag vs the S-Bag for anybody thinking of buying one.


I’m very pleased with it, it’s substantially bigger than the S-Bag because it has an open “throat” so you can overfill it quite easily. It’s become my everyday bag for several reasons:

Yellow lining – brilliant, I can see what’s in there and an antidote to the dreary blackness which has ruled almost every area of design since the 1980s.

Subdivision – good improvement, there’s a good sized zip-pocket in there for documents and it creates two spaces, behind it is enough space to slip in a small computer or books with space in front for more bulky stuff. If you don’t use the two smaller spaces the pocket just lies flat against the back of the bag leaving the whole interior free for clothing, shopping etc. For a day trip I’ve packed a sweater or jacket, laptop, power supply, books, snacks and an assortment of other stuff with no difficulty and room to spare, unlike the S-Bag which struggles with more than a minimum.

Room for shopping, I can carry my everyday work stuff and have room to call at the supermarket for a reasonable amount of shopping, eg I’ve packed a bottle of wine, some lettuce, mushrooms and tomatoes and a packet of biscuits without difficulty and space for more.

Good for a briefcase or flight bag it’s a bit easier and smarter than the touring pannier to carry around and small enough for a cabin bag. I’ve just sold my S-Bag on Ebay for around 40 quid. I haven’t tried the saddlebag method that I’ve used with the S-bag but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work. (PS, done that now, worked fine, photo here (scroll down when the page opens).

Better external pockets, three good zipped pockets and a mesh one that I use for hat, trouser bands, compact waterproof etc or it will take a bottle of water. There’s also a good-sized pocket on the front flap which would take A4 documents (much bigger and better access than the S-bag because the waterproof zip is at the top), I tend to use it for the waterproof cover and anything I want to have easy to hand.

Aerodynamics seem to be good

it has a good shape with a rounded sloping front that should be efficient whether it’s full or empty. The touring pannier is aerodynamically good when it’s reasonably full (rounded shape), but when empty it’s concave at the front and probably a nasty turbulence inducer. Even if you like the retro styling and larger size of the Carradice alternative to the C-bag, it’s boxy so the aerodynamics will be less good and probably heavier.

So it feels like a good buy. I’ll continue to use the touring pannier for overnight trips or day trips where the weather is chancy and I want a change of clothes but the C-Bag is a very good, smart-looking, practical day bag and large briefcase. I trust Brompton are thinking about a new version of the touring pannier which will build in some additional functionality, the C-Bag is certainly a step forward from the S-Bag, regardless of size.

The waterproof cover is necessary, finally, I have no reason to believe the C-bag is any more waterproof than any other Brompton bag, but the rain cover (included in the price) works very well once you are used to slipping it on and, in Britain’s uncertain weather, ready to decide to use it. The danger is that you’ll say , “it’s only a shower and I want to get home,” then a minute later you are in a downpour and the bag is leaking, possibly onto the dry clothes you will be changing into)

One criticism is that, if you want to use the shoulder strap, there is no easy way to detach/attach it, You can remove it by laboriously unbuckling it which requires quite a lot of feeding straps through awkward plastic tensioners but it would be much easier if you could just clip it on and off at each end, especially as it’s quite bulky with a heavily padded shoulder pad. Personally I don’t use the strap so I removed it and cut off the buckles from the bag to reduce clutter.

I bought mine from Cycle Heaven in York, good service and they usually have the full range of bags in stock, including the Carradice. If you are in Yorkshire it’s a reasonable train ride to York from most places and a short ride from the station round the city walls. Nice to visit a city where there are enough cyclists that the bike shops treat ordinary people like real consumers rather than idiots.

16 Responses to “Brompton C-Bag update”

  1. gareth Says:

    “Nice to visit a city where there are enough cyclists that the bike shops treat ordinary people like real consumers rather than idiots.”

    Now which Sheffield shop could you have in mind James, I mean Chris

  2. chrisrust Says:

    Well it certainly isn’t the excellent Albert Butterworth on Abbeydale Road, where aged bikes are brought back to life promptly for a modest fee and no technical problem is to small to merit careful attention.

  3. Gareth Dent Says:

    Similarly I have nothing but praise for Tony Butterworths in Hillsborough. Tony is no longer running it, but Chris who has taken it over is always helpful. (Not just to me, but from observation to non-cyclist bicycle riders…if that isn’t an elitist term)

  4. chrisrust Says:

    It’s the same Butterworth family, brothers I think who split up quite a long time ago and went in different directions. Albert’s shop is mainly maintenance and affordable parts and accessories, Tony’s is more of a complete bike shop, bought a bike there for my son and they were very helpful and understood what was needed. Nice that the younger generation are keeping both establishments going

  5. hercule Says:

    Very interested to read your review of the C-bag – I recently sold my L5 Brompton and bought a S6L, which I’ve been over the moon about. My old Brompton pannier (the original style) fits the bike fine despite dire warnings of it being too big on the S-type. I did think it looked a bit dowdy on the new bike, however, and after much thought and consultation of the interweb went out and bought a S-bag. It looks good, and works fine, but I’ve been a bit disappointed by how quickly I can fill it to capacity. The velcro-sealed side and back pockets are similarly a bit of a let down, I don’t think I would trust much to them. Reading your C-bag review makes me seriously think about a further purchase… Unfortunately Brompton emporia are many miles away from me, so I’ve had to put my trust in the internet.

