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  1. #1
    Crazyguyonabike
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    Ortlieb Classic vs Plus fabric

    Hi, I'm going to be in the market for a new set of Ortlieb panniers soon, and currently I'm pondering the choice between the Classic (thick pvc) and Plus (thin coated cordura). I know the "conventional wisdom" is that the Plus is supposed to actually be tougher, but I have read the odd comment here and there that implies the Classic material might actually be more tough in the real world. The Plus is supposed to put up with being rolled up regularly better, but I've read that the Plus doesn't dry as fast, and holds onto mud and dirt more, whereas the Classic is much easier to wash off, and is, well, thicker.

    I have had a set of the front & back roller plus since 1998, and did a TransAm with them back then. They seemed fine, of course. A pitbull put a hole in one of my rear ones, which I recently sent back to Ortlieb USA to have professionally fixed. They said the bag was unrepairable, due to the large amount of Seam Grip goop I had put on the thing for the temp repair. But they also said that there turned out to be a number of "pinhole" tears elsewhere on the bag. It just makes me wonder if the thicker Classic material might actually be tougher.

    Anybody got any insights there?

    Thanks!

    Neil

  2. #2
    Senior Member NeezyDeezy's Avatar
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    I have both. Classic up front, plus in the back.

    They're both amazing. You can't really go wrong, but I'll tell my experience.

    My front ones are 1st or 2nd generation classics from a LONG time ago and have about 10,000 miles on them. The only issue I've had is a small puncture hole from severe overstuffing (a u-lock end got pushed through).

    My rear are the "tourist" panniers. They are made of the plus material. They definitely scuff and hold onto dirt more than the classics, but it will happen on either type.

    I can't speak to the long-term durability of the plus fabric.
    Last edited by NeezyDeezy; 03-28-08 at 03:16 PM.

  3. #3
    Crazyguyonabike
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    Are your front classic style panniers the rolltop kind? If so, I'm curious as to how the classic pvc has dealt with the frequent rolling. I've heard that it has a tendency to weaken in areas of constant folding because it is stiffer, which eventually causes those spots to fatigue.

    I find myself kind of wanting to try out the Classic, if only because of some kind of gut feeling that the thicker classic material may actually be more robust. Ortlieb USA pushes the cordura Plus, saying that it is more environmentally friendly (not sure why) and lighter, and more flexible etc, but to be honest I can't see how a material that is lighter, easily frayed and easily scuffed can be more durable than a thicker material that is inherently waterproof (as opposed to requiring a coating). The Plus material is coated on the inside, which I can imagine over time would eventually wear off with constant use. Of course, Ortliebs have such an excellent reputation that this may not be an issue at all... but still, the thicker material on the Classic has me thinking. If anyone can put me right here, please feel free...

    Thanks again!

    Neil

  4. #4
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    On our tour we each had one set of classics and one set of plus. The classic material is more durable, resists mud and dirt better, is easier to clean and faster to dry. The plus material is a tad lighter weight and looks more like a bag and less rubber-raft like the classics.

    That said, we met a nice Dutch couple while traveling who told us of a European based boycott of Ortlieb packs a few years back because the classic material is PVC. In response Ortlieb began the Plus line which is not PVC based and issued a full set of.....

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  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    PVC is evil. That is why I chose the new style Ortlieb.

  6. #6
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    PCV is poly-vinyl-chlorine, and is a huge environmental nightmare. The dioxin pollution from PVC manufacture is horrific, and if burned and/or landfilled when you're done using them, dioxin, lead, and other contaminants are released. There are other nasties, but, this seems enough to list here. You can do a search; I used "pvc environmental pollution", and got several nice links. The one below is the one of the more terse summaries:

    http://www.healthybuilding.net/pvc/T...VCSummary.html

    I avoid PVC like the plague, at home and on my bike.

