Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

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.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 12-24-12, 07:36 PM   #1
seafood
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
seafood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 119
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
panniers vs backpack for carrying a laptop

I've been slowly adapting my Raleigh to my own tastes and utility for urban commuting. My route is not long (3.5 mi each way), and the typical hazards I deal with are pretty crappy roads (including a little bit of cobblestones), weather, and your typical road debris. For work, I have to carry a laptop to and from the office. When I've ridden a motorcycle to the office before getting frustrated with traffic along the same route, I had no qualms about throwing the computer into saddle bags draped over the passenger seat. But on a bicycle, I'm a bit apprehensive about getting panniers as I'm worried about the shocks. I don't want to slow down or take it easy and my relatively short distance allows me to have fun and my back and shoulders aren't bothered by my messenger bag. Still, if there was a reliable way to keep the computer fixed to the bike and safe from shocks and moisture, I'd prefer it. Any words of advice or experiences?
seafood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 09:41 PM   #2
sbslider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Santa Barbara
Bikes: 2011 Surly Cross Check
Posts: 288
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have carried my laptop around in my panniers. I do not have to deal with weather, and I do not do it regularly. I would think for everyday that a backpack would be safer in terms of exposing the laptop to less abuse.
sbslider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 09:57 PM   #3
KonAaron Snake 
Fat Guy on a Little Bike
 
KonAaron Snake's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Bikes: Two wheeled ones
Posts: 14,864
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 48 Post(s)
I usually place the laptop in its bag and use a pannier....no issues in several years.
KonAaron Snake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 10:27 PM   #4
SPECELIZEDRIDER
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Las Vegas
Bikes: Specialized Rock Hopper
Posts: 176
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a large ASUS gaming laptop that I carry in Panniers to keep the weight lower and it works well.
SPECELIZEDRIDER is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 10:40 PM   #5
cosbike01
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 41
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
"Any words of advice?"

Yeah: put it in your backpack when it rains.

If I'm carrying something expensive or electronic, I like to put it in my pocket or backpack. The realistic chances of damaging a laptop in panniers are slim, but it just makes me feel better.

I use panniers for bulky stuff: clothes, books, bags, tarps/blankets if camping, etc.
cosbike01 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 10:48 PM   #6
agent pombero
Mmm hm!
 
agent pombero's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Portland, Oregon
Bikes:
Posts: 1,164
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Have carried my laptop for years in panniers, no issues, even when I crashed onto the side of the pannier carrying the laptop at 10 mph.
agent pombero is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 10:56 PM   #7
mtbikerinpa
Senior Member
 
mtbikerinpa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: PA
Bikes: 92 Giant Sedona ATX Custom
Posts: 1,713
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I would definitely use a back pack for the laptop, but I have hardtails and bumpy roads. Laptop hard drives are tough but I wouldn't jeopardize it.
mtbikerinpa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-12, 11:04 PM   #8
robble 
Senior Member
 
robble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Honolulu
Bikes:
Posts: 231
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Just be sure not to start a defragger before you set off
__________________
Trek 7.4FX
robble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 07:30 AM   #9
usndoc2011
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Bikes:
Posts: 57
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Wrapping your laptop in a jacket should take care of the shocks in the pannier. Otherwise I carry my laptop in my backpack if I think it's going to be knocked around.
usndoc2011 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 08:16 AM   #10
seafood
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
seafood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 119
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks for all the replies! I think I'll keep using the messenger bag / back pack for the laptop for now, but I won't be as worried about stuffing one into a pannier, provided it's cushioned. BTW, one thing I've found to work well for water insulation is bringing a plastic bag with me and putting the computer in it if I know or suspect there'll be rain.

One other thing I was thinking of trying specifically for electronics on bikes without suspension is to take a small bag -- something like a specially made laptop bag -- and attach sections of old inner tubes to it and then run the other ends of the inner tubes to the frame of the bike and let the bag be suspended in the middle. Will try this idea with some test payloads and report back here.
seafood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 09:55 AM   #11
dcr
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Madison, WI
Bikes: 2010 Raleigh Detour Deluxe, 2004 Trek 1500
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'm look seriously at the Ortlieb waterproof panniers. Put a laptop in a good case and place it those panniers---I'd bet the probability of serious damage to your computer would be very very low. And of course back up your computer!
dcr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 10:33 AM   #12
hoppydc
Newbie
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 3
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I use a pannier to carry my laptop and other stuff (clothes, lunch, etc.) and I like that better than a backpack. I found the backpack made me too top-heavy and it made it too hard for me to look back left or right without losing my balance. Plus, I have some back trouble and its better for me to keep excess weight off my back (YMMV).

