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Ditching my panniers

Old 01-05-11, 05:48 PM
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Ditching my panniers

Seriously, I tried to make it work out. I posted a thread recently documenting the new rack I was trying to use and the major heel strike issue. Suddenly, it occurred to me to weigh my panniers. They weren't even large panniers. LG Beta 46 models or some such, but together the weighed a whopping 4 pounds 6 ounces. The seatpost mounted rack I was reduced to using weighed one and a half pounds. The cheapie traditional rack was about 14 ounces.

I was racking my brain looking at longer racks, shorter, wider panniers, etc. Then looking at some lightweight touring info online, some genius had the simple idea of just strapping whatever pack he was carrying lengthwise on the rack. When I go to school, I'm sticking my backpack, a perfectly fine holder of items, into another bag that weighed over 2 pounds for my 7 mile one way commute. And then I was putting my extra clothes and toiletries in the other 2 pound bag. So if I had to carry my laptop, another five pounds, it got pretty hairy.

So I mounted up the lighter rack, settled on another backpack I had at home that could hold my school items and clothes, and now my commuter bike is nearly 5 pounds lighter. Plus, when I leave my bike locked, I no longer have to worry about anyone running off with my panniers and tools/tube/pump.


Just thought I'd post my conclusions. If panniers work grand for you, then that's wonderful and keep on rollin' on, but if you're looking to lighten your load, this might be an option to consider.
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Old 01-05-11, 06:20 PM
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Glad you found something. How are you holding the pack to the rack? Bungee net? I still need a waterproof back pack anyway.
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Old 01-05-11, 07:32 PM
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I tried an experiment myself today (another chronic heel strike sufferer). Instead of using my mess bag, I took my smaller sling bag and an old Nashbar Townie basket that I had folded and left on the bike while it was on the bus rack.

Got to work, unfolded the pannier and put two of the upper layers in it. Then I started out okay, but soon overheated in my insulated jeans. Had to turn back around to the office for another reason anyway, so I changed into the track pants I had in the locker. Those jeans went into the pannier.... So long as I traveled in a straight line, I didn't really notice it. But cornering, dropping off of a curb, sprinting out of the saddle, I could feel how it was affecting my ride .

But, yeah, to those who can use panniers, good for you. As the for the rest of us that can't (or won't) use them-
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Old 01-06-11, 12:22 PM
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Well, to be fair, I could use panniers if my bike weren't a racing geometry road bike. The short wheelbase just puts the panniers straight into my spin zone.

But honestly, I'm just surprised that there isn't more emphasis on lightweight when it comes to things like commuter and touring panniers. It's obvious that you can't make everything from super thin sil-nylon or anything crazy like that because they have to put up with some abuse. But I bet if a company actually put some real effort into it, they could at least reduce the weight of their bags by maybe as much as 25%.

One idea that immediately comes to mind is an internal aluminum frame like you see in the backpacking world rather than one huge plastic stiffener. You might not think the plastic weighs that much, but I took a plastic insert out of a handlebar bag and it nearly weighed as much as the bag itself! It went from being about half a pound to a quarter of a pound.


And enigma, I plan on just using two bungee cords and strapping the bag down with an X pattern. I did this all the time on the backseat of my motorcycle and it's served me well up to, well, highly illegal speeds on some motorcycle tours.
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Old 01-06-11, 12:30 PM
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4lbs is very heavy for panniers. My bombproof Carradice Super C weight much less. The stiffening material is corrugated plastic (For Sale sign stuff) which has lasted 15yrs of daily use so far.

Looking at your panniers, they have a square-cut profile with no heel cutout and seem to be loaded down with weighty features.
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Old 01-06-11, 12:33 PM
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Klick Fix KLICKfix Accessories (by location) For Seatpost https://www.klickfix.de/index.php?lang=en

They have a few non rack solutions to mount a bag and even a dedicated backpack
that clips on a band clamp mount .. around your non carbon seatpost.
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Old 01-06-11, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
4lbs is very heavy for panniers. My bombproof Carradice Super C weight much less. The stiffening material is corrugated plastic (For Sale sign stuff) which has lasted 15yrs of daily use so far.

