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Sell me on Panniers

Old 03-15-11, 10:04 PM
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warnette
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Sell me on Panniers

Right now my main commuting hauling is done with an Osprey Talon 33 pack. I really dont have any qualms with it but curiosity has caused my eyes to wander. Is a free back that much better? Would drastic differences in bike handling be noticed?

On a semi related note the Talon 33 is miles above any "bike specific" pack i have ever used.
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Old 03-15-11, 10:08 PM
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Keep the load low. You'll get better handling if you distribute your weight evenly. A free back is a beautiful thing. Back pains like most things are due to cumulative wear and tear. You don't want back pains later on in life. My pops has back pains and it hurts just watching him sit down.
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Old 03-15-11, 10:13 PM
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With panniers weight is low on the bike not on your back. Depending on how much you carry, it can be noticeable. In the summer or when it's hot out, your back doesn't get all sweaty from a backpack.
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Old 03-15-11, 10:28 PM
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Sweat is what keeps me from wearing a pack or messenger bag. Its kind of a big deal since i am going ot work most the time. =) Its also nice not to have the weight on your back and depending on what you have the weight of whatever is on you back shifting around. This last year or do I have been using a folding rear basket and strapping whatever in there. I just bought some Ortlieb panniers and I think they are going to be pretty fantastic because they come off the rack easily and I can jsut take them inside instead of fiddling with unstrapping stuff from the baskets. Its nice they are waterproof as well.
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Old 03-16-11, 02:38 AM
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Low weight = better handling
no sweaty back
I run with two panniers, one for lunch and one for clothes & laptop if I take it home, what I find is that the traffic gives me a wider berth as I look a lot wider than a 'normal' bike.
I also mount rear lights on them too..
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Old 03-16-11, 05:37 AM
  #6  
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What they said,AND it can still un-clip and be carried like a bag,does not have to be fixed.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rykard View Post
Low weight = better handling
no sweaty back
I run with two panniers, one for lunch and one for clothes & laptop if I take it home, what I find is that the traffic gives me a wider berth as I look a lot wider than a 'normal' bike.
I also mount rear lights on them too..
forgot - easier to breathe as panniers don't constrict your chest movements...
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Old 03-16-11, 05:43 AM
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Panniers can carry very heavy loads. On the way back from work, you can stop off at the supermarket and load up.
Over shorter distances with lightweight loads, there is not much to chose between panniers and back-pack. I use both, depending.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:48 AM
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Also consider a large seatbag like the Carradice Barley, Pendle, etc. These bags can hold a lot of gear and keep the weight centered under the saddle. Personally, I think panniers are overkill for commuting and encourage you to carry too much gear. I have commuted for 4 years using a Barley and can carry everything I need in it 99% of the time. Either a Carradice bag or panniers, however, would be a big improvement over a backpack. Been there, done that, and it sucks.
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Old 03-16-11, 05:51 AM
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also handy if you have to take something unexpected home from work or you need to go to the store on the way home..
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Old 03-16-11, 06:51 AM
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You can leave half of your carrying capacity at home when you do not need it.
You can access your stuff by stopping and turning around, or to get at the stuff on the bottom by dismounting, without having to remove anything or contort.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:12 AM
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With two panniers on your rack, you can organize your stuff better and not having to stuff everything in one pack. If you enjoy the convience of carrying your stuff in a backpack when you hop off your bike, you still have the option of putting everything in a light backpack than placing that in the pannier. Now you can take your backpack with you and leave the empty pannier behind.

