Author Topic: Looking to add panniers to my road bike. Looking for some Mustachian help.  (Read 13788 times)

davisgang90

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I have a Nashbar Road bike like this: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product2_10053_10052_543054_-1

I'd like to add a rear rack and some panniers for my work commute.  Looking for recommendations on a good rack and pannier system.  I'd like the panniers to be easy to carry (maybe a built in shoulder strap) since my office is a good haul from my bike parking and the gym where I shower/change.  I don't need to carry business clothes as I keep them at work (uniform) but room for a change of clothes and some paperwork would be good.

Thanks for the help!

olivia

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I have a Bontrager Grocery Bag pannier that's great, but it doesn't have a long shoulder strap-it's more of a tote bag, but that could work for your purposes.  This is it: http://bontrager.com/model/07721   I went with a grocery type pannier because I put my work bag inside of it.  When I was researching I came across this Timbuk2 pannier messenger bag that converts.  http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/shift-pannier  It had mixed reviews though, and I realized I'd rather keep using my usual work bag. 

The rack I use my pannier with is the Planet Eco bike rack. http://www.rei.com/product/789675/planet-bike-eco-rack-bike-rack It seems to be pretty standard, I see a lot of bikes with the same rack. 

capital

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Your bike looks to have standard rack eyelets on the dropouts and chainstays, so attaching a rack should be no problem.

There are a lot of great racks out there for cheap, and pretty much every one serves the commuter's needs pretty well. The main feature I look for is a third arm all the way out back for better pannier support, such as on this rack:
http://www.amazon.com/Avenir-Universal-Rear-Rack-Black/dp/B0014UQ9RI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1373225521&sr=8-2&keywords=avenir+rack

Pannier choices are also vast. You can pay a lot for a durable 100% waterproof one with an easy on-off system, but most basic ones work fine. My personal choice is a grocery pannier (essentially a detachable basket) with a backpack in it, so I can use the backpack while walking around, which happens a lot in NYC; I can stop at the grocery store, buy a bag of groceries and put it in the grocery pannier, and carry the backpack on my back. If you don't take many walks, a plain ol' pannier works, and there are many good brands. Nashbar makes basic cheapies that can be wear-prone. REI's Novara brand has nice stuff, and Ortlieb is considered one of the finest brands of waterproof touring kits.

I owned the Timbuk2 Shift. It was uncomfortable as a shoulder bag, and a pannier hook failed without warning during light use, so the bag almost fell off my bike in traffic. They appear to have since redesigned the bag, but I am doubtful of Timbuk2's pannier expertise.

uspsfanalan

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I've considered building these panniers out of buckets. They're ugly but very practical and cheap.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=1841&v=2O


Spudd

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That Avenir rack looks very similar to the rack I have (which is an Axiom Journey). It's served me very well and I would recommend it without hesitation.

For a pannier, I recently received a Detours Fremonster pannier for my commute, and I love it. It has a shoulder strap, a built-in rain cover, a laptop sleeve, and enough room to carry both my laptop and my lunch bag. The attachment system is really nice, it clips right onto the rack with no fiddling, and has a neoprene cover that covers the clips when you're carrying it off the bike.

hybrid

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I've considered building these panniers out of buckets. They're ugly but very practical and cheap.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=1841&v=2O

I first read this post and thought huhhhhhh?????  That sounds absolutely freaking ridiculous.  But then I went to the link and now I'm thinking hmmmm, that's pretty badass!

Skinnyneo

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I'm going to throw down for Ortlieb.  I bought their classic waterproof panniers for almost 50% off at a LBS.  They really are waterproof and have gotten me through many tsunami here in Japan.  My only beef is they didn't come with a strap for throwing them over your shoulder once you dismount from the bike.  I also have the Ortlieb handlebar bag and will echo that it is very waterproof and holds up great. 

GuitarStv

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The bucket panniers are really, really awesome.

