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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 10-08-13, 07:54 AM   #1
GeraldF
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The pannier theft dilemma

For strictly grocery shopping, traveling to work, or going from point A to point B, panniers are great. They're waterproof, easily removable so you can put them in a shopping cart, etc. The benefits are many.

But what if you need to go from point A to point B to point C to point D? I was at a cocktail party recently and I couldn't help but notice a few people who were lugging around ortlieb panniers and messenger bags. All I could think was, how convenient it would be if they could leave their panniers attached to their bicycles outside and not worry about them. The same goes for making a pit stop at the post office, pharmacy, etc. Theft is always a concern, so people are constantly carrying around panniers. [Side note: I live in Washington, DC; leaving an ortlieb pannier attached to a bike while I run into the store for 20 minutes is NOT an option].

Here's my idealistic wishful thinking: Imagine if you could conveniently LOCK panniers to the bicycle. Something requiring a key. This way you could easily remove the panniers when needed, but you'd leave the panniers on the bike at most destinations. The best of both worlds. The system should have a comfortable shoulder strap. Also, the lock should prevent thieves from unzipping/unbuckling the panniers.

I've brainstormed quite a bit about this, so below is my list of dilemmas for each of the systems I'm considering:

Panniers: Easy for thieves to steal

Donkey Boxx: Not easily removable; bulkiness gets in the way of locking to racks and carrying up stairs

Folding baskets: Not waterproof; can't leave items inside if making pit stops at stores, etc.

Bookbag: sweaty back; not available for spur of the moment shopping unless you always wear a book bag

I'm sure there's some sort of system out there for people that combine multiple short trips, but I'm just not sure what it is. Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old 10-08-13, 09:55 AM   #2
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I use a cheap trunk bag (and I have a spare), so I'm less concerned with it getting stolen than the things I have in it (which varies - usually bike tools). None of it's particularly valuable in dollars, but annoying to lose none the less. So I carry it about, and it does have a handle / shoulder strap if needed. If I had to leave it places, I'd probably start using little diary style locks to secure the double zippers together. Those would probably break easy, though in public maybe nobody would bother?

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Old 10-08-13, 02:44 PM   #3
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If your Ortlebs have the QL2 mounting hardware, there is an anti theft accessory (scroll down until you find it).

Personally, I have found that a backpack + basket or crate system works best for me. The backpack carries the essentials with additional space for purchases. Until it reaches max capacity, it goes in the crate/basket. Once capacity is reached, it goes on the back, overflow goes in the rack/basket, and it is time to head home. Note that once I've determined that I'm headed for home, I will reorganize the cargo to lessen the load in the backpack whenever possible.
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Old 10-08-13, 04:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input MEversbergII and no1mad. I like the trunk bag with diary lock idea. The Ortlieb anti theft accessory also looks cool. Much appreciated!
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Old 10-08-13, 04:43 PM   #5
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Another option that I can think of would be to loop a chain through the handles and either over/under the rack plaform or through the main triangle by running around the seat tube (not post).

In reality, securing your panniers in such a manner won't protect the contents and would only keep honest people honest.
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Old 10-08-13, 05:45 PM   #6
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I was at a cocktail party recently and I couldn't help but notice a few people who were lugging around ortlieb panniers and messenger bags.
Room full of DC Congressional staffers, Lawyers and Lobbyists? I expect they took the Taxi.


How about a Burly Travoy , you can tow it around with like a suitcase Trolley and have plastic Filing cabinet boxes on it .

trolley suitcases are very jet set.

I'm not so sure that Your Bike will be there when you come out .

let alone anything attached to it ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-08-13 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 10-08-13, 06:35 PM   #7
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For city riding I used to use a bike with a basket, whatever bag I was carrying went in the basket and was easy to pickup and take with me when parking. Messenger bags are a great invention.

I have waxed cotton canvas panniers on my current city bike, they are "locked" on with a piece of stainless steel cable that has crimps on it, have to cut the cable to remove them, I also used several zip ties. I would not leave that bike parked outside where I cannot keep an eye on it for very long. I believe there are a couple of companies that make a convertible bag that can be used as a pannier or a backpack, possibly Ortlieb.

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Old 10-09-13, 11:15 AM   #8
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I never tried it, but there are some lockable options intended more for motorcycles, and I'm thinking I've seen a bicycle helmet container that was lockable. I think you'd still have similar issues, if people didn't steal your stuff, they'd tear your container up trying to pry it open. Worksman and Haley make trikes with enclosed boxes. I think it was on the Haley site where he recommended not locking it because people would tear it up to open it, even if it was empty.

I've also seen an "army theme" bicycle (as in, cruiser) that used 20mm ammo boxes for rear panniers. Of course, they weigh 20 lbs each, and you'd have to weld on a hasp yourself....
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Old 10-09-13, 03:00 PM   #9
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I have waxed cotton canvas panniers on my current city bike, they are "locked" on with a piece of stainless steel cable that has crimps on it, have to cut the cable to remove them...

