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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 08-01-08, 07:56 AM   #1
danadear
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Best panniers for commuting?

Hi all. New here and loving this site. I am easing into commuting to work. I do all of my errands by bike now and only drive to work which is 47 miles round trip. I plan to start commuting up to three days a week. I'm looking for suggestions for waterproof panniers. I like the looks of the Nashbar Action pack pannier but am concerned that with only one pannier it would throw off my balance. I'd love to hear recommendations on panniers.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:11 AM   #2
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Unless you severely overload the pannier, a single pannier will not throw off your balance. There are lots of pannier options... many people buy one and stick with it rather than testing a bunch. If you plan on using this pannier solely for commuting, then the requirements would be different from a pannier you'd use for hauling groceries. As for water proof panniers, I've both read and heard excellent reports about the products from Ortlieb. Keep search the site for reviews and recommendations. I'm sure others will chirp in with their suggestions.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:15 AM   #3
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I love my Ortlieb Bike Shopper pannier. It's waterproof w/ a sealed zipper type closure at top. The mounting system is great too. It's a little pricey, but IMHO, well worth it. It looks kinda cool too.

Aeneas is correct. Using one pannier will in no way affect your handling once you get going.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:24 AM   #4
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+1 on the Ortliebs. I've got two backrollers which are completely waterproof (when rolled) and go on the bike in seconds. I can carry work clothes and some groceries in just one bag. You can load up a backroller all the way to the top as well. Prior to that I had the Jandds, which were not waterproof and a pain to mount/unmount.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:26 AM   #5
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the nashbar action pack is a pretty cool bag. i have 2 of them. you can fit a ton of stuff in there. also it is a dry bag so it is water proof. watch your heel clearance though. i have a cross bike with a rack and i need to mount the bags as far back as i can get them and i still only have a cm of clerance.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:37 AM   #6
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I just built a pair of bucket panniers. 8 gallons total capacity, waterproof, solid mounting, easy on/off the bike. Took about half an hour to make them, and cost around $15.00 in parts at the hardware store. If you don't want to spend the cash on a waterproof fabric pannier, the plans are located here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Buckets
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Old 08-01-08, 08:39 AM   #7
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How often do you need to be waterproof? I'm in the desert and I rarely need to be waterproof. But I picked up some Delta Expedition panniers that have a built in rainfly.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:53 AM   #8
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Sweet, I am making my own out out of one of these. I just have to pick up the parts, the bag came in yesterday. I will try to take pics as well.


http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...rman&noImage=0
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Old 08-01-08, 08:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ht70 View Post
I love my Ortlieb Bike Shopper pannier. It's waterproof w/ a sealed zipper type closure at top. The mounting system is great too. It's a little pricey, but IMHO, well worth it. It looks kinda cool too.

Aeneas is correct. Using one pannier will in no way affect your handling once you get going.
I agree. Love mine too.
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Old 08-01-08, 08:58 AM   #10
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Arkel and Ortleib are probably the two bestest brands to look at.
Arkel has some great designs, but they are not waterPROOF like the ortleibs unless you get the rain covers to go with them.
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Old 08-01-08, 09:03 AM   #11
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I have Deuter Rack Packs, or I did until my wife took them. I think they use the same quick release mechanism as the Ortleibs, which is really nice. They just pop right off and you can carry them inside or wherever you're going. They don't look that big but they hold a lot of stuff - my wife fits her clothes, lunch, and anything else she takes to work in one side and a bulky breast pump in the other.

For running errands I think the easiest thing is a trailer. I see old child trailers on Craigslist for $100ish all the time. You can fit bulky items in it and don't have to arrange things like you do with bags. As an added bonus other vehicles give you more room. I have an old Burley d'Lite for errands and a Chariot for carrying the kid.
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Old 08-01-08, 09:10 AM   #12
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I picked up a pair Novara's (REI's house brand) a while back that have stowable don't-hit-me-yellow rain covers and they work great for me. Haven't had to beak out the rain covers yet as it's been sunny and HOT around here. I don't pedal if it's raining out unless I get caught in it.
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Old 08-01-08, 09:20 AM   #13
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Must put in a plug for the Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus - pricey but they're bombproof and waterproof. You customize the mountings once and they go on your rack in about a second. They stay there until you take them off.
I've got them and I love them.
If you decide to go Ortlieb, I'll also recommend emailing wayne at Thetouringstore.com - nice guy, good service, best prices around.

And ya, using just one at a time hasn't ever caused me any problems as far as handling.
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Old 08-01-08, 09:34 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the great replies and suggestions! This is a jewel of a website. I do like the look of the Ortlieb Backroller panniers. I have some grocery panniers I can use temporarily I suppose.

Coincidentally hosehead I just ordered the Nashbar Kid Karriage for my dogs so I can ride them to the park. I always thought it was silly to drive them to the park and then let them out for a walk. Too far for them to walk from the house to the park. I will definitely be using the trailer for large grocery trips too.
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Old 08-01-08, 10:05 AM   #15
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Think of the pannier as a really important tool. I urge you to spend the money and get good a quality from Arkel or Ortlieb. (there are some others too)

You have a long ride, they take a lot of abuse mile after mile. Over time cheap ones will wear out, the good ones will just keep asking for more.

I use an Arkel, it's bullet proof and its just like new 3 years and several hundred commutes later.
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Old 08-01-08, 10:14 AM   #16
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Must put in a plug for the Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus - pricey but they're bombproof and waterproof. You customize the mountings once and they go on your rack in about a second. They stay there until you take them off.
I've got them and I love them.
If you decide to go Ortlieb, I'll also recommend emailing wayne at Thetouringstore.com - nice guy, good service, best prices around.