Benefits:
- Waterproof with the lid
- Can be secured on pretty well so you can leave them on the bike most of the time (convenience)
- Makes your bike look more ghetto (free theft prevention)
- Cheap
- Durable

infogoon

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I've been using an Ibera clip-on pannier with my commuter bike; it fits on a standard rack (I think it was a Blackburn?) though Ibera also sells racks specifically for their panniers. It's been durable, has a waterproof cover built in, and it's pretty roomy. I can fit a change of clothes and a large lunchbag inside with room to spare.

frompa

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uspsfanalan, those bucket panniers are ridiculous and totally badass! Maybe I'll try them next.  Ha.
I've used (and used up) many panniers over the years, as I'm a regular bike commuter, about-town errand doer, and several-time-a-year bike tourist.  Different panniers are ideal for different situations.  I like the open style framed panniers for grocery shopping, the more waterproof options (Ortliebs are awesome though quite expensive) are better for long tours, though even less waterproof panniers can be made to serve well if you line them with a heavy plastic garbage bag. Once you get a solid rack on, pretty much any of them will do in a pinch.  Remember to bring along some bungies, as these expand your carrying options exponentially. 

Micheal

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You could always get a panier you like and add a shoulder strap if you need one.  Or just get a rack and make your own.

mpbaker22

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Just attached a rack to my road bike yesterday.  Just watch out for the eyelets down low.  Mine were a different size than the top ones.  I think the eyelets are for a mud guard, but I put the rack on there anyway.

I got my panniers off of nashbar.com  The site is really nice, but the specific panniers I have are complete shit, so I won't recommend them.

jnik

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I like the Blackburn racks. The Racktime racks (discount line of Tubus/Ortlieb) also have a really good rep. I've found the difference between a $30 rack and a $50 rack is well worth it--I started with a $30 Trek (I think...) rack and it was a pain to install, not very solid, and attachments sucked; moving up a bit made a big difference.

For panniers, again, spending a little bit helps. The Ortliebs are very nice but often very pricey. I have a set of REI/Novara panniers that are OK but not hugely durable. I strongly recommend getting something with a hook system that attaches entirely on the top rail (bits to stabilize lower down are okay) and avoid anything that just hangs on the top and requires tension between the top and bottom to hold the pannier in place. I had one of those that was bungee based and it tended to drop the panniers into my spokes whenever I hit a bump; spring-based ones tend to rust.

I've been looking at convertibles. The Timbuk2 pannier-to-messenger convertible (Switch, ne?) sounds like it will dig into your back and shoulders--no padding covering the mounting hardware. It unfortunately looks like the Arkel is the same. Here's a review of the Timbuk2 Tandem which doesn't make them sound great.

The ones that look the most promising are the Ortlieb Vario, http://panpack.com/ and http://northstbags.com/products/woodward (although that is bungee-based). Some panniers also do come with nice D-rings that you can just snap a shoulder strap in. My Novara panniers snap together to hide the hardware, but won't take a shoulder strap.

Let us know if you find something great!

davisgang90

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Thanks for all the insights guys and gals!  Here is what I've gone with:

Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP Bicycle Trunk Bag with Rigid Molded Panels

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ZKATZG/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Topeak Explorer Bike Rack

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FIE3WI/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Got it all installed last night and I'll give a road report after it stops with the T-storms around here.

TrulyStashin

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I'll post a picture later, but once I had the rack on my bike, I dug around in my garage and found an old plastic bin that a local grocery store used to sell to promote bulk shopping -- any Sterlite plastic storage bin would do though.   The bin I had happens to have open slots on the sides so it was easy to use really big zip ties to simply and securely fasten the bin to the top of my bike rack.  For a Sterlite bin, you could simply drill holes and you'd also have a handy dandy lid to use to keep the rain out.

Thanks to my freebie bin, I have a semi-permanent and secure extra-big basket on the rack and I just plop my trusty old backpack into it every morning and secure it with a bungee and off I go.  If I ever have to take the bin off, I can simply cut the zip ties. 

Unfortunately, when I started bike commuting I bought a garment bag pannier with a shoulder strap, thinking I needed it (I was still learning Mustachian ways). It is still hanging in my closet, never used. 

jradc

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Thanks for all the insights guys and gals!  Here is what I've gone with:

Topeak MTX Trunk Bag EXP Bicycle Trunk Bag with Rigid Molded Panels

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ZKATZG/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Topeak Explorer Bike Rack

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FIE3WI/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Got it all installed last night and I'll give a road report after it stops with the T-storms around here.

