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Panniers on a tour

Old 04-17-19, 09:00 AM
  #1  
Gypsy1
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Panniers on a tour

There are many on here who has been on fully loaded tours... As a lone cyclist touring the world or long durations, how do you secure your panniers when shopping or having to go indoors ( for whatever reason)?

Please, I'm asking for fully loaded panniers, not bike packing compression sacks (or whatever it is called)... I'll be having 2 Brooks Norfolk front and Isle of Skye handlebar bag. My rear is a early 2000's Rivendall rack bag, I can't explain but it's all one piece, not seperate bags.

I'll have a lock for the bike but how do you lock the bags or ensure they can't be opened and stuff inside stolen? Could I be worried about nothing, as this is not a real issue? Advice from veteran adventurist cyclist appreciated... Cheers!
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Old 04-17-19, 09:58 AM
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A few different things:
1. Some particular valuables like a passport or a camera either stay on my person or always go with me in a handlebar bag.
2. If an area is sketchy enough, I might wait until I get to my destination; check into a hotel and then go out shopping. So the panniers (and bike) are in the hotel, not outside.
3. On some trips I've been with someone else, so one of us watches the bikes. On other occasions, I might look around for a street vendor, strike up a conversation, buy something and otherwise have the bike/panniers be fairly public with people around I've had minimal interactions.
4. Some places you can ask to bring a bike/panniers inside. I've also been refused by security guards but then work with them to find something secure.
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Old 04-17-19, 10:10 AM
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I'm pretty sure any Ortlieb panniers with the QL2 system (most of the ones with "plus" in the name) can have security cables installed (sold separately). So the pannier has its own cable, with a loop on the end, and you simply stick your lock through that loop, as well as your frame, wheel, and anything else you want to secure. That won't prevent anyone from opening your pannier and taking its contents, but it can prevent someone from grabbing the whole pannier and running.

OP, that doesn't help you, since you already have your panniers. But, y'know, maybe for others with the same question.

For the record, I've never had anything stolen off my bike. A little common sense goes a long way.
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Old 04-17-19, 10:16 AM
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All depends on the situation.

I am not one of those who thinks that there is someone hiding behind every street lamp waiting to steal my stuff, yet I have been in some situations where I would not let my bike and gear out of sight. Other times, I would not hesitate to leave my bike, etc., alone outside when I shop, sleep, etc. My preference is to be able to set up camp then ride with one pannier for groceries to eat out. That way, I can bring my lock for the bike and keep the one pannier with me. Generally not worried about someone going in my tent to swipe my gear, although one time a local resident hopped the post-rail fence of a campground in preparation for making off with my stove that I had stupidly left visible while I was doing laundry. I saw what was going on and scared him off.

When you don't feel comfortable for whatever reason, including an irrational fear, mev's suggestions are good ones. I've lost track of the number of times I have brought my bike in a grocery store and put it somewhere out of the way while I shop.
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Old 04-17-19, 10:50 AM
  #5  
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This is a security cable I fabricated for my Ortlieb front and back Roller series panniers. The Packer series has cable available through Orlieb, but the older Roller series do not. It protects panniers from the opportunistic thief. I've only felt the need to use them a couple of times in the last 8-9 years.


Last edited by Doug64; 04-17-19 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 04-17-19, 10:55 AM
  #6  
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I agree with everything Mev said. There have been a few times when I decided to not stop to go into a store, the area just looked a bit too unsafe for me to leave a bike unattended. Situational awareness is your best defense.

Some panniers have a track with the hooks on it and it may be possible to attach a way to put a locking cable on those tracks. I have never used one of these, but this is an example.
https://ortliebusa.com/product/ql2-and-ql2-1-anti-theft-device-e124short-e125long/

Sometimes when I was a bit concerned I put my cable lock through the fabric loop that serves as a carry handle. While it is obvious that the loop can easily be cut, I am hoping that a thief will decide that it takes too long to cut it or perhaps decides that it would be inconvenient to carry with no carry handle.

On the rear, if you have another bag strapped on top of the rack and panniers, it may be too time consuming for a thief to be able to grab a pannier and run, they might decide to skip it. This however is not a solution for the front.

But the comment by Mev that a handlebar bag with your valuables that comes off of the bike and goes with you into the store or wherever you go is the best way to make sure that if there is a theft, they do not get the most important stuff.
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Old 04-17-19, 12:20 PM
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As said before, everything of obvious value (cash, passport, credit cards, camera, phone, etc) are in a detachable handlebar bag which never leaves my side whenever I'm away from the bike. Everything else is hidden deep inside closed panniers and generally not worth the effort of stealing. Most of these items are generally replaceable locally even if they should get taken. Also, any thief going through my bags would have to paw through my dirty underwear to find anything worth taking. Serves them right.

I'm not familiar with your panniers, but every set I've had are equipped with two zippers on the main pocket. Small luggage locks can be used to secure the two zippers together so the pocket cannot be opened. Don't lose the key or forget the combination.

