Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fastrider Deluxe Shopper Pannier from Bicycle Muse

I received this Fastrider Deluxe Shopper Bicycle Pannier from Bicycle Muse (a sponsor in July-August 2010) as part of an equal value exchange. Prior to trying this bag, I was not a big fan of single panniers and have never found one that I liked. But when I received the Fastrider, I changed my mind.

Here is a front view of the pannier. You can see that it does not interfere with the lines of the bicycle, which I like very much. The setup allows me to leave the beautiful custom rack on this bike unobscured, while enjoying the benefit of a roomy container that can be attached or removed in seconds.

To my eye, this pannier has a classic, timeless look to it that will go nicely with any vintage or classic bicycle. The style may be too quaint for some, but it suits my taste perfectly. One reason I have not been able to find a pannier I like, is that they tend to be either too industrial looking, or too "girly" - in the sense that they come in bright colours and highly stylized patterns like florals or polka-dots or paisley. Now, imagine showing up to a dinner and discovering that you are wearing the exact same outfit as one of the other guests. If it's a grey suit you are both wearing, the coincidence is not even noticeable. But if you're both wearing the exact same brightly coloured print, it's embarrassing. That is more or less how I feel when it comes to bicycle accessories, which is why I like mine to be subdued. Plus, a neutrally coloured pannier will match your outfit no matter what colour it is. A pink paisley pannier will not.

The pannier material is water-resistant woven pine. The surface is tactile, yet smooth. The colour is a warm caramel (there is also a lighter colour available). Underneath the flap (which secures with velcro strips allowing for different degrees of fulness) is a zipper opening. The flap and zipper together pretty much ensure that the closure does not let in water. (These panniers are made by the Dutch company Fastrider, so I am guessing water-proofing was a top priority.)

Not sure whether my pictures portray this adequately, but this pannier is huge.  Dimensions are: 15.5" width, 14.5" height, 6.3" depth. The fabric-lined interior is enormously deep, and has what I initially thought were dividers for compartments, but are in fact stiffeners (I nonetheless use them as compartment dividers and find that they work in that capacity!). There is also a large, zippered internal pocket (large enough to fit a medium notebook and other accessories) and a smaller pocket that will fit a wallet or phone. You can see how much room is left over inside the bag after I place my Macbook Air inside it. If you are compulsive about your laptop, you will probably want to get a sleeve for it, as my makeshift "dividers" do not reach all the way to the top. That is the one drawback to the design - but then, it was meant to be a "shopper,"not an office bag. Otherwise, everything is fantastic for my purposes. This bag will easily fit my laptop, work-related documents, and a few days' worth of groceries.

The pannier attaches to a bicycle rack with a system of 3 plastic hooks on metal spring hinges. They are quick and easy to attach and remove; the process takes just a few seconds.

Here is a close-up. The middle hook curles under to firmly clasp the rack's tubing and can be adjusted to be tighter or looser. The two outside hooks act as extra weight supports. Plastic hooks are another reason I had been staying away from single panniers - they all seem to have them. But again and again I am told that these types of hooks are safe and are designed to withstand the weight. So - fine. I like this pannier so much that I am ready to believe that. (Any words of assurance or admonition?)

View from the non-pannier side. The handles flop to the sides, but they are not long enough to get stuck in the spokes, so leaving them that way is fine.

Pannier in motion. It attaches firmly to the rack, and there is no jiggling or movement, as far as I can tell.

It is pretty clear at this point that I love the pannier. Bicycle Muse offered me a choice of products, and I am glad to have selected this one. My plan now is to transfer the contents of my work-bag to the pannier, and share it between several bicycles. Of course, time will tell how the pannier will hold up, and I will update regarding durability once sufficient time passes.

edited to add: It is 6 months later, and I love the pannier. To my embarrassment, it took me a while to figure out that what I thought were dividers were in fact compartment stiffeners, and I've changed the text of the review so as not to mislead. Having gone through the rainy Autumn and part of winter with this pannier, I am pleased with how waterproof it is and how resistant to abuse. There is some minor fraying of the "wicker" near the hooks, but I think that is to be expected. I wish there were a smaller, equally classic version of a Fastrider pannier available in the US that would fit bikes with shorter chainstays.

edited to add: Over 1 year since the review, and the bag is no worse for wear. It survived a New England winter unflinchingly and the hooks are holding up fine so far. I own a couple of other panniers now, but this one is my designated "shopper."

