Friday, May 21, 2010

Pining for Panniers

My Pashley Princess is undergoing a little make-over and, among other things, she will be getting panniers for her rear rack. My criteria for the panniers, are that they be of a classic design and colour, water resistant, connected at the top so that they hang over the rack (rather than two separate bags connected to each side of the rack), easy to open, fairly compact, and fit my 13" Macbook (sideways is fine). I have narrowed it down to the following:

[image via bikebarn]

Brooks "Brick Lane" roll-up panniers. I have been eying these since before I bought my Pashley last year, but haven't been able to afford them. The panniers are waxed canvas. They roll up tidily when unused and expand when needed. They look gorgeous and come in a "moss" colour that makes me weep. I have read reviews describing them as the best panniers ever, and I have read reviews describing them as impractical and too small. Retail price seems to be around $250.

[image via Basil]

Basil "D'azur" double-bag. Less than half the price of the Brooks roll-ups (around $100 retail), these look classic, practical and low-key. They are not compact and will stay 3-D even when empty. I have not found any reviews of these; they may be new.

[image via Rivendell]

Rivendell "TourSacks" rear rack panniers. I was so excited when Rivendell announced their plans to manufacture these, and now they are finally available to order. These don't roll up, but they will stay flat when empty. The price is around $200.

[image via Wald]

An alternative to the panniers are these Wald folding baskets for $40 per pair. But I am just not sure that these will suit the Pashley. I was hoping to try them at a local bike shop, but no one seems to have them in stock this summer.

So, what do you think? If anybody owns either of these and has any words of wisdom from experience, please chime in. Also, if there are other panniers out there I've missed that you can recommend (given my criteria), please let me know. I don't want to buy a set of panniers just for the looks, and it's so hard to know what's what based on pictures and online descriptions alone.

43 comments:

  1. Hmmm! I have a pair of Wald foldable baskets in the family. They must have been used like .5 times. Maybe I could even sell you them... :)

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  2. I have the Basil in a different material, but the same configuration based on the photo. Velo Orange used to carry them (a black faux leather). The problem I had is heel strike. Now I hang them off the end of the rack a bit, and my foot knows where they are. Not ideal, they look a little sloppy. I've been thinking of rigging some kind of rack extension. And this is on an old (lugged) Trek 730, an early 90s hybrid with fairly long chainstays.

    The Rivendell's angled design will avoid this problem, but I wonder how it will affect stuffing in a bunch of groceries, which is mainly what I use my pannier bike for. And it looks kinda stiff and nerdy, though I bet after 15, 20 years...It will look more like the very beautiful Brooks. The Bs are just plain overpriced, though. There is or was a website out there that shows how to make your own from square plastic buckets. This being so nerdy it's way correct on any bicycle.

    iron fish

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  3. Herzog - Hmmm... Are they black? And why don't you use them?

    Anon - Thanks for the info. Foot strike is not good, especially if my laptop is in there. But I am wondering whether that depends on the bike's geometry too? I've seen the plastic buckets DIY, but the Pashley recoiled in horror and begged me not to do it.

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  4. i have to admit, the brooks roll-ups are quite nice, and the ability to fold up is a plus. the basil panniers are nice as well, but i wonder if by keeping their shape they will make parking at bike racks more cumbersome. my experience with my fastrider panniers is that they'd get caught on other bikes when i'd try to finagle the bike out of a crowded rack.

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  5. Check out the New Look "Postino" and "Cita" models.
    If you find a US seller, please post!

    Ryan

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  6. having the same dilemma. and the rivendell should be in the lead, but the shape...maybe it is less nerdy in person? or maybe the brooks could be diyed? i will await your decision, and likely follow suit:)

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  7. I've got the Brooks "Brick-Lane" panniers on my Opa, and though they get a lot of nice comments, they are kind of small for the price. Also the closure seems to have worn out a bit -- it's a little brass knobbule that pops through a hole in a leather strap -- and no longer stays closed if there are a lot of heavy items in the bag.