    I have the plus fabric, traditional (hood-over-top) style. I like them very much. The fabric is lightweight but strong. I use them for commuting as well as touring. I've put books, glass-jar quarts of milk, and clothes, and they hold up just fine. I'm not sure anything will stop a pitbull from biting through anything, but I'm also not buying everything to withstand a pitbull. If so, I'd end up riding a car.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  7. #7
    Crazyguyonabike
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    Damn... so every time I buy an Ortlieb Classic pannier, God kills a kitten?

    I was getting ready to decide on the classic style, since it seems they are a bit more robust and easier to clean, etc.

    If it's so bad, why do they even still make it at all?

  8. #8
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Damn... so every time I buy an Ortlieb Classic pannier, God kills a kitten?

    I was getting ready to decide on the classic style, since it seems they are a bit more robust and easier to clean, etc.

    If it's so bad, why do they even still make it at all?

    No, be reassured. It's fine to buy them as long as you recite 100 mea culpas whenever you reach your campsite.

  9. #9
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Are your front classic style panniers the rolltop kind? If so, I'm curious as to how the classic pvc has dealt with the frequent rolling.
    I've got the old classic roll top rear panniers. They're several years old now, and I use one or both of them daily while commuting. No problems so far with frequent rolling.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  10. #10
    Senior Member NeezyDeezy's Avatar
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    To answer your question Neil, I use the "packer" variety, and don't do any rolling. Frankly, the rolling I find unnecessary. Is anyone really submerging their bikes lol?

  11. #11
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeezyDeezy View Post
    Frankly, the rolling I find unnecessary. Is anyone really submerging their bikes lol?
    Hopefully not, and Ortlieb advises against submerging the Rollers too. But in my case, for example, the panniers sometimes double as drysacks in kayak on short paddle trips. I'll bike to the seashore anyways, so it's handy to just throw them in the boat from the rear rack.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  12. #12
    Crazyguyonabike
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    On the Roller vs Packer thing: When I camp, I usually leave the panniers just outside the tent, under the vestibule. There have been times when it rained very heavily overnight, and the panniers ended up on their sides in a deep puddle. I always liked knowing that even if that happened, my stuff was still going to be bone dry. No "if" or "as long as it stays upright...". I know that the usual case for panniers is to be upright, but on tour "stuff happens". Also, I've read elsewhere that the Packer design isn't bug proof (ants, specifically, as I recall). So that "100% waterproof" thing can actually come in handy at times, even if you think you won't need it... I guess if you were going somewhere really dusty then the rolltop would probably keep that stuff out better too. Dust has a way of finding its way into the most unlikely places - anywhere that's not totally sealed, basically.

    I need to take myself back to the TransAm I did, and remember the big lesson I took away from that - keep it simple. I really, really liked my Ortlieb panniers on that trip. I guess I'm talking myself into getting the Rollers again, and I'm curious as to whether the Classics would be more durable... seems to me they might just be, kittens aside.

    So now I just need to figure out just how I feel about kittens.

  13. #13
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Why do they still make PVC panniers? Same reason people still make PVC pipe, and PVC shower curtains, etc...

    Ortlieb is in business to make money, and there is still a demand for PVC panniers.

    I don't think it's good for anyone to be using PVC when there are lots of other alternatives. I also don't think it's good when people buy 10,000 sq foot Mcmansions for their family of three to live in, or when they buy SUVs for solo twenty mile commutes to work, or that people still think it's OK to have pizzas delivered to their house. But people do things that deleteriously impact the sustainability of our society all the time. Mostly, I think, it's due to a lack of education and societal norms that are shaped by marketing.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  14. #14
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Damn... so every time I buy an Ortlieb Classic pannier, God kills a kitten?

    I was getting ready to decide on the classic style, since it seems they are a bit more robust and easier to clean, etc.

    If it's so bad, why do they even still make it at all?
    Not just kittens, but fish and deer and elk and elephants and tigers and birds (think soft egg shells) and ... people, especially around the areas where this stuff is produced, who also don't have the money to go to a doctor when they are sick from the poisoning and are less likely to have a lawyer to defend them and force this kind of thing from being manufactured.

    As for why it's still being made---politicians. But, if you don't buy it, there will be less demand for it.

