Bike Bags and Panniers

backroller city bik city cycling frbr city 03 - Bike Bags and Panniers

What Bike Bags Do I Need?

When it comes to cycle touring I have to carry stuff! This tends to be a lot of stuff because I always seem to set off thinking I need everything. In fact I need very little, however I want to be comfortable and enjoy the adventure. I could opt for bikepacking bags which is a reasonably minimalist way of travelling on a bike. I picture bikepacking as adventure in the woods and mud on a mountain bike. Cycle touring for me means bringing the kitchen along too!

On my first cycle tour I underestimated the value of good bike bags, which meant I bought the cheapest panniers I could find. I soon realised that that was a huge mistake and eventually bought Ortlieb which are just brilliant. I didn’t go for the all singing all dancing panniers but opted for a city pannier. These panniers would prove to be the best investment I ever made.

The ultimate and unplanned advantage of the back roller city panniers, became apparent when they arrived. The were lighter than the classic roller pannier but had the same capacity. The differences were subtle, the classics had an interior pocket which was very slim. The city was one compartment.

backroller city f5002 back1 600x600 - Bike Bags and Panniers

City Specs
COLOR black
MATERIAL PD620, PS490
BAG TYPE pair
ADAPTER Quick-Lock1
WEIGHT 2x 760 g | 26.8 oz
HEIGHT 42 cm | 16 inch
UPPER WIDTH 32 cm | 12 inch
LOWER WIDTH 23 cm | 9 inch
DEPTH 17 cm | 6 inch
VOLUME 2x 20 l | 1220.5 cu.inch

backroller city f5002 front 600x600 - Bike Bags and Panniers

Classic Specs
COLOR red – black
MATERIAL PD620, PS490
BAG TYPE pair
ADAPTER Quick-Lock 2.1
WEIGHT 2x 950 g | 33.5 oz
HEIGHT 42 cm | 16 inch
UPPER WIDTH 32 cm | 12 inch
LOWER WIDTH 23 cm | 9 inch
DEPTH 17 cm | 6 inch
VOLUME 2x 20 l | 1220.5 cu.inch

As I mentioned originally I bought a cheap set of panniers and they soon failed, just outside Ribchester one of my rear panniers sagged and got caught in the spokes. This was due to the canvas material the panniers were made out of stretching. I had to do a temporary repair to keep going. Later in the journey close to Baun in Switzerland I managed to snap the mount of the front rack. I then popped into a Decathlon and bought yet another cheap all in one rear rack which was just awful.

I learnt my lesson the hard and expensive way, the cost of the two sets of panniers I bought cost more than buying Ortlieb in the first place.

backroller city f5002 pair 600x601 - Bike Bags and Panniers

Although I have now travelled with the Ortlieb City panniers on many occasions they are still as good as new. In the future if I do have to replace them I would opt for 4 front size panniers rather than a larger rear and smaller front. This would be to ensure I didn’t overpack the bike by taking too much stuff. Currently I have 40% of the weight in the rear panniers and 60% in the front. It took a lot of miles to discover that having more weight in the front made the steering more stable

On my European tour I had my kitchen in the front left pannier, Hammock gear in the front right. Sleeping Bag & Cycling clothes in my rear left and my casual clothing and gadgets in my rear right. I also have a rackpack which is a 60 litre bag across my rear panniers, this has my food, wet gear and anything extra I either take or buy on the journey. I do change the configuration when on the road to ensure my bike is balanced and the steering is responsive.

backroller city lon 3281 600x600 - Bike Bags and Panniers

In the future I intend to reduce the amount of gear I carry on a tour. It’s difficult enough cycling up a steep hill when I’m not carrying luggage but adding 24 kg to the bike certainly causes a few occasions when I have to get off and push. I still want to be comfortable at night, make coffee and cook my own meals. This month I’m trying out different cooking systems to see what I like which is light.

Ortlieb is known for having good waterproof bags and after seeing the way other people use their panniers I will be making a few changes to the way I pack mine. Although the panniers are fully waterproof I will be placing my stuff in separate dry bags. This is mainly for organisation and to ensure my stuff doesn’t get wet when I’m at camp. I can also just empty out my panniers on the ground and by having different items in different coloured bags I’m able to grab what I need quicker.

My last post was about spending less on an item but that was mainly because of my budget. I would in future be saving up until I can afford a proven product, although my Naturehike tent has all the features I want I don’t know how long it will last. However, when it comes to Ortlieb I know from other people’s experience and now my own that quality gear is always a good investment.

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