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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 12-19-00, 11:22 PM   #1
technogirl
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Hello, I have just started bike commuting to work, and using a backpack seems to be okay, for now, but eventually I will need to bring a few books to work and stuff, and the backpack is a bit cumbersome. Can someone recommend a good pannier? Someone told me the Jandd panniers are good...

thanks in advance,

--Sussette
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Old 12-20-00, 07:24 AM   #2
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You might wish to look at http://www.performancebicycle.com They sell a range of racks and panniers. I have used their products for decades... they hold up well.

I have been using a Blackburn rack (also from Performance) on my commuter bike... it attaches to the seatstays up near the seatpost collar, and way down near the dropouts. I was lucky in that my bike's frame already had drilled & tapped holes for the rack. Otherwise, Blackburn supplies clamps that would appear to work just as well. It will accept panniers, but I don't use them.

Instead, I use a Performance Bicycle rack trunk. The trunk is very roomy, reasonably water proof, is covered in a retroreflective material that sparkles under headlights' beams, and, most importantly, was on sale! Inside, it is large enough to fit eight soda cans, and expands vertically to half again its normal height. It won't fit a laptop computer, so I lug that home in a backpack, on days that I need to.

I do have a set of wire & canvas grocery panniers that I used in Paris, and I'll attach those for the occasional non-motorized grocery run. It is perhaps a sad statement on the purchasing power of money, but I can easily fit $50 worth of supplies in those bags, and ride home, sans probleme.

I really enjoy the startled and confused look of the other shoppers as I load up & ride away.

Oh... Keep up that good work, in the face of your sedentary coworkers. If they ever ask "Why do you insist upon riding your bicycle to work and back?" Just reply: "Y'know how you arrive home after a bad day at work and a worse day on the freeway, frustrated, p*ssed off, and late, just mad at the world? Not me. I'm just happy to be home!"
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Old 12-20-00, 10:15 AM   #3
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More Pannier Choices

Susette,
As Cambronne said, Performance offers good stuff. If you want some additional options, check Arkel at http://www.arkel-od.com and Lone Peak. Arkel offers a wide range of panniers from big touring bags to models designed specifically for commuting, like pannier backpacks and pannier briefcases, as well as a waterproof model. I am considering something they call a Utility Basket pannier. Basically just a big bag. Right now I have a largish (formerly handlebar) basket bolted to my rack. I like being able to just throw my backpack in it and bungee it down. I also have one folding saddle bag type basket. I am considering the pannier to replace the top basket/backpack in order to lower the center of gravity for more stability.
By the way, I have a Blackburn Expedition 2 rack. It is new, not even shown on their website at http://www.blackburndesign.com. Looks like the ER1, but with 4 vertical supports instead of 3. I tend to go for heavy duty stuff if the weight penalty is not great.
Oh, Bike Nashbar has their own brand of panniers and such also.
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Old 12-20-00, 11:56 AM   #4
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if you bike in wet conditions....

... like the pacific northwest, you might want to look into ortlieb panniers. they make several totally waterproof styles; i use the mini-biker and have been happy with them from day one. they're really well made and last forever. (it's rare when i can get something for the bike that *never* breaks, or needs attention, and always works as promised... so i get a little excited about my panniers!)

the only downside to most of the ortlieb panniers is that there are no inner compartments for organizing your stuff. but then again there are no little zippers to break and waterproofing is not compromised.

http://www.ortlieb.com/espal_hau_p.htm

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Old 12-22-00, 12:54 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info

I've been looking over the different recommendations that everyone has given me. Thanks, all!

I'm really interested in the Arkel Panniers--specifically, the Briefcase, LadyBug, and the Samurai. They seem to be good quality panniers. I'm not in an area that is gets a lot of rain, but sometimes we'll have a weird downpour out of no where, for a day or two.

Hey, Cambronne thanks for the encouragement. My commute seems to be going well so far. I got further up that blasted hill this time without dying to badly! ;-) I really love watching the traffic crawl by down by the freeway as I ride by it. In the morning when I ride, I forget how nice it is outside!

Also, people still ask me at work if I ride to work. I really should respond, "Actually, it's my unconsuming love for lycra/spandex, and helmet hair that really gets me motivated for a ride out to work." ;-)

I'll continue to check panniers out. Again, thanks for everyone's help!

