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Which is the Best Pannier Bag? | Maximize Your Bicycle Storage

Updated on December 27, 2015
This is the Brick Lane pannier bag by Brooks that I've reviewed  in this article.
This is the Brick Lane pannier bag by Brooks that I've reviewed in this article. | Source

Pannier Bags for Bicycles | Three Reviews & Tips

As my name implies, I'm pretty big into two-wheeled transportation. Cycling is a wonderful hobby, activity, source of exercise and obsession. My city of Vancouver is moving towards becoming more 'bike friendly'. However, riding a bike more often is tricky, because storage is always limited. Fortunately, bicycle pannier bags are a simple and convenient way to carry lots of stuff without limiting your enjoyment.

Bikes tend to be small, nimble, light and fast. Storage has always been limited. You basically have a small number of options. A front basket can work, or a saddle bag can offer limited storage. A backpack is a classic choice. However, bike panniers make the most sense out of all these options, for a few reasons.

This article will take a look at three of the best bicycle pannier bags around, offering a review of each choice and recommendations as to how and where you'd use it. If there are any extra considerations, I'll mention them. I'll also briefly touch on the chief advantages that bicycle pannier racks and bags have over typical storage options. Let's begin!

Advantages of Cycling Pannier Bags?

As I mentioned in the intro to this article, there are a lot of choices that cyclists turn to when they've got something to tote. The backpack, the handlebar basket, or the saddle bag are popular options. Bicycle pannier bags are classified as a box, bag or basket slung along the sides of a bicycle, and they're great for a few reasons:

Center of Gravity:

My biggest pet peeve with backpacks is the way they throw off your center of gravity. It's not horrible or dangerous, mind you, it's just annoying. The weight is so high up, and if you're carrying something heavy like books, the pack can shift around as you corner, reducing your stability. Cycling pannier bags are much lower on the bike, being draped over the rear wheel, so you're much more stable.

More Comfortable To Ride:

Backpacks are sweaty and uncomfortable on hot days, and especially bad when you're carrying a lot of weight. Front baskets reduce your visibility and throw off your turns. Saddle bags are pretty good, but they have very little storage space. A good set of single or double pannier bags for your bicycle makes for a way more comfortable and safe ride.

Pure Convenience:

I'm the first to admit that I hate extra steps. Panniers for your bike are awesome because most of them attach and detach very easily. Don't worry about transferring contents, just grab the whole bag and go. Some even double as attractive messenger totes that you can throw over your shoulder.

Brooks Brick Lane: Roll Up Canvas Pannier Storage Bags

I had to include the Brick Lane Panniers by Brooks. They are useful, well built and possess drool worthy good looks. These bags look simply amazing on any bicycle, but there's more to this product that fashion.

They are built to be compatible with most rear pannier or luggage racks, so chances are it will work with your existing setup. They are made out of a treated and water resistant cotton with leather accent pieces. This means that they're not truly ideal for a downpour, though they'll do well enough in a light sprinkle. You can also treat the cotton with wax sprays and the like to make them more resistant.

A nice feature of this product is the fact that they roll up when not in use. Their lack of bulk is a very nice thing, and they're there whenever you need to grab groceries or run to class. You can even attach extra stuff using the top elastic. Features a magnetic closing lid.

They're on the pricier side, but if you're building a vintage inspired ride these will fit right in. Well worth a look.

Two Wheel Gear: A Stylish Garment Pannier Cycle Bag

The Garment pannier bicycle bags by Two Wheel Gear are another nice choice, and evidence that bags like these don't have to be big, bulky and ugly.

It's pretty neat actually: I know the CEO of this company! They're passionate about making bags and bike gear that will last and look great. A bike rack is necessary for this to function properly.

They hook on to your standard rear luggage rack easily, and fasteners keep the bags pretty steady while you pedal. The material is weather resistant, and water will bead off. Obviously don't let it get soaked, but it's very dependable. The attractive cut belies the storage space. You can easily haul a laptop, a few books, a change of clothing, or whatever you need; there are lots of pockets. It can even carry a suit! They're ideal as an airplane carry-on.

Timeless, durable and highly attractive, these bags are a perfect compromise between style and utility, and they're actually fairly reasonable in terms of price.

Velo Transit Metro 20: Fully Waterproof Panniers

If you're looking for pannier bags for your bicycle that offer a bit more space and storage, these handy and attractive bags from Velo Transit are a great option to look at. They're available in a number of different color options, so you can match it to your bike.

They come with a universal mounting system that can attach to a wide variety of rear luggage and pannier racks. Unlike the other bags listed here, these ones are truly weatherproof and can withstand a good soaking without compromising the contents. For extra protection, there are waterproof inner pockets inside as well. The Velo Transit system is modular, so you can buy and attach other bags to this system to further increase your storage capacity.

You can carry a lot of books in this one, and it would do well for light grocery runs also. The clip in system is neat and very secure, and there's a carrying strap so you can tote it when it's off the bike, so feel free to carry it in to the store with you.

These bags are sold individually, but you can hang one per side.

Other Considerations:

  • It's worth analyzing your bike use and determining how often you'll be requiring the bag and how much you'll need to transport. If it's just a few things like keys, wallet and computer, a smaller bag like the Electra might suit you well. If you'll be needing groceries and bigger carrying capacity, a larger choice like the Velo Transit (maybe with some of their modular add-ons) is probably a better option for you.
  • Remember that panniers, while convenient, are not secure. Never leave them unattended attached to your bike. Actually that's kind of why I like bicycle pannier bags in the first place, you can easily detach them and bring them inside.
  • If you're worried about water, consider getting a rear waterproof cover for your bike. They are universal and they fit over whatever you've got on your rear luggage rack. It's one extra layer of protection that can help save your stuff. Alternatively, you can waterproof any bags that are made of canvas or cotton by waxing them.

Most panniers require a good quality rear luggage rack.

Bicycle Panniers Poll:

What kind of cycle storage do you prefer?

See results

Did I miss a good one? What's your favorite bike rack pannier bag and why?

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