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Panniers Safe to Leave on the Bike Unattended.

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Panniers Safe to Leave on the Bike Unattended.

Old 09-09-07, 12:41 AM
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natlogcabbysea
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Panniers Safe to Leave on the Bike Unattended.

Hi there!

Awhile back I asked about panniers for carrying textbooks to and from college, and got a great response. I am now set on getting the Bug from Arkel but am so far unsuccessful at finding a second pannier that meets my needs. I am looking for a side-mounted, rear wheel pannier. It needs to be able to:
  • Lock closed/shut
  • Lock to the bike either via its rack (which would in turn be fixed to the bike) or the bike frame directly
  • Carry a large number of good-sized textbooks, binders, etc
Basically, I hope to be able to use the Bug to transport books and items I will need for my most immediate classes while using this second pannier to leave the remainder of my books and such securely with my bike. Then throughout the day I could come back to the bike, replace items in my Bug that I will not need for later classes in the day, and lock up those I have already used or still don't need until even later. This portable locker of sorts would significantly reduce the amount of weight I have over my shoulders each day.

It is probably good to note here that the usual, critical feature of a commuter pannier for it to quickly attach and detach to the bike is not necessary here; it just needs to stay on the bike and not come off unless I want it to or someone tries very hard.

I have done a lot of searching for any kind of pannier that would be suitable for the job but much to my surprise, have been unable to locate anything that is perfect for the job. Some products that show potential are:
  • Any of the large Ortlieb bags that can be equipped with their anti theft device (it's a thin cable with a lock from what it looks like). Ortlieb seems to have great panniers by almost everyone's accounts, but the security of that anti theft device is what concerns me. Anyone know how well it works? Also, do their products mount to racks that also work well with the Bug? Also, if the zippers their products are locked together, would someone be able to easily remove said lock?
  • Pacsafe carries bags with integrated wire mesh that is supposedly comprised of high strength metal. They also sell similar wire mesh that can wrap a bag and lock. This looks very promising, but I am unsure (a) how well it would work on a pannier and (b) whether it would be a huge hassle to take it on and off multiple times a day.
  • BikeBins are almost like motorcycle panniers as they are key lockable, hard plastic cubbies for storing large items. The company appears to be relatively young and inexperienced compared to veterans like Ortlieb, but the product seems promising. One of my concerns, however, is how solidly one can be locked to the bike.
  • This brings me to Motorcycle panniers. Although not the easiest fix, there's bound to be some motorcycle panniers that can be modified to, at very least, lock onto the top of the rack.
  • Homemade panniers would be my last resort, as I am busy studying, working, and going to the university. It would be a time consuming project to get right but is always there if nothing else is possible

Any suggestions (other than to give up ) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot everyone!
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Old 09-09-07, 01:01 AM
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If you have an Arkel pannier with the older style attachment system you can slip a small padlock through the tab which pivots and lock it to the rack itself.

I retro-fitted an old pannier with the Arkel hooks and locked it on my bike for a winter. It was a junky old pannier which I used to hold my chain lock.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:26 AM
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Link

This might be helpfull

Link

The top link will wrap your enitre bag in a wire security mesh and has a cable that you can use to lock up your bike with the second link you might be able to lock up your panniers with.

Hope this helps
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Old 09-09-07, 11:02 AM
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My panniers clip together and have a shoulder strap. I always take them with me.
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Old 09-09-07, 06:29 PM
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Thanks for your recommendations, Ziemas and scubaluke. Scubaluke, you actually sent me to two products I am considering already (great minds think alike, or something like that ).

Ziemas, or anyone else who might be able to answer, is there a name for the locking system that Arkel used to have on their bags? Also, why did they remove this feature? It seems so useful! It looks like Arkel is the way to go in terms of quality, design, and utility. Thus if I can get this locking feature on one of their larger models it would be awesome.

Any more ideas?
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Old 09-09-07, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Ritehsedad View Post
My panniers clip together and have a shoulder strap. I always take them with me.
The problem is that I don't want to be lugging around a large number of books once I'm at school. It would be so much easier to simply secure the second pannier to the bike.
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Old 09-09-07, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by natlogcabbysea View Post
Thanks for your recommendations, Ziemas and scubaluke. Scubaluke, you actually sent me to two products I am considering already (great minds think alike, or something like that ).