    But the material itself has held up well through rain and a years worth of Californian sunshine.

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  8. I had some similar panniers from Basil (the Kavan II) on my Electra, and I liked them really well. They also had rigid sides, so they always stayed the same size. This is kind of nice sometimes for loading them, but it was sometimes mildly inconvenient when parking the bike or taking it in crowded places (like a train or streetcar), though I never had a major problem in that regard. They were treated canvas and were very waterproof.

    Regarding heel strike, I think it mostly has to do with the wheelbase length, and possibly seat tube angle. The Basil panniers I had *definitely* wouldn't fit on my Raleigh. Not sure how the Pashley would be in comparison to the Electra Amsterdam in that regard.

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  9. I've got a set of Fastrider double bags from Seattle Dutch Bike & they are working out well for me. When I use them along with my Cynthias Twigs XL Basket, I can carry a weeks worth of groceries for two with no trouble. Each bag has two small outside pockets, which I find very handy for small items like cell phone, sunglasses, trail mix etc. Happy hunting! Love the blog.

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  10. To follow up on my initial comment about the Riv panniers, they have put a lot of effort into getting these right, and I would never make a decision based (totally) on looks. And really they are not bad looking. I think if I were using them for anything other than groceries, they would be a front runner.

    If you don't like the buckets, you could always try dog food bags:
    http://tiny.cc/wdnvy

    Chainstay length is the main consideration with heel strike. The wheelbase includes the distance from the crank to the fork, not relevant. And STA does not change where the crank is, just where your butt ends up.

    Since your Pashley already has a rear rack, you could get the measurements of the Basil and try to simulate the panniers, maybe out of cardboard box.

    iron fish

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  11. If you can't find folding Wald baskets my friend Les stocks them at his shop, East Coast Bicycle Academy. They are popular with the Old Order Mennonites in this area of Virginia(all my Old Order friends seem to have them and really like them, although they have a completly differant set of needs than most of us).

    I really like the roll-up Brooks bags as well but if I could afford them I would have my harness maker friend make me a set that were fitted to my bike perfectly. The Brooks saddles seem like good value but the price for the bags and things feels a little punitive.

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  12. I have the Brooks panniers (in moss) and they are indeed gorgeous. I can't imagine them being too small (!!) but I am small and my bike is small so maybe it is a scale thing. If you are used to carrying things in a front basket or bag that attaches to the rack I don't think you're going to find panniers insufficient for storage. I almost never fill mine but I am a daily market person who never does a big trip to a grocery store. So there is that.

    I don't know if this is a real consideration in Boston but I would use them far more if I didn't live in such a high-theft place because I could just leave them on the bike. But if I am locking up my bike on the street here I couldn't leave them with the bike as they'd be taken immediately and they are too big to carry with me. They are kinda fiddly to remove on a regular basis. On most days I use a Sackville trunksack and the Brooks Hoxton basket, both of which click right off. I use the panniers for going to my office, which I do infrequently, because I have secure bike parking there and it's close to our biggest and most frequent farmer's market and the panniers are good for bringing home major amounts of fruits and veg.

    The thing I love most about them is the roll-up feature and that you can roll just one up. I prefer the look of them totally filled (less floppy) so I tend to fill one totally and then roll up the other. I haven't noticed any problem with the balance of the bike from doing this.

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  13. BTW, they *are* black!

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  14. I bought the baskets for a family member to haul groceries, who, as it turns out, doesn't feel comfortable riding alone and has gotten a new (vintage) bike since.

    There are two reasons I haven't put them on my bike. First, they are either wide open or closed -- no in between. Also, they cannot be installed and removed easily.

    More on them later...

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  15. Linus makes a set of panniers that fit your criteria and are a little more affordable. I wasn't able to find a lot on the internet about them but I did find this:

    http://tinyurl.com/2aqomc8

    You could call their main store in Venice, though, and I'm sure they could e-mail you some better pictures.

