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Are Panniers worth the cost?

Old 10-18-13, 10:07 AM
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Are Panniers worth the cost?

So I have long been a weekend road warrior but a recent turn of events has given me the unusual opportunity to bike commute for the next few months (probably 4-5 months tops). The one bummer is I have to lug my work computer to and from the site every day (it ways 10lbs, calling it a laptop is like calling a great dane a lap dog IMHO). Thus far I have been carrying it in a backpack which after a week of soreness I have finally found a certain amont of peace with it- but I keep wondering would panniers make the bike commute faster and or more comfortable? Enough to make the price worth it for the next few months?
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Old 10-18-13, 10:17 AM
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I use at least one pannier almost everytime I get on my bike - not just for commuting. Once you have them, you may find opportunities to use them like trips to the store, combining a bike ride with a picnic, carrying extra water/food/layering clothing/tool kit for a long recreational ride, etc. I always advise people to avoid bungee-type retention systems. The extra money spent for something better is well worth it.
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Old 10-18-13, 10:20 AM
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Heck yes.
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Old 10-18-13, 10:39 AM
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Panniers won't make you faster.

Whether you're more comfortable is matter of opinion. I prefer not to be the pack mule, and to let my bike carry the load. Others find the subtle handling changes to be more annoying than the load on their back. Plus, backpacks are often a better choice off the bike. Not sure which? There are convertible backpack/panniers.

Is it worthwhile? It depends, I suppose, on which panniers and how heavily they dent your budget. I find the retention systems on inexpensive panniers to lie somewhere between annoying and frustrating. I like Ortleib's retention system best, but they're a whole lotta dough.

I use mine regularly--have for years--and expect to keep using them for many more years. So while my income is very low, their high cost was justifiable, since they turn a routine chore into a pleasure and last practically forever. However, at my income as a part-time civil servant, I wouldn't be able to justify them for only four or five months.

But as Spld says, once you have them, you'll find other ways of using them.
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Old 10-18-13, 10:39 AM
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short answer: yes
long answer: yes
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Old 10-18-13, 10:41 AM
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If you ride a bicycle and carry things, yes. If you don't ride a bike and don't carry things, no.
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Old 10-18-13, 10:47 AM
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Yes. No more sweaty back is worth $40 in my mind.

These are what I use. Perfect for lunch and a change of clothes. Looking at them on my desk, I think they'd fit up to 14" laptop. The bungees broke after getting caught in the wheel (forgot to attach them one day, oops!) but the top straps keep it firmly attached to my rack (stock rack on Trek Allant).

https://www.amazon.com/Avenir-Metro-P...s=avenir+metro

One more thought: Use a real rear rack with panniers, not one of the seatpost ones. The side supports of the rack keep the panniers from getting into the spokes.

Last edited by spivonious; 10-18-13 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 10-18-13, 11:08 AM
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If you already have a rack on there (so it's not a racing bike), I'd say go for it. I like Wald folding baskets paired with a bungee cargo net because I can then still use my backpack, throwing it in there and netting it down to ride, then pulling it out and throwing it over my shoulders and I'm off with no muss or fuss. A pair of them run ~$40-50 and they are heavier and always on like some light, removable panniers, but their constant presence can also come in handy. Super strong for grocery trips too.
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Old 10-18-13, 11:16 AM
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Yes and they don't have to be expensive. I've never had an issue with the hook-on-a-bungee + clips system.


I take a pannier on almost every ride.
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Old 10-18-13, 11:24 AM
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If everything you think you need can fit in a backpack, this might be the thing for you. This particular rack is called the Sherpa and is available from Peter Whites Cycles for about $160 but I think I've seen another for much less than $160.

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Old 10-18-13, 11:34 AM
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Don't know about faster, but they are easier. I bought one of these a few years ago. It was less than 1/2 the price then. It's a very nice computer bag, but doesn't seem to be available now. See https://bicycling.about.com/od/bikeeq...p_carriers.htm for other options.

My wife puts her laptop in a padded sleeve, and either carries it in a basket or a regular pannier.
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Old 10-18-13, 11:36 AM
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To clarify- my commuter bike is a Kona Jake with a rack. Back in my single days I had some buckets for shoping, but now with a baby if I take the bike shopping I hook up the Burley trailer because that way I can take the baby off my wifes hands for awhile and 2) my wife and I have 4 kids at home so "going to the store" generally involves coming home with 35-40 lbs of groceries.. . and a 25lb toddler. Fortunately the store is a mile away. The panniers would be mostly for the next few months... I can justify them on the gas I would be saving using the bike- but as I plan on biking panniers or no I cannot say they will "save" me money without some serious boy-math.

Thanks for the opinions though- I may take a trip to a bike shop and take a look this weekend.
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Old 10-18-13, 11:49 AM
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I think panniers are worth it, particularly if you already have a rack and plan on keeping the rack once you're done bike commuting. I sometimes commute with my panniers, sometimes with a backpack, depending on which bike I'm on and my mood. I will say that just upgrading your backpack could help a lot. I just picked up an Ortlieb Velocity backpack and it's a revelation. Sooooo much more comfortable than my old North Face. It's also waterproof (my main motivation for getting it), which is something that may be helpful in a place like Portland. The benefit of a backpack is that they aren't bike-dependent.
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Old 10-18-13, 11:58 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by starkmojo View Post
So I have long been a weekend road warrior but a recent turn of events has given me the unusual opportunity to bike commute for the next few months (probably 4-5 months tops). The one bummer is I have to lug my work computer to and from the site every day (it ways 10lbs, calling it a laptop is like calling a great dane a lap dog IMHO). Thus far I have been carrying it in a backpack which after a week of soreness I have finally found a certain amont of peace with it- but I keep wondering would panniers make the bike commute faster and or more comfortable? Enough to make the price worth it for the next few months?
If you are going to carry 40 or 50 lbs of gear and you are going to live out of the panniers for a week or a month or a year, then they are worth it. If you are going to carry stuff back and forth to work, not so much. If you are planning on carrying electronics, their utility is even less. When you carry it on your back, you can cushion the pounding a little but on your bike it's just going to get pounded into dust.