45 comments:

  1. I have this pannier in lemon and I love it. I've bought a few bags etc from the UK version of Bicycle Muse and they have always proven to be durable, lovely and a great buy.

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  2. great review! I totally agree with you about most "girly" or overly "sporty" panniers on the market. I had seen this one on line and was wondering what it was really like. How is it for carrying when not on the bike? Do the hooks catch on clothing and does it have a good handle?

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  3. My general 'everything covered' bike bag is my Carradice 'Bike Bureau'. I love the sturdy fittings and the cotton duck has proved water-resistant enough in Winter. Being a single large compartment it's suprising how much shopping I fit in the one bag. It's not often I have to resort to my panniers or trailer. I'm not enamoured by 'shoppers' that have divided compartments as I find that it reduces how much you can fit in a given space.

    Having said that,the 'Bike Bureau'is not in any way stylish or elegant. The 'Deluxe Shopper' really does look good in the photos. It has a classic look that is not going to date and I can see that if you were using it more as a general bag the compartments would help keep you organised. Very informative, as always, thanks for the review.

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  4. Hi Velouria, mmm, lovely pannier! And another super product review. I succumbed to the girly panniers (mine are from Basil) and both have plastic clips. I regularly use them for shopping and have no problem with the clips and their ability to hold the weight. In addition mine have velcro straps "just in case".
    I notice a difference when using single panniers depending on the bike. My mixte, despite being built as a touring bike, doesn't like it. She is even a little unstable loaded with a pannier on each side of the rear wheel. My Pashley takes it all in her stride. I've ridden with one heavily-laden pannier (think bottle of wine, kilo of pet meat, fruit etc) and there is no sensation of a wobble or unruly steering. The heavier bikes take one pannier really well.
    Now I covet that one you've tested. It's just....beautiful! Stylish design and functional interior and much more roomy than it looks unladen.

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  5. dokinchan - The hooks can be turned sideways to lie flat against the bag. See here the manufacturer's instructions (they still need to check the spelling of "fastener"):
    http://www.fastrider.nl/montages/montage_haken_verstelbaar.pdf

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  6. Velouria - As I didn't understand how "woven pine" could ever resist the rigors of a pannier's life, especially in Holland, I did a little search and found the manufacturer, Fast Rider. Their brochure, downloadable in Dutch and German, reveals that woven pine is a print; the material itself is PVC. Strong indeed but sorely needing some beautification.

    Where has "truth in advertising" gone?

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  7. perhaps a better solution is the hook on the side of the rear carrier of Velorbis... With this you can carry your laptop bags or a suitcase.

    Velouria please review a velorbis...

    CIAO!

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  8. I am with you on the search for a good panniers and I also dislike the attachment hardware of the single sided panniers.
    Two other double sided ones I have seen on line but not yet in person are from Laplander bags (big, handmade and pricey... what you expect from Etsy) and a pair from Linus bikes. I would love to hear if any if your readers have them. A blog called carfreephilly had a nice review of their new Trek Belleville and are going to review their laplanders soon

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  9. That is a sharp looking pannier and a great review. I keep struggling between a sharp looking pannier and a cute one but I think I'd rather have something that will go with everything as I'd rather not have a different pannier for every outfit.

    Fiona

    P.S. Where do you get the straps that are securing your lock on your rear rack? They look much better than regular bungee cords. TIA

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  10. does the bag have a lower clip to prevent it from swinging out when going around turns or when leaning the bike? i've found that with every pannier i've had (including the czech leather one that you've seen), if there isn't a lower attachment point, the bottom tends to swing out.

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  11. also, does the top corner of the bag poke your bum when riding? from the profile pics, it looks like it comes very close to the saddle.

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  12. somervillain - re poking: no, not at all. I am neurotic about stuff like that, so I would notice right away and not be able to take it. Also, you can slide the hooks back and forth on the rack to move it further from the saddle. The pannier does not have a lower clip, but there has not been any swinging. Maybe it's because the hooks are not all the way at the top?

    girlcanbike - I agree that those straps look better; I can't even use the other ones - they hurt my fingers and brake my nails. They are flat bungee cords and several local bike shops carry them. Just ask for *flat* ones.

    Marco - I have tried several Velorbis, but not enough to write a review of them and the store that used to carry them locally no longer does. I do like their hook, but one thing about it, is that the briefcase swings and shakes when attached this way, which is not good for laptops.

    Frits - PVC, really? Can you send me a link to the file in German? I can't seem to find it.

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  13. Please keep us posted about durability and cleanup. I tend to be hard on equipment. Alas.

