Alan Mooiman

Biking to the beach on a Brompton

June 7, 2021

A friend saw my Instagram story this morning in which I mentioned biking to the beach and had a photo of my umbrella set up in the sand. She asked how I attached the umbrella to the bike, and suggested I blog about it because she’d tried searching for solutions previously and had no luck.

Admittedly, my solution is a bit of a moment of everything happening to come together, but being as easily sunburned as I am, heading to the beach without an umbrella was a non-starter.

A side view of the rear half of a Brompton folding bicycle, with a closed beach umbrella strapped behind-and-parallel to the seatpost, sandwiched in place by an orange backpack There are a few things at play here:

  • I happened to have a U-Lock attached to my saddle. Not because I regularly lock my bike up (not leaving my side is the anti-theft device) but every once in a while you just need to use the restroom and it simply doesn’t fit in a porta-potty. The umbrella I have fit perfectly through the lock. (Btw: If you don’t own a beach umbrella with a corkscrew bottom and foldable wings, you’re missing out. That baby burrows into the sand more firmly than a religious Trump voter’s head.)
  • The Brompton with a rear rack attached results in a nice little nook that’s just deep enough to contain any bounce of the umbrella, but keeps it from getting into any of the gearing.
  • A backpack pairs nicely, leaning on the umbrella to stay upright, and provides straps to wrap around the seat post. Coupled with the bungee cords on the rack adding side stability, I was able to add side stability.

This setup handled 15 miles to the beach and another 15 back with no problems over NYC streets and the Manhattan bridge (which has a lot of seams across the bike path bed).

Here’s one more close-up of the area I nestled the umbrella into: A close-up of the area of a Brompton folding bike, highlighting a gap between the shock absorber and the fender that a beach umbrella fits into

And a totally-not-related tip I learned today: after-sun lotion makes a fantastic addition to your fridge. Don’t wait until you get to the beach to put on that sunblock!