Aaron
Aaron, where do you get the stainless steel cable with crimps on it? Home Depot/Ace Hardware? Is it something that you have to concoct or does this product already exist? Thanks!
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Old 10-09-13, 09:04 PM   #10
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F.... I believe there are a couple of companies that make a convertible bag that can be used as a pannier or a backpack, possibly Ortlieb.

Aaron
Ortlieb, Arkel, Delta Cycle, and Nashbar all offer(ed) a variant and word has it that Banjo Brothers showed off their "coming soon to a LBS near you!" design at Interbike.
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Old 10-10-13, 03:49 AM   #11
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Aaron, where do you get the stainless steel cable with crimps on it? Home Depot/Ace Hardware? Is it something that you have to concoct or does this product already exist? Thanks!
I snagged the stuff I needed from work... But Home Depot carries the cable and the crimps, I use 1/8" stainless steel cable. You can use crimps or saddle clamps. The key is to slow them down. If someone is bound and determined to steel something they will.

Aaron
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Old 10-10-13, 12:57 PM   #12
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For strictly grocery shopping, traveling to work, or going from point A to point B, panniers are great. They're waterproof, easily removable so you can put them in a shopping cart, etc. The benefits are many.

But what if you need to go from point A to point B to point C to point D? I was at a cocktail party recently and I couldn't help but notice a few people who were lugging around ortlieb panniers and messenger bags. All I could think was, how convenient it would be if they could leave their panniers attached to their bicycles outside and not worry about them. The same goes for making a pit stop at the post office, pharmacy, etc. Theft is always a concern, so people are constantly carrying around panniers. [Side note: I live in Washington, DC; leaving an ortlieb pannier attached to a bike while I run into the store for 20 minutes is NOT an option].

Here's my idealistic wishful thinking: Imagine if you could conveniently LOCK panniers to the bicycle. Something requiring a key. This way you could easily remove the panniers when needed, but you'd leave the panniers on the bike at most destinations. The best of both worlds. The system should have a comfortable shoulder strap. Also, the lock should prevent thieves from unzipping/unbuckling the panniers.

I've brainstormed quite a bit about this, so below is my list of dilemmas for each of the systems I'm considering:

Panniers: Easy for thieves to steal

Donkey Boxx: Not easily removable; bulkiness gets in the way of locking to racks and carrying up stairs

Folding baskets: Not waterproof; can't leave items inside if making pit stops at stores, etc.

Bookbag: sweaty back; not available for spur of the moment shopping unless you always wear a book bag

I'm sure there's some sort of system out there for people that combine multiple short trips, but I'm just not sure what it is. Any suggestions? Thanks.
First, buy cheap, used or non name brand panniers then either zip tie or bolt them on your rack.

If you don't temp the thief with goodies why bother your bike?? Also, locks just keep honest people away.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 10-19-13, 04:29 AM   #13
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for local riding and commuting, i have beverage crates , which are half height milk crates mounted on rear racks. i have a Chrome messenger bag i put in the crate and take with me. the bag is confortable to carry when walking, more so than a typical student backpack and more so thab any pannier except a few that are briefcase type or backpack type ie arkek bug or ortlieb office. the security cable idea for panniers is not too useful as contents can be stolen off bike. as a post above says if i want to transport more stuff i can wear messenger bag and put more stuff in crate. also i can use bag on other bikes without crate mounted or if i am on foot. so for me best option is bag plus crate or a transportable pannier ie arkel bug or ortlieb office.
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Old 10-19-13, 04:35 AM   #14
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i find for commuter bike above works but for recreational rides on bikes without crate or rack i am out of luck. i can use messenger bag but would rather not. im reluctant to mount racks on my sporty fast bikes. but im going to either mount minimal rack or get carradice big saddle bag plus quick release.
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Old 10-19-13, 01:06 PM   #15
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I do not use or want panniers that will be theft tempting. Besides they 'flop' around and have alot of other flaws/faults IN MY OPINION... so,

"for local riding and commuting, i have beverage crates , which are half height milk crates mounted on rear racks."

I do this also. I have back racks on all my bikes. On recreational rides I put on whatever suits the ride. If I'm worried about theft or do groceries I use plastic bucket panniers and put 'stuff' into cloth shopping bags or a pack I can carry when I get off. If I want to go light I use a crate or basket or whatever and toss the carryable bag/sack/pack on it, to 'carry' when I'm not on the bike. I also found a strapon folding basket for the front rack, that looks cheap enough not to be tempting.

I also am concerned about what it looks like BUT am trying hard to focus on practicable solutions vs appearances...

"Bike Hacks" had a recent post about a big basket for commuting carry stuff.