This is what I have, and I absolutely love it. Being able to take the panniers on and off in less than 1 second makes a huge difference for short trips, and the separate compartments are great for organizing clean/dirty clothes and lunch/wallet/light in separate places (I have the bag with fold-down panniers).


TrulyStashin

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Here's a picture of my bin, strapped to my bike, and with my backpack and purse plopped into the bin ready to go home.


davisgang90

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Finally made the maiden ride with the new panniers.  Love them!  I enjoyed not wearing a backpack and was able to fit lunch, thermos, clothes in the 2 sides with room left over. 

Scandium

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Apologize for reviving this.
I'm a bit surprised, I thought people were frugal here. I'm look for panniers for my bike, for grocery runs mainly (I have to drive to work). The suggestions here are probably fine, but holycow they are expensive! The REI ones are $50 and up, and the Nashbar ones are $50-100. Waaay more than I was hoping to spend. I've been look at something like this for $25:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001NGD4UI/ref=s9_simh_se_p468_d0_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=auto-no-results-center-1&pf_rd_r=1TMG7GRJJNF4Q7HFP2VS&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=1263465782&pf_rd_i=Jenny%20Lind%20Delta%20crib


Or on ebay, $16 with shipping
http://www.ebay.com/itm/121203508653?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

I got a rack for my bike on amazon for $15. A bit janky and the top is not totally flat, but I'm sure it's fine
http://www.amazon.com/Ventura-Universal-Bicycle-Carrier-Rack/dp/B001NGF6AY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1398181234&sr=8-4&keywords=bike+rack

Yes these probably aren't quality, but if they hold up even a little bit I find it hard to justify $150 bags to hold my milk.. If you bike every day year round i might make slightly more sense.

GuitarStv

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Good panniers / racks will last longer and be more dependable than cheaper ones.  If you're relying on your bike in place of a car it's worth paying a little bit more for that reliability.

Let me paint a typical commuting scenario for you:

You're five miles from home zipping down a hill in the pouring rain and have one of your panniers come loose and swing into your rear wheel.  Your dress clothes are now soaking wet (likely ruined), you've lost a couple spokes, your lunch is crushed, and you're late for work.  Probably 60$ to replace the clothes, 10$ to buy lunch, 3$ to ride a bus the rest of the way, maybe you've ruined your rear rim, at least you'll need a couple spokes and a lot of time truing, plus you need a new set of panniers.  Plus you have to figure out some way to make it through the rest of the day with no dress clothes in your office.  That 50 or 60$ savings doesn't look so good now, does it?

I think that for buying groceries only, it makes much more sense to go with a used bike trailer.  You can pull more stuff behind you than you'll ever get in panniers, and the weight is off the frame of the bike.

marblejane

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I tend to agree with GuitarSTV.

For daily commuting, I went with a Planet bike rack ($50, inclusive of installation at an LBS) along with a Wald 582 rear folding basket. You can go for the pair if you need more capacity.

Thegoblinchief

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Frugal != the cheapest option up front. It's about identifying the best long-term value for what you're doing. In my experience, cheap bike accessories are frequently terrible - just like cheap department store bikes.

For groceries only, don't bother with a rack and pannier. Craigslist typically has a few quality Burley or similar trailers for under $100. Someone made his own from scratch for a bit more money:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/i-made-my-own-bike-trailer/

For commuting or touring, panniers do make more sense. I need to get some myself now that it's warmer and I'm sick of the backpack making my back sweat like crazy.

the fixer

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If I needed panniers again I might try the M-Wave ones at the above Amazon link. The ones on eBay look small for groceries and are definitely not waterproof just because of the zipper.

I have two Axiom panniers that I got at a wholesale price but they were still really expensive. They're extremely nice but I'm not sure I would pay that kind of money for them again if I needed to replace them tomorrow. If they last 10+ years, though, definitely. I like them better than the Nashbar ones.

