Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pannier Mounting Systems Compared: Ortlieb, Arkel, Basil and Fastrider

As I've mentioned earlier, I am considering getting a custom commuter pannier made to accommodate all of my bikes, including those with short chainstays and small racks. And I've been looking at different quick-release mounting systems in attempts to determine which one would be most suitable for such a project. I'd already tried Basil and Fastrider panniers, but not many others. So I stopped by the Wheelworks, in Somerville, MA and asked to examine and photograph the panniers they had in stock, which they most graciously allowed me to do. I now bring you a comparison of several different mounting systems, which I hope you will find useful.

Ortlieb panniers are made in Germany. They are waterproof, rugged and distinctly utilitarian-looking. I found myself attracted to this neon-yellow pannier and I think it actually looks kind of good on my Gazelle. But still, overall the design is not really for me.

The mounting system, on the other hand, is fantastic. Most of the currently produced Ortlieb panniers use the QuickLock2 (QL2) system, which accommodates the stout tubing of traditional Dutch and Roadster racks, and is extremely simple to use.

The QL2 mounting system consists of a top rail with hooks and a lower support hook - both of which are adjustable without the need for tools.

The top hooks release automatically when you pull the handle, and close around the rack's tubing when you let go of the handle. The placement of the hooks on the rail can be easily adjusted, as can the position of the rail itself. This comes in handy for those planning to use the same pannier on multiple bikes with different racks: Depending on the spacing of the perpendicular slats on the rack, and depending on the length of the bike's chainstays, the adjustability allows you to control the pannier's positioning. While the top hooks alone are enough to secure the pannier to the rack, the lower hook will prevent it from moving altogether. If only this great system was attached to more classic-looking bags! How about an olive satchel with brown trim, Ortlieb?

Arkel panniers are made in Quebec, Canada. The look is similarly utilitarian, though the styling is distinctly different from that of Ortlieb. The design of the bags doesn't really speak to me, but again these things are a matter of taste. While Ortlieb makes it difficult to purchase their complete mounting kit, Arkel sells it readily - which makes it a good resource for those looking to make custom panniers with a reliable and well tested mounting system.

Arkel's Cam-Lock attachment system works similarly to Ortlieb's QL2, in that there is a top rail with adjustable hooks that release via lifting the handle, and a lower hook added for stability. However, the hardware is aluminum (Ortlieb's is plastic), and the lower hook is attached via a bungee cord. Tools are required to adjust the position of the hooks on the track. To my eye, the Arkel system looks kind of rough in comparison to Ortlieb and takes a bit longer to figure out. Also, the aluminum hooks have sharp-ish edges and I could see them scratching up the paint on a rack.

However, the bigger problem is that the Arkel hooks are not large enough to fit over the tubing of my Gazelle's rack. I am certainly glad to have discovered this before having a custom pannier made using this mounting system. Looks like Arkel is just not an option for me.

I have already described how the Dutch Fastrider panniers work in my review of the one I own, but will reiterate here - as well as say that the more I use this pannier, the more I appreciate its design.

The Fastrider mounting system features 3 heavy duty hooks that are plastic with metal bolts and springs. The central hook closes all the way around the rack's tubing, and the two outside hooks are for additional weight support. While the distance between hooks is not adjustable, the outside hooks pivot - which means that they can be mounted even on the curved portions of a rack, allowing for greater versatility of placement.

Here is what I mean by that. Notice that the left hook is attached to the curved rear portion of the small constructeur rack quite comfortably. Though there is no additional lower support hook like in the Ortlieb or Arkel systems, I find Fastrider's 3 hook attachment to be quite secure, with minimal swaying. For a commuting pannier, it is certainly sufficient. And the hooks are versatile enough to fit both skinny and stout rack tubing - perfect! Unfortunately, Fastrider products are not widely available in North America at the moment. The Bicycle Muse carries a few of the shopper panniers, but not the entire line.

Basil, on the other hand, is a Dutch manufacturer whose panniers are now easily available in North America. Their bags range from classic to utilitarian to quirky and they offer a great deal of choice.

This is what the mounting system looks like: Two hooks that may be either alloy or plastic (I can't tell) with a strip of velcro in the middle. The hooks are wide, non-pivotable, and the distance between them is not adjustable - which makes them incompatible with some racks. Like on the Fastrider, there is no lower support hook - which, again, I think is just fine for commuting if the upper hooks are sufficiently secure.