Oh, the beverage crates, milk crates and plastic buckets were all free and replacable free if damaged, 'removed' or given away to like minded.

BUT if I were to use 'panniers' they would have to be quick on/off and easily portable, not to mention weatherproof; or so disgusting that no one would even bother with.
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Old 10-19-13, 03:26 PM   #16
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I believe there are a couple of companies that make a convertible bag that can be used as a pannier or a backpack, possibly Ortlieb.
I have a Bontrager "Interchange Market Pannier" (seen here), which can be used either hooked onto a rack as a pannier or carried as a backpack. It's not perfect, by any means, as the backpack straps aren't padded, and they're a bit of a pain to tuck away. It's also not suitable for bad weather, but it serves its purpose pretty well overall.

I also have a Bontrager trunk bag (one of these), which can be "locked," in a way, onto a Bontrager Interchange-compatible rack, by turning out a bolt inside the clip release to the point where the release can't be pressed in. It stays on my bike all the time.
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Old 10-20-13, 06:40 PM   #17
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with crates, i mount with many zip ties. im considering the ortlieb/tubus rack attachments where it can turn any basket or crate into a quick release. if u read through ortlieb products u can see it.
aside from cost, im concerned it will add height to the crate mounting. prob. close to 3". reason i use half height milk crate is to keep height down. i slipped and fell and got rib injury once getting leg over a full size mounted crate once. i think reason i fell was slippery shoe, pedal but crate height is factor. so i stopped using full height crates.
im aware of topeak line of racks, baskets that are quick release but they are costly and from whatvi read theres better choices of racks for touring. so i decided id get good racks and use crates ziptied on but if i tour ill use good panniers on my good racks already mounted. topeak racks front what i read have sometimes had compatibility issues with ortlieb panniers. so i decided to bypass use of topeak racks, baskets even though basket is quick release.
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Old 10-20-13, 08:25 PM   #18
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I recently rescued some beverage crates (half height ones) from the woods, so I'm also looking at attaching one to my normal bike. Not sure about zipties though, as it's also my commuter and I might not always want the box on.

Though, I suppose I could always cut the ties and redo it as needed...

M.
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Old 10-20-13, 09:10 PM   #19
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I recently rescued some beverage crates (half height ones) from the woods, so I'm also looking at attaching one to my normal bike. Not sure about zipties though, as it's also my commuter and I might not always want the box on.

Though, I suppose I could always cut the ties and redo it as needed...

M.
Who says you can't use the crate for the commute? FWIW, that is a Large Banjo Brothers backpack that was only partially full and folded in half (dunno why I folded it), but the crate could accommodate the same backpack at full capacity with the top of the bag pointed towards the front.

One of the biggest problems with this configuration is that it tends to block any seat post mounted lights. If I ever go back to this again (got two different sized ones in the garage), I think I'll put a light on the rack (got two now, but not happy with them), one on my helmet, and plaster the crate in reflectives.
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Old 10-21-13, 10:43 AM   #20
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Who says you can't use the crate for the commute? FWIW, that is a Large Banjo Brothers backpack that was only partially full and folded in half (dunno why I folded it), but the crate could accommodate the same backpack at full capacity with the top of the bag pointed towards the front.

One of the biggest problems with this configuration is that it tends to block any seat post mounted lights. If I ever go back to this again (got two different sized ones in the garage), I think I'll put a light on the rack (got two now, but not happy with them), one on my helmet, and plaster the crate in reflectives.
I'd say a sense of shame, but I don't think that'll work on the guy with a clown on his handlebars

I've got one similar to that; I'll see if I can dig up a camera. I haven't been using that bike lately (wifey took a shining), but I'll give it a try.

M.
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Old 10-21-13, 03:45 PM   #21
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Sometimes in Industrial Security, it helps to think like a thief. A thief wants to get the best looking product, that is the easiest to detach and stow out of sight, affording him the fastest flip to get cash, and offering the least exposure to being caught. So if you chain up in the middle of the parking rack (so it's not easy to get at YOUR bike), underneath a camera (they don't do much, but discourage some amateurs), and if your bike has lots of fiddly cable ties (hot-temperature-rated stainless steel cable ties work well to slow them down), and you have low-appeal containers (black-painted milk crates; low-end Wally-world panniers; even better if they are covered in sewn-on patches or splotches of paint), then the HOPE is that the thief goes after the other bikes first. Effectively, you "deflect" the crime onto a neighbour's bike on either end of the rack.

If all else fails, drench the panniers in some awful stinky perfume or cheap hair spray, just before you go into the stores. Who in their right mind wants to steal something like that!??
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Old 10-23-13, 09:12 AM   #22
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A GPS tracking device stashed in a pannier could be used; they have motion detecting alerts, too, and the locating may even let you recover your stuff if it gets vic'd.
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