Author Topic: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute  (Read 4360 times)

ejh

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Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« on: October 31, 2016, 04:43:26 AM »
Hey,

I've been commuting almost daily to work by bike for the past 4 months.
My ride is about 9 Km (5.6 miles) each way, mainly on the road/pavement with some detours.
I have a basic but sturdy Trek 4300, hard tail, 26" tires. I got it second hand and it's great.
I carry my change of clothes, laptop, repair kit and extra stuff in my backpack.
It works, but:
1. I realize that for the long haul, I'd rather not have that weight on my back
2. my backpack isn't waterproof so I'll have a problem when it starts raining

The weather here is comfortable for the most part. Mostly sunny and hot throughout the year. Winters are not freezing, but can be very wet at times.

So all that info in order to ask you expert commuters - which racks and panniers would you recommend getting?

I'd like my stuff to stay safe from the rain and mud, even if it's only the occasional downpour.
I'd also like to get something that would allow me to broaden my rides to more trails without spending a fortune on expensive niche gear.
My current point of reference is this article from The Sweethome - http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-bike-rack-basket-panniers/.
They recommend the Topeak Explorer rear rack and a few rear panniers, ranging from Ortlieb Back-Roller Classics to the cheaper Axiom Monsoon Aero.

What do you think?
 

mskyle

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2016, 09:17:05 AM »
I have a pair of REI Novara panniers that have served me very well through the years. The Ortliebs are nice, but I've only ever had something get wet once in my REI bags (they are reasonably waterproof on their own and have a fold-out rain cover), and that was during a really bad thunderstorm that I should have just waited out.

I would say just get whatever fits on your bike (without striking your heel - this depends a lot on your riding style and your bike geometry), and is well-priced, rather than trying to find "the best." Also, you can get separate rain covers for panniers, which is probably going to be lighter and cheaper than something like the Ortlieb panniers unless you're often riding in downpours.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2016, 09:55:45 AM »
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-Trunk-Bicycle-Molded-Panels/dp/B000ZKATZG/ref=sr_1_1?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1477929069&sr=1-1&keywords=panniers&refinements=p_89%3ATopeak

https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-63107030-Explorer-Bike-Rack/dp/B000FIE3WI/ref=sr_1_2?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1477929100&sr=1-2&keywords=panniers&refinements=p_89%3ATopeak

I put my clothes in plastic bags in case the rain penetrates the nylon/canvas (whatever it is...), which it almost never does.  I put my phone (and any electronics) in a ziplock if there's risk of rain.  I've never seen rain seriously penetrate, but I believe it is possible and not 100% waterproof.

dogboyslim

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2016, 09:58:29 AM »
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-Trunk-Bicycle-Molded-Panels/dp/B000ZKATZG/ref=sr_1_1?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1477929069&sr=1-1&keywords=panniers&refinements=p_89%3ATopeak

https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-63107030-Explorer-Bike-Rack/dp/B000FIE3WI/ref=sr_1_2?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1477929100&sr=1-2&keywords=panniers&refinements=p_89%3ATopeak

I put my clothes in plastic bags in case the rain penetrates the nylon/canvas (whatever it is...), which it almost never does.  I put my phone (and any electronics) in a ziplock if there's risk of rain.  I've never seen rain seriously penetrate, but I believe it is possible and not 100% waterproof.
I second this one.

mm1970

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dougules

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2016, 10:53:47 AM »
I have had Avenir Excursion panniers for several years now, and I love them.  They're like my trunk.  I managed to get a watermelon, a large cabbage, two cantaloupes, and a few apples home between two on either side one time. 

judgypants139

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2016, 11:14:05 AM »
I started bike commuting a couple months ago and purchased the Topeak Explorer and Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers. What a huge upgrade after riding with a heavy backpack! At the time of purchase I was kicking myself for spending so much, buy after a few months of use I'm very happy with the purchase. It doesn't rain a lot where I live, but even on days with a little sprinkle riding through puddles and muck can make a mess of things; the Ortliebs have kept my work clothes, lunch, and essentials bone-dry. And the attachment system to the rack is pure genius.

The only issue I had was after a fall (yes, I've had a couple) the rack got pretty bent out of shape (the downside of lightweight aluminum). After a few whacks with a hammer it was right back in working order again.

I'm sure there are more Mustachian options, but I don't regret the money I spent. 


adwasy

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2016, 11:35:26 AM »
Any Canadian recommendations? I am also in the market for a rack and panniers.

GuitarStv

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2016, 12:16:00 PM »
If you have a good backpack, or if you find some decent panniers that are not waterproof . . . don't worry about it!  Put your stuff in a plastic grocery bag before you head off to work.  Double bag it if you're really concerned.  Your stuff will arrive dry, no matter how wet you and your bags get.

Waterproof panniers can sometimes trap water and start to stink.  If you fall with waterproof panniers, they tend to not be waterproof any more (small holes/rips).  Waterproofing is one of those things that sounds super important, but really isn't for most people bike commuting.



For Canadian recommendations:

- Axiom makes the Journey (http://www.axiomgear.com/products/racks/journey-racks/journey/) - it's a very strong rear rack that's well designed and quite durable.  You can find them for 30 - 40$ online / in bike shops around here.

I got all my panniers from MEC several years ago when they were blowing them out 60 - 70% off on sale, and the full price for them is pretty steep at the moment.