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  14. dokinchan - Your question makes me realise how little I carry things around nowadays when not on a bike! The hooks do not catch on clothing; they are rounded off and smooth. The handles are wide and strong. They are not really long enough to carry over the shoulder, so the bag has to be hand-held when carried. That works for me because how little I walk around with the bag, but otherwise I would wish for a shoulderstrap.

    Carinthia - That's interesting re the Pashley vs the mixte. I wonder whether your mixte was designed for front loads.

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  15. To all who call this a pannier: it's actually just a shopping bag with hooks to hang it on a rear rack - hence the loops to carry it. If it were a real pannier it would be attached in a far more rigorous way, including a lower attachment point as mentioned by somervillain. And it wouldn't sit as high as there is no room for a passenger now ...

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  16. Frits - It couldn't both remain this large and sit any lower - it would touch the chaincase, especially on 26" wheel bikes. As for rigorous attachments: I have seen Dutch panniers that are made specifically to carry laptops. The removable ones come with the exact same hook system, only often there are just 2 hooks instead of 3. The easy on-off systems rarely if ever have an additional lower hook, as far as I have seen - otherwise they would not be easy. If anything, I think this bag is designed to accommodate more weight, because you are meant to carry lots of groceries in it.

    Bliss Chick - I tend to be hard on things as well; will let you know how it holds up.

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  17. I've had a pair of these, one in the colour here and one in the yellow pine, for 3 months, and am amazingly happy with them. They seem very strong - they're my favourite way to bring home cartons of milk or cat food, and they haven't shown any sign of resenting that! They're wonderfully stable, too. I keep the yellowish one on my bike most of the time, even when it's not needed, because I've found that it encourages cars to give me a lot of space. And when the Pashley is kitted out with both of them, she gets a lot of compliments at the farmer's market! I just wish they were a little easier to carry when not on the bike - the handles are just a bit too short. (Sorry about the anonymous comment - I never usually do blog comments, but I thought that my experience with these might be useful.)

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  18. A piece of advice for riding with one pannier: I generally fix the bag on the kickstand side so the imbalance doesn't tilt the bike over. It's more of an issue if the load is heavy.

    -Matt

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  19. Velouria 10.08am: The catalog in German is here: http://www.fastrider.nl/downloads/FastRider_2010_DU.pdf
    Page 16 lists the shoppers; yours is Straw Cherry 05166 (selling for 32 euro so I suppose it's actually made in a country far far away which shall not be named - but so are all our Apples).
    On page 6 it lists the "Farben und Drucke" (in Dutch "kleuren en prints", or colors and prints). The shoppers are either woven PVC (when "enriched" with external pockets) or have a pattern stamped in the massive material (see the quilts).
    These are rather common in Holland. Cost a lot less than for instance Basil.

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  20. Velouria at 10.34am: Touching the chaincase is a problem? Look here:
    http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/2009/12/04/keeping-up-with-the-joneses/
    26" wheels and massive panniers.

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  21. I have coveted this pannier since I first saw it, when it wasn't even being sold in the US. I took a second look when the US shop opened but it didn't seem to be worth the price. "Woven pine" didn't look like the most durable of materials. Your review and more detailed description (and pictures of interior pockets!) may have convinced me to buy it! I've been thinking of buying a new, prettier, more expensive pannier anyway, as I've used the cheaper pair I bought a year ago heavily.

    The Bicycle Muse should really have an interior shot and more thorough description on their website. Most "shopper" panniers are just one vast compartment, so those pockets are a huge plus.

    The only thing that gives me pause is that my sister lives in the Netherlands and I'm due for a visit. I'm wonder if I should wait till then to go bike accessory shopping...

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  22. Oh how I have been coveting these for a while. I think you just pushed me over the edge! It is a stunner.

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  23. I love my Basil pannier. I, too, chose the least cutesy one I could find but that still meant a lavender and white colourscheme. I think companies need to realize that while some ladies appreciate florals and geometric patterns, etc. there should be more options too. (Personally I would love to see Orla Kiely add a panier to her product line.)
    My pannier has plastic hooks as well but I have filled it to its max repeatedly and they have held up fine. Nothing in this world is perfect or infallible

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  24. These are a nice find-thanks for the review. One of my goals in shopping for my current panniers for my new green bike was a relatively small size with a big pocket and a traditional time-tested material. I ended up buying a pair of Carradice Kendal panniers made of cotton duck. They are green with honey leather straps. Their retro charm, simplicity, durability, and size are just the thing for me. When I get ready for a larger pannier for my Dl-l, your review will be very helpful. Thanks again.

