Bag me a pannier
November 2, 2011 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Which bicycle pannier should I buy?

My wonderful, lovely girlfriend bought me a Linus Market Bag recently, and while I loved the style, the canvas it was made from isn't very durable. It developed holes from rubbing against my frame very quickly and the handle broke. Now I'm looking for a new bag.

The things I liked about the Linus bag were that it rolled up when not in use, converted easily to a shoulder bag, and had a very large capacity. The new bag needs at least two of these qualities, and has to be durable enough for an NYC commute. I'm a big fan of the double pannier style.

I like the idea of the Knog Dutch Dog, but it seems to be excessively large. (20" tall!)

Any recommendations?
posted by soy_renfield to Shopping (26 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
posted by killdevil at 8:21 PM on November 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've been thinking about this a lot lately myself, though I think I'm going to go for set of two rather than a double (and probably waterproof Ortlieb, as I live in Portland).

You might be interested to know that Timbuk2 makes a double pannier. They also make a single messenger pannier. Not quite as stylish, though, as the Linus or Knog bags you linked to.

Lately I've been lusting over these locally made (well, my local) panniers from North St. Bags. He has lots of different styles and you can choose your colors.

Out here in Portland, Ortliebs are ridiculously popular. They really seem to last.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:22 PM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Funny. I've got a Dutch dog, my wife has the Linus. Dog is big I had to be careful setting it up to avoid swiping it. I don't mind te size but it actually doesnt line up nicely with my rack which makes it a pain to fit. I'm still not 100% happy with it.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:24 PM on November 2, 2011

I have the timbuk2 double panniers.. They're fine but uncomfortable to carry if you ever have to haul anything off your bike due to the large center clip on each side. This design looks better to me..
posted by lannanh at 8:50 PM on November 2, 2011

Brooks sells a similar bag to the one you are replacing.

maybe give these a look as well.
posted by One Thousand and One at 9:14 PM on November 2, 2011

I have the Topeak TrunkBag MTX EXP (and ain't that an unfortunate name). It's not all that flashy or lustworthy, but it gets the job done. And there's also a larger size in the DXP.

Of course, it's designed to work with the Topeak rack with some sort of ridiculous BeamRack QuickTrack name. What's your rack like, anyway?
posted by cardioid at 11:33 PM on November 2, 2011

As an alternative to expensive Ortleibs (which I think require a special rack) you might look at Jandd's Grocery Bag Pannier. It doesn't roll up, it folds up. But it has great capacity (holds a standard paper grocery bag of stuff) and has a shoulder strap. It also works with standard racks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 PM on November 2, 2011

I'll note that my Jandd panniers have lasted me seven years, so far. They are a bit dirty and dusty from my travels, but they have been tough as nails (as I imagine the thick Ortleibs would be, as well).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 PM on November 2, 2011

As a data point, I have a set of Jandd that are at least 15 years old. Love them. Very well made and easy to mount/unmount.

My wife just ordered a set from these guys. They seem to be good quality.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:00 AM on November 3, 2011

These Bontrager City double panniers are supposed to be nice. Haven't seen one in person though.
posted by barnone at 12:01 AM on November 3, 2011

Best answer: Ortliebs are simple, offer lots of space and are (in my experience) indestructible. The ones I bought clip on to a standard pannier rack.
posted by chrispy at 12:03 AM on November 3, 2011

Everyone loves Ortlieb, and you may be able to get them on discount from Best Buy.

However, I decided to go the custom route and bought Swift Roll Top panniers. I like them a lot, and use them pretty much every day, even though I bought them for a touring trip I've yet to take. They're really roomy, and I got them with D- rings so i could slap a shoulder strap on there (although only one of them came with D-rings). They're also waterproof.
posted by loriginedumonde at 12:04 AM on November 3, 2011

I'm partly happy with those Timbuk2 panniers. They're great for commuting, when I can take them straight from the bike to my desk. My laptop feels totally safe in there. But I don't even use them for any other trips, because I don't like carrying them around on foot. Maybe it's that I'm small and have a weak back and don't much like shoulder straps anyway, but I find them pretty bulky and uncomfortable.
posted by Adventurer at 12:19 AM on November 3, 2011

Basil makes rather wonderful panniers, many of which meet your requirements. You might also consider a google search for "fietstassen", which is the Dutch word for bicycle bag. The Dutch are pretty much experts at integrating cycling into everyday life.
posted by embrangled at 12:28 AM on November 3, 2011

I used these Ortleib panniers for commuting, they are great. Sturdy, waterproof, great capacity. Downside would be that the straps are not hugely comfortable for a lot of carrying if the bags are full. Ignore the $187 racks on the same page, I have one that cost £25 and the panniers worked fine with them.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:26 AM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another vote for Ortliebs. I love mine, which I got on special from a UK online retailer. They have worked on two cheapie racks that were not bought with compatibility in mind, and they come with adapter shims to fit racks with different diameter tubing.

They don't have the old school retro design values, but they are bright and visible, waterproof, and tough.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:09 AM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ortliebs do not require a special rack, unless they specifically say so. All of the Ortlieb panniers my family own work just fine with the standard (& some non-standard!) racks on every bike we own.
posted by pharm at 5:01 AM on November 3, 2011

Not sure if they're available in the US, but I'm using a SQRTrax from Carradice of Nelson and I love it; it's big enough to hold a flat folded shirt for work, seems really robust and pretty waterproof. The main advantage is that is attached to the seat post via a quick release clip so doesn't unbalance you by carrying all the weight on one side or other of the rear wheel and it also acts as a rear mudguard. You can get an attachment to turn it into a rucksack for when off the bike.

The rest of the canvas-based range looks equally robust from what I've seen, but I haven't tried them myself
posted by fatfrank at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2011

Best pannier ever. Lifetime guarantee, too.
posted by Go Banana at 9:26 AM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses. I guess I should note that I have two different bikes, with two different racks on them, so any bag I buy will have to be universally compatible. One rack is a Planet Bike Eco rack, and the other is the Linus stock rack.
posted by soy_renfield at 9:45 AM on November 3, 2011

Please do respond with what you choose and why. I'm in the works right now picking out a bike, and to go with it I'd be getting some bags for groceries and such.

so far this post has generated some great answers!
posted by zombieApoc at 9:55 AM on November 3, 2011

I should have added that I own a Linus and my Ortliebs fit on its rack.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:26 AM on November 3, 2011

Another vote for Ortliebs. I have the Classics in red, and love them. I've had Jandds in the past, and prefer the Ortliebs as they're completely waterproof, improve visibility, apparently indestructible, and simple to use. They're not cheap, but I expect decades of use out of them. On the inside they have a deep open topped pocket and a small zippered pocket. Another benefit is an included strap for carrying a single pannier as a shoulder bag.

If you take a close look at the photo you can see how they attach to racks. There are two hooks on top that click on when you let go of the top carrying handle, and an adjustable plastic hook on the lower inside. I expect they would work on any rack--ask your local bike store expert to be sure.
posted by nicholai88 at 11:38 AM on November 3, 2011

doesn't unbalance you by carrying all the weight on one side or other of the rear wheel

For what it's worth, I usually ride with one pannier, not two, and I've never noticed any balance effect.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:43 PM on November 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks again for all the responses. I went with a pair Ortlieb Sports. Expensive, but seemingly well built. So far so good!
posted by soy_renfield at 7:35 AM on November 29, 2011

I ended up getting some Ortlieb Backroller Classics. I've only been using them a few weeks, but they're great.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:45 AM on January 14, 2012

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