I also like it that the Basil's system is designed with a zipper flap that  covers the hooks when they are not being used. The panniers look like regular bags when not on the bike, and the hooks won't catch on your clothing as you carry them.

But to be honest, I find it difficult to trust the Basil mounting system, because it seems to me that their design causes the hooks to be stressed every time they are used: The hooks have to be spread when attached to the rack, and spread again when detached. Is that not bound to cause fatigue when done over and over again? It does not help that I saw a couple of Basil panniers with broken hooks in local bike shops back in 2009 and have read comments from a few owners reporting the same experience (see, for example, here and here). To be fair, the majority of Basil owners I know are happy with their panniers. But I'd have a difficult time trusting my laptop to their mounting system.

Another brand of panniers I've been seeing lately is Bontrager - an American manufacturer affiliated with Trek. Their city pannier (above) resembles the Basil Mirte model, and features a similar mounting system.

As I understand it, these hooks will only fit Bontrager racks, or racks with similar tubing.

And finally, there is the hooks + bungee system used by OYB (see review here).  Swift Industries, Axiom, and Jandd use similar configurations, but with larger hooks.

This system consists of two open metal top hooks that attach to the rack's platform, and a bungeed S-hook that attaches to a lower part of the rack. All three hooks must be used in order for the pannier to hold up securely, as the top hooks don't wrap all the way around the rack's tubing.

Depending on the size of the hooks, they may or may not fit your rack's tubing. Since both the hooks and bungees are readily obtainable in a hardware store, this method can be a great DIY solution. But keep in mind that if you use small hooks and a thin bungee cord, the system will not support a great deal of weight.

I know that there are other quick-release pannier mounting systems out there, and if you have one to recommend (or one to warn against), your comments would be most welcome. We all have different requirements and preferences that will inform what we consider to be our ideal system, and for me the best option seems to be Ortlieb, followed by Fastrider. Their mounting systems are easy to use, secure, and will fit racks with a variety of tubing diameters - from heavy duty transport racks to skinny constructeur contraptions. If I were making a pannier from scratch, I'd try to get my hands on either their mounting kits... though looking into it, this has proven to be no easy task! Ortlieb sells some, but not all of the parts needed to assemble a full QL2 kit, and I've not yet been able to determine whether Fastrider sells just the hooks alone. Will keep you updated with news on that front, and in the meanwhile I hope this comparison has been helpful.

Thank you again to the Wheelworks for allowing me to photograph the Ortlieb, Arkel, and Bontrager panniers.

44 comments:

  1. I agree that those Ortlieb bags shown here have a very utalitarian look on them, but there is a more classic version of them, the Office model: http://www.ortlieb.com/_pdf_en/officebagql2.pdf . I have been using one of these for five years excessively on different bikes, transporting tons of stuff and grogery in it over time, without any problems whatsoever. After this time, it showed only slight signs of wear on the lower inner edge, everything else was in a as-new state.
    I then removed all the hardware from the mantle (which can be done easily, allthough it is somehow time consuming), put it in the washing maschine (I am not shure if this method is recommended by the manufacturer, but it works well), reassembled it (while replacing the screws by stainless ones), reinforced the lower inner edge with cloth tape, et voila - the thing looked good again and is ready to go for another five years.

    By now, I have a second Office bag in use which is the current model, and I have to say that I am not entirely happy about the modifications they made in comparison to the earlier version. Ortlieb added some plastic abrasion protection pieces on the lower inner corners to avoid the wear mentioned above - shurely a good thing in the technical sense, but definitely no improvement to the overall looks of the bag. And then they replaced the very good first version of the grip piece which held the two grip straps together by a wrap and two snap fasteners by this slotted plastik tube which does not work well, especially when the bag is full to brim (which happens quite often in my case ...), so no improvement here. Nonwithstanding those minor points of criticism, the Ortlieb Office bag is a very good pannier, rugged, long-lasting, absolutely waterproof and reliable, so I would absolutely recommend it for serious everyday use.

    In contrast, my experiences with cheapo panniers that only featured open hooks were devastating - on my first long distance journey with a bike my lowrider bags came loose several times (especially on cobblestone pavement) and even jumped of the bike - I was lucky not run over them because this may have resulted in a serious accident. For this reason I would consider open hook attachment systems suitable only for light loads and for the use on good roads without potholes etc.