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  25. @ Frits - "Where has "truth in advertising" gone?"

    It went its merry, archaic way back when advertising was still the second oldest profession practiced only in the promotion of the oldest profession.

    @Velouria - "The handles flop to the sides . . ."

    Why pockets to tuck the handles into on bags like this are not a standard feature continues to both puzzle and annoy me.

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  26. Thanks for this! Super timely! Now that the swoopy mixte is being ridden (as of yesterday) I'm officially on the search for the right pannier. The lighter color version of this bag is at the top of my list but I'm also worried about durability. So, another request for a check in on this bag after some regular use.

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  27. I've finally stopped lurking...

    I also have this pannier which I got from CycleChic, the London version of The Bicycle Muse. I love its looks, its size and how easy it is to attach / remove. I also like that it has two plastic reinforcements for the sides, so that it maintains its boxy shape. I noticed that you used them sideways in your bag. They are a struggle to fir in the side (gusset), but really adds to the sturdiness of the bag. Best of all, it is such a classic design that it won't date quickly.

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  28. Frits B - Those massive panniers you linked to are attractive, but I know many people who are unable to use them because they are just too unwieldy. Also, they are not easily removable from the bike, inviting vandalism and theft every time they are left behind (this is the US, remember). In any case, we are talking about two entirely different panniers here, so it's like comparing apples and oranges. The ones you linked to are meant to remain on the bike; the one I reviewed here is meant to be easy on-off. You can't criticise the latter for not being the former - they are not meant to compete with one another.

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  29. The attachment hooks on this one are very clever. The middle "adjustable" one appears to have a system to prevent accidental detachment, or at least that is how I interpreted it. The two side hooks swivel (as someone mentioned above) and fold out of the way to carry. And the whole setup goes on a rack very smoothly, and removes in 1 second.

    It's true that a lower hook would be useful, but one could always measure their rack and add a strap or hook. It would be complicated to add a system that works for anyone at the factory and keep it simple and cheap--this is a shopping pannier foremost. For example, the Arkel or Orlieb systems are neither simple nor cheap.

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  30. Hah. I find it amusing how your laptop takes up like .25% of the space in the pannier.

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  31. It's the macbook air... these things are typically carried in manilla envelopes, and ship with one forever stamp. :)

    Jokes aside, it has a solid-state drive--I probably wouldn't stick a traditional hard drive laptop into a pannier. Not without some vibration-absorbing padding or sleeve. And that's a maybe. Maybe after you backup. Not just cycles, either, in any other motor bike/scooter pannier that vibrates. Maybe when everyone's laptop has safer SSD drives w/o moving parts, we can finally drop laptops with impunity. :)

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  32. ". . .we can finally drop laptops with impunity."

    Nice girl, but she does have some peculiar and expensive hobbies.

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  33. I have the pannier in lemon and I just love it! I’ve had so many people comment about it as well, men to women, cyclists and non-cyclists alike.

    It is super-spacious, water-resistant and looks great as my handbag when I’m off the bike. I use it to carry really heavy loads sometimes, like a huge DSLR camera and a bottle of wine, and the handles are surprisingly sturdy. I also like the little ‘feet’ at the bottom of the bag which means you can leave it on the ground without it getting dirty. The woven pine is also easy to manage, just wipe off any dirt or marks.

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  34. Velouria - The massive panniers were just for showing that panniers can go quite far down without interfering with the wheel or chainguard. If I look at the bikes parked outside lots of people have them so low that they almost scrape the road. Good for the centre of gravity.

    To people who worry about durability of the natural or traditional time-tested material: while not at the top of the price range, these bags are made of good sturdy plastic with an imprint mimicking woven straw. The manufacturer is honest about it: the pattern is called Straw and it comes in two wood tones. Cherry, the darker one, as in cherry wood which was or is mainly used for delicate and elegant furniture, and Pine which is mainly used for Scandinavian furniture and floors. "Woven pine" is a technique used in weaving baskets; it's also a pottery pattern.

    There is nothing wrong with man-made materials. Ivory is a natural product, it grows in the mouth of mammals and has long be used for false teeth, billiard balls and keyboards. And of course as a basis for artistic expression methods such as scrimshaw and chinkin. It has taken a while to find the correct composition for the plastics to replace ivory but you would be hard pressed to find the original stuff nowadays (it helps that ivory is no longer allowed, of course).

