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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 01-07-10, 11:47 PM   #1
bkwentz
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Pannier help

I finally bit the bullet and bought a proper commuter bike. Now that I have a rack mount, I can get my cargo into panniers and off my back. The problem is that my local shop stocks very little in that regard. My needs are limited, my max load being the equivalent of two full paper bags of groceries, but more often than not a change of clothes and my text books for school. I have searched google and amazon for reviews and suggestions, only to be no closer to knowing what I need. Are rain covers ample, or should i be looking at waterproof roll tops for inclement weather?

Thanks for the help.

As a frame of reference, I am currently leaning towards the axiom lasalle or the smaller jandd commuter panniers. I ride a 61cm frame, but also wear a size 13 shoe on longer cranks.
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Old 01-07-10, 11:59 PM   #2
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What's your budget (quality panniers are expensive) and what conditions do you ride in?
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Old 01-08-10, 12:07 AM   #3
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I ride in everything from snow and rain to sun and wind. While i realize you get what you pay for, I would ideally like to keep it as below $100 or so if possible. I can be convinced to spend more, but would rather not if i do not need too.
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Old 01-08-10, 12:10 AM   #4
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Check out the Urban Series by Arkel. I use the Commuter and it's a great bag. Not cheap but worth the extra money. The optional rain cover is a good investment if you ride in the rain or slop.
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Old 01-08-10, 12:22 AM   #5
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I ride in everything from snow and rain to sun and wind. While i realize you get what you pay for, I would ideally like to keep it as below $100 or so if possible. I can be convinced to spend more, but would rather not if i do not need too.
Good luck is all I can say at that budget and your needs.

FWIW, I've had good luck with both Ortleib and Arkel. The Arkel Bug is my go to pannier, and I use it in all conditions with a rain cover. Whatever you get make sure it has more than a simple hook attachment system as they can fall of your rack over rough roads or train tracks.
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Old 01-08-10, 12:28 AM   #6
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Ortlieb Office Bag. around $130. I've got two in service for 10 years now. Love 'em. The attachment system is the best I've seen. I've used Ortlieb dry bags for motorcyle and kayaking applications. Ortlieb dry is really, no kidding, dry.
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Old 01-08-10, 02:07 AM   #7
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Head over to the utility forum and you can find various DIY instructions to make your own panniers. It's actually quite easy and fun. I have now came up with two using my old backpacks. Both are easily more robust that the stuff one find in various LBS. Spent a total of $5 for parts. Totally Macgyver stuff.
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Old 01-08-10, 06:13 AM   #8
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Axiom Monsoon!!! Totally waterproof. I've been commuting with them for about a month in snow and rain and no drop of water inside! The hanging mechanism is simple but very effective. And they're $80/pair on Amazon (never mind the MSRP on the product page).

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

If you want larger then go for the Typhoon ($100/pair):

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

But the monsoon is plenty for commuting. I carry full change of clothes, lots of spares/tools and sometimes lunch and there is still space left for more.

The only complaint I know is that the zippers for the small external pockets can break relatively quickly. But so far I haven't had a need for those pockets at all.

Adam
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Old 01-08-10, 09:16 AM   #9
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When I was commuting to school and needed more capacity than I do now, I used an Arkel Utility Basket as my main bag and a Nashbar Townie Basket as overflow. The Townie was zip tied to the rack, so I always had it, but was folded flat and out of the way. I found its rain cover sufficient for the uses it got (picking up groceries and carrying my lunchbox), but my school stuff and laptop always went into an Arkel Dry bag in my Utility Basket, with a rain cover added over it when it actually was raining (mostly to keep it clean). These both worked quite well for 4 years of school, and though not currently in use, they still look almost new with nothing wornout, broken or otherwise shoddy looking.
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Old 01-08-10, 09:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
Axiom Monsoon!!! Totally waterproof. I've been commuting with them for about a month in snow and rain and no drop of water inside! The hanging mechanism is simple but very effective. And they're $80/pair on Amazon (never mind the MSRP on the product page).

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

If you want larger then go for the Typhoon ($100/pair):

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

But the monsoon is plenty for commuting. I carry full change of clothes, lots of spares/tools and sometimes lunch and there is still space left for more.

The only complaint I know is that the zippers for the small external pockets can break relatively quickly. But so far I haven't had a need for those pockets at all.