  6. chrisrust Says:

    I’m keeping my eyes open for somebody with S-Bars and I’ll ask them to try my C-Bag so watch this space

  7. Paul Says:

    Thank you for this review – very interesting read.

    New Brompton Bags are due for release at the Cycle Show later this week:

    I hope the Ortlieb fits my S-type. I’d love to replace my regularly over-stuffed S-bag

  8. chrisrust Says:

    Hi Paul,
    Have you tried fitting a C-bag to your bike? I tried at that on somebody’s bike at the Brompton World Championships Saturday ride last weekend and we had one working quite well, you just have to pay a little attention to the brake cables. The C-bag is definitely a lot better than the S-bag for carrying capacity, the 2 litre difference quoted by Brompton is misleading, for example you can really fill the pocket on the front flap which adds quite a lot of extra. I would not have thought that an Ortleib bag would be small enough for S-bars, after all they specialise in touring stuff. But you never know. An Ortleib bag as big as the Brompton touring pannier would be something to think about.

    Some nice non-standard bags at the BWC, including somebody who had adapted a Brompton front carrier frame to fit a small Ortleib. I’ll post some photos soon.

  9. John the Monkey Says:

    For what it’s worth, my bike shop tell me that they recommend the “C” bag over the “S” bag even for bikes with “S” bars.

    (I know, I’ve just ordered an S3, and they reckon the “C” bag is the way to go for luggage). I’ve not seen it mounted on the bike yet, but will do once I pick up the bike (hopefully 3 or 4 weeks time).

  10. ruth Says:

    I think I have to thank you on various levels – I’m a brompton owner, a “previous” traveller (now with 18month old baby my travels are a bit confined to to/from family), and was a passionate cycler when I lived in Japan.
    Now I want to get a bag for my brompton, and although I’ve still not purchased one, at least I have a better idea of what’s available and what they should be able to do –
    (Plus, I read with great enjoyment about your trips around KL, Seoul and Japan…and with great envy)

  11. paul wilson Says:

    Hi Chris, I’m new to your cycling blog, and am very gratified you don’t look like a Lycra lout, I’m nearly 70 and have cycled all my adult life, of, all the bikes I own and have ridden over the years my Brompton T6 is the most comfortable, I would love to hear your comments on that.
    Thanks Paul W

  12. chrisrust Says:

    Hi Paul,
    Well I do have a pair of padded lycra shorts for long rides, but I usually wear some baggy ordinary ones over them. The Brompton isn’t “comfortable” like a sofa but I like the upright position, and never had wrist problems with it unlike some previous bikes. The springiness of the traditional Brompton M-bars may contribute to that. People who ride long distances (eg 100 miles in a day) seem to think that while they like the Brompton for many reasons, they would rather a bike with a better ride, but some of those people use the lower flat S-bars which probably give a much stiffer feel. Round town I just love the responsiveness and don’t mind the harshness on rough surfaces too much.
    But for sofa like comfort, our Pino is probably in a different league, the long wheelbase and front suspension and being a tandem so twice the weight overall seems to make for a very smooth ride. Rather reminds me of the first time I rode a mountain bike back in 1984, in city traffic it felt like a motorbike – very safe and stable when you really need it.

  13. Paul Wilson Says:

    Hi Chris,
    comfort I think is a relative thing so I take your point on the pino, I bought the Brompton originally to have a folding bike, having no real idea it would prove so good to ride. I to have modified the bike, the main and most useful change for me has been putting a small (28 tooth) chain ring on the outside of the chain set, allthough you have to change it by hand,well I use a cut down knitting needle, it gives nearly a 500% gear range,no complications, nothing to go wrong, and you can climb almost any incline.what do you think?

  14. chrisrust Says:

    Quite a few people use a manual “granny gear” with the Brompton and it seems to be a very useful and affordable way to enable you to go touring. As I decided to buy a Mountain Drive I am very aware of the need for a gear to get you up really big hills, or just for the end of a long day.

  15. Will Says:

    Thanks for your review of the C bag versus the S bag. Just what I was looking for! To be honest, I don’t love the look of any of these bags or the mounting block on the front of a Brompton, so I have been using a Deuter bagpack (which I love) all winter. But now that the warm/hot weather is around the corner, I dread the idea of arriving with a sweaty back at work. So I’m definitely thinking about a C bag. I just balk at the price of all these things!

  16. Scott Says:

    I find the strap on the C-bag to be quite convenient! When the bag is on the bike, the strap cinches down snug against the top of the bag, and the buckle holds it in place.

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