Bicycle Vanity
August 15, 2014 6:05 AM   Subscribe

I have this bike. I need help finding panniers and clothes to go with it.

I have been having a hard time finding panniers that will go with my bike and meet my needs, can you help? Here's what I'm looking for:
-Waxed canvas or similar; ballistic nylon isn't going to cut it.
-Matched set (i.e., a pair of singles), not a "double" that drapes over the top of the rack. The rack has two low pannier rails and I want to use them so I can strap stuff to the top.
-Complementary style/color to the bags that are already on the bike.
-Decently sized. Needs to be able to hold a 15" laptop on occasion, but does not necessarily need to be purposely designed to carry laptops.

I also am looking for some new bike clothing, since I want to replace my decades-old t-shirt and paint splattered shorts that I usually ride in. I am picky, and I can't find what I want:
-Merino wool or wool blend.
-For tops, a simple t-shirt or polo, or possibly a very simple half-zip jersey with minimal pockets. Nothing that looks like I'm training for a race, and no branding.
-Pants? Shorts? I haven't had any luck finding anything I like. I don't need or want padded pants.
-Does anyone make cycling shoes that don't have cleats anymore? Do you have non-cycling specific shoes that you ride with that you like?
-I don't want "commuter wear" like Outlier; I'll just wear my street clothes if I want to ride in jeans. My commute is long enough that I change when I get to work anyway.

I like Road Holland's polos, but they seem to be eternally out of stock of everything except bright orange. Any other ideas?
posted by backseatpilot to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
no specific suggestions, but have you checked out etsy?
posted by pyro979 at 6:14 AM on August 15, 2014

That's an Atlantis? I have the same bike. For the clothing, (and bags - maybe) don't like Rivendell's stuff?

Is that a Carradice rear bag? They make panniers as well?
posted by bellastarr at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2014

Response by poster: I actually preordered Rivendell's new stripey shirt. Their plain wool t-shirts are mostly out of stock, unfortunately.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:25 AM on August 15, 2014

Response by poster: ...and the bags are made by Acorn - unfortunately they don't make panniers. I like the Carradice panniers but I can't find anyone in the US that stocks them.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:27 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: Those look like Acorn bags; sadly, I have not found panniers that are in the same league as Acorn's stuff. But I am a big fan of Ironweed panniers, which are canvas (not waxed, but with a very effective waterproof treatment of some kind), made in the USA, reasonably priced, and keep their shape even when empty or loosely packed. However, they do use fastex closures rather than leather and buckles, so I don't know if the look would be too modern for you.
posted by enn at 6:29 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: If you've got $428 to blow on this the Berthoud medium panniers look pretty great.
posted by enn at 6:30 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: Have you been to Bicycle Belle? They have a lot of stylish bags, though they skew girly, as you might guess from the name. I like girly things, so I haven't really paid attention to what they have in the non-girly sections.

For clothes, I don't know. One of my favorite riding bottoms is a lightweight knit wool skirt from Ibex. Seems like they have a men's cycling line with a nice polo or two. Pricey though!
posted by mskyle at 6:38 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: oh, hey, fellow Boston biker. I know this side quest of yours and you can have my cheat codes

Panniers - Swift Industries rolltop pannies can be spec'ed using charcoal canvas with whatever trim color you may prefer. I have an earlier version of their saddlebag (predating the zeitgeist) done in charcoal wax canvas if you'd like to take a look.

Also, have you been to Harris Cyclery out in Newton? they sometimes have Carradice gear, but it's a bit catch-as-catch can. They're usually happy about doing special orders if you'd like

Wool - Ibex is my usual go to, though they may be a bit sporty for your taste? Their branding is relatively subtle and not particularly garish. They have a walk-in store on Newbury Street if you're interested. Otherwise, I'd also go to Hilton's Tent City in North Station to review their Smartwool options.

I wouldn't necessarily go with wool for pants as these are high wear and wool isn't super durable. (though ymmv and it depends on how often you wear/use them). Ibex usually releases a wool blend multi sport pant in the fall (not padded, good for fall/winter hiking and skiing/snowboarding) that you may want to keep your eyes peeled for.

(That's another pro-tip for wool shopping. now is actually a bit of a crappy time to be shopping. Most wool vendors are still in summer mode and keeping their good weather-resistant stuff for after September, though, really given the price of most wool clothes, the best time to buy them is in April/May when they're on closeout)

Otherwise, I've also liked Bike Fixation's wool city knickers as pants that work well on bikes but don't look race-centric. They are odd if only because we aren't normalized to seeing guys walking around in 3/4 length pants.