    I was close to buying those Wald rear baskets for my Bianchi but I must tell you those suckers are HEAVY. Maybe it doesn't matter since your Pashley is already so heavy but they will add another 5 pounds to the weight of your bike. I think they are quite practical but they're not the most elegant solution. Not pretty enough for your pretty Pashley. ;)

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  16. How about getting some waxed cotton or heavy waterproof cotton material and kind of copying the design of the brooks yourself? I don't reckon they would be that hard to make. I think I might do this one day for my forthcoming Pashley as I think the price of the Brooks paniers is just too much, especially for something that stays on the bike and could therefore get stolen. (I live in London!)

    I've really enjoyed reading your blog while making up my mind about getting a delicious Princess Sovereign!

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  17. I have a pair of wald folders on my wintertime beater(Jamis Commuter) and I think they are the ultimate in utilitarian accesories. That being said, they are a lot heavier than a regular basket (all those folding joints require twice as much steel). The Rivendell panniers are tempting. I have a medium Sackville shopsack which fits the porteur rack on my mixte and I expect it to last forever, it is very well built and constructed. The color would look great on your Pashley.

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  18. I agree that the bulkiness of the Basil is a deterrent, which is too bad. The Brooks and the Rivendell panniers are just so expensive, and I am hesitant to buy them without seeing them in person. Specifically, I'd like to know whether my entire handbag will fit in them sideways, like this, when I need to carry it.

    spindizzy - I can find the Wald baskets online, just not locally. I wanted to see them in person, to determine whether my bag fits.

    Basil also has a double-rear-basket that they sell and it seems larger than the Wald, but I can't find any US retailers that carry it.

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  19. Ms. V:

    I use the Wald folding baskets on all my bikes. I got my first pair more than twelve years ago and have used them nearly every day since then. They're extremely durable. For city use, as opposed to touring, I find them infinitely more convenient than panniers: I just use my ordinary non-cycling bags (laptop bag; canvas grocery bags) and drop them in the baskets. Then pull them out when I get where I'm going. Easy. Folded flat, they take up no additional space and make it easy to park the bike in a tight garage, shed, apartment, etc. You'd be surprised how much you can fit into them. They're also strong enough that you can use the whole lateral space, from the outside of one basket, across the rear rack, to the outside of the other basket, to hold large, bulky items; you can attach a bungee cord to them anywhere.

    Potential disadvantages:

    1. They're very heavy. On a city bike, who cares? But for touring, panniers are a better idea. Now, the Wald baskets come with mounting hardware that attaches them more or less permanently to your rear rack; I've made straps with quick-release buckles, so I can remove and attach the baskets quite quickly (about 30 seconds). Here's a description with pictures.

    If you regularly park in a high-theft area, the quick-release might not be the best idea -- but in the smaller cities where I've lived I've never had a problem.

    Potential problem #2: obviously, they're not waterproof; either invest in a waterproof laptop bag, or get a bunch of heavy-duty plastic bags and keep them stashed in strategic locations.

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  20. I really like my Ostrich bags.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_C1XrRVl3W8k/RrXk8pYhD5I/AAAAAAAAB10/mbNiaANFC9M/s320/Ostrich%2BPanniers.0.png

    Probably going to wax them today with Barbour dressing.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Sackville set, those are VERY nice!

    Best,

    - Mike

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  21. There's a company on Etsy called Laplander that makes a great rollup pannier similar to what you describe, waxed cotton, very Filson like. I've been waiting for them to make a SINGLE bag rather than these doubles. While I've been waiting I've gotten quite attached to my nylon Avenir bags, I modified them with some leather supporting pieces, that improve the aesthetics (this photo prior to additions / not a great photo, for size only (Macbook fits))). Eventually these will become front panniers when needed. http://www.flickr.com/photos/14427499@N04/4603487475/

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  22. If you want to know something fits the Wald baskets, simply try it in a normal paper or reusable grocery bag. The baskets are made to fit those exactly.