--Sussette
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Old 02-22-01, 08:18 AM   #6
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Arkel Ladybug

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Originally posted by technogirl

I'm really interested in the Arkel Panniers--specifically, the Briefcase, LadyBug, and the Samurai.
Has anyone here tried the Ladybug? I'm thinking of getting one for commuting, and I'm curious if anyone has any opinions on it. The Arkel web site is great. I really get the idea that the people there love what they do.
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Old 02-22-01, 11:41 AM   #7
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I use a single Carradice pannier on my commute. The cotton canvas is pretty lightweight, water-resistant, and very resistant to abrasion. I have slid along the road twice and the pannier absorbed all the impact.
Look for a good clip-on fitting system (Ortleib is the best)
a lightweight stiffening board thet covers the floor as well as the inside wall (corrugated plastic)and plenty of reflective stuff.
I prefer one large compartment with a pocket. I also find that a flap with clips is useful if you are always diving into your bag. The Ortleib roll top is more hassle to get into, but more waterproof.
I dont think nylon/cordura is a good material for panniers, it seems to wear, and the waterproofing simply wont last.
I used to use a cheapie set of panniers, but quality ones are soo much better.
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Old 12-16-07, 05:46 PM   #8
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If you want to only buy panniers ONCE, I recommend Carradice. Cotton duck is lightweight, durable, and surprisingly waterproof. I have the Carradice Kendal, which gets bonus points for being made pretty much the same way for decades. Cotton duck, leather straps.
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Old 12-16-07, 08:50 PM   #9
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I commute with a set of Jandd panniers. I also have a Ortlieb pannier. I'd would even go so far as to say that they are the best pannier out there but also very spendy! Arkel Panniers are also good.

BUT for winter commuting hands down the very best is Oyster Bucket Panniers. Made by Cobbworks. http://www.cobbworks.com/

Have a look! They are super waterproof and very functional. And if you're handy you can make your own for cheap.

Ciao,
Timothy

Last edited by tim24k; 12-16-07 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 12-16-07, 08:56 PM   #10
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I'm drooling over Ortliebs right now, but they're not cheap. Banjo Brothers grocery panniers are a good choice if money is an issue. They hold a lot of stuff and are incredibly waterproof. (Be warned that their trunk bag is far from waterproof.)
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Old 12-16-07, 09:00 PM   #11
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I'm happy with the Novara waterproof panniers I paid a ridiculous amount for at REI last year. Get them on sale if possible. Only thing I wish they had is a carrying strap.
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Old 12-16-07, 09:23 PM   #12
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Hi technogirl,

I use an Arkel Commuter from time to time and it suits my needs fine. Its relatively easy to take off and put on the bike. My wife has Arkel touring panniers and a trunk rack that she loves too. Arkel makes wonderful products, and although they are not cheap, you will not feel cheated. Consider the bug, perhaps.

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Old 12-16-07, 09:25 PM   #13
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I second the Jandd recommendation.
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Old 12-16-07, 10:45 PM   #14
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I've been using the Dueter Rack Pack I panniers for about five months now and love 'em. Sierra Trading Post had these on sale yesterday, but they're gone today.
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Old 12-16-07, 10:50 PM   #15
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I second the Jandd recommendation.
Have two sets of Jandd bags. Expandable Mountain Expedition...NOT waterproof. Saddlebags...not waterproof and not very roomy. Stick w/Arkel or Ortliebs...There's another thread on here recently where someone found a set of waterproof panniers for under 100.00 w/free shipping. Can't remember the brand name, though. It was only a few days ago, so maybe you can scroll back through the threads. Anyway Jandds are very overrated and the only reason I got them was I didn't know any better. I still use them , but I'd rather get a better set...fundage, fundage.
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Old 12-16-07, 10:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technogirl View Post
Hello, I have just started bike commuting to work, and using a backpack seems to be okay, for now, but eventually I will need to bring a few books to work and stuff, and the backpack is a bit cumbersome. Can someone recommend a good pannier? Someone told me the Jandd panniers are good...
How much money do you have to spend? That will help you get appropriate recommendations!

The Jandd panniers look awesome but are expensive... Arkel has some very innovative designs including a backpack/pannier combo for about $150. Some of the cheap ones from Nashbar and Performance have worked quite well for me and others.
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Old 12-17-07, 01:26 PM   #17
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I'm happy with the Novara waterproof panniers I paid a ridiculous amount for at REI last year. Get them on sale if possible. Only thing I wish they had is a carrying strap.
Yep. Got my copper-colored ones on clearance for $99.