Looking at your panniers, they have a square-cut profile with no heel cutout and seem to be loaded down with weighty features.
I was actually looking at the super C panniers at one point. The corrugated plastic would be a much better option. People on the backpackinglight forums use that stuff when they're making their own packs or removing heavier frames that are intended for heavier loads than they are carrying. The plastic in the LG bags are something like 3 mm thick solid, hard plastic.

I would still think that there are lighter materials than duck canvas, though. Then again, could they stand up to 15 years daily use? How much do your super C panniers weigh?

I may, down the road, make my own panniers because I can already tell that even the most extreme heel cutout I've seen still isn't enough to account for how close my rack is to the frame. I was thinking about canvas, but my try other materials. I'll definitely have to put my money where my mouth is and explore the aluminum frame option.
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Old 01-06-11, 12:58 PM
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Sew?.. you can make a round tube and line it with some old political signs as stiffners.
then as the British saddle bags do .. a cross brace of a hardwood dowel is the support for the straps . weight is a function of the fabric used,
and the features you want to add..

Then again Ortlieb makes Office bags and their Downtown bags,
the shape is squarish , but they mount them at an angle,
so heel strike is less of an issue. and stuff stays dry in them.

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-06-11 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 01-06-11, 08:05 PM
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I ride with a backpack strapped to my rear rack. While it clearly doesn't work for everyone, it's a perfect setup for me. I bought a lightweight backpack a few years ago (GoLite Ion 9 oz.) that works great. And it's still large enough that I can stuff some groceries in if I need to on top of everything else I carry.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:38 AM
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I have a trunk bag with small fold-out panniers.
Works for small stuff. A backpack would also work fine on the top too.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:50 AM
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Whatever works best for you is the best choice...and will of course change - repeatedly.
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Old 01-07-11, 10:01 AM
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I get some of what you're saying about lightening the weight of the carrying equipment. But, by definition, with enough stuff to warrant a pannier/backpack/etc. AND any form of normal commuter kit (lights, fenders, etc.) we're already out of the weight weenie zone.

Don't get me wrong, I still drink Diet Coke when I'm having a piece of pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, so I'm all for cutting stuff where you can and every little bit helps. But I'll accept a little weight penalty for sturdy and durable equipment, then trim by eliminating frilly bells and whistles and useless stuff (including some of that extra cheese).
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Old 01-07-11, 10:55 AM
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I don't understand what the hoopla is all about with weight. Are you racing or commuting? My recommendation is if you are commuting and are that concerned about weight is to lose 5 lbs of body fat.
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Old 01-07-11, 01:06 PM
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Yeah, I'm working on that body weight thing, see below.

But I know what you're saying and this all makes perfect sense, and yes, my bike is kind of heavy anyway. But I'm not talking about buying a titanium rack over an aluminum one to save 4 or 5 ounces. I'm talking about 5 freaking pounds. I also carry my bike up a flight of stairs, plus about a half flight at the bottom of those stairs. So if my bikes weighs a few ounces less, I probably won't notice, but 5 pounds? That's a huge difference. It's going to make a difference in the ride as well. 5 pounds less swinging around on the back when I'm standing on the pedals for a sprint/climb is going to be felt. It's going to make the commute more enjoyable irregardless of whether or not I'm any faster.
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Old 01-07-11, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
4lbs is very heavy for panniers. My bombproof Carradice Super C weight much less.
The Carradice Super Cs are listed as 875g each, so 1750g or 3.9 lbs. for the pair. So yes, they're lighter but not by a lot. It seems to me that right around 4 lbs. is typical for full size rear panniers.