If you are concerned about the theft of your panniers, one approach is to attach the pannier to the rack with zip ties. Place the zip tie around the middle of the rack strut closest to the middle of the back of the pannier, then weave the zip tie through whatever you can find on the back of the pannier nearest the strut (on my pannier, it's the shock absorbing bungee built into the back of the pannier). Pull tight. Sure, zip ties can be cut, but at least the thief would have to make an effort to figure out what is holding the pannier to the rack, find a knife and have to work his way to it in order to cut it. This takes a little time and looks painfully obvious that the thief is up to something. If nothing else, that may encourage the thief to move on to easier pickings and leave your bike alone. Of course, this works best when you aren't frequently removing your panniers from the racks. It's a pain to cut and replace the zip tie on a frequent basis.

Of course anything can happen anytime, but I am in my fourth decade of touring in North America and Europe and have never had anything stolen or seen anyone suspicious lurking around my bike. I have seen people approach my bike, but they were merely curious about my travel style and not planning to steal.
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Old 04-17-19, 04:30 PM
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I keep a small drybag with wallet/phone/keys/etc that goes with me when bike is unattended. I do have a super skinny long cable I can loop around all the handles on my panniers if the situation feels like I need more than a frame ulock. But like others have said, judging the situation is best. If someone wants to steal your entire bike and is prepared, there is really nothing that is thief proof. Over a decade of touring with nothing major stolen. I did have a 6 pack strapped to the back of the bike once that went missing after I stopped for a quick coffee...
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Old 04-17-19, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for all the advice! Your time and experience is really appreciated... I haven't left yet, bike should be finished by the end of next week; already a month behind on my planned completion. I'll post pictures when done.
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Old 04-17-19, 10:17 PM
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Important stuff; always with you. For the panniers, make a long cable lock or chain that can wrap around the panniers through the wheels. It's not complete protection, but enough to dissuade most thieves
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Old 04-17-19, 11:01 PM
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I don't have good insight into the criminal mind and mindset, but I would find a bike loaded with panniers to be a little intimidating, if I were a thief. It's one thing to blaze through a lock in 32 seconds with an angle grinder while maintaining that air of "I'm the boss" so people leave you alone. But fiddling around with someone's panniers trying to figure out (1) where the valuable stuff is, (2) how to remove them from the bike, (3) whether or not the weight is even worth carrying, etc. seems like something that the pros would leave alone, and the novices would get caught messing with. A bike loaded with front and rear panniers sort of calls out "The owner isn't far away, (s)he's a bad%%%, and is not going to take kindly to someone messing with the rig."
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Old 04-17-19, 11:42 PM
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I just never leave my bike with panniers on them if I'm leaving the bike for more than a quick stop into a convenience store or something, and then I usually lock the wheel to the frame and lean the bike against the front of the store where I could see someone messing with it through the window. If I need to go shop, and don't have a friend along, I'll just take my panniers off and take them in with me. Usually I walk over to the counter and ask them if they mind if I leave my bags there. I haven't had to do this much, but when I have, they always say no problem. It takes a little bit of time, but it's well worth not having my stuff stolen.
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Old 04-18-19, 05:56 AM
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All I can add is that when I tour, I think I appear close to homeless, and who steals from the homeless?

I admit I'm sort of a dirtbagger. I consider my bike and everything I leave on it to be expendable. My main concern would be finding a new means of transportation, not the intrinsic value of the goods.
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Old 04-18-19, 11:15 AM
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As others have mentioned, valuables in a handlebar bag. The rest I use the little cable pistol locks to loop handles to the bike. Yes, they can cut the handles, but panniers are nothing but cloth bags anyhow, they can just cut the thing open if they want it that bad.

While some will steal anything, I generally believe most people aren't interested in my sweaty underwear and cycling shirts tho.

Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
All I can add is that when I tour, I think I appear close to homeless, and who steals from the homeless?
Other homeless people?
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Old 04-18-19, 11:26 AM
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gypsy, I dont know where you are from, how old you are and what life experience you have travelling, but the bottom line is assessing the environment and making a judgement call.
As others have said, the few times I have any real doubts, I have brought my bike into a store and asked if it was ok that they watch my bike while I buy groceries.
Other than that, I leave it so I can see my bike through a window, and take my valuables in my handlebar bag, and maybe sometimes put my coil lock through a wheel and pannier straps.
As noted, some goof travelling on a bike when any person with sense would be travelling by car, is highly unlikely to be carrying gold bullion or anything of much value in some bike panniers, so our bikes are pretty low on the scale of interest, and as also stated, why take the risk of opening a pannier only to find dirty underwear.

all jokes aside, it really comes down to assessing the surroundings, so if its sleepy little town in Canada, in the middle of the day, outside the grocery store with grandpa and grandma Smith slowly walking by, thats a different story than some urban setting with some sketchy looking young guys hanging around outside with beers in their hands.