    Aside, in the usual BF way: One thing you did not mention in your question was the Carradice (sp?) bags. Have you considered these? I've been reading in this forum how some members have field-tested the waxed cotton bags and seem to like them and feel they are waterproof enough. I might consider these once my Ortliebs have fallen apart. Cotton is one of the more polluting fibers ever grown, and it would be very interesting to see a comparison on the petro-chemical use and pollution of the cotton vs. the thin-coated cordura.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  15. #15
    Crazyguyonabike
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    I've used canvas type bags before, and wasn't all that impressed. I found that the nice thick material was quite stiff and tended to always fold in the same place to produce little peaks, which then frayed because they tend to always get brushed first. Maybe other people have different experiences, but that's just mine.

    I guess the PVC thing is one of those "where do you draw your line" things. There are just so many things in this world to care about that if you really paid attention then it wouldn't be possible to participate in modern life at all. I mean, not to get this thread too off-topic, but for example that applies to everybody here: Computers. They are incredibly toxic, people in Asia are getting very sick from scavenging through piles of old discarded hardware. And electricity - we all use it, and in the US it's produced often by coal, which is a huge polluter. And that computer (and websites) you're using now? Apparently carbon dioxide emissions from information and communications technology is on the same level as the aviation industry - 2 percent of global emissions (New Scientist, 5th Jan 2008, p.20). And how many things we buy now are made in China? Nothing against China itself, mind you, but there was a recent issue of Mother Jones magazine that went into all the issues there in depressing detail. I quite honestly find myself overwhelmed by the number of things that we might do, but don't. So some people go live on a commune or whatever, but that doesn't really solve the problem. They still depend on the larger products of the toxic society in which we live, they benefit from all the little advantages that our total domination of the planet provides. And who hasn't visited Wal-Mart on occasion, "just this once" because what you need just ain't available anyplace else?

    Yes, we have choices. I'm not trying to defend anything, or make any righteous stand. Even if I shop organic and buy local and ride my bike, I'm pretty much a polluting scumbag along with everybody else in one way or another, and I know it. We all just do what we can and draw our own little lines in the sand. For some people that'll include eschewing PVC panniers, for others it'll mean moving to Alaska and living off the land. Trouble is, not everybody can go live off the land - the planet just couldn't support it, we need agriculture, and transportation, and energy production... ugh, it's a huge problem, I get a headache just thinking about it. Basic thing, as far as I can see, is that the biggest possible benefit any of us can do for the world is simply to not have any more kids. There's already enough people, as far as I can tell, and they all want the same quality of life that Americans enjoy, and that's going to be a huge problem in the years to come. If there were just fewer people, then things would be a lot better. So no kids for me thanks. But everybody draws their own line, so I don't want to make this into an environmental "more sustainable than thou" thing.

    On the scale of things, PVC panniers... I dunno. I'm already depressed, I just want to get some bags that'll last a good long time and not get little pinprick holes in them like my "Plus" ones evidently did. I've been trawling the net for opinions on Classic vs Plus, and I seem to keep reading little asides from people about how the Plus got holes more quickly than the Classics, and how the Classics probably last a lot longer. So what if the Classics do last longer? Doesn't that offset some downside?

    Ok, ok, I can see there's no way to come out of this one looking good... if I buy the Classics, it's pretty much indefensible and I'm a polluting scumbag. Damn, ignorance really was bliss... I really shouldn't ask so many questions.

    Neil

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    Senior Member
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    What about buying a set of used Classics? You're reusing something somebody doesn't want anymore and potentially saving it from the dump. It's a win win!

  17. #17
    Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post

    Ok, ok, I can see there's no way to come out of this one looking good... if I buy the Classics, it's pretty much indefensible and I'm a polluting scumbag. Damn, ignorance really was bliss... I really shouldn't ask so many questions.

    Neil
    Look at it like the Kyoto Accord, you do good for the environment every day by biking, so you get some "credits". Then you cash them in when you buy PVC panniers. Happy Touring!