Most panniers do have some give/bounce which helps absorb potentially damaging bumps. After 3 months of travel like this (several hundred miles) I've had no problems yet, and this includes one accidental fall where the laptop-side of the bike hit the ground with no damage to the laptop. Again, YMMV, and I will say that my route is probably smoother than yours--no cobblestones for me, thankfully.

I put the laptop in a neoprene waterproof laptop sleeve which is a good protector from water and vibration and most bumps. The sleeve came with a thick foam insert (the size of a laptop) as packing material, and I use that as additional vibration absorbing material. I put the foam insert in the pannier bag on the bike-side. This is what I bought:

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/p...9&sku=330-1274

One thing I've read is that laptops with SSD are more resistant to the rigors of bike commuting than traditional hard drives, which have more fragile moving parts. So, if you don't have a SSD, get one. Not only will it be more durable, but your computing experience will be much faster! The only downside to SSD is they're more expensive and have less storage. Unless you have to store large amounts of data on your laptop, then this is not a problem for most people.

FYI, I use the Bontrager City double pannier and it fits a 15" laptop with protective sleeve just right.

http://bontrager.com/model/07726

If I pack everything carefully, and put my clothes in ziplock plastic bags, I've never had anything get wet.
hoppydc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 11:49 AM   #13
jimbrown
Senior Member
 
jimbrown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Cary, NC
Bikes: Trek 520
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have carried various laptops in my panniers for 15 years now and it has never been an issue as far as keeping it dry. I use Ortlieb panniers and nothing ever gets wet. They are the best as far as being water proof. I've crashed twice and neither time did the laptop get damaged. Which really amazed me since one time the bicycle was totally destroyed. The damage to the bike was front wheel destroyed, front fork destroyed, cranks bent and finally rear frame bent. No damage to myself either so I count myself lucky for both the laptop and myself on that one.
jimbrown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 12:29 PM   #14
no1mad
Thunder Whisperer
 
no1mad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: NE OK
Bikes: '06 Kona Smoke
Posts: 8,660
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 47 Post(s)
I struggled with this once, when I still had a job and enrolled in the local community college. I ended choosing the backpack, primarily due to limited funds and the multimodal commute (bike/bus). After about a week, I discovered flash drives and how to convert Google Docs into MS Office format
no1mad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 04:26 PM   #15
Closed Office
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Bikes:
Posts: 679
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by seafood View Post
BTW, one thing I've found to work well for water insulation is bringing a plastic bag with me and putting the computer in it if I know or suspect there'll be rain.
That's what I do too. I always have a couple of garbage bags in the backpack. One goes over the laptop if it rains, another might come in handy for anything else. I have a 17 inch Lenovo that weighs over 10 pounds without all the extras.

I put up a page with more backpack details at a bike and a backpack.

I really like backpacks and have never used panniers.
Closed Office is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 08:52 PM   #16
seafood
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
seafood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 119
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbrown View Post
I have carried various laptops in my panniers for 15 years now and it has never been an issue as far as keeping it dry. I use Ortlieb panniers and nothing ever gets wet. They are the best as far as being water proof. I've crashed twice and neither time did the laptop get damaged. Which really amazed me since one time the bicycle was totally destroyed. The damage to the bike was front wheel destroyed, front fork destroyed, cranks bent and finally rear frame bent. No damage to myself either so I count myself lucky for both the laptop and myself on that one.
That crash info is very interesting. No doubt, it sounds like a high impact event and it's probably very good that your fork, wheel, and parts of the rear triangle acting like crumple zones and absorbing some impact.
seafood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-12, 09:00 PM   #17
seafood
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
seafood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Bikes:
Posts: 119
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppydc View Post
I use a pannier to carry my laptop and other stuff (clothes, lunch, etc.) and I like that better than a backpack. I found the backpack made me too top-heavy and it made it too hard for me to look back left or right without losing my balance. Plus, I have some back trouble and its better for me to keep excess weight off my back (YMMV).
Thank you for all the info! One thing I will say about messenger bags is that it used to hurt my upper body musculature (shoulders, thoracic vertebra, etc.) until I realized what I was doing wrong. Initially, I would tighten up on the shoulder strap to secure the bag and then buckle the waist strap, but not too tight. This would of course cause the weight to be carried by back and would hurt no matter if I used the bag on a bicycle or motorcycle. One day I had an epiphany -- the shoulder strap is not for supporting the bulk of the weight; rather the waist strap is! Once I tightened the waist strap so that the bag would ride primarily on my hips and then have the shoulder strap just barely tight enough for the bag not to flop around, the pain and discomfort stopped and never returned. This is why I'm in no big hurry to find a better alternative. My back is happy, if I can get the weight off my hips now, it'll just be icing on the cake.

