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Studen of Design looking for feedback

Old 09-05-10, 09:04 PM
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HB.Watermelon
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Studen of Design looking for feedback

Hi!

So, I'm a student of Industrial design. This semester I am looking at designing a pannier bag for commuting to work/gym/school. I was thinking of going in a multi-function direction. Please give me feedback on what is wanted and needed. As well as what you feel does and doesn't work. Like, is weight an issue when commuting to work? Or, are you worried about your laptop? How important is aesthetic to you? Or, is function more of a selling point? How do you feel about the pannier bags currently available at stores?

I appreciate your time! Thank you for reading my post, and I hope to hear from you!

Helen
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Old 09-05-10, 10:17 PM
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We get students working on projects in this forum about once a month. They always want to design the perfect xyz but often have little experience actually using these sorts of things.

As far as multi function bags go, a lot of people are looking for bags these days that work as a pannier or a backpack. Or at least thats what they think they want when they start looking. Soon they realized that the things that make a good pannier do not make a good back pack/shoulder bag. The resulting product is often a terrible compromise to comfort or ruggedness. I think the Carradice commuter pannier is just about as close to anything I like that I would buy.

When commuting to a from school I preferred a front or rear basket that I could throw my regular bag in and then take it out. Best solution I can think of and cheap.
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Old 09-05-10, 11:05 PM
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In order to understand the market you must be a consumer. Ride your bike to school for few weeks and then decide what you need. We are all not so different.
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Old 09-06-10, 07:03 AM
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I think for work and school you are looking at two different target markets. For work, I suspect most people ride to work, and then have a short walk from their bike to their desk, so "carry-ability" off the bike is not really important. But for school, you'll be toting the bag around school with you all day, so "carry-ability" is very important.

For on-bike only use, weight is not that important, but if you'll be toting it around all day on your shoulder, it becomes more important.
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Old 09-06-10, 07:32 AM
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1. Easy on/off
2. Secute mounting
3. Easy loading
4. Waterproof
5. Load cinching straps to: a) keep load from shifting, and b) flatten pannier when empty so not flopping in the wind
6. Clips/straps/anchor points on outside of top to help secure rack loads
7. Light mounts
8. Wipe clean material
9. Carry handle and shoulder strap
10. Closure that accommodates oversize items sticking out top, but still closes enough to secure contents, e.g. locking zippers.

What doesn't work

1. Anything elasticized. Having to stretch to load is a PITA, and they get clapped out and sloppy fast.
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Old 09-06-10, 07:59 AM
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I think all of that stuff is really important.

And there should be flames on it, too.
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Old 09-06-10, 08:07 AM
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The Arkel Bug is damn close to perfection. If it were waterproof I can't imagine what else one could ask for.
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Old 09-06-10, 01:02 PM
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Thank you all for the wonderful feedback!

Helen
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Old 09-06-10, 01:29 PM
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chaadster has a good list. To that list, I'd add reflective material on the sides and back.
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Old 09-06-10, 01:41 PM
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Also add to that list good interior organizational features like pockets for cell phone, keys, wallet, etc that are easy to access. Also maybe add a pocket meant specifically for a u-lock but mounted closer to the bike to keep the weight from tipping the bike when on a kickstand. And finally it should be built like a tank... super strong materials and over built construction.
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Old 09-06-10, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by scroca View Post
chaadster has a good list. To that list, I'd add reflective material on the sides and back.

I'd add the design should include the way to suspend a laptop inside, without impeding the use when not carrying one.
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Old 09-06-10, 04:09 PM
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chaadster's list, plus scroca's addition... plus, maybe:

reversible -- if you're carrying a laptop, you don't want to kick it when mounting/dismounting, and since different people dismount from 'the other side'.....
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Old 09-07-10, 10:56 AM
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I use the Ortlieb Office Bag 2 and I am pretty happy with it. It doesn't meet all the criteria above, but does most of them.

I'd add to those requirements, cost (will vary by user , but $150 maximum is probably a good figure), durability, and reflectivity.

Not quite as important, but a nice feature of the office bag, is that it stands up when off the bike. This makes it easier to load/unload the bag.

