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  1. #1
    Senior Member Sincitycycler's Avatar
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    Touring newbie: Do people steal panniers?

    I am a roadie and I finally completed converting a steel framed fixed gear bike to where it's going to be a touring/commuting bike.

    My question is this: Some hardcore roadies with $200 carbon saddles actually use those super-skinny saddle locks so nobody hocks their bike seat...

    Any reports of people stealing your pannier when you take a break to eat at a restaurant?

    Id's rather them take the contents within the bag than the pannier itself, even though that would suck too!
    "How did all those 'Keep Off the Grass' signs get there?"

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I have heard of the whole bike being stolen, but do not know of a case where just the panniers were stolen.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    Sad as it is to say, in some situations folks will steal something just because they can, doesn't matter if they need, want, or can sell it.

    This is why I lock things up as much as I can without being ridiculous and take my trunk bag with me.

    If you're worried about your panniers walking off you could always invest in something like this.
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  4. #4
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    The only time I've ever had a pannier stolen was when I took it off my bike and brought it into a restaurant with me. Someone nicked it off the back of my chair when I wasn't looking. (The three I left on the bike were fine!)

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I don't go into a restaurant unless I can see my bicycle from inside the restaurant. In fact, if the restaurant has a patio, that makes it an even more attractive option.

  6. #6
    royal dutch of dukes
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    i live in new york city and would never, for a second, leave my bike unlocked even to run into a corner deli. BUT, when touring, i'm quite different. i hate to say it, but the fact that the rest of nonurban america:

    a) hates bikers with a passion;
    b) sees bikers as losers who "cant afford to have a car" (40yr old virgin syndrome) and
    c) are usually too fat, i dont think bikes being stolen OR weird bike bags (read: panniers) being nicked is that big a deal.

    I've rarely been to a roadside diner where the reactions at our bikes was not laughter/curiosity, rather than eye-glistening greed. also, i dont think any of them could have fit on the bike or ridden it for 5 seconds without running out of breath.

    maybe rude, but my thoughts.
    Last edited by bikiola; 10-04-07 at 02:19 PM.

  7. #7
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    I often leave my loaded bike unattended and unlocked. I've never had anything stolen. However, I wouldn't do that in a big city.

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikiola View Post
    i live in new york city and would never, for a second, leave my bike unlocked even to run into a corner deli. BUT, when touring, i'm quite different. i hate to say it, but the fact that the rest of nonurban america:

    a) hates bikers with a passion;
    b) sees bikers as losers who "cant afford to have a car" (40yr old virgin syndrome) and
    c) are usually too fat, i dont think bikes being stolen OR weird bike bags (read: panniers) being nicked is that big a deal.

    I've rarely been to a roadside diner where the reactions at our bikes was not laughter/curiosity, rather than eye-glistening greed. also, i dont think any of them could have fit on the bike or ridden it for 5 seconds without running out of breath.

    maybe rude, but my thoughts.
    I agree that having panniers stolen is unlikely in non-urban America, but...

    Having recently cycled across the US, I was impressed by the warmth and generosity with which we were greeted in pretty much all of the towns we stopped in. There were only rare exceptions.

    If you can ride where we did across Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado or especially Kansas and find the people unfriendly there is something wrong with you. The same was true as we went farther east, but to a slightly lesser extent.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikiola View Post
    c) are usually too fat, i dont think bikes being stolen OR weird bike bags (read: panniers) being nicked is that big a deal.
    Actually, I live in a non-urban area and this past sunday(9/30) my girlfriend's kid had her bike stolen from right by our front door, of the three parked there they took the cheapest looking POS of the lot.

    She only needs it to get back and forth to school and her part-time job...

    If I ever find the asshat that stole it I plan on eating his eyes.
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  10. #10
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    While I've never had a pannier stolen, I completely stopped worrying about it when I built my own out of US Army ALICE bags. Anyone who'd steal one of those is probably too messed up to figure out how to unhook them.

  11. #11
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    +1,000 - people are nice, as long as there aren't too many of them in one place.

    To the OP, I also have never heard of it. Just don't be stupid. If you're in a big city, don't leave the bike & bags alone for a long time somewhere it would be easy to rummage through. You can often find a friendly person/business who will let you stash your bike inside - the visitor info center is a good place to check. I keep an eye on it if i can, but don't let worrying about it stop me from being a tourist. I keep my bags inside my tent with me when I'm camping.