  18. #18
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I have both styles of Ortlieb fabric [Plus and the Classic] as well as both the roll top and the bike packer style panniers. They are all good and in a pinch I'd use any combination of them. Given a choice I prefer the PVC material. I don't think the environmental impact is an issue that would keep me up at night buying panniers every 10 years or so.

    I like the bike packer bags better than the roll top, but it isn't a big difference.
    safe riding - Vik
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  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Some choices are hard, some are easy. When the market offers basically equivalent products, I try to support the manufacturer whose product is environmentally friendlier. Ortlieb has certified that the PLUS have NO PVCs. That's worth supporting.

    God won't kill a kitten. The PVC kitten has rabies and will come to play with your children and grandchildren. (Yeah, that's over the top, but do some reading...PVC products are very profitable, but very toxic during the manufacturing and disposal phases of their existence)

  20. #20
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I know the rollers are waterproof even when submerged. However, let's say my panniers are going to encounter a windy day where it pours all day. Are the Plus panniers as waterproof as the Classics?

    I'm thinking I'll get rollers. I'm thinking that top bit that normally gets rolled might afford some extra space for a loaf of bread, or cans of chili if I really need some extra space.

    Any comments?

    Thanks!

  21. #21
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    I know the rollers are waterproof even when submerged. However, let's say my panniers are going to encounter a windy day where it pours all day. Are the Plus panniers as waterproof as the Classics?

    I'm thinking I'll get rollers. I'm thinking that top bit that normally gets rolled might afford some extra space for a loaf of bread, or cans of chili if I really need some extra space.

    Any comments?

    Thanks!
    Plus & Classic materials are both 100% waterproof.
    safe riding - Vik
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  22. #22
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    I think you have the right outlook on this. Nobody can be perfect, and it sounds like you are doing the best that you can. You've researched all of the alternatives, and you are making an informed decision to go with a PVC bag. It may be polluting, but it's still infinitely better than traveling in an RV. Maybe the next time that you need to purchase panniers somebody will have invented a good replacement for PVC.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  23. #23
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    I'm thinking that top bit that normally gets rolled might afford some extra space for a loaf of bread, or cans of chili if I really need some extra space.
    I've cycled with unrolled Rollers with just the closing strap buckled over the top (when I needed ventilation for the damp clothes inside, for example). You need to be careful and watch for the weather and such, obviously, but it works.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  24. #24
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brotherdan View Post
    I think you have the right outlook on this. Nobody can be perfect, and it sounds like you are doing the best that you can. You've researched all of the alternatives, and you are making an informed decision to go with a PVC bag. It may be polluting, but it's still infinitely better than traveling in an RV. Maybe the next time that you need to purchase panniers somebody will have invented a good replacement for PVC.
    umm, I think dioxins are actually worse than traveling in an RV--unless there's more PVC in an RV than the PVC bags.

    Dioxins are just nasty.


    And, I'm a little surprised (level of 'WTF') at the analogy about poor in other countries taking apart computers and being exposed to toxins? Oy! The computer situation is NOT relevant to panniers. Double Oy!

    In the case of panniers, we have a choice. No PVC or PVC.

    In the case of computers, (I'm 99% certain) we don't have a choice of materials being used. We can't order a mercury/lead/silicon/etc-free computer. We can do things like cut back on how many computers in our lifetime we own, replace parts instead of buying a new computer, do research on the companies who recycle computer parts and find out what type of OSHA standards they are following/not following, and/or determine how much is recycled overseas (and thus likely no OSHA standards being followed).

    Attempting to use only poison-free computers would end many of our careers. Using PVC-free panniers won't end our careers, won't end our biking, and our stuff would still be dry.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  25. #25
    GATC
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    It's a no-brainer to stick w/ the 'plus' for me, I have 2 bags in that fabric, they are light, waterproof, tough (no punctures despite extensive packing folding crumpling). There is a price difference, but once you gulp down that, well, you've got panniers for a long time.

    Tangential to waxed cotton, I wonder if Soma will come out w/ waxed hemp/linen panniers to go with their wedgepacks: http://www.somafab.com/bags.html

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