    Ropes and cables used to be made of flax, hemp or sisal. It's all nylon fibres nowadays. Cheaper, stronger and don't rot.

    And need I say Lycra? Wouldn't wear it for my life, but it's an excellent material for what it's meant to do.

    Preferring natural stuff like canvas or leather is good, but it has its price. People looking for a simple transport medium like a pannier do well to go for a sturdy, affordable material. Personally I like leather suitcases but they are impossibly heavy, need a lot of care and are easily scarred, so what I use are cases made from closely woven polysomething: light, no maintenance at all and nearly indestructible. We have no servants to lug them around anymore.

    For those interested to have a closer look at some offerings: www.basil.nl has a section Press where high definition photos of their products can be seen and downloaded. Even allow further zooming in on details. Very informative.

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  35. Can I just say I am so envious that you can just use a cable lock like that.

    This pannier seems like a good solution for you and I really agree that it's much better looking than most panniers by a long shot. Wish it came in a slightly cooler tone of brown, though, but hey it cannot be denied that I am super-anal. I will not be sad to see the end of geometric pastels and "modern" bubbles. Or at least just the availability of something else. I love my Brooks panniers but someone should be (and could be) making something cheaper and still functional. The Linus ones are pretty but not even water-resistant, I don't think.

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  36. "we can finally drop laptops with impunity"

    well, not until LCD displays become more durable, especially when mounted in wafer-thin clamshells. i've not once killed a HDD by dropping a laptop, but twice killed the display. :-(

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  37. Frits B said...
    "these bags are made of good sturdy plastic with an imprint mimicking woven straw. The manufacturer is honest about it: the pattern is called Straw and it comes in two wood tones"


    It's not an imprint. Believe it or not, it looks like they made actual straw of whatever material they used and then wove it into that pattern, just like real straw!

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  38. The pannier looks lovely and useful. However, I don't like to use a pannier on one side, especially on a lightweight bike, as I find that it affects the balance.

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  39. First time commenting here, saw your lovely vintage Raleigh on Flickr. What a beautiful job you've done on sensitively restoring her. Only wish I could find one here (Ireland) but I can only seem to come across the Superbe (I want the 28" wheels of the Tourist.)
    B.T.W. You do know Raleigh still produce/or are re-producing the Tourist for the Danish market? Though it's inevitably made in the Far East now, not in Nottingham.
    The pannier fits very well with your bicycle I think. I'm with you on preferring a plainer look for panniers. Somehow a Basil wouldn't suit your Tourist as well I think.

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  40. Hello,

    (Posting anonymously as I don't have a user name with the other accounts, sorry!)

    I read your review and this convinced me to buy the pannier from www.cyclechic.co.uk.

    I just wanted to point out that the dividers you mention aren't actually dividers at all, but side supports for the bag. According to the instructions, you insert them into the tiny pockets on the sides of the bag (there's one at the top and one at the bottom on each side) and they make the bag much more of a box shape than the current "wedge" shape that your bag is.

    But actually, I like the pannier in both shapes, so I love the fact that it's versatile.

    To anyone considering buying the pannier - I don't think you will regret it. It's beautiful.

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  41. ^ Thank you for pointing this out and reminding me!

    When I received my bag, it did not come with instructions. It took me a *while* to figure out that those things were stiffeners and not dividers. My apologies if this mislead anyone, but it was honestly unintentional on my part. I have now changed the text of the review accordingly. The funny thing, is that I still use them as dividers and am trying to think of a way to permanently attach them in that manner. It has now been almost 7 months since I received the bag and I've added an update paragraph at the end of the review.

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  42. Dear Velouria,

    thanx for the positive review of our Shopper Straw. Funny that you use the stiffeners as dividers.

    I will place this article onto our twitter and facebook page.

    Enjoy your FastRider shopper.

    Kind regards,

    Walter van Herwijnen
    PR and Communication

    Hesling Products BV

    www.fastrider.eu
    www.twitter.com/fastrider_nl

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  43. I found this post a few weeks ago during my epic search for not-technical panniers, and ended up buying one! I love it. Thanks for the tip.

    Unfortunately, my search for a jacket with technical features (pit zips, wind/waterproofness) that does not have an technical look continues. I may have to start my own clothing line for that one...

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      I was just wondering where you were able to buy this pannier recently? The only one I can find is from the UK.

      Thanks for your help!
      Emily

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  44. Hello, Where can i buy/order online this beautiful bag!
    Greats from Belgium

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