Paul
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Old 09-07-10, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
The Arkel Bug is damn close to perfection. If it were waterproof I can't imagine what else one could ask for.
I commute with the Arkel Bug. I rarely use the backpack feature, but it is nice to have. Waterproof would be another nice to have, but I have the rain cover for it, which fits nicely in the little pocket on the front flap. The one thing that I would like to see on it is better facility for carrying my laptop.
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Old 09-07-10, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
1. Easy on/off
2. Secure mounting
3. Easy loading
4. Waterproof
5. Load cinching straps to: a) keep load from shifting, and b) flatten pannier when empty so not flopping in the wind
6. Clips/straps/anchor points on outside of top to help secure rack loads
7. Light mounts
8. Wipe clean material
9. Carry handle and shoulder strap
10. Closure that accommodates oversize items sticking out top, but still closes enough to secure contents, e.g. locking zippers.

What doesn't work

1. Anything elasticized. Having to stretch to load is a PITA, and they get clapped out and sloppy fast.
Good stuff, I would add a way to make a pannier carryable off the bike, either with a shoulder strap or a backpack like design.

Also one thing that bugs me about some of the better panniers is the "large pocket" mentality... one large pocket, but if you want to organize stuff, they expect you to use little stuff bags... this works for camping, but is lousy for day to day commuting... little pockets allow one to sort daily need items... for quick access. Of course such little pockets can also be mounted inside the bigger pocket... as long as they are always in the same place and easy to quick access. (house keys, cell phone, door remote, badge, wallet, money... are all examples of quick access "stuff")

Bright colors and reflective material. Bold Red, Bold yellow... but black on the face that faces the tires... it's gonna get dirty. Reflective material... I want to be seen at night, and some "cute piping" is not going to do that. I want to stand out like a Christmas tree!.
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Old 09-07-10, 06:00 PM
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Thank you all for the excellent feedback!

Questions:
Anyone worried about theft? of the stuff inside the panniers, or the panniers themselves?
Are they any commuters who don't use panniers? why?
For those using the multi-function pannier/backpack - how do they function at their separate tasks? Anyone worried about the straps getting into the wheel?
Anyone dead set on just using a backpack? Why? Do you think they are ergonomic for bike use?

Thanks again, you guys (and gals) are awesome!
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Old 09-07-10, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
Thank you all for the excellent feedback!

Questions:
Anyone worried about theft? of the stuff inside the panniers, or the panniers themselves?
Are they any commuters who don't use panniers? why?
For those using the multi-function pannier/backpack - how do they function at their separate tasks? Anyone worried about the straps getting into the wheel?
Anyone dead set on just using a backpack? Why? Do you think they are ergonomic for bike use?

Thanks again, you guys (and gals) are awesome!
Actually, yeah I am worried about theft. If you could make me a pannier just like my Arkel T42s but easier to carry off the bike and secure enough to leave on the bike (within reason, I don't want to lug around chain-mail) I would probably buy 'em.

A little lighter would be nice too.
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Old 09-07-10, 06:40 PM
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Old 09-07-10, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
make me a pannier just like my Arkel T42s but easier to carry off the bike and secure enough to leave on the bike
What about the Arkel T42's are not easy to carry?

Also, Do people want a pair of panniers? I like balancing the weight evenly on the back wheel. But, I see people with only one. Is that just a preference thing?
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Old 09-07-10, 09:55 PM
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i don't think perfection is possible, because of the infinite variety. I don't mind a couple of pockets in a backpack (maybe one small one and one medium sized one), but I hate it when there are a ton of little slots for things to slide into that were designed with specific objects in mind but don't really work for any of them because I'm not using the same power adapter they used to design it, or because my cell phone is huge, or because i have too many keys...

what I would like: easy to clip on and off so that I can take it/them inside. flush with the top of the rack so that I can bungee something down there if need a little extra space (like my cooler), laptop section with real crush-resistant padding (not just a little soft foam), space for a folded pair of pants and shirt, space for a lunchbox, and a way to cover the rack hooks so they don't dig into my back. flames made out of reflective material would be a nice bonus, as would protective rain covers that also had reflective material on them. Maybe a way for a cable lock to go through the zippers and through the frame of the bike so I wouldn't have to carry them in on a 2-minute stop to get a sandwich or something. Oh, and if they could pedal for me when I get tired, that would be nice...
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Old 09-07-10, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by sauerwald View Post
I commute with the Arkel Bug. I rarely use the backpack feature, but it is nice to have. Waterproof would be another nice to have, but I have the rain cover for it, which fits nicely in the little pocket on the front flap. The one thing that I would like to see on it is better facility for carrying my laptop.
I use the backpack on mine every time I use it, as I commute to the city center, lock up, and go on foot. The rain cover is okay, but it's kind of bulky for the pocket (I've got an older cover, maybe they've changed), and in a heavy downpour the back of the pannier tends to get quite wet.