Ziemas, or anyone else who might be able to answer, is there a name for the locking system that Arkel used to have on their bags? Also, why did they remove this feature? It seems so useful! It looks like Arkel is the way to go in terms of quality, design, and utility. Thus if I can get this locking feature on one of their larger models it would be awesome.

Any more ideas?
I don't know if it was an intended feature or just something I figured out to do with it. Arkel updated their hook system to a more user friendly model which doesn't have the tab.

It's very possible that Arkel still has some of the older model attachment systems for sale. Send them an email or give them a call and ask, their customer service is excellent.

You do realize that this is just for locking the pannier to the rack? I never actually left anything of value in the pannier while it was locked on the street.
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Old 09-10-07, 12:05 AM
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Maybe something like this Security Lockbox attached permanently to the rack...and maybe permanently attach the rack to the frame to prevent somebody stealing your rack (probably just a few hex screws to remove the rack) to get the attached lockbox.

Maybe add a couple of extra high security padlocks & hasps if you need more security. I'm sure there are plenty of similar boxes out there if you need a different size. This is just the first one I found that looked like it could work.

I find it easier to just pack light and take everything with me if I have to leave my bike unattended, but if security is a priority and weight isn't a problem I guess this could be do-able.

You may also ask your campus about getting bike lockers. Then you could just pay a reasonable rental fee for the bike locker & park your bike inside with whatever is attached to it. I know they had bike lockers at my college, but I don't know how that worked because I didn't own a bike when I was in college.
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Old 09-10-07, 12:12 AM
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I have one compartment of my panniers that has a small combination lock on it through the zippers so it cannot be opened.
To secure the panniers, I have about a dozen zip ties on each bag. My hope is that no one in their right mind would go to the trouble of undoing all the damn zip ties. I always envision someone trying to make off with it but it just doesnt budge and they just give up in frustration.
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Old 09-10-07, 12:20 AM
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With a soft bag couldn't they just cut through the fabric with a pocket knife to get to whatever valuable items may be inside? I know many of the students carried knives on a daily basis where I went to school (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and a frequent method of stealing things from parked soft top vehicles (Jeep Cherokees, convertibles, etc.) was to cut through the windows and/or top to gain access to the items inside.
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Old 09-10-07, 08:19 AM
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Just a thought - A clear heavy plastic bag might be all you need. Who wants text books?
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Old 09-10-07, 02:40 PM
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Wow, you guys all have great ideas!

You do realize that this is just for locking the pannier to the rack? I never actually left anything of value in the pannier while it was locked on the street.
Yes I do. I also know that nearly any feasible method of connecting the pannier to the rack and the rack to the bike can be broken through with relative ease by someone skilled in this sort of thing. The school I'm at has fairly high security and I leave my bike in a spot where people would notice someone forcibly taking it (regardless of the excuse they use if asked what they're doing). Plus I know many of the service staff that work around there, and they'd recognize if someone else was going for my bike. The main thing I am concerned about is the opportunist with few tools and little experience. Otherwise, I'd be with you in not risking it!


Maybe something like this Security Lockbox attached permanently to the rack...and maybe permanently attach the rack to the frame to prevent somebody stealing your rack (probably just a few hex screws to remove the rack) to get the attached lockbox.
...

I was considering something like this earlier. So long as the box is large enough and doesn't need to be welded on I might go with this solution.

Bike lockers are a possibility, but they would probably involve a good amount of red tape.


To secure the panniers, I have about a dozen zip ties on each bag. My hope is that no one in their right mind would go to the trouble of undoing all the damn zip ties. I always envision someone trying to make off with it but it just doesnt budge and they just give up in frustration.
Something like this could work. For my own peace of mind, though, I wouldn't mind something more challenging to get through.


With a soft bag couldn't they just cut through the fabric with a pocket knife to get to whatever valuable items may be inside? I know many of the students carried knives on a daily basis where I went to school (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) and a frequent method of stealing things from parked soft top vehicles (Jeep Cherokees, convertibles, etc.) was to cut through the windows and/or top to gain access to the items inside.
There isn't a lot of theft that I'm aware of at my school, and I think given the locations I keep my bike parked this would look suspicious.