Biggest advantage is weight. If for whatever reasons I have to carry an extra 10 lbs of stuff on a given day, I noticed it much less if those extra weight is in my pannier instead of my shoulder.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:29 AM
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I would only duplicate what others have said, however, colleen c made a good point about the ability to carry much more weight if needed....anyway...... How much weight do you carry in your backpack?
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Old 03-16-11, 07:38 AM
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People say that having panniers encourages you to carry too much stuff, but frankly I can't fathom carrying everything I need in a backpack. In one pannier I carry a change of clothes & towel (I shower at work); in the other I carry toiletries, maybe an extra t-shirt for the ride home, and lunch. Today I even added the trunk bag because I'm playing softball after work and had to carry my cleats, glove & cup. I suppose I look pretty much like a fully loaded tourer today.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
People say that having panniers encourages you to carry too much stuff, but frankly I can't fathom carrying everything I need in a backpack. In one pannier I carry a change of clothes & towel (I shower at work); in the other I carry toiletries, maybe an extra t-shirt for the ride home, and lunch. Today I even added the trunk bag because I'm playing softball after work and had to carry my cleats, glove & cup. I suppose I look pretty much like a fully loaded tourer today.
I think that's a touring myth. Granted, that may happen on your first venture. You can always make adjustments.
Now a BOB trailer on the other hand.... I've seen bunjie corded castles complete with lawn chairs...
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Old 03-16-11, 07:59 AM
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I like panniers since they make the bike take the load and not my spine, it's easier to replace spokes, rims, axles, etc than a spine. Another reason I like panniers is that they don't cover up any bright or reflective outwear I might be wearing at the time.
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Old 03-16-11, 08:32 AM
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for me it depends on where I am going and how much time I have to get there. If I am running late and I need to get across town in a big damn hurry, I grab my backpack. I find that I really can't stand up and sprint with panniers, they have a tendency to bounce and throw off the balance.

On the other hand, it is really really nice not to have a backpack on your back. Not only do you avoid the super sweaty back, but its just more comfortable. Its like when I take a weekend ride and all I have is a small saddle bag, because I am going to be in the saddle for several hours and the idea of having a backpack on is just miserable.
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Old 03-16-11, 09:29 AM
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You seem to be happy with what you have,I can't make you change your mind.If I could do that,I would talk with every person that works for the government....
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Old 03-16-11, 09:44 AM
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"Once you go rack, you never go back"

The virtues seem to have been properly addressed so far, and from my experience panniers beat anything on your back.

But whether folks admit it or not there is the "fred" factor of having panniers that some people can't get past. That's fine, I'm not gonna argue it, just point it out. I got over it a long time ago and I commute and do my errands with equipment that works every day, day in day out, in all conditions, and panniers definitely are part of that equation.
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Old 03-16-11, 09:46 AM
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All of the above. Panniers give one a lower center of gravity for better handling. No sweaty back. Can carry more weight w/less effort. Jandd Saddlebags don't have alot of carry space and aren't water proof, but they are easy to mount. You wont have any issues w/heelstrike either as they ride pretty high.
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Old 03-16-11, 09:59 AM
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I'm a convert. I used to wear a pack, and now use panniers.
I prefer the low-slung weight bias, comfort (no pig hugging my back - especially when it is hot out), and capacity that panniers offer.

The only "adjustment" I've had to make is that my climbing style on steeps has changed from the unburdened road racing style, where the bicylcle tends to "flick" or rock with the out of saddle pedal stroke to a gentler, less dynamic style. This may be the result of the fact that I rode unburdened racing bicycles with short chainstays and absolutely no additional weight behind the seatpost, so the addition of longer chain stays plus 15-30 pounds of weight slung above the rear axle dramatically threw the bike off kilter if ridden in the old way. Seated climbing is no different, if a bit more stable with the low slung weight.
I've changed the way I climb out of the saddle as the result of using panniers and, frankly, riding with a lower bottom gear range than I was accustomed to on my road racing bikes.
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Old 03-16-11, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Also consider a large seatbag like the Carradice Barley, Pendle, etc. These bags can hold a lot of gear and keep the weight centered under the saddle. Personally, I think panniers are overkill for commuting and encourage you to carry too much gear. I have commuted for 4 years using a Barley and can carry everything I need in it 99% of the time. Either a Carradice bag or panniers, however, would be a big improvement over a backpack. Been there, done that, and it sucks.
This looks more up my alley than my current backpack use. Does anyone know if the Barley can be mounted without the additional seat support?

