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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 03-04-07, 08:39 PM   #1
here and there
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Pannier question

Pending approval from the school board (it's basically a done deal...just waiting for the official word), I start commuting next month. I'll likely commute 2-3 days a week, using the trolley for the first 5 miles and riding the last 10 (reverse that on the way home). There is a largish hill towards the end of the morning commute, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Anyways, enough of my ramblings...

I've tried stuffing what I expect to carry in my trunk bag (the bag is 905 cu. in.) and it falls a bit short of what I need. I'm going to carry pants, 2 shirts, and a sizeable lunch/snacks (outdoor physical work...I work up an appetite). I'm looking around at panniers and most of them are way bigger than what I need. The Nashbar Euro Compact Pannier caught my attention, but before buying I wanted to see if anyone else uses them and how much you carry in them.

Last edited by here and there; 03-04-07 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 03-04-07, 08:58 PM   #2
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Cant you carry the pants and shirts to work on the days you are not biking. Then its just the food you will have to carry on the bike.
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Old 03-04-07, 09:15 PM   #3
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Have you considered a saddlebag instead of a pannier. I currently run panniers in the winter, but I'll switch to a saddlebag in the next few weeks when I don't have to carry as much to work. However, as was mentioned above, it's a real good idea to take your work clothes for the week into work on the days that you don't commute (cuts down on the weight and volume of what you carry as well as wrinkly clothes.) "Carradice" makes saddlebags in every size possible.

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Old 03-04-07, 09:24 PM   #4
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The Delta Compact panniers carry a shirt, pants, socks, etc in one bag when I ride to work. Room in the other bag for lunch if I did that and a lot of other stuff.
You have to have permission from the school board to bike to work?
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Old 03-05-07, 07:23 AM   #5
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The Nashbar panniers seem kinda big for what you're hauling.
My REI panniers (bought in 2001) are a little smaller (~ 6x10x15) and I can get everything I need in them.
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Old 03-05-07, 09:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewP
Cant you carry the pants and shirts to work on the days you are not biking. Then its just the food you will have to carry on the bike.
Funny, I was thinking the same thing last night as I was going to bed. I'm already going to keep my work boots and various jackets at work, but it never occured to me to take clothes in for the week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trace22clawson
Have you considered a saddlebag instead of a pannier. I currently run panniers in the winter, but I'll switch to a saddlebag in the next few weeks when I don't have to carry as much to work. However, as was mentioned above, it's a real good idea to take your work clothes for the week into work on the days that you don't commute (cuts down on the weight and volume of what you carry as well as wrinkly clothes.) "Carradice" makes saddlebags in every size possible.
I have considered a saddlebag, but smallish panniers are cheaper (though at this point I'm realizing they may not be necessary). Eventually I'd like to get a saddlebag, but when I do I'd go with the whole quick release system to make it easier to switch between my commuting bike, my mountain bike, and whatever bike I get next.

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Originally Posted by JanMM
You have to have permission from the school board to bike to work?
Thankfully, no. The only involvement from the school board is approving the funding for my position. I've worked there before as a student worker and last year as a fill in for about half the year when the Field Site Manager was off due to medical reasons. This year again the Field Site Manager will be off 6-8 months for medical reasons and I will be filling in. It's a fun job taking care of a 4 acre garden that is primarily used as a teaching instrument for the Horticulture department. I get a flexible schedule, good co-workers (there's only 5 of us), a secure place for the bike, lots of fresh air, and the satisfaction of enjoying what I do. The downside is the summer heat and the amount of weeds that pop up in spring/summer.
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Old 03-05-07, 12:28 PM   #7
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Most commuters use one pannier, it doesn't affect balance and you soon get used to it. A (not very) large size is fine if the material is stiff and tough; flappy material does not behave so well when under-packed.
Look for good stiffening, a heel cutout for better placement and a quick-release locking mechanism rather than hook and elastic.
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Old 03-05-07, 03:32 PM   #8
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Look at the Trek Interchange Panniers or their regular Panniers. They are pricey, but a good size and work very well with their rack.

I carry clothes, a few papers, and lunch. These panniers have straps on the outside that let you cinch them up if you are not carrying much. I always carry 2.
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Old 03-05-07, 05:12 PM   #9
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How much of that stuff can you leave at work?

I won't recommend the panniers I'm using because while they are handily removable from the rear rack in stock form, they don't hook on and stay on very reliably, sometimes being self-removing on bumps. I solved that problem with some rubber bands cut from an old innertube.

Look for something that positively locks to the rear rack. You might also think about you'll soon forget about the trolley and want to be doing the whole 15 miles....both ways....every day.
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Old 03-05-07, 08:11 PM   #10
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i use both front and rear panniers, and a rack pack as well on my 11.0 mile commute, each way.
currently, i have a total change to work clothes in the left front pannier (with mini pump), gym clothes including toiletries and towel in right front pannier. rear right pannier has work specific stuff (cell phone, attache-notes, etc) and right rear pannier has weather gear, including rain suit. the rack bag holds the repair tools and lunch. Cannondale front bags, BikeNash rear panniers and B/N rack bag.
find what works best for you, panniers are cheap!
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Old 03-05-07, 08:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW
Most commuters use one pannier, it doesn't affect balance and you soon get used to it.
It might not BE unbalanced, but it LOOKS unbalanced. I always spread out whatever I have between two bags. Don't want anyone to think that I'm unbalanced.
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Old 03-05-07, 08:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterRun
Look for something that positively locks to the rear rack. You might also think about you'll soon forget about the trolley and want to be doing the whole 15 miles....both ways....every day.
After riding the route I'd be using, I totally underestimated that large hill right before I get to work. I'm not exactly looking forward to slogging up that hill then putting in a day of physical work (though the ride down that hill will be fun, hehe). The more I look at this, it is much more practical for me to take the bus/trolley in the morning as it's faster (roughly an hour) and I don't have to get up too early (I start work at 7 a.m.). It's faster for me to ride home, but if I'm too tired I can always take the bus and/or trolley the entire way or only part of the way.