I have panniers for camping and touring and I have a set for commuting. I tour about once a year and those panniers see more use than the commuting ones.
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Old 10-18-13, 12:03 PM
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Tried a backpack for a week, and hated it. Uncomfortable, hot and sweaty. You lose a ton of heat through your back. Thankfully, the store took it back for a full refund. Only issue with a laptop is the constant vibration and jarring in a pannier. Significantly less risk of damaging a computer in a backpack. Sounds like a laptop that "weighs" 10 pounds could be obsolete, so the bumps may hasten its demise.
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Old 10-18-13, 12:23 PM
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variation of No. 10 Rixen and Kaul/Klickfix has a seat post mount and a backpack
with a socket in the back of it.
to snap into each other....



If you are really Cheap, go look at the Charity shops and yard/garage sales , for old used bike bags.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-24-13 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 10-18-13, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
If you ride a bicycle and carry things, yes. If you don't ride a bike and don't carry things, no.
Pretty much this. I recently retired my backpack from carrying books/binders on my school commute and instead opted for a Carradice saddlebag. My commutes are much more fun and enjoyable now. Do I miss having a backpack now? Do I regret in any way, shape or form having bought my saddlebag and rack? No, not in the slightest. It not only helps with my comfort and enjoyment, but it sets me apart too. Everyone at school has backpacks and bicycles without bag systems. It just makes sense! If you carry things, yes. If not, no. Good luck!
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Old 10-18-13, 05:41 PM
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If you're not worried about Fredliness, you can always make a kittier for basically free compared to a pannier. Completely waterproof, large capacity (esp. with two), guaranteed to make you look like the dorkiest biker on the road.
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Old 10-18-13, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
If you are planning on carrying electronic, their utility is even less. When you carry it on your back, you can cushion the pounding a little but on your bike it's just going to get pounded into dust.
Stuart, I think it's fair to say you are reaching new heights of electronic hyperbole if electronic hyperbole has heights.

First, electronics aren't all that delicate and, second, your average commute isn't all that violently bumpy. At least mine isn't. And a laptop is cushioned by the other stuff in the bag so I really don't think that's an issue.

As far as the rest of it goes, $100 or less is pretty minimal and it's very handy to have panniers on a commuter even if you just need to pick up milk on the way home or pack your raingear on an iffy day.

Last edited by asmac; 10-18-13 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 10-18-13, 08:34 PM
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If all you're seriously thinking is to use them short term, why bother? You have a backpack that appears to have sufficient capacity for your work laptop and whatever else you tend to carry- no rule says you actually have to wear the thing while riding. Strap down to the top of the rack.

Want waterproof? Either put your stuff in plastic baggies before they go in the backpack or put the backpack in a trash bag (or do both to be sure). More elegant than a trash bag would be waterproof dry bag/stuff sack.
Blocks your seat post light? Move the light to the rack or to the helmet.
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Old 10-18-13, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by starkmojo View Post
but I keep wondering would panniers make the bike commute faster and or more comfortable? Enough to make the price worth it for the next few months?
Comfortable yes, faster no. Would they cost you speed? Doubt it. I am definitely a pannier fan. I am rack-free on my summer road bike but that bike is very clearly only a summer extravagance, and the fun of it is offset by the hassle of a bag on my back.
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Old 10-18-13, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
If you are planning on carrying electronic, their utility is even less. When you carry it on your back, you can cushion the pounding a little but on your bike it's just going to get pounded into dust.
Well, I can say that I have had a pannier w/ a 10# laptop fly off when I hit a pothole, and there was nothing the worse for wear after that.

Of course I also got myself launched pretty far one time and landed on my back w/ a computer in a bag on my back (that I landed on) and it was fine too. So, I gotta say, I don't think you have any data (or even anecdotes) to support that claim. My computers have 10s of ks of miles on them in panniers, and they keep working great.

My cell phone in various pockets, I'm not so sure about.
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Old 10-18-13, 09:04 PM
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I love panniers, and to me they're definitely worth it. But you can also just strap a work bag to the rack for the price of a few bungies, and it works just fine.
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Old 10-18-13, 09:13 PM
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I have a Novara backpack for cycling as well as Ortlieb panniers. When I need to carry stuff, I almost always use one pannier. I find it a lot easier on me than having a backpack on. I travel light and have never had to use two panniers at the same time.

So yes, panniers are well worth the money in my opinion.
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Old 10-19-13, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by asmac View Post
Stuart, I think it's fair to say you are reaching new heights of electronic hyperbole if electronic hyperbole has heights.

First, electronics aren't all that delicate and, second, your average commute isn't all that violently bumpy. At least mine isn't. And a laptop is cushioned by the other stuff in the bag so I really don't think that's an issue.

As far as the rest of it goes, $100 or less is pretty minimal and it's very handy to have panniers on a commuter even if you just need to pick up milk on the way home or pack your raingear on an iffy day.
Electronics may not be as fragile as glass but they aren't as tough as nails either. HardyWeinberg brings up an issue that I didn't address...my panniers are either Ortlieb or have Ortlieb clamps and don't come off the rack...but he was lucky. Wanna drop your computer or other electronics off your bike on a regular basis? Hardy was lucky once but I'd bet he wouldn't be as lucky a second or third time. If you asked most computer people, they would tell you not to drop your computers too often nor subject them to too much vibration. And don't even think about getting them wet.
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