+1 for a trailer for groceries. I used to use a trailer and it was great. Now in my current living situation we have nowhere to keep one so I'm using panniers. On grocery runs I need 3, sometimes 4 panniers which requires using my front rack. All the groceries together are a ton of weight which makes the bike difficult to handle in edge situations (rides fine, but it's not so easy to prop it while I open a door or unload). Putting a lot of weight on the front of the bike sometimes makes the steering weird because I don't have a fancy front rack that lets me keep the weight low. And even with all this, sometimes I don't have enough space to take home everything I want from the store and have to come back later. I miss my trailer sometimes.

Scandium

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I do acknowledge the thin line between frugal and cheap. And like I said if you bike dozens of miles a day a larger investment might be worth it. But I also know from experience that in gear intensive activities like bikes that there's always a push for the best "must-have" gear and it's not always clear what's actually better or just name-brand markup or marketing.

I just need these to hold some groceries. I biked to school from 4th grade through college, in Norway, in the snow (uphill both ways..) and I never used panniers, just a backpack. I did bike to the store the other day and got almost everything my 40 L backpack (plus a bag on the handlebars). And that was most of what we needed for the week. I ordered the $25 M-Wave ones and we'll see how they hold up, but I might not need them for most trips. At least I won't put that 50 lb sack of potatoes in them..

Thegoblinchief

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Curious to hear an update, but after reading a bunch of reviews for sub-$50 panniers, I think the bin/milk crate bungeed to the rack is the best cheap solution. I *do not* want to worry about a shitty bag sagging into my spokes.

I just want to get my backpack off my back, and a trunk bag isn't quite enough space for my commute, though it is nice for carrying tools on my non-commute rides.

Edited to add: for a nice, long-lasting pannier for commuting and (in the future) distance touring, would this be good or overkill:

http://www.rei.com/product/604989/ortlieb-backroller-classic-panniers-pair
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 04:00:42 PM by Thegoblinchief »

yyc-phil

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I'm considering making those for myself as soon as the weather is nicer here and the dump, which we call our Hardware Store, starts to clear.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Waterproof-Bicycle-Pannier-Boxes/

Thegoblinchief

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I'm considering making those for myself as soon as the weather is nicer here and the dump, which we call our Hardware Store, starts to clear.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Waterproof-Bicycle-Pannier-Boxes/

Those look even better than the kitty litter ones!

FunkyStickman

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FWIW, I have an Anxiom Journey rack, it's fantastic because it has "wings" in the rear that keep cheap bags from swinging into the rear wheel.

I had a set of Sunlite all-in-one panniers, they were fine, though not waterproof, so I had to put my stuff in big zip-lock bags if it looked like rain. They were a whole set for $25, my friend still uses them for short day trips.

I now have some Axiom Seymour small panniers, and they're okay... they don't come unhooked... but they're still not waterproof. Again, the set was around $30.

I will never spend $200 for a set of Ortliebs, just not going to happen. I might spend $80 or $100 on a good set of waterproof panniers, something like a Banjo Brothers Waterproof Pannier. Decent price, big enough, should last for years.

Here's my setup currently:

jnik

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Curious to hear an update, but after reading a bunch of reviews for sub-$50 panniers, I think the bin/milk crate bungeed to the rack is the best cheap solution.
It's not a bad way to go, provided you can make it robust. If you can keep the straps out of the spokes, bungee + backpack can work fine, too. I used a cargo net to hold my climbing helmet for awhile; worked for that, but my brother-in-law used one for his backpack and had it fall off a lot.

The Ortlieb bags are absolutely fantastic and in some sense worth the money. You won't see too many people riding across the country with other bags, for instance. Occasionally you can find them wicked cheap on clearance (e.g. last year's model.)

The cheapest bags I found worthwhile were the Jandd mountain panniers, but yipes they're now about twice what I paid for 'em. Maybe they were clearance too...I don't think I've paid full price for a set of panniers since the horrible Trek pair that constantly fell into my spokes. Keep an eye out.

GuitarStv

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That Axiom journey rear rack is a great rack.  They're cheap, light, easy to attach to your bike and quite strong.  We have two bike outfitted with them in our house.