Hello! I'm a fairly new cyclist with a single bike: A '92 Schwinn Impact Mountain Hybrid. Someone else's bike with an identical frame can be seen HERE. Note the position of the saddle, the rear cantilever brakes and the two knobs (eyelets) at the end of the seat stay. My bike came with a Blackburn rack (looks like THIS one) attached to the upper set of eyelets. Are racks supposed to be on the upper or lower set of eyelets?
Anyway, I'm looking for either panniers or a trunk bag or both to meet my current and potential future needs. Right now my rack is empty and I carry mail and anything that will fit in a plastic grocery sack that's tied around my top tube at the front. I also carry library books and more bulky store items in a sack tied to the front of my rack which I then secure, laterally, with my cable lock around the rack. Larger boxes (like to the post office) I also carry on the rack using my cable lock. I don't have easy access to an LBS and don't have any bungees or proper straps.
I want to carry large grocery items like lettuce, 1 gallon of milk/water (if at all possible), eggs, and cereal boxes (not necessarily at the same time), BUT I also want the bag or bags I end up buying to adequately serve future commuting needs. I was originally interested in the Wald wire basket panniers maybe paired with a trunk, but I don't want that weight having to go up several stairs at home (and more likely in the future). Now I am leaning toward some kind of trunk/rack bag because I love the idea of being able to throw purchases and other stuff semi-loosely in the trunk on utility or errand trips.
Finally, what I really need you to consider are the physical clearance issues I may be having with my bike. The first affects the trunk solution and the second affects the panniers (go figure!). The first is the fact that my saddle (and associated seat bag) hang over the front 4" or so of my rack about 7" above the surface of the rack with seat bag (11-12" without). The second issue is the fact that my cantilever brake arms extend 1 1/2" outward from the side of the rack in the potential pannier mounting area. They are located 2 3/8" back from the start of the rack and 5 1/4" below the surface of the rack, giving me only 9 7/8" of clear space rearward that is still under the rack's top surface.
Cargo options I've been eyeing:
- Lone Peak RP-700 - My best candidate for a trunk, high quality, good looks, shoulder strap hooks, carrying handle, lots of space--able to hold a 1 gal. milk carton in the back (I have no idea how that would affect balance/handling or if the pack would deform under that weight)
DRAWBACKS: Height, when full, would barely fit under my saddle at the forward end (no seat bag) and that could easily limit how much I can open the lid as well. Replacing my seat bag means I need to find a place to put its contents and there is no room for a frame bag due to water bottle clearance issues and because I lift my bike using the top tube near the seat tube. A handlebar pack is also out of the question due to riser handlebars with barely enough (straight tube) room for a cyclocomputer and a reflector (later light) mounting. Because this trunk wouldn't be secure from theft, I'd have to bring it with me. That's fine except I wouldn't want to drag my seat bag contents (in the top pocket, hopefully) around wherever I go if I can possibly avoid it.
- Otivia Cargo Cache or DIY tool box - A great way to keep things waterproof and secure that I can leave with my bike--a real trunk! The Cargo Cache can also keep my helmet when empty (so I don't have to drag that around like I do now). Unfortunately, they won't hold some of the larger groceries and would prevent the addition of panniers due to their permanent mountings. Perhaps this could be compensated for with some kind of DIY spacer, but we run into the same saddle clearance issues as above. It would also prevent me from using the flat surface of the rack to haul large boxes.
- Banjo Brothers Saddlebag Panniers or Lone Peak P-099s - Good commuter solutions, but would either of them carry many groceries? Major issue here is brake arm clearance (more than heel strike). Likely more stable than a trunk if I keep them balanced.
- Sunlite Grocery Getter Panniers - Great for groceries! ...but I'd have to find a net cover somewhere and there would be no rain protection. Not very suited to commuting I would think. Basic hook and elastic attachment system, as well, that doesn't appear to allow me to move it back and forth on the rack (nor do any of the other panniers, AFAIK).
Right now it seems like I should buy the first, third, and fourth items to suit my future needs! That's too expensive right now anyway. I don't know where to go with my seat bag (or contents) as well.
A backpack or messenger bag is a last resort, please.