That being said, the Bug is by far my favorite pannier for commuting.
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Old 09-07-10, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
Thank you all for the excellent feedback!

Questions:
Anyone worried about theft? of the stuff inside the panniers, or the panniers themselves?
Are they any commuters who don't use panniers? why?
For those using the multi-function pannier/backpack - how do they function at their separate tasks? Anyone worried about the straps getting into the wheel?
Anyone dead set on just using a backpack? Why? Do you think they are ergonomic for bike use?

Thanks again, you guys (and gals) are awesome!
The potential for theft is one big downside to traditional panniers. In my case since I carry a laptop I'm more worried about the contents than the panniers themselves.

I used panniers for awhile this summer. They have their advantages but the above is a big reason I prefer a backpack. If I stop someplace on the way to work my stuff comes with me without having to take the panniers off the bike.

While I wouldn't say I'm dead set on a backpack, I do like the ease of keeping my things with me as I mentioned above. Also, I ride a performance oriented bike to work and panniers sap the fun out of it.

The Arkel Bug mentioned above seems like a reasonable compromise but not being waterproof is a huge problem for me. Yes, I know you can get rain covers for them. I had covers for my panniers and if you only ride in the rain once in awhile they're fine. Otherwise, they're a PITA. The other downside to the Bug is that it looks like a pretty poor backpack for riding. I realize it's meant to be put on the rack, but the ideal for me would be able to ride with it on my back most of the time. I'd put it on the rack for extra heavy loads or longer than normal rides.

If you're looking for good ideas for a convertible pannier/backpack, you might want to take a look at how a good cycling backpack is designed. The Banjo Bros Commuter Backpack is what I use. It's not perfect and there are lots of other options of course but it has most of the features I care about at a reasonable price point.

Last edited by tjspiel; 09-07-10 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 09-08-10, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tligman View Post
i don't think perfection is possible, because of the infinite variety. I don't mind a couple of pockets in a backpack (maybe one small one and one medium sized one), but I hate it when there are a ton of little slots for things to slide into that were designed with specific objects in mind but don't really work for any of them because I'm not using the same power adapter they used to design it, or because my cell phone is huge, or because i have too many keys...

what I would like: easy to clip on and off so that I can take it/them inside. flush with the top of the rack so that I can bungee something down there if need a little extra space (like my cooler), laptop section with real crush-resistant padding (not just a little soft foam), space for a folded pair of pants and shirt, space for a lunchbox, and a way to cover the rack hooks so they don't dig into my back. flames made out of reflective material would be a nice bonus, as would protective rain covers that also had reflective material on them. Maybe a way for a cable lock to go through the zippers and through the frame of the bike so I wouldn't have to carry them in on a 2-minute stop to get a sandwich or something. Oh, and if they could pedal for me when I get tired, that would be nice...
Yeah the cell phone designed pocket became too small the moment the iphone hit the market. I agree with no specific design for the pockets... I just want some pockets. Something on the outside preferably for those quick need items.
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Old 09-08-10, 01:04 PM
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For me, the weight of the pannier on the bike is the main reason I don't use it in nice weather. It changes the way the bike feels.

The main things I'd like to have in a pannier that my current pannier doesn't have:

1. Better reflective surfaces for increased night-time visibility
2. A good way to mount a Planet Bike Superflash on it and have it facing rearward
3. Some way to hold my laptop in place so it doesn't lay diagonally across the inner space
4. Lots of inside pockets for wallet, iPod, cell phone
5. An outside pocket that will hold a large pump like the Topeak Turbo Morph
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Old 09-08-10, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by HB.Watermelon View Post
Are they any commuters who don't use panniers? why?!
HB,

Really, to a repeat some earlier suggestions, you need to go out and either commute yourself or actually *look* at some commuters. At least here in Seattle (and I suspect elsewhere), *most* commuters *don't* use panniers. I suspect it's for several reason:

- panniers are not as "cool" as messenger bags or backpacks
- some people hate panniers
- lots of bikes can't easily accommodate racks and panniers
- some people don't want to attach racks to their bikes because they use their bikes for non-commuting purposes on the weekends
- a good messenger bag or backpack has other off-bike uses, too -- a pannier is pretty much a pannier.

As for me, I use an Arkel Bug pannier. Pretty much everything I need. I prefer having a separate rain cover vs. a waterproof pannier, but I'm in a minority on that.
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