Adam
+1...My typhoons came in 4 days ago and as predicted it didn't take long in Ms. to test their waterproofness. I stuffed them full of t-shirts, threw on a poncho and took off for a 20 min. ride down the mup. Not one frikken' drop got in either one of them. I realize this is only 1 quick little test but they seem very well made.
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Old 01-08-10, 09:23 AM   #11
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+1...My typhoons came in 4 days ago and as predicted it didn't take long in Ms. to test their waterproofness. I stuffed them full of t-shirts, threw on a poncho and took off for a 20 min. ride down the mup. Not one frikken' drop got in either one of them. I realize this is only 1 quick little test but they seem very well made.
Check the bungee cords after a while. Mine stretched a bit after a week or two a and I had to tighten them, move the knots up a bit.

Adam
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Old 01-08-10, 10:18 AM   #12
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Some 15 years ago I bought my first set of panniers, a real cheap no-brand set, off the local market shelf. From that I've gradually upgraded to Ortlieb back rollers. In total I've used 5 different sets during this time, with sets #3 and 4 still seeing active use in addition to Ortliebs. I've noticed a couple of things in the process:

- Waterproofing. There are many ways of achieving this, but I like the simplicity of the Ortlieb roller design. I have tried putting stuff in separate dry/plastic bags (my 1st set of panniers) and using rain covers (2nd & 4th set). Dry bags have the added advantage of offering rudimentary compartments, but complete waterproofing such as with Ortliebs is hassle free. Which is nice when running errands, commuting and whatnot. Whatever you choose, make sure you have a plan for waterproofing, as you'll be riding year round and in all kinds of weather. Bear in mind that waterproof can go both ways: put moist stuff in Ortliebs and it stays moist as there is zero ventilation. In warm conditions it can quickly evolve into something rich and strange . Where I ride, this is not much of an issue, due to cold weather.

- Mounting. I prefer quick release mounts, again for hassle free operation. My 1st set had only a couple of hooks and a bunch of buckled straps. It took ages to mount and remove from rack. Next one had hooks and a bungee chord, that was already better. 3 last sets have QR only, no bungee chords. Works best for me. May require some adjustment when moved from one bike/rack to another.

- Compartments. This is the one thing where Ortliebs truly and thoroughly suck. They're just two big bags. There are add-ons, and you can tinker all kinds of working DIY solutions, but if compartments were high on my wish list, I'd definitely look elsewhere.

- Visibility. Especially in the winter. If you need to be presentable when off the bike and carrying panniers around, this could be a problem. I've stopped worrying about being presentable long ago, so my Ortliebs are bright yellow. At least make sure the panniers have reflectors (or add reflecting tape etc yourself). And in my case, due to heel strike issues in my winter bike, panniers have to be mounted way back. There they completely block the rack-mounted rear light visibility from the side. Being able to strap a couple of rear LEDs to the back of the panniers would be a nice feature in that situation. Now I just use a Planet Bike Superflash mounted higher up in the seat post.

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Last edited by Juha; 01-08-10 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 01-08-10, 10:46 AM   #13
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Axiom would be a good choice, being as you said that your needs would include shopping bag size loads. the only drawback is that the velcro straps at the bottom of the panniers give out after about 3-4 months, but that can be fixed by using hose clamps instead.
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Old 01-08-10, 10:49 AM   #14
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If you don't want to spend a bundle of cash, check out the Detours panniers. They have a range of different styles and prices are very reasonable. I don't have first-hand experience using them, however.

http://detours.us/index.php?cPath=35
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Old 01-08-10, 10:56 AM   #15
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Check out the Urban Series by Arkel.
I would second the suggestion of Arkel. I live car free, and commute to/from work daily using an Arkel pannier as my main bag - it has lasted very well, through all sorts of weather and for all sorts of things. Although not cheap, because of how well they wear, I believe that in the long run, Arkel panniers may be the least expensive bags that you can buy.

FWIW, my wife has a cruiser bike with a rack and a pair of WALD folding baskets on the sides of the rack - they hold a couple of bags of groceries, and other misc stuff, and are always there for her. They would not work well in bad weather, nor am I sure how they would hold up to long term daily use, but they work.
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Old 01-08-10, 11:29 AM   #16
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Check the bungee cords after a while. Mine stretched a bit after a week or two a and I had to tighten them, move the knots up a bit.

Adam

Ahh...Thanx. I'll keep an eye on 'em.
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