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Old 05-08-09, 12:43 PM   #1
Road Fan
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Commuting luggage?

Hi, what commuting luggage are 50+ ers using? Need waterproof, big laptop space, papers, pens, books, lunch, spare shoes, raingear, general bike gear.

I'm leaning towards a messenger bag that sits in the small of my back, but ...... ???
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Old 05-08-09, 01:53 PM   #2
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I use an Arkel commuter briefcase mounted on a rear rack:

http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/bri....asp?fl=&site=

They have a couple of other models ("the bug," "the commuter backpack"; "the metropolitan") that are interesting as well.

I wanted:
- something on a rear rack (I don't like messenger bags for long distances)
- 1 bag, not two (less to fiddle with)
- waterproof (it has a rain cover that slips over it in a few seconds)
- enough room for a laptop and clothing

It's rugged, well made, and carries everything I need. One thing I don't like about it is that if you want to get into the external pockets quickly you have to unbuckle the straps - one of their newer models has fixed this, so if you are riding and want to stop to get access to a wallet or phone or keys you can just open a pocket without unstrapping the pannier.

This is the new one that I might get if I were buying again today:

http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/met....asp?fl=&site=


I usually carry a laptop, some papers and files, and a change of clothing (minus shoes). Sometimes I have an extra jacket, and a towel. However, I don't think I could carry everything I carry PLUS lunch PLUS shoes (I leave extra shoes and a belt at work so I don't have to carry them). Given the load you are trying to haul, maybe you would be better off with two standard / medium-sized touring panniers. For me, though, it was really important to get my load down small enough so that everything fits in *one* bag; it's just less to hassle with each day.

One note - I'd say I'm a minority in Seattle. I think 80% of all commuters here use messenger bags; maybe 10% use two small panniers; maybe 5% carry one pannier and 5% don't seem to carry anything at all.
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Old 05-08-09, 07:07 PM   #3
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Panniers. Carry things low. You'll need one suitable for a laptop and a second one so that your bike looks visually balanced.

Last edited by JanMM; 05-09-09 at 06:36 AM.
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Old 05-08-09, 10:40 PM   #4
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I use a big messenger bag I bought at REi. It has pockets everywhere, is pretty waterproof, and has an extra wide shoulder strap and stays on well. It is not nearly as "neat" as the set of Lone Peak panniers I have on my touring bike, but that bike is so heavy, and unstable when it is not fully loaded, that I rarely commute on it. I commute on my "vintage" lugged steel Austro-Daimler almost always, with my gear in the messenger bag.
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Old 05-09-09, 12:18 AM   #5
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I love my Timbuk2 messenger bag. Lots of room, fairly watertight. For more info, go here:

http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/...essenger-style

If you have the monetary wherewithal, Rapha makes a superb backpack. It's about double the price of my Timbuk2 bag.

http://www.rapha.cc/index.php?page=644

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Old 05-09-09, 12:31 AM   #6
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janMM wrote : " ..... Panniers. Carry things low. You'll need at one suitable for a laptop "
Is vibration a problem with electronic equipment ? How long have you carried the laptop on your panniers and have you encountering any problems ?
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Old 05-09-09, 06:42 AM   #7
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Is vibration a problem with electronic equipment ? How long have you carried the laptop on your panniers and have you encountering any problems ?
Never carried a computer on a bike but have had no problems with other electronics such as cellphones, PDAs, cameras, etc. carried in panniers. Factory-built laptop panniers are available that are padded, waterproof, etc.
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Old 05-09-09, 08:33 AM   #8
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Is vibration a problem with electronic equipment ? How long have you carried the laptop on your panniers and have you encountering any problems ?
I've carried a laptop on my bike for 4,000 + commuting miles. No problem. People tour with them all the time.
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Old 05-09-09, 09:19 AM   #9
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Vibration can be a problem. It can work out the little screws that hold everything together and will accelerate fatigue (plastic stress cycling) in the plastic features that also hold everything together. I'm hoping for something with a very good built-in laptop section.

I looked at REI the other day and I see a bunch of bags with laptop segments that have sometimes decent padding, but have zippers that are accessible from the outside. Openings like that can let in water, seeping through the zipper.

Chrome messengers have a flap that fits around the opening with side shields which looks a lot more effective than the oversize on T2s, and a messenger friend says no leaks. I also like the one-handed adjustability of the Chrome and the extensive padding. But there's no integral laptop section.
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Old 05-09-09, 04:24 PM   #10
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Road fan wrote : . . . I'm hoping for something with a very good built-in laptop section.
Road Fan, . . . so, you think carry a laptop in panniers is OK as long as it has built-in section to absorb vibration ? Not strapping a laptop with a bungee chord on a rear rack.
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Old 05-09-09, 06:49 PM   #11
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I'm a pannier guy myself. Prefer having something attached to the bike rather than attached to me, but that's just my preference.
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Old 05-09-09, 07:03 PM   #12
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I use a standard backpack for my commute - stuff the laptop, lunch and a big nalgene bottle in it. If it will rain in the PM I'll put in a rain coat and goretex paints. I am not racing on my commute - I am taking easy and enjoying the morning. I have found that if I make my commute a training ride I'll end up driving.
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Old 05-09-09, 07:27 PM   #13
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I use both, standard backpack and single pannier. Backpack for my computer, books, pen and rain gear. Pannier for my lunch and bike repair gear.... and the groceries on my way home.

Did start out with single pannier but lugging it around is detriment to my body posture. I think my right arm is now longer than the left
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Old 05-09-09, 08:00 PM   #14
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I don't use anything. I roll my rain pants, rain coat, and Totes and put them on the rack. I figure life is too short to do anything more complicated than hop on the bike and ride.