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  23. Take a look at these, they are very cheap.
    http://www.fahrradladen-berlin.de/HABERLAND/Sonstiges/Taschen/Doppelpacktasche/HABERLAND-Doppelpacktasche-Berliner-Format.html

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  24. Hi-The Bullitt Passenger Messenger by Timbuk2 at:
    http://www.timbuk2.com/tb2/products/new/bullitt-pannier-messenger#product=4-93340 is not unattractive in blue and black and claims to have aluminun pannier clips and function also off the bike as a messenger bag. I haven't got this bag; just looking at it. BTW, off topic I got my "found" DL-l back from the bike shop and using your idea had a coaster brake and 22 tooth cog (with a new Sturmey-Archer hub using a 36hole rim) put in plus an overhaul so will be taking my first drive soon! Thanks!

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  25. Hi, how's things. London cyclechic have just opened a new U.S. online store. Might be worth a mooch.

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  26. Carradice makes the Kendal Panniers I haven't seen these in person, but plan to mock up a set to see if they might fit on my Twenty. Basil makes good stuff, I use the Karavan II's on my city bike, they are HUGE.

    Aaron

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  27. You can also convert two single panniers to a drop over set fairly easily.

    Aaron

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  28. rural 14, thanks for that link to the Etsy shop. Those are beautiful and good to know about.

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  29. rural 14 - Wow, thank you for the info re the Lapland panniers. They are beautiful and look like they could be more functional than the Brooks.

    Thank you for all the other suggestions as well!

    We were passing by a bike shop today that happened to have black Wald baskets in stock, so we bought them. Now that the front basket on my Pashley is gone, I really needed something ASAP, at least to tide me over until I get panniers.

    The Wald baskets are not as glamorous as some of the pannier options of course - but gosh, they fit my laptop bag and grocery bags so nicely (I've already gone grocery shopping with them), that I may just end up keeping them. If anybody else is looking for these locally, the Belmont Wheelworks has them in black and the Broadway Bicycle School has them in chrome.

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  30. I like my Wald folding baskets, I wouldn't necessarily want them on ALL of my bikes, but the one(s) I have used them on they have been great. The set I have now are on their second or third bike. Very durable and serviceable.

    Aaron

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  31. I was going to suggest a nice oak wood wine box as an interim solution. I LOVE my wine box on my back rack.
    Regarding panniers I'm doing arty DIY type panniers but I am not up to sharing the details just yet :)

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  32. You'll probably end up keeping the Wald baskets,they are one of those things that just fits the need, always work and never wear out. I would suggest replacing the mounting hardware with zipties, they won't come loose and rattle.

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  33. One issue not discussed - a lot of panniers are DROOPY unless they are full. I hate the way some of these look. They can spoil the look of an elegant bicycle. I'd rather have a pannier that keeps its full 3D boxy shape than have a saggy pannier. Just a personal fashion phobia.

    At least you'll never have to worry about a droopy Wald basket :-). And you won't have to worry about removing them every time you park in a higher theft area. In fact, they probably offer some theft protection to your bike as a whole.

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  34. BTW where did you find the picture of the Wald rear rack liners? I looked on the Wald site and couldn't find them


    TIA
    Fiona

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  35. Hello there... I've never commented before but I've been reading for a while. Thanks to you, I'm pining for a loop frame.

    You might want to look at Axiom bags: http://www.axiomgear.com/products/gear/bags/
    The "Dutch Shoppers" are closest to your style. They aren't quite as refined as you normally go for, but are very big, have heel clearance, and are much, much less expensive. This website sells them for very cheap: http://www.ebikestop.com/bags_panniers%29%29130.php

    I have the "Town & Country" in yellow floral (I don't LOVE the floral print but the color matches my frame perfectly!). When I was looking for panniers I had very different criteria; I wanted bags that could be used separately and easily removed from the bicycle. I take them with me rather than risk theft. My bags have stiff plastic inserts that give them shape when I need it and can easily be removed or collapsed. I assume the Dutch Shopper has something similar.