    Just have a "purse" - I use my handlebar bag - that contains the really important stuff - wallet, passport, plane tix, camera, ipod, prescription meds - and never NEVER let it leave your side.
    ...

  12. #12
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    I lived most of my life in "non-urban America" that you dissed (which included growing up on a farm), and now live in NYC for several years. I can say this sounds like the typical self-absorbed, navel gazing, not to mention arrogant disdain that New Yorkers have for the rest of the country. Then they wonder why many people in the rest of the country don't care that much for New Yorkers! There are people in my neighborhood in NYC that react no differently than the "non-urban" folks you condescendingly cariacature.
    Rich

  13. #13
    royal dutch of dukes
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    thanks so so so much rich for your comments, i grew up in minneapolis and lived four years in madison wi, so i'm glad to poke a big needle in your hot air balloon... these have been my experiences, and i find the rest of the country doesn't care for new yorkers because they are suburbanites who prize artificially large amounts of space and "individuality" over density, living with other people, and relying less on cars.

  14. #14
    Macro Geek
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    I've never had a pannier stolen.

    I avoid big cities on my tours, but when I am in a city, I take extra care. When I stop for lunch or go to a grocery store in small towns, I often don't bother to lock my bike. Maybe I am tempting the Fates, but that's what I do, and I have not lost a bike to a thief in 22 years. (I can't recall whether it was locked up, but I do remember it was on the outdoor porch of my house.)

  15. #15
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Panniers are not usually theft targets, Casual thiefs can't usually get them off easily and experienced thieves usually know they have nothing but dirty clothes and cookware in them. My Vaudes like the Ortliebs have a quick release mechanism for removing the panniers, to foil(slowdown) potential thieves I use a ski lock to secure the panniers to the rack in high risk areas. If your panniers have pockets or you have items in mesh pockets use your rain covers to hide everything


  16. #16
    Senior Member Sincitycycler's Avatar
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    This is assuming that I lock my bike. Just wondering if maybe fellow bikers(who want some bags) take the trouble to unvelcro the panniers and bike/run to the hills...
    "How did all those 'Keep Off the Grass' signs get there?"

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sincitycycler View Post
    This is assuming that I lock my bike. Just wondering if maybe fellow bikers(who want some bags) take the trouble to unvelcro the panniers and bike/run to the hills...
    WHY would they?

    1) Panniers aren't that expensive ... at least mine aren't.

    2) Panniers (my panniers) contain things like shorts I've worn for 5 days in a row, and haven't been washed yet because I haven't made it to a laundry ... or inexpensive sleeping bags which I've slept in for weeks on end while wearing the shorts I've worn for days in a row ... or plastic dishes which are slightly greasy and smell vaguely of my last 8 meals because I haven't bothered to buy soap yet ... or a towel which has picked up that smell that wet towels get when they haven't had a chance to completely dry. In fact, that pretty much describes the entire contents of my panniers.

    3) I don't know about other cyclists, but I do not carry anything of great value in my panniers. As described above, I don't carry much and it is all very well used. Much of my stuff has been purchased from second-hand places, the local Army surplus store, dollar stores, Canadian Tire, and other inexpensive places. A stolen pannier would be very inconvenient and frustrating, but not difficult or expensive to replace ... and whoever stole it would get 4 year old, very well used panniers with inexpensive/second-hand 4 year old, very well used stuff inside.

    4) Fellow cyclists would have to have a way to carry the pannier ... in other words a rack on which to hook it. Most racers wouldn't be caught dead with a rack on their bicycles, and most commuters already have panniers or whatever type of bag they want.

    5) Just about every pannier has a different type of hooking system. I've had experienced cycletourists have difficulty unhooking my panniers when they are trying to help me load my bicycle onto a train or something. It's not usually a 2 second job to unhook a pannier. I know my hooking system, and I still struggle to get my panniers off my bicycle. (PS. There's no velcro involved)

  18. #18
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sincitycycler View Post
    This is assuming that I lock my bike. Just wondering if maybe fellow bikers(who want some bags) take the trouble to unvelcro the panniers and bike/run to the hills...
    Dude,If you are that paranoid perhaps you should stay home.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    I always lock my bike. It is just a habit when touring, because if the bike disappears you tour ends.