Easy on/off,lots of room,nice big opening,and totally waterproof. Used one as a cooler for a cookout last summer;filled it with ice and bevvies and at the end of the day had to pour the water out. You actually have to open the zipper a couple inches to press the air out for storage. Material seems really tough;I expect many years' use out of these.
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Old 12-17-07, 01:53 PM   #18
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Yep. Got my copper-colored ones on clearance for $99.

Easy on/off,lots of room,nice big opening,and totally waterproof. Used one as a cooler for a cookout last summer;filled it with ice and bevvies and at the end of the day had to pour the water out. You actually have to open the zipper a couple inches to press the air out for storage. Material seems really tough;I expect many years' use out of these.
I got the copper ones as well (green is hideous IMO), but definitely not on sale.
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Old 12-17-07, 02:04 PM   #19
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Go to www.arkel-od.com/

Enjoy!
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Old 12-17-07, 02:06 PM   #20
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I use an Arkel Bug in Wisconsin. I've used it for 2.5 years and thousands of miles, hundreds of on/off the bike in all kind of weather. I can't find anything I don't like about it other than that I'd like it to be a tad bigger. Something tells me this would be the case for any bag, so I don't count it as bad. Here's the review:

The good:
After this much use, it still looks new. The fabric is great, and even without the rain jacket it's mostly water-proof. The attachment mechanism is great. I rarely "lock" it into place though, and on/off is simple to do, even in the coldest/wettest envionrment. I can easily fit a day's clothing, toiletries and shoes into the thing, and when I get to work, I simply pull out one of the straps and fling it over my shoulder for the 600 yard walk to the locker room.

The okay:
Without the rain jacket, your stuff will get a bit wet in a downpour, but those happen so rarely here, that I routinely forget it unless its needed in the morning. If you live in a rain enriched environment, I'd say it would be needed. I also always want just a hair more room. After the clothes/shoes/wallet/id-badge etc., there's no room for anything else. This isn't a problem for commuting, but when I go on day-trips, I find it is a little short on room. Then again, that's not what it was designed to do.

The bad:
Initial price is a bit high, but I think it was well worth the price now that I'm 3 years into it and don't see any evidence that its been used.

My suggestion: Figure out what you want your bag to do. If the bug's dimension & use matches with that, pay for it up-front, and know it will last a very long time.

BTW, I also have an arkel handlebar bag, and I'm less fond of it...lest you think I'm a shill for the company.
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Old 12-17-07, 07:37 PM   #21
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There are many choices. I really like my Arkel panniers. I have the bug and the brief case. I also have rain covers for them. I use a Mountain Smith trunk as well.
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Old 12-17-07, 08:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technogirl View Post
I've been looking over the different recommendations that everyone has given me. Thanks, all!

I'm really interested in the Arkel Panniers--specifically, the Briefcase, LadyBug, and the Samurai. They seem to be good quality panniers. I'm not in an area that is gets a lot of rain, but sometimes we'll have a weird downpour out of no where, for a day or two.
I've been using my Arkels for a few months now -- I got the Dolphins -- and I love them! When I first got them I posted here asking people's experiences and got overwhelmingly positive responses. They are pricy but I think well worth it!
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Old 12-19-09, 09:20 AM   #23
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Arktels will last you a life time..... but the performance are not to bad. Everyone has their favorites, when I used to commute 4 days a week I used the Arktels ( The bug and the Utility Basket). Now I just use the basic Peformance transits and they are fine (They also make them better than they used to. As I do not ride in the rain anymore.... waterproof is a mute point. Price and function was the determining factor this last purchase.
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Old 12-19-09, 09:31 AM   #24
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I didn't want to fuss around with rain covers. I would sometimes forget it at home or in the office. So when I started looking around for new commuting panniers my #1 requirement was that the panniers are waterproof. After some reading I bough Axiom Monsoon panniers and I'm very happy. I rode few times in rain, once in a heavy downpour and not a single drop of water inside my panniers.

http://www.axiomgear.com/products/ge...rs/monsoon-lt/

It's one big compartment, and the exterior is stiff, which some people dislike, but that's a trade-off for total waterproof construction. They also have a simple but effective locking mechanism that prevents them from jumping off of the rack when I hit a big bump.

Adam
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Old 12-19-09, 10:38 AM   #25
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I commuted to school for 4 years using an Arkel Utility Basket. I got the dry bag to go inside it, shoulder strap and rain cover. I held my books, laptop, art supplies and various other items great. Being in an area where it rained a lot, I always packed all my gear in the dry bag, but kept the rain cover in the top pocket. I would pull the dry bag packed full of gear out for trips to the store. Now after owning it six years there is little sign of wear.
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