For those using backpacks or messenger bags with waist straps, take heed (if you don't already know). The next day after my moment of enlightenment, I enthusiastically told my wife and she said, "You only just realized this now?" Yeah, I'm not the brightest knife in the shed sometimes...
seafood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 04:20 PM   #18
spare_wheel
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: NA
Bikes: NA
Posts: 4,281
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by SPECELIZEDRIDER View Post
I have a large ASUS gaming laptop that I carry in Panniers to keep the weight lower and it works well.

i am pretty sure your laptop weighs the same amount in my large waterproof ortlieb back pack.

imo, those who ride aggressively should ditch the panniers. they are fine for a grocery bike or a tourer but when mixing it up with the cagers i want my center of gravity to be underneath my legs.
spare_wheel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 05:07 PM   #19
robble 
Senior Member
 
robble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Honolulu
Bikes:
Posts: 231
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
i am pretty sure your laptop weighs the same amount in my large waterproof ortlieb back pack.

imo, those who ride aggressively should ditch the panniers. they are fine for a grocery bike or a tourer but when mixing it up with the cagers i want my center of gravity to be underneath my legs.
What do you think will give a lower COG than panniers? your backpack?
__________________
Trek 7.4FX
robble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 05:10 PM   #20
agent pombero
Mmm hm!
 
agent pombero's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Portland, Oregon
Bikes:
Posts: 1,164
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
imo, those who ride aggressively should ditch the panniers. they are fine for a grocery bike or a tourer but when mixing it up with the cagers i want my center of gravity to be underneath my legs.
I've had zero problems over the years with riding w/ panniers & aggressive riding...

IMO if you're riding aggressively the best option is to carry nothing, no panniers, and least of all a backpack with all that weight on the back, neck, and shoulders.
agent pombero is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 06:14 PM   #21
JohnJ80
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Minnesota
Bikes: N+1=5
Posts: 2,771
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Arkel Bug. Then you can do whatever you want. But panniers are better.

J.
JohnJ80 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 06:38 PM   #22
JoeyBike
20+mph Commuter
 
JoeyBike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: New Orleans, LA USA
Bikes: Surly LHT
Posts: 5,340
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 80 Post(s)
I hate transporting my laptop on my bike, but if I must, I like a backpack as our roads are terribly bumpy and I feel like the machine takes less pounding through my body than hanging on a steel bike frame. I guess my body adds one more layer of shock absorption, at least in my mind.

I am not sure that laptops even care about getting knocked around a bit. Certainly the ones with solid state hard drives are not bothered by a bit of rattling in a pannier.
JoeyBike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 06:58 PM   #23
Mark Stone
Littledog
 
Mark Stone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Southwest Desert
Bikes: 2013 Giant Escape 2
Posts: 2,894
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
I would use a backpack, but I stop a lot and do errands on commutes. For example I leave work, then if I stop at a walgreen's or a grocery on the way home it's much easier just to lock the bike and dash inside rather than worry about stuff I have in my panniers. But if I'm not going to stop somewhere it makes no difference to me
Mark Stone is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 07:43 PM   #24
JohnJ80
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Minnesota
Bikes: N+1=5
Posts: 2,771
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I hate transporting my laptop on my bike, but if I must, I like a backpack as our roads are terribly bumpy and I feel like the machine takes less pounding through my body than hanging on a steel bike frame. I guess my body adds one more layer of shock absorption, at least in my mind.

I am not sure that laptops even care about getting knocked around a bit. Certainly the ones with solid state hard drives are not bothered by a bit of rattling in a pannier.
that's what's great about the Arkel Bug. It's a neoprene sleeve that hangs in the bag so the laptop is suspended in the neoprene which acts as a shock absorber.

J.
JohnJ80 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-12, 07:56 PM   #25
downtube42
Senior Member
 
downtube42's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Columbus, Indiana
Bikes: Volae Team, '76 Motobecane Grand Jubile, DONATED: '60's Schwinn Typhoon 2-speed kickback, DONATED: Specialized Hardrock, Sun Flat-top unicycle, Santana Arriva road tandem
Posts: 1,705
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Used a pannier for years until this summer when the corner of the laptop got into the spokes. Ripped the corner of the lid to shreds, including the display. I was in traffic on a bumpy road,and accelerated hard to keep up. Now I use a backpack.
downtube42 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:39 PM.