all the best on a trip, and just remember, use common sense.
have fun
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Old 04-18-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Other homeless people?
Not to get too far off topic and/or start a flame war, "non-homeless" do commit crimes against homeless people. Some of those crimes are violent ones. Several years ago here in Philly, the police asked some kids why they had created a game where players rob and stomp on homeless people. Their answer was that it is "something stupid we do for fun."
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Old 04-18-19, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Not to get too far off topic and/or start a flame war, "non-homeless" do commit crimes against homeless people. Some of those crimes are violent ones. Several years ago here in Philly, the police asked some kids why they had created a game where players rob and stomp on homeless people. Their answer was that it is "something stupid we do for fun."
Oh I agree completely. Lot of people in the world I don't care to be around due to a less than stellar personality, from homeless to incredibly wealthy.
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Old 04-18-19, 12:19 PM
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My suggestion? Carry money and camera with you, bury the stove and other quick grab valuables on the bottom and leave your dirty laundry on top!

Years ago at the conclusion of a group TransAm tour in Portland OR I was doing errands around the city with my bike and a loaded BOB trailer. Suddenly an attractive young woman stopped me on the street and wanted to chat at length about my trip. Strange, I thought... Bike tourists are a dime a dozen in Portland, why is she so interested in me? When I returned to the bike I discovered that the BOB bag had been opened. She was a distraction for a partner in crime. I may have cut the search short, nothing had been taken. One advantage to those clunky trailer bags... too awkward to carry away the entire bag.

And yes, my dirty laundry was in a mesh bag on top!
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Old 04-18-19, 12:45 PM
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Long cable lock I can slip through the pannier handles. Not theft proof, by a long shot, but I'm not leaving it that way for long, hopefully, and, like others have said, it's generally not got anything obviously worth stealing, so you carry with you what you can and what's most valuable, and rest you hope stays put and make it as inconvenient as possible to run off with. And that's why you always pack as much as possible, so no one can run off with it. ;-)

For shopping, though, I have found that my Ortleib panniers hang nicely off the shopping cart. Sometimes I just put them on the cart and take them with me.
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Old 04-18-19, 01:46 PM
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On all my bike trips, 17-18,000 miles worth I have only locked my bike five or six times. I don't fret it. I just park my bike up against the building I'm about to walk into and then I walk in and do my business. When I come back out my bicycle is there and doing just fine even though I left it there by its lonesome, unlocked. I don't lock the kitty liter buckets either. I'm not too worried about all the criminals around the country coming and taking my stuff...you know every single human being alive on the planet is out to get you...remember that.

Remember also, if you look like you have a million dollars than all these mean nasty criminals are going to want to take what you have and laugh at you while you are fretting over your stolen merchandise...aka if you want to be left alone don't set yourself up to be a target...don't look like your bike is worth a million bucks...hence the kitty liter buckets versus panniers.
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Old 04-18-19, 04:53 PM
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is it just me or doesn't anyone else find it a bit strange that Bob did not notice or feel that his Bob bag was being tampered with........
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Old 04-18-19, 05:33 PM
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[QUOTE]
If you are concerned about the theft of your panniers, one approach is to attach the pannier to the rack with zip ties. Place the zip tie around the middle of the rack strut closest to the middle of the back of the pannier, then weave the zip tie through whatever you can find on the back of the pannier pull tight. Sure, zip ties can be cut, but at least the thief would have to make an effort [QUOTE]

That's a great idea!
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Old 04-18-19, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
is it just me or doesn't anyone else find it a bit strange that Bob did not notice or feel that his Bob bag was being tampered with........
20 years ago DJ so details are vague. As I recall the bike was at least a half block away locked to a stand. As stated I was engaged in conversation with the accomplice so my eyes were upon her as she intended them to be.

Fresh off the fairly rural TransAm I was naive to risks of a seemingly friendly city. A woman in our group had her bike stolen the same day.

edit: Ha, Ha! Now I get it. Kind of like your reply to Doug about "panning for Yukon gold" and "Florida panhandle"? I'm slow on the uptake also.

Last edited by BobG; 04-18-19 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 04-18-19, 05:48 PM
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sorry bob, that was a very bad attempt at testicle humour......;-) chuckle
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Old 04-18-19, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
...
Fresh off the fairly rural TransAm I was naive to risks of a seemingly friendly city. A woman in our group had her bike stolen the same day.
....
She was unfortunate to lose the bike, but at least it was at the end of trip, not the beginning.

I often carry a skier type lock in addition to a really good lock, I can use the skier type lock just to immobilize the bike if I am running into a convenience store or something quick like that. Only takes seconds to use it, not as much time as a heavier duty lock, but because it is so quick to implement you are more likely to use it instead of saying, oh, skip the lock.



It is not a substitute for the better quality lock, it is just for those times you want to run into a store for a few minutes.
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