For shoes without cleats, I've been rocking a pair of Quoc Pham's that I picked up while visiting Mission Workshop in SF. They're a bit $$$ but are totally nice, wear well, and blend in to a hip casual office space. For something more sneaker like ... Chrome's shoes are pretty nice. But, mostly for non bike shoes that I like to use when on the bike: stiff-ish sole with some rubber for pedal grip. ideally, no laces, or use short/medium length laces for the QP lacing technique. I also don't tend ride in pedal cages anymore because they tend to scuff up leather shoes. Just bare pedal all the way, which makes tread grip even more important, especially in the rain.
posted by bl1nk at 6:43 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh! And +1 for Bicycle Belle at least as a place to start. It is super-femmey, but, the proprietor is probably up your alley aesthetics wise and I think she could at least give you some pointers for online sources. She's also a friend of mine and I can personally vouch that she would be sympathetic to your quest.
posted by bl1nk at 6:45 AM on August 15, 2014

Do you have non-cycling specific shoes that you ride with that you like?

I use a combination of PF Flyer Center Hi/Lo sneakers and Hold Fast straps. They have supportive insoles, a fairly stiff sole, and the rubber ribbing around the toe really locks into the foot retention system and keeps my foot in place.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:28 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: I was going to recommend the Berthoud panniers, but someone beat me to it. Short Stack will make their panniers in waxed canvas if you want. Personally I use Ortliebs, since waterproofness is more important to me than aesthetics on my touring bike.

As for shoes, I usually wear Keen Newport H2 sandals with wool socks (thickness depends on the temperature). I haven't found shoes that keep my feet dry in heavy rain; if they're watertight, sweat builds up inside the shoe. At least sandals allow the water to drain out. I tried some Chrome Kursk shoes but they had a seam on the inside that irritated my oddly shaped little toe; other people have said good things about them, and they're not too garish.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:15 AM on August 15, 2014

There's a shop on Etsy which makes really nice custom men's denim pants for biking. They have reflective tape and straps on them in all the right places. You can pick your size and your length.
posted by the webmistress at 8:52 AM on August 15, 2014

Personally I use Ortliebs, since waterproofness is more important to me than aesthetics on my touring bike.
fwiw, I don't think it's an either/or. I've never had an issue with water penetration on my Swift saddlebag or on my old Carradice Super C*. I think Ortleib in general are ok as panniers go (I've had a few friends who've had uneven experiences with build quality on the more recent Ortlieb bags (ie. seam splits, clip breakage, etc.) ) but I don't think that Ortleib has a monopoly on waterproof bike luggage, and my experience shows that waxed canvas and duck cotton are equivalent to cordura in most use cases for bike touring or travel. I wouldn't use waxed canvas for a drybag or any scenario with complete water immersion, but that's not a scenario in which I plan on subjecting a touring bike to anyway.

-- as context, my experience includes 10+ years of year-round bike commuting in New England, as well as a few very wet week long tours of New England, France, and British Columbia.

(* -- which the Swift replaced ... I do think that Carradice deserves props for developing and promoting the transverse saddlebag for years before the rest of the industry caught on, but now that others have caught on to their gospel, there are a ton of boutique manufacturers who've taken the Carradice formula and made it more awesome)
posted by bl1nk at 9:21 AM on August 15, 2014

The clothing you describe reminds me of Rapha (wool polo, wool jersey, normal-people trousers). It is pretty spendy stuff, but well-made and attractive. They've got a sale going on now.
posted by Marit at 12:15 PM on August 15, 2014

Response by poster: There are some great options here that I hadn't considered before, thanks.

Also, have you been to Harris Cyclery out in Newton?

Bought the bike there, actually. I stopped by a couple weeks ago and they had almost nothing in the shop that wasn't an actual bicycle; it was a little disappointing.

I've been to Bicycle Belle also and had a nice long conversation with the owner (who is definitely wonderful). Didn't really have anything that caught my eye when I was there, though.

I love the Berthouds but they are very spendy. Maybe if someone drops a bag of cash on my desk, but it's probably a little out of reach at the moment.

I'm going to take a look in the Ibex store this weekend and go from there, thanks!
posted by backseatpilot at 1:11 PM on August 15, 2014

Nthing the Bicycle Belle rec, but in general I've found shopping for quality bike accessories in the Boston area to be a bit hit-or-miss. Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington just off the Minuteman carries some bike-specific clothing, including some of the Rapha line; I drool jealously over the merino every time I'm in there.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 1:49 PM on August 15, 2014

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