Thanks!
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Old 03-16-11, 10:41 AM
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There are pros and cons. In my opinion, bike handling doesn't improve with panniers, - if anything it's worse, especially at low speeds. Different bikes are going to be impacted to different degrees. That's not to say it's unsafe, unmanageable, or even noticeable, but some posts have implied that bike handling is better because the weight is lower. I haven't found that to be the case at all.

There are advantages to having the weight on your person vs. your bike. You can "unweight" when going over potholes and curbs letting your body act as a suspension.

Then there are the convenience things. On my first day with panniers when I stopped at store for my morning caffeine it was like: "Oh, now I've got to take these off and bring them with me". I carry a laptop and no way was I going to leave that on the bike. Using a basket and throwing a backpack inside it alleviates this problem to a certain extent. Some panniers unhook from the rack pretty easily too.

Then there's the performance issue which does't matter to a lot of people and may not matter to you either. I ride a nice speedy road bike most of the year. Although it handled fine I definitely noticed the panniers when trying to accelerate or ride into a headwind. There was a difference climbing hills too. For me it took some of the fun out of commuting.

Now, a lot of people would be much more bothered by the extra weight on their back vs on their bike. I can understand that and if my commute were 20 miles instead of 6 I might want the load off my back too. I also don't give a crap about a sweaty back. It fits right along with my sweaty arms, chest, legs, and head. I shower when I get to work.

Just giving you a different perspective.
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Old 03-16-11, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by yagichan View Post
This looks more up my alley than my current backpack use. Does anyone know if the Barley can be mounted without the additional seat support?Thanks!
Whether you need the additional seat support or not depends on your bike. On my bike, the Barley was hitting my legs on every pedal stroke and swaying a lot without the support. So I added the seat rack, and it works perfectly. The Carradice support has the added advantage of being "quick release" so you can easily and quickly remove or attach the bag.

Acorn makes a very similar bag that has a built in support that mounts on the seatpost and keeps the bag positioned so it won't sway or hit your legs, but Acorn bags can be difficult to order and are more expensive. You can order Carradice bags directly from England for much less money and better selection than ordering from US companies. Eg, the Barley usually sells for less than half as much at Wiggle and other British websites, with free shipping if your total order is over a certain amount (about $80).
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Old 03-16-11, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
There are pros and cons. In my opinion, bike handling doesn't improve with panniers, - if anything it's worse, especially at low speeds. Different bikes are going to be impacted to different degrees. That's not to say it's unsafe, unmanageable, or even noticeable, but some posts have implied that bike handling is better because the weight is lower. I haven't found that to be the case at all.

There are advantages to having the weight on your person vs. your bike. You can "unweight" when going over potholes and curbs letting your body act as a suspension.

Then there are the convenience things. On my first day with panniers when I stopped at store for my morning caffeine it was like: "Oh, now I've got to take these off and bring them with me". I carry a laptop and no way was I going to leave that on the bike. Using a basket and throwing a backpack inside it alleviates this problem to a certain extent. Some panniers unhook from the rack pretty easily too.

Then there's the performance issue which does't matter to a lot of people and may not matter to you either. I ride a nice speedy road bike most of the year. Although it handled fine I definitely noticed the panniers when trying to accelerate or ride into a headwind. There was a difference climbing hills too. For me it took some of the fun out of commuting.

Now, a lot of people would be much more bothered by the extra weight on their back vs on their bike. I can understand that and if my commute were 20 miles instead of 6 I might want the load off my back too. I also don't give a crap about a sweaty back. It fits right along with my sweaty arms, chest, legs, and head. I shower when I get to work.

Just giving you a different perspective.
+1. Panniers also make my bike wide enough to make it harder to wheel through doors. I either one of my 2 backpacks or either/both panniers at different times depending on different needs and conditions, the only way you're going to find out what works best for you is to try some.
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