    Panniers? See Machka above.
    The handlebar bag has the wallet, camera etc. and goes in with me. Copies of passport, credit card, health insurance info goes into the blowout bag along with a little cash stash for just in case. it's been there for 4 years and thousands of miles now and has never been needed. Never lost the bike or any panniers. I did lose a cheap computer once off of the handlebars at a campsite. Probably kids.

  20. #20
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Last summer a poster on here traveled through my home town. He locked his bike outside of Safeway and went inside for 30 minutes or so. Came back out and his cable lock was cut on the ground, and his bike and most of his gear were gone.

    This was a place where, for years, I left my bike unlocked outside of businesses and my house. The population in the area is skyrocketing, as, apparently, is the number of punk kids with nothing better to do than steal someone's bike.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  21. #21
    Got an old Peugeot kipibenkipod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmclaughlin807 View Post
    Last summer a poster on here traveled through my home town. He locked his bike outside of Safeway and went inside for 30 minutes or so. Came back out and his cable lock was cut on the ground, and his bike and most of his gear were gone.

    This was a place where, for years, I left my bike unlocked outside of businesses and my house. The population in the area is skyrocketing, as, apparently, is the number of punk kids with nothing better to do than steal someone's bike.
    Thats why after our 2 Treks where stolen (2 wire locks), when we hoped to the mall just for 15min, I decided to go with the best - Kryptonite New York fahgettaboudit U lock. This lock will not let a thief do the job quickly enough, so the bike will be there when I'm back. Its heavy but it should be one of the accessories you carry on the bike no matter what! To this U lock you can add a wire that you can put on your panniers and saddle and to the U lock.
    OP - as you see, the odds are slim for pannier theft. Just decide what you are going to use, e.g. lock, wire, no lock, always on eye sight, no locking at all etc. then if the panniers are stolen, just go and buy new stuff, and think of it as an inside trip expense, with out making fuss of it. It is something that will happen but not in great numbers.
    Good luck
    On the bike I feel like a conqueror ;)
    4 months touring trip from England to Spain http://www.underadometent.com

  22. #22
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kipibenkipod View Post
    It is something that will happen but not in great numbers.
    Good luck
    Since most touring seems to take place in rural areas and small towns, at least here in the US, I would say the numbers are less than small for pannier theft. I think this is the case to the extent that it isn't even worth thinking about it beyond keeping your wallet, camera, and other valuables with you.

    The whole bike being stolen is more of a problem and should be safeguarded against especially in larger towns and cities. The more "bike friendly" the city the more you have to worry. In really rural areas I never bother to lock at all.

    BTW: My theory is that you can tell a lot about how bad theft is in a given area by looking at the local's bikes. If every POS clunker has a $75 lock you should be VERY careful. If there are nice bikes with $12 locks or no locks at all you need to worry a lot less.

  23. #23
    Seek the Joy
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    you did the whole conversion thing backwards as ****

  24. #24
    duh-river foe
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    Most places I don't worry about the panniers, because as Machka said the stuff in there is totally unappealing looking and smelling. However, the places that I DO worry about getting them stolen are places like train/bus stations, grocery stores, and tourist spots. This is where carrying less stuff really comes in handy since I can just detach my two Ortliebs (with shoulder straps), swing them on and velcro the handlebar bag to the handle of one of them. It's not hideously cumbersome to carry unless there are stairs and the whole thing can go on and come off in less than a minute.

    I'm sure that it's overkill in a lot of places, but losing my stuff would certainly suck and most of my tours short enough that losing stuff and having to wait on the mail would ruin it completely.

    Another thing that I've done is used one of those very skinny seat/accessory cables with a master lock to go through the handles of the panniers. Someone could get them off, but it keeps honest people honest and weighs virtually nothing. In this case, the BF and I had ridden our tandem up to a trailhead on Mt. Washington, pulled out our little daypacks, and put our bike shoes and helmets in the panniers. We had a great day and didn't worry a bit about missing stuff when we came back.

  25. #25
    Senior Member meanderthal's Avatar
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    I've never had anything stolen. Though at night I do often secure the bike to something substantial and stow my panniers in the tent with me, by day I like to practice "stealth security", which is to say that I try never to appear untrusting of the people in whose communities I am a guest. That means, especially for small towns, not brandishing lock & cable but instead doing as machka does: dining and shopping where I can see my bike. Connecting in a good way with the land and its people is so important, I think, and having trusted--and been seen, trusting--is a good part of the warmth that remembering brings, long after the last mile is over.

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