Saturdays the public transportation system won't get me to work on time so if I don't need to re-stock on supplies and drive to work I could ride in using an alternate route which is flatter and a few miles shorter. Even though it's a designated "bike route", I don't like that route on weekdays as there are plenty of parked cars, narrow roads, and traffic most of the way. It's pretty empty on Saturdays though.

As you can see, I have plenty of options to tinker with (which is what I love about this commute) until I find something that works best. I have nothing to lose by taking my bike with me.

As for the panniers, I'm definantly leaning towards something that is secure, but has a quick release system to make it easier to get the bags off when I need to get on the bus or trolley.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterRun
How much of that stuff can you leave at work?
I could leave enough food for the week in the fridge at work, but the fridge is also used to stock soda/water for the classes that go on there and stuff has disappeared from the fridge before. I'd rather bring food with me everyday along with bike clothes for the ride home. At this point I'm not concerned with weight/bulk for the morning commute as the panniers will be sitting on the bus/trolley with me most of the time.
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Old 03-05-07, 11:04 PM   #13
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I use the Nashbar waterproof panniers (Item No. NA-WPR2). I normally use two for my commute, one for clothes, the other for work-related stuff and food. I recommend getting the larger panniers so in the instances when you need more room you have it. When you don't need the room, just tighten the draw cords to make the pannier tighter. I recommend waterproof to keep things dry. I've been using these panniers for several years now and nothing has ever gotten wet inside, even on rainy days.
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Old 03-06-07, 07:03 PM   #14
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I have the Topeak MTX DXP bag, and it holds a lot. I know you said you already have a trunk bag, but the addition of the unfurlable (word?) panniers on this one increases the storage capacity about 4 fold.

I can load it up with everything I need for the week with no problems. Jeans, shoes, shirts, lunch (for a few days), etc. It holds more than I thought it would. Not as much as honest to goodness panniers would, but way more than a trunk bag should. If you're stuck in the middle between panniers being to big, and your bike bag being to small, this probably would fit the bill. Well made, I should mention, as well.

I got mine, with the Topeak MTX rack, for $80 on Ebay (no, you don't have to have their rack, any rack will do), so you'd probably be able to find a new bag for under $60. More than panniers, but not bad at all for a well made, large capacity trunk bag. GL.
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Old 03-06-07, 08:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by here and there
Pending approval from the school board (it's basically a done deal...just waiting for the official word), I start commuting next month. I'll likely commute 2-3 days a week, using the trolley for the first 5 miles and riding the last 10 (reverse that on the way home). There is a largish hill towards the end of the morning commute, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Anyways, enough of my ramblings...

I've tried stuffing what I expect to carry in my trunk bag (the bag is 905 cu. in.) and it falls a bit short of what I need. I'm going to carry pants, 2 shirts, and a sizeable lunch/snacks (outdoor physical work...I work up an appetite). I'm looking around at panniers and most of them are way bigger than what I need. The Nashbar Euro Compact Pannier caught my attention, but before buying I wanted to see if anyone else uses them and how much you carry in them.
I just ordered the same panniers as a Nashbar combo deal. For the same price you get a rear rack thrown in.
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Old 03-06-07, 08:21 PM   #16
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I got a set of the Nashbar MTB style panniers a few months ago when they were on sale. The rubber cord tensioning system on one of them pulled loose almost immediately. Both of them would come off if I hit a serious bump; IE every other ride. I now use a real bunjie cord to help hold them on. In time I will rebuild them. Suitable otherwise and enough capacity to hold all the heavy cloths I have to wear at work.
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Old 03-07-07, 12:27 AM   #17
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You're not going to like this, but don't cheap out on a set of panniers if you are going to use them a lot. The one pannier I had from Nashbar was complete rubbish; cheap hooks and bunji, bad design, and insecure mounting. If you really plan on sticking to commuting check out some of the panniers from Ortleib (great for when it rains) or Arkel.

Last years models of Ortleib can be found on sale at The Touring Store. Wayne, the owner is simply amazing with the customer service. He'll answer all your questions. http://www.thetouringstore.com/ORTLI...0CLEARANCE.htm

Arkel also has last years bags on sale, as well as some of the best service, AND the best guarantee around. Kevin or Yves would be the people there to direct your questions to. http://www.arkel-od.com/specials.asp?fl=1&site=
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Old 03-07-07, 07:55 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the tips/recommendations everyone.

I decided to buy locally so I could fit the panniers on the bike and make sure there were no heel strike issues (the chainstays on the bike are on the short side). I ended up buying the Novara Transfer panniers at REI. At $110 they're more than what I was looking to spend, but they look well made, they have a nice secure quick release system, the attachment clips are adjustable (which solved any heel strike issues) and I don't have to go through the hassle of ordering something online that may not work for me. They are bigger than what I need for now, but I'm sure I'll end up using both at some point. Especially since one of my favorite grocery stores and a Performance bike shop are on the way home.
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Old 03-07-07, 07:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by here and there
Pending approval from the school board (it's basically a done deal...just waiting for the official word), I start commuting next month.
May I ask why the school board needs to approve the vehicle you use to get to work?
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Old 03-07-07, 08:31 PM   #20
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May I ask why the school board needs to approve the vehicle you use to get to work?
I think I may have implied the wrong thing. Since my position is temporary (6-8 months) the school board is approving the funding for my position, not approving how I get to work (thankfully).
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