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Bicycle Bags And Panniers

Updated on January 17, 2015

Choosing The Right Bag

Long time bicycle riders have definite ideas about what is comfortable, what is tolerable, and what is definitely out of the question. Picky in other words. Picky is good when you do something you love for long periods of time. Picky people who settle for less are crabby to live with. You get picky about what is comfortable if you ride any distance. A bag that rubs or makes noise will drive you crazy after a short while. Having the right luggage for your bike is essential to happy riding. Happy riders keep riding and raise happy, bicycle riding, gas saving, children.

To begin searching for bike luggage first decide if you want to carry your luggage or if you want your bike to carry your luggage. This will change with the purpose and duration of your trip. If you are going for a quick trip to the mail box a pocket may work. If you are going grocery shopping you need something more substantial. Grocery shopping is probably the most difficult outing to plan because you have bulk and weight. Traveling around the world your load stays somewhat constant. Therefore easier to plan for than grocery shopping. The whole problem of getting the flat of strawberries home without damage is more complicated than shaking the wrinkles out of your shirt at the end of a days ride..

The Rack Does The Work

Some of the carrying apparatus we will talk about require "The Rack" as a foundation. The rack does the work when using panniers, cargo nets, or just piling books or the like on top using bungee cords or straps to secure the load. Of all bike luggage carriers the rack is the the most versatile especially if you leave a bungee cord or some kind of strap attach.

Commuter And Messenger Bags

The commuter or messenger bags are time tested by bicycle messengers in large cities. Chrome caters to the hardcore bicycle messengers in San Francisco who climb hills and stairs to deliver documents for businesses. Chrome makes messenger bags, In the San Francisco Chrome store a messenger came in and left with a bike frame on one of their bags.. They are rugged and designed to last.

Saddle Bags And Under The Seat Bags

Saddle bags

Some think these things are silly others extra cool. Carradice makes the "Original British Bike Bags" Made of waxed cotton with canvas thread. These bags hang off your saddle. One complaint is they ride on the back of your legs. There is a rack that you can buy to eliminate that problem. The advantage is they don't cause wind drag because they are behind you. Small saddle bags are very nice for carrying a spare tube, patch kit, and tire tools.



Panniers are good for long trips whether across town to work across the U.S or around the world. Generally you have one on either side of your rack. This make for nice balance when carrying heavy cargo. You have the choice of panniers with lots of little zipped pockets or one or two large pockets. The advantage of the smaller pocket is you don't have to dump or rummage every time you are looking for something which is very helpful when you are on long trips or have things like train tickets and company badges to keep safe. Some panniers also fold and snap shut when they are empty to reduce wind drag. Some panniers are like mesh baskets that fits a paper grocery bag nicely. If you live in a wet climate Ortlieb makes clunky looking, but absolutely waterproof panniers. Clunky and dry is always preferable to sleek and wet.


The original bicycle bag. The basket usually hangs from the handle bars. Best suited to the around town cruiser since they tend to weigh more than fabric bags. Baskets hold us under all kinds of conditions. No fear if your basket gets wet. The wicker basket is made of natural materials that thrive on moisture. Moisture makes the basket more flexible, A basket that gets wet periodically lasts longer as long as there isn't a shellack finish.. .

Bento Boxes

Bento Boxes come in two sizes. Small for carrying a chap stick, gu, unnu, and drivers license. They really hold a surprising amount. Large Bento Boxes hold all the above plus a cell phone,and a pair of gloves. They ride on the top bar of your bike.

Rack Trunks

The rack trunk straps onto the rack. It has a roomy main compartment and side pockets. Some rack trunks have side pockets that expand into panniers, giving lots of extra room when needed and keeping out of the way when not. There may be a long flat pocket built into the top too.

Whatever Bag You Choose

Whatever type of bag you choose, there are several things you need to take into account: Mounting should be match your bikes capability. Your local bike shop can help you. Mounting should be secure, but easily attached. The luggage should be secure enough that there isn't a lot of swaying. Reflective tape and a loop for attaching a taillight, are good ideas. Waterproof covers come with some bags and are usually bright yellow providing good visibility and protection in the rain.

Bright colors help with visibility, but darker colors take longer to stain and don't have to be cleaned as often. In a pinch be creative. Whether you use a bike messenger bag, backpack, trunk or panniers enjoy riding your bike. Most of all remember it is OK to just stick your ID in a pocket and ride without luggage.


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Nice overview with a great closing paragraph. :) Voted up and useful.