And ya, using just one at a time hasn't ever caused me any problems as far as handling.
I also recommend Wayne, but I got the Back Roller Classic instead of the Back Packer Plus. I normally use only one pannier when commuting. Ortliebs are VERY easy to mount and remove. I can also fit my LARGE laptop still in it's case down in the panniers, and still get it rolled up water-tight. I only have to carry my laptop home every few weekends.
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Old 08-01-08, 10:14 AM   #17
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I have a pair of Arkel T-42 panniers and a pair of Ortlieb front roller classics.

In all instances, I would argue to go with the Ortliebs. They are cheaper. They are waterproof (no extras, and the Arkel rain covers are not cheap). They are easier to mount / unmount. They are the same quality as Arkels.

The only problem you will run into with Ortliebs is that there are no external pockets to help you organize your things. There are two pockets inside my front rollers that hold any items I need quick access to, but they are not always easy to get at with everything else crammed in there. However, if you take the time to learn how to pack, this becomes an afterthought.

If you want to spend the money, go with the Ortliebs. They will not disappoint you if you can learn how to pack them (ziplock bags are your friend if you need to organize).

P.S. I also went the kitty litter bucket route for a while and they worked. They are very easy to make and are cheap. I never thought of them as a long term solution, though. I prefer the Ortliebs over the buckets, stylistically and functionally.
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Old 08-01-08, 10:48 AM   #18
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If heel clearance is an issue (heel striking the front edge of the pannier), some models have a cutout profile, narrower at the base than the top.
Panniers need to have tough material that doesnt flap in the wind, a strong but light stiffening, quick-release, locking type mounting (not hook and elastic).
the other choices are zip, roller or flap-top. Zips eventually break, roll tops take longer to access but are waterproof. Flaptops with a collar (like backpacks) are quick and convenient with nothing to go wrong.
External packets are useful for quick access. Some panniers have a plethora of internal compartments but I prefer to Keep It Simple Stupid.
My Carradice Super C have been is use everyday for 12 years.
Single pannier use is pretty common and doesnt affect the balance. You can use the off-side pannier to create more car clearance or alternate them for even wear and tear.
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Old 08-01-08, 12:49 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by danadear View Post
Hi all. New here and loving this site. I am easing into commuting to work. I do all of my errands by bike now and only drive to work which is 47 miles round trip. I plan to start commuting up to three days a week. I'm looking for suggestions for waterproof panniers. I like the looks of the Nashbar Action pack pannier but am concerned that with only one pannier it would throw off my balance. I'd love to hear recommendations on panniers.
I commute a few days a week (20+ mi. a day) using the Arkel Utility Basket. It is not waterproof, but I live in a place that gets very little rain, so it's not an issue. The Utility Basket is a nice product, well built and designed nicely for shopping or commuting. I will also use it on a small tour I am planning in the fall.
BTW, Arkel does make waterproof panniers, check out the Dolphin line on their Web site. I have been very pleased with my UB, I checked out the Ortlieb BikeShopper at REI and did not like it as well, though Ortlieb makes great stuff. To each his own.
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Old 08-01-08, 01:24 PM   #20
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I have a pair of Nashbar Daytrekkers, but I'm going to make me a set of bucket panniers this weekend. The Daytrekkers are okay, but I can't fit anything more than my work clothes.
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Old 08-01-08, 01:25 PM   #21
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I commute a few days a week (20+ mi. a day) using the Arkel Utility Basket. It is not waterproof, but I live in a place that gets very little rain, so it's not an issue. The Utility Basket is a nice product, well built and designed nicely for shopping or commuting. I will also use it on a small tour I am planning in the fall.
BTW, Arkel does make waterproof panniers, check out the Dolphin line on their Web site. I have been very pleased with my UB, I checked out the Ortlieb BikeShopper at REI and did not like it as well, though Ortlieb makes great stuff. To each his own.

Wow..the Arkel basket does look nice. Does it fit on most racks?
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Old 08-01-08, 02:01 PM   #22
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On their site, they have the dimensions of the UB, so that you can make a cardboard cut-out and test the heel clearance with your rack.

I just ordered a pair of Dry Load panniers from Inertia Designs. They have the best price, and they're already waterproof. Anyone have any experience with them?
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Old 08-01-08, 02:21 PM   #23
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Wow..the Arkel basket does look nice. Does it fit on most racks?
They use hooks with cams to keep them attached. As long as there is clearance under the rack tube the cam should be able to mount to any rack.
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Old 08-01-08, 02:25 PM   #24
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I use Axiom LaSalle panniers. They are just a notch below the Ortliebs or the Arkels. But alot cheaper. They include rain covers with the purchase. Heavy duty, good quality, great for work or the grocery. You'll find them the cheapest at http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30...ils&sku=BG6628.
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Old 08-02-08, 01:06 PM   #25
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Hi all. New here and loving this site. I am easing into commuting to work. I do all of my errands by bike now and only drive to work which is 47 miles round trip. I plan to start commuting up to three days a week. I'm looking for suggestions for waterproof panniers. I like the looks of the Nashbar Action pack pannier but am concerned that with only one pannier it would throw off my balance. I'd love to hear recommendations on panniers.

There is no best. There is only a question of how much money you want to spend.

I have two sets of panniers. One is a pair of Nashbar ATB panniers. I paid 20 bucks for them, and they're totally functional for commuting and shopping. They are made from nylon and are fairly waterproof.

I also have a pair of Carradice Kendal panniers. Cotton duck and leather. Cost $150+. Totally functional for commuting/touring. Should last for a LONG time.
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