KCM5

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2016, 12:30:10 PM »
I have a front basket that I put my stuff in. It's made by Wald http://www.bikewagon.com/wald-139-standard-large-front-bike-basket-silver?CAWELAID=400006350000056287&CAGPSPN=pla&CAAGID=20967936996&CATCI=pla-132681255876&catargetid=400006350000454602&cadevice=c&gclid=CjwKEAjw19vABRCY2YmkpO2OzTsSJAAzEt8sXIWH-ZNKmK2CnHsnuJd181mFm8cLZ7VSM7B_kZeheBoCUGTw_wcB

I put my stuff in it. If it rains I grab a plastic grocery bag and put the bag in that. It's $20, so way cheap. I also like having my things within reach for some reason. I too, ride a second hand Trek mountain bike.

All the above pannier recommendations are great, probably. Just thought I'd add another option.

acroy

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2016, 12:34:07 PM »
If you have a good backpack, or if you find some decent panniers that are not waterproof . . . don't worry about it!  Put your stuff in a plastic grocery bag before you head off to work.  Double bag it if you're really concerned.  Your stuff will arrive dry, no matter how wet you and your bags get.

Waterproof panniers can sometimes trap water and start to stink.  If you fall with waterproof panniers, they tend to not be waterproof any more (small holes/rips).  Waterproofing is one of those things that sounds super important, but really isn't for most people bike commuting.

Agree -
Bike commuter for 15+ yrs, 14 mile r/t rain or shine.
$15 Jansport "Safety Red" backpack.
Plastic bags are waterproof.
I prefer to have the weight on my back rather than on the bike.

ejh

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2016, 01:07:46 PM »
OK, I'm convinced regarding the whole waterproof thing and using a plastic bag instead.
If I get a rollback or sack-like pannier I guess I could even insert a heavy duty garbage bag and just leave it inside all the time.

But how can you manage carrying everything on your back?
I have 2 really great backpacks - a Samsonite and an Osprey (can't remember the models).
I love the Samsonite it's superb.
But I still have issues with:
- the packs and straps soaking up sweat as well as my shirt being completely soaked where the backpack sits
- there's a limit to how much weight I'd like to carry on my back and I'd eventually like to run other errands or even go camping with my bike
- I'd like to also carry shoes and perhaps my lock which I don't do now (my lock is mounted on my frame)

How do you solve those issues without panniers?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 01:09:42 PM by ejh »

ejh

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2016, 01:16:19 PM »
Also, do you have anything to say about the mounting mechanisms?
They say Ortliebs are pretty amazing.
Is it all so important?

These were also recommended: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006Z0O6NQ/?tag=thesweethome-20&linkCode=xm2&ascsubtag=SH21300

Since I'm going to order online, what should I look out for to know if the rack and panniers will fit my bike?

GuitarStv

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2016, 01:23:58 PM »
OK, I'm convinced regarding the whole waterproof thing and using a plastic bag instead.
If I get a rollback or sack-like pannier I guess I could even insert a heavy duty garbage bag and just leave it inside all the time.

But how can you manage carrying everything on your back?
I have 2 really great backpacks - a Samsonite and an Osprey (can't remember the models).
I love the Samsonite it's superb.
But I still have issues with:
- the packs and straps soaking up sweat as well as my shirt being completely soaked where the backpack sits
- there's a limit to how much weight I'd like to carry on my back and I'd eventually like to run other errands or even go camping with my bike
- I'd like to also carry shoes and perhaps my lock which I don't do now (my lock is mounted on my frame)

How do you solve those issues without panniers?

I actually moved from commuting with panniers to commuting with a backpack by stripping away the excess.  Here's what I did:

Carry only the absolute minimum.  Shoes stay at work, at your desk.  Your heavy lock stays at work on the bike rack.  I keep a spare tube, tire lever, and multi-tool in a seat post bag.  Cycle in cycling clothes, and change when you get to work (my commute is 22 km each way, so I get sweaty no matter what).  You really only need to put the following in your backpack:
- minipump
- change of clothes
- small bottle of soap
- lunch

Should be under ten lbs on your back, which is quite comfortable.  Then you don't need to carry a rack.  If you want to go camping or touring, put your rack back on the bike.  Takes about 10 minutes.

GuitarStv

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2016, 01:30:54 PM »
Also, do you have anything to say about the mounting mechanisms?
They say Ortliebs are pretty amazing.
Is it all so important?

These were also recommended: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006Z0O6NQ/?tag=thesweethome-20&linkCode=xm2&ascsubtag=SH21300

Since I'm going to order online, what should I look out for to know if the rack and panniers will fit my bike?

Mounting systems for panniers are pretty important.  Every time you use the panniers, you use the mounting system.  A sucky one makes it hard to take off/put on the panniers.  If you're carrying your laptop home regularly (for example), and the mounting system fails . . . your bag falls off into traffic and gets hit by a semi-truck.  Poof.  Laptop is destroyed, the bag is destroyed, you're out a lot of money and may be in trouble from your employer (if it was a company computer).


Most racks are pretty straight forward to attach to a bike if you have the screws on the seat stays and the holes for attaching the rack bottom near the rear axle.  You can usually make any pannier fit properly as long as the hooks can handle the diameter of tubing used for your rack.

ejh

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Re: Recommended rack & panniers for daily bike commute
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2016, 04:36:54 PM »
I think I've narrowed down to 2 pannier options, based on my needs, budget and quality.

Jandd's Economy Panniers - http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FEP
$90.00 a pair
Volume: 32 ltr total (so that's 16 ltr per bag)

Axiom Seymour DLX 30 Pannier Black Gray - https://www.amazon.com/Axiom-Seymour-Pannier-Black-Gray/dp/B009P3KQNO/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1478475237&sr=1-2&keywords=axiom+monsoon
Just $65.00 a pair
Volume: 30 ltr total


Any recommendations?
I'd prefer the cheaper Axiom ones, but I'm a bit worried their price is that low.
Both should fit the bill for a daily commute and leave some room for extras.