Just a thought - A clear heavy plastic bag might be all you need. Who wants text books?
If only it could be so simple! Nowadays textbooks are at least as valuable as some electronics. Given that the average large textbook is priced around $150, theft can be easy and rewarding.

Thanks so much you guys for all your input!!
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Old 09-10-07, 02:52 PM
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Maybe you could try a few P-clamps screwed onto the pannier, used to permanently attach the pannier to the rack. The thief would have to be carrying a wrench and screwdriver to steal them, and if they've got those tools then the rest of your bike parts are in danger as well!
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Old 09-10-07, 03:51 PM
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Well not to raise the paranoia level, but as long as the bags are cloth, all it takes is a boxcutter or razor knife to open one in seconds.

I would love to have some sort of realistic hard case for times when real security is needed.
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Old 09-10-07, 04:21 PM
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this is not an issue i have encountered, but you may want to take climate (weather exposure) and relative security issues where you lock up into consideration. there are places where you can leave a bike with a tiny padlock all day, and other places that you would want a full-on 24-hour bike locker... for example, i padlock a couple straps together between my rack bag and pannier while i go into the grocery store, but i keep my bike inside a locked stairwell at work.
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Old 09-10-07, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Well not to raise the paranoia level, but as long as the bags are cloth, all it takes is a boxcutter or razor knife to open one in seconds.

I would love to have some sort of realistic hard case for times when real security is needed.

Ortlieb small parts and a Pelican case, I use it for camera gear.

I cable lock it to the frame/lamp post when it's not going to be out of eyesight for long.
I'd expect it'd make a thief damned curious.
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Old 09-10-07, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by dalmore View Post
Just a thought - A clear heavy plastic bag might be all you need. Who wants text books?
Text books are quite expensive and have a high resale value.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:12 AM
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Just how many books do you need in a day, anyway? If you need to take them to class, why would you leave them with your bike?

I'm just asking because it seems like you're trying to turn your bike/panniers into the equivalent of a locker, and there may be some simpler solution (don't haul so much stuff, or find some better place to stash it).
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Old 09-11-07, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
Just how many books do you need in a day, anyway? If you need to take them to class, why would you leave them with your bike?

I'm just asking because it seems like you're trying to turn your bike/panniers into the equivalent of a locker, and there may be some simpler solution (don't haul so much stuff, or find some better place to stash it).
+1! I have to agree with my fellow Bay Stater -- why not find a locker somewhere for books and things? It might take a little more time in the morning, but an extra 2 minutes might be worth it for the extra security and for not putting all your eggs in one basket.

I mean, if your bike was stolen, would your textbooks and binders be gone too? Are the classes such that the materials you're carrying around are replaceable, or would the loss of a semester's worth of work be really bad? I know if I lost a notebook full of notes from a class I'd be REALLY REALLY UPSET.

I know that you probably lock up securely, and you say that people would say something if someone started messing with you bike. Even if people know the bike is yours, I got news: they won't be there when someone starts messing with it -- because someone will start messing with your bike when people aren't there. And sadly, most strangers will do *nothing at all* if they see a bike or its parts being stolen.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:00 PM
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genec: Totally agree about the hard case. The pelican and the security lockbox ideas are both good in this respect, but it would be nice for someone to manufacture one specifically geared (no pun intended) for bikes (i.e. with latching mechanisms that lock to the bike or at least the rack without modding).

zippered: Climate conditions are not a problem; Los Angeles weather is at worst rain, and I cover the bike when this happens already.

lil brown bat & njm: If I could, I would turn my entire bike into a locker 4 feet thick with concrete yielding only to a wall of lead at its core to survive radiation fall out. My friends in the physics department have told me that this would pose problems for me on my hilly commute.

In all seriousness though, my school is not bike commuter oriented. Areas convenient to park coming into different buildings (including those where my classes are and will continue to be) do not have bike racks in front of them. Also, the only regular lockers on hand are across campus from my classes, which would eliminate their utility, and the school has 0 bike lockers. Other places to stash the books that would be close enough to my classes are risky and would also require some kind of security.

As for reducing the number of books, I only bring what is necessary for school/other activities each day. That amount, however, when carried on one's back can be tiring/make one sweat like a prostitute in church.


I think I have enough feedback to make my decision. Thanks so much everyone for your input. I really appreciate all your help!!
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