For commuting I generally only used a single pannier and just put my things directly into it (i.e. no backpack or other bag). But if you're using the pannier to carry a backpack then the weight of the packaging starts adding up. For that application I modified my backpack by adding the bike rack hooks used by Lone Peak for their panniers to the corners of the pack. So I just hang the backpack on the side of my rack which leaves the rack top free in case I want to stop and do some shopping or have anything else to carry.
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Old 01-07-11, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels
5 pounds? That's a huge difference.
No its not. Depending on whether I have summer or winter clothes, zero or three meals, my lock, work papers, I bet my pannier weight fluctuates by 15lbs and I never notice it.

Also, nothing wrong with a backpack . . . until summer. Then its sweaty and gross.
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Old 01-07-11, 06:48 PM
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The problem (that can probably be fixed) with strapping a backpack on a frame for me was always two things -
1. It's hard to secure the backpack to the frame in a secure enough way - won't flop around, won't fall off, won't end up in the wheel
2. Most backpacks have a lot of extra straps hanging off them. Like the ends of the adjustment straps on the shoulder straps, ditto if it has any sort of waist thing. And then there's the should straps themselves. Was always worried about them getting caught in the spokes on the back wheel and doing something very bad.

I strapped a jacket to my rear rack once with a bungie cord. Most of the way home one of the sleeves of the jacket worked it's way out somehow and managed to get caught in the wheel somewhere, ripping a hole in the arm of the jacket. Just sayin' it sucked.
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Old 01-07-11, 07:04 PM
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I love panniers. I'm never going back to anything else. 2lbs per panniers doesn't seem a lot to me. What's 4lbs? Your Fall/Winter clothing may weigh about as much or more How heavy is your bike lock? Your phone, wallet, watch and keys could be close to 2lbs.

Don't be obsessed with weight. It really doesn't make that much difference.
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Old 01-07-11, 07:53 PM
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Wow, I just can't think of a nice way to say this.

All of you are failing at basic reading comprehension skills.

I understand not getting obsessed with weight, but I'm noticing a mind-numbing trend among both commuters and tourers that insist weight doesn't matter and then falling into the trap of carrying 5-10 pounds (or more) of unnecessary weight. I'm not saying buy carbon brakes, I'm not saying to have a Ti frame instead of steel, hell I'm not even telling everyone that they must absolutely ditch their panniers at this very second for fear of never making it up that hill.

I'm saying 5 pounds is five pounds and a lighter bike is advantageous to me. Results may vary. In riding, by also ditching the seatpost mounted rack, I not only loose 5 pounds of bike weight, but I also lose the pendulum-like effect of the swaying rack. In carrying it up and down the stairs every day, that's 5 pounds less of weight I'm throwing on my shoulder. Again, results may vary.

Is this ok with everyone? Is there another person in line to tell me that I should HTFU and add 10 pounds for kicks and that I'll never, ever notice it there, ever?
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Old 01-07-11, 08:18 PM
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WO2W, welcome to the panniers discussion I don't know why, but the pro-pannier people are REALLY pro-pannier. I'm not sure what it is about panniers in particular, but in my experience, they seem to bring out a much stronger reaction that discussing almost any other commuter-related item. Any pro-backpack comments are always replied to with some derision, as if you are not making an informed choice, but are missing out on the 'truth' that panniers are universally superior to backpacks. It's weird because the same people, discussing any other item, seem to be able to appreciate differing viewpoints and offer a wide range of opinions. And no offense to anyone who is pro-pannier, I like all of them and get a lot of useful info from them on other topics, but I've learned to just ignore their pannier posts.

I'm with you, a backpack on top of a rack offers, for my uses, a better value proposition than panniers. (And I get your weight point-if I can easily save 5 pounds, it's really irrelevant what the rest of my commuter stuff weighs. If my commuting gear weight fluctuates by 5, 10 or 15 pounds, or if something else I carry weights an additional 5 pounds, that doesn't mean that a simple 5 pound reduction in weight isn't still worth pursuing, if it works in my situation).
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Old 01-07-11, 08:48 PM
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I haven't mounted a rack to my winter bike and have been carrying a bag instead of using a pannier. I put one on a fairly light bike and did notice the little bit of extra weight, but I also started carrying more crap with me too, but I enjoyed the extra capacity. I'm using a messenger bag right now and it's bearable in the winter, but I don't like how it moves on my back and it likely weighs as much as my pannier anyway.