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  2. Hi there,

    I have both - a Fastrider satchel with the above mounting System ( http://www.fastrider.nl/images/20006704.jpg - Schoudertas Urban Classic
    Evergreen 06704) and the Ortlieb bags (notably here the Sport-Packer Classic).
    While I really recomment the Fastrider Satchel for carrying your writing materials including Laptop etc, I find the attachment system a little bit fiddly - you always fight with the middle 'locking screw' to securely fasten the loop around thicker rails. Then again the satchel itself is made well, with nice compartments and still enough plastic lining to make it plausible to use it outdoors on a bike (compared to standard computer messenger bags).

    The Ortlieb system on the other hand is top notch - you can always release the bag with on hand on the handloop, just lift. If it is loaded and a little bit heavier, you can even attach it with one hand without fiddling.
    With the Ortliebs I'd recomment the most utilitarian looking ones completely made out of truck tarp and plastics, because you can take them to the shower when they got muddy - the fabric ones don't clean that well and when empty collapse to a heap - the cheaper ones still stand up and don't flap around that much when driving.
    The Ortliebs wear very well and you can order all the needed spare parts when something goes wrong. Attachments are all screwed and not glued.

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  3. Oops, forgot why I posted in the first place ...

    The Ortlieb Sport panniers are made with the same height, but less width to be used on sportier bikes with less heel clearance.

    That could be a solution for you.

    Claus

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  4. About Ortlieb bags again: I forgot to mention that the upper parts of the side-release buckles (as Ortlieb calls them) have a slight tendency to break, but only after years of hard use (I had to replace them twice in five years), and - in my case - always at temperatures around -5°Celsius, so it may be a case of temperature embrittlement.

    But replacement buckles are aviable at next to no cost (at least here in Germany), and could be mounted easily without sewing, so it is not a big deal if one these breaks.
    All other plastic parts on my Office bag held up very well and with no signs of wear over the years.

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  5. Anon 3:29 - I guess we all have different concepts of "classic," and mine falls more into this category:

    http://www.guu-watanabe.com/pannier-ret-e.html#mn
    http://www.philosophybags.com/bags/panniers
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluelemonphoto/2899160925/

    I agree about open hooks and touring.

    Thank you & Claus for your feedback re Ortlieb!

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  6. Velouria said: "Anon 3:29 - I guess we all have different concepts of "classic," and mine falls more into this category:
    http://www.guu-watanabe.com/pannier-ret-e.html#mn
    http://www.philosophybags.com/bags/panniers
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluelemonphoto/2899160925/" –
    Of course, these are really "classic" panniers with no doubt (and maybe we should mention Gilles Berthoud here from whose designs the abovementioned seemed to have drawn lots of inspiration, e.g.: http://www.gillesberthoud.fr/anglais/fiche_detaillee/fiche.php?refArticle=323GB372/G ), but you did not show these or the like in your posting above - what I see there are panniers that look more modern and are to be found in good shops easily (maybe with the exception of the former Swiss ammunition bag), and only in this context the Ortlieb Office bag may be judged as "classic" somehow too, at least as a somehow liberal interpretation of the term.
    And while we shurely have no dissent on the question how a really classic pannier for a classic bike should like, I guess that our point of view may differ as far as everyday useability under various conditions is concerned - those truly classic designs may work well too, but only if you could leave them on the bike all the time, because fiddling about with these very classic buckles is at least nothing I would love to do ten times a day ...

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  7. I was comparing the mounting systems, not the panniers themselves. I was considering using either the Ortlieb or the Arkel attachment kits on a "classic" custom pannier and wanted to see them in person and try them. I did not show the Berthoud pannier mounting system, because I have no easy access to Berthoud. I would have to buy them online first.

    Incidentally, both Berthoud and Philosophy Bags appear to be using the KLICKfix Rixen & Kaul Modul Rail system, which I would very much like to see and determine whether it will fit my thick-tubed Gazelle rack.Has anybody used this system?

    And you're right about fiddling with the buckles - that would be absurd for commuting or going to the store. I want a "classic" pannier with a modern mounting system - hence the comparison of mounting systems, as the title suggests : )

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  8. Have you considered saddle bags that fit over the top of the rack instