Will an ASUS Zenbook Prime survive a daily bicycle commute in a rear pannier?
August 12, 2012 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Will an ASUS Zenbook Prime survive a daily bicycle commute in a rear pannier?


I’ve been using an ASUS laptop/notebook for the last five years and I’d like to upgrade to a Zenbook Prime.

I ride to work on my bicycle and I’m wondering if the Zenbook will take all the vibration and shocks while sitting in my pannier. The bike paths are pretty bumpy in places (14km one way).

The Zenbook will have an SSD. I’m more worried about the whole thing – hinges, screen, motherboard, and all the soldered components. It’s a nice machine (and expensive) so I want it to last.
Does its design make it tougher than an average laptop? Are there special shock-absorbing cases/bags (that won’t add a lot of extra weight)? Nothing around my local stores.

I hardly ever ride with my current laptop but I’ve just a started a new job which requires me to work in different locations so I can’t just leave it in one office. It’d be in the pannier for the commute nearly every day.

Does anyone know much about this?
posted by cimuir to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Of all laptops I've had experience with, ASUS models stand up to abuse the worst.
posted by griphus at 5:16 PM on August 12, 2012

Best answer: I've always carried my laptops in a backpack rather than panniers, in the belief that my body will absorb much of the shock before it gets transmitted to the unit. My experience with cartons of eggs, admittedly way more fragile than a laptop, suggest that a backpack is safer than a pannier.

However, I just found this report, which compared backpacks, courier bags and panniers. The abstract suggests that while a backpack or courier bag may transmit less force to a laptop than a pannier, the amount that does get transferred by a pannier is probably below the threshold that could cause damage.

On my quick reading of the study, I'm not sure if they are just assessing damage that could be imparted on a single trip, versus the kind of small, cumulative damage that could develop when riding 28 rough km every weekday for months or years.

If you don't want to use either a backpack or a courier bag (which can leave you sweatier), you might find some data in this report that will help you choose a good pannier, like one with a suspended, padded insert.
Bicycle commuting has seen an increase in popularity over the past decade; with this influx of bicycle commuters, there has developed a need to understand the equipment associated with bicycle commuting.

Specifically, the protection that carrying devices provide their contents - notably expensive electronic devices such as laptop computers - has not been well understood. It was hypothesized that a backpack would reduce the forces due to shock and vibration on a laptop computer during a typical bicycle commute by 10% compared to other commercial bicycle commuting packs.

An experiment was performed which investigated the relative protection that four common carrying devices - a backpack, a courier bag, and two rear-wheel panniers - provided a laptop computer. A 3-axis accelerometer was mounted to a laptop computer and placed inside each carrying device. A second 3-axis accelerometer was mounted to the bicycle frame seat post. Data was collected for three bicycle paths of varying terrain: a smooth, paved road, a rough sidewalk, and several curb drops. Five human subjects were used to test each carrying device on each of the three courses.

Results show that the laptop in the backpack experienced the lowest root mean square force over all courses while the laptop in the courier bag experienced the lowest peak force over each course; however, the respective root mean square forces experienced by the laptop in each of the four tested carrying devices over all tests were all within 20% and are well below the force threshold of a laptop computer. Furthermore, transfer function estimations were found for each of the carrying devices and provide further insight into the protection that each carrying device provides. The results of this study indicate that common commuter bike packs provide adequate protection for commuters' laptops.
posted by maudlin at 5:48 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a Toshiba ultrabook with an SSD, so it's a similar computer. I have commuted many, many times (8 miles each way) on a road bike over the year I've owned it and it's holding up fine.
posted by mikeo2 at 5:49 PM on August 12, 2012

If you do get a zenbook, be very careful with the power supply. The barrel connector is very thin (even for a netbook) and fragile (mine broke with a light sideways tap while it was connected to the laptop). I can easily see it getting bumped by something hard in your pannier while you are cycling

If it gets damaged you are in for a world of frustration since (a) it's a proprietary design so you can't get a cheap replacements and (b) you will have to wait for anything up to a month for the privilege of paying ASUS a chunk of money for a new one.

/just got my zenbook back from ASUS following a repair that cost 80% of the price of a brand-new one, all because I broke my power supply and tried to solder up a replacement rather than be without a computer for a month.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:11 AM on August 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks maudlin - that helps a lot, and interesting paper. I think you're right, though - not really assessing the small cumulative damage. I'd never heard of Arkel but that pannier looks like a good choice.

With that pannier, and mikeo2's comment about the Toshiba, I'll feel a little more reassured.

And thanks for the tip, primer_dimer.
posted by cimuir at 7:30 PM on August 13, 2012

The Zenbook is currently one sale, if you haven't picked it up yet.
posted by griphus at 2:30 PM on August 14, 2012

« Older What's it like to live in Shanghai from a native's...   |   Lost dog in Philly Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.