If I ever made my own panniers they'd be pretty lightweight I reckon... maybe a collapsible aluminum frame that uses standard sized dry-sacs. I guess I need to start tinkering a bit.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers
The problem (that can probably be fixed) with strapping a backpack on a frame for me was always two things -
1. It's hard to secure the backpack to the frame in a secure enough way - won't flop around, won't fall off, won't end up in the wheel
2. Most backpacks have a lot of extra straps hanging off them. Like the ends of the adjustment straps on the shoulder straps, ditto if it has any sort of waist thing. And then there's the should straps themselves. Was always worried about them getting caught in the spokes on the back wheel and doing something very bad.

I strapped a jacket to my rear rack once with a bungie cord. Most of the way home one of the sleeves of the jacket worked it's way out somehow and managed to get caught in the wheel somewhere, ripping a hole in the arm of the jacket. Just sayin' it sucked.
That was pretty much my experience as well. Then I came upon the idea of expanding the surface area the the backpack rests upon. Got a plastic tray ziptied to the rack- adds weight, yes, but also makes for one handy shelf/table and there is virtually no way that the straps will find themselves in the spokes.That's a large Banjo Brothers backpack that I "rolled" up so that it would fit better on the tray. If that bag gets too full, then it can be an issue.
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Old 01-08-11, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels
Wow, I just can't think of a nice way to say this.

All of you are failing at basic reading comprehension skills.

I understand not getting obsessed with weight, but I'm noticing a mind-numbing trend among both commuters and tourers that insist weight doesn't matter and then falling into the trap of carrying 5-10 pounds (or more) of unnecessary weight. I'm not saying buy carbon brakes, I'm not saying to have a Ti frame instead of steel, hell I'm not even telling everyone that they must absolutely ditch their panniers at this very second for fear of never making it up that hill.

I'm saying 5 pounds is five pounds and a lighter bike is advantageous to me. Results may vary. In riding, by also ditching the seatpost mounted rack, I not only loose 5 pounds of bike weight, but I also lose the pendulum-like effect of the swaying rack. In carrying it up and down the stairs every day, that's 5 pounds less of weight I'm throwing on my shoulder. Again, results may vary.

Is this ok with everyone? Is there another person in line to tell me that I should HTFU and add 10 pounds for kicks and that I'll never, ever notice it there, ever?
Not saying, you HAVE TO add 10 pounds for kicks and that you will never notice it, I'm saying I wouldn't make any effort to try to shave off 5 lbs off my existing bike as it WILL NOT make any difference.
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Old 01-08-11, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by MK313
WO2W, welcome to the panniers discussion I don't know why, but the pro-pannier people are REALLY pro-pannier. I'm not sure what it is about panniers in particular, but in my experience, they seem to bring out a much stronger reaction that discussing almost any other commuter-related item.


The word is out. OP has been declared a heretic by the pannier zealots. He may walk on two wheels, but he's no doubt still dragging those knuckles. BTW, since we're on the topic of weight, I wonder if he's heavier than a duck? Burn him!!!

Seriously now, WO2W -- I hear you, 5 lbs matters to you, particularly given your bike-stairmaster bonus work. And running against the prevailing pannier winds is a good thing because nothing works for everybody and someone else out there needed to hear that, so good thread. As Chipcom says, whatever works for you. I won't be worrying whether my panniers weigh 3 or 4 lbs or sweating the fabric density (other than its durability), but those are points that came up along the way, not in your post, and you may not be either. Speaking of which, not every comment in here about weight being a secondary issue (mine included) was critical of your position.
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Old 01-08-11, 06:18 PM
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I solved my heel strike with my panniers by using a clamp half way up the rear stay on a three stay per side rear rack, then hooking the pannier just above the clamp, pulling the pannier back and out of the way of my spin zone. I like my panniers for their lower center of gravity when carrying heavy loads, keeping the rear basket open for lighter, bulkier loads.
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