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Old 05-09-09, 08:28 PM   #15
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Road Fan, . . . so, you think carry a laptop in panniers is OK as long as it has built-in section to absorb vibration ? Not strapping a laptop with a bungee chord on a rear rack.
I assume you're on the vibe topic. That's probably ok for vibe, but then there's shock, where you might right through a pothole. If it shakes your teeth it probably hits your pannier-mounted stuff pretty hard. Maybe not for an upper end product like an Arkel, but ??
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Old 05-10-09, 09:58 AM   #16
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I used an earlier version of this one for several years.

http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/com...asp?fl=1&site=

and still do sometimes. I like the suspended pocket for cushioning a laptop. It has a rain cover.

I also had a rack bag for shoes.

Make sure that your bike has long enough chain stays to give you heel clearance.
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Old 05-10-09, 12:59 PM   #17
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Niiiice ! ...... I'll get one of this next time round for sure. Like the shoulder strap feature and lots of compartments and external pockets. Need a well build item when my data are at stake here. I have my pannier snap on me once, luckily it dangled on the other hook.
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Old 05-11-09, 01:34 PM   #18
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Yikes, try an automobile.
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Old 05-12-09, 07:41 AM   #19
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I use a big messenger bag I bought at REi. It has pockets everywhere, is pretty waterproof, and has an extra wide shoulder strap and stays on well. It is not nearly as "neat" as the set of Lone Peak panniers I have on my touring bike, but that bike is so heavy, and unstable when it is not fully loaded, that I rarely commute on it. I commute on my "vintage" lugged steel Austro-Daimler almost always, with my gear in the messenger bag.
What bag did you get? and not to run off-topic, but just curiousity, what is your touring bike? I'm rather amazed at your comment about stability.
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Old 05-12-09, 07:45 AM   #20
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Yikes, try an automobile.
One of the unstated goals is to get out of the automobile, right?
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Old 05-12-09, 08:02 AM   #21
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I have a large old Eddie Bauer daypack, and I don't like it for biking. The shoulder straps pull on my shoulders as I reach for the 'bars, and it ends up feeling like a breathing constriction. I've test-ridden with my laptop briefcase in the small of my back with a load of PC and such, and that works if it stays in one place. Hence the messenger bag idea. I'm leaning toward a Chrome with an added laptop sleeve. My body will provide decent shock isolation, at least until I burn off all this excess fuel.

If I had a long daily commute I think I'd be more in favor of panniers, but right now I'm thinking more in student mode - run a series of errands around town (max 8 miles across town), go out to the coffee shop to meet contacts, work on my resume and standards, and network. Panniers are as said hard to carry around indoors. Possibly the Arkel briefcase would be better than say my Madden pack.

A final note on vibration and shock: From an electronics engineer's point of view, it's better with sizable electronic products (like a laptop) and single devices (like a laptop screen) to avoid shock and vibration altogether. Small products like PDAs and cell phones are less vulnerable. However, there are ways (thanks largely to the Department of Defense) to design equipment to withstand the expected shock and vibration for a reasonable useful life. In the laptop and auto industries, techniques were developed to provide durability at little additional cost. If you have a padding system in a pannier that fits your laptop well and seems to have about the same degree of isolation as a good quality laptop briefcase, I think the laptop won't be affected significantly by bike use.

But I don't expect all laptop sections or laptop sleeves to be the same. Look carefully at fit to the PC, retention, and isolation. I like that the Arkel has (at least was here reported to have) an additional layer of suspension in addition to the usual.

Last edited by Road Fan; 05-12-09 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 05-12-09, 08:33 AM   #22
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No luggage. I leave clothes and shoes at work and we have a showers, thanks to an associate dean who was a runner. I carry a tiny backpack with my lunch and a shirt. My 60-km round trip commute during the warm months is a fun/training ride on the road bike.

I'm curious as to why people are carrying laptops to and from work. Are you working at home for free?
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Old 05-12-09, 10:42 AM   #23
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No luggage. I leave clothes and shoes at work and we have a showers, thanks to an associate dean who was a runner. I carry a tiny backpack with my lunch and a shirt. My 60-km round trip commute during the warm months is a fun/training ride on the road bike.

I'm curious as to why people are carrying laptops to and from work. Are you working at home for free?
Workers arise! You have nothing to lose but your laptops.
Actually, right now I'm post-layoff, but in my former salaried position, overtime was not paid, and the time required to accomplish the project goals was the expectation. The pay was not meager, for that commitment. But right now I'm not really commuting, rather using local coffee shops as places to work on my resume and my committee work.

I hope to start up a consulting business, so I'd like a bag I can also plausibly use as a walking briefcase. I already know I don't like to carry my stuff in a standard one-handed briefcase.

In my former job I'd have liked that 60km per day, about the same as me (well it would have been around 85, really), but the available routing was terrible.

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Old 05-12-09, 10:53 AM   #24
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[QUOTE=Road Fan;8881656]Hi, what commuting luggage are 50+ ers using? Need waterproof, big laptop space, papers, pens, books, lunch, spare shoes, raingear, general bike gear.
/QUOTE]

I commute 15 miles each way, year round. I have a lot of different bags, but what I end up using almost every day is an Arkel T42 pannier (just the one on the left side). I carry my clothes, lunch, and misc other stuff in that (I leave a couple of pair of shoes at work, so I don't carry shoes back and forth).

On days when I am bringing work home, I add an Arkel briefcase on the right side. This has a padded sleeve that hangs inside the briefcase for the laptop.

The arkel bags are not completely waterproof, but they offer waterproof rain covers that I sometimes use.

Mark
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Old 05-12-09, 11:14 AM   #25
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I have something you might consider - it is a laptop case disguised as a back pack. So it has a nice big flat spot for the laptop, and you can carry it over 1 shoulder or wear it like a backpack. I bought it at a computer store.
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