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  36. My Basil paniers have been on my bike over 18 months now and haven't "drooped". You can fit loads in them and they would easily swallow a laptop (and a couple of bags of shopping too). I've never had a problem with parking with them and at about £30 (and the fact the have flowers on them) I'm not too worried about getting them nicked, something I would be bothered about with most other brands (especially the Brooks). I'm not sure about the heel strike issue as mine are mounted way back behind the childseat so that's not an issue. My partner has Basil panniers on his mountain bike and doesn't have much trouble. I don't know if Basil have changed the design or the material is different, but his black ones are very droopy and kept catching on the back wheel. We solved the problem by cutting some corrugated cardboard to fit and waterproofing it by wrapping in a plastic bin liner. Now they are a much better shape!

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  37. Oh and just another though, I test rode a Gazelle Impala with racks on the back similar to the Wald ones you are looking at. One thing to bear in mind is they do rattle a lot. Personally, I would find that quite irritating after a while.

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  38. sheffield cycle chic - I ma betting the baskets you tried are Basil; they have a similar design. The Wald baskets do not rattle. Zero rattling.

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  39. Check out the pannier bags from the Chicago-based company, Po Campo: http://www.pocampo.com/products/
    There is also a demo video, I believe. Good luck!

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  40. Hi there!
    I've drooling over these Brooks "Brick Lane" roll-up panniers for a long time as well... I don't find any other panier as attractive as these, I'm obsessed! :P

    I might try to get a tailor make these for me; I'll inform you if it goes well. ^^

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  41. I have a different basket: a Basil Cardiff Rear Basket (actually, I have two). These are clasic black wire baskets, with two long hooks that go over the side of a rear rack. I use one or both regularly, and just got a vintage Raleigh Sports (like Lucy 3-Speed) which they fit beautifully. They lift off with ease, and have little handles to carry them into the store or to a farmer's market. We use them all the time to pack up with towels, sunscreen and snacks for trips to the river with the kids. I can then park the bikes out on the grass and take the baskets with me to the water. They each hold a full grocery bag. I love the way I can just toss one on the bike and go.

    They don't rattle at all (the hooks and basket are some sort of coated metal), even going over rocks or grass. They aren't as heavy as the Wald folders, and since they have a slightly triangular shape, I don't kick them. I cannot stress enough how much I love these darn things. And they look great on newer or vintage bikes. Very unobtrusive. I get compliments on them all the time. Basil also makes them with the wires shaped like old milk bottles. They call this model the "Basil Memories Bottle Basket," and it comes in orange and yellow and green, as well as black. Very sweet as well.

    I got them off Amazon.com (though I see the supplier is currently out of stock of the Cardiff). I paid about $75, with shipping, for both. I LOVE these baskets. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Link: http://www.amazon.com/Basil-Cardiff-Rear-Basket-Black/dp/B000YO7LTK/ref=sr_1_41?ie=UTF8&s=cycling&qid=1282627767&sr=1-41

    Sample milk bottle basket here: http://www.amazon.com/Basil-Memories-Bottle-Basket-Salmon/dp/B0037N7U9Q/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&s=cycling&qid=1282628385&sr=1-24

    Highly recommended.

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  42. Late addition to this thread: I use a low-tech solution to "droopy" panniers. I have the Laplander City Panniers and I love 'em. But when the panniers are empty, the back ends curl around just enough to rub against my spokes.

    So I cut the bottoms off two 6-bottle beer boxes (from Ottawa's Scotch Irish Brewing Co., recently bought out, <sad sigh>) and put them in the panniers. Perfect fit. They hold the panniers in their "boxy" shape which, aside from aesthetic considerations, also makes it easier to retrieve stuff from the panniers.

    For a bit of security I use a small retractable cable lock. The thin cable loop goes around the rear rack and through the panniers' metal D-ring, and the body of the lock hides inside the panniers.

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  43. This is probably a silly question but if you use panniers, are you supposed to/do you have to take them with you after you've locked up your bike? Doesn't that seem like a pain, especially if you have the double panniers? I'm new to the biking world and am trying to figure out the best solution for transporting groceries etc. I don't want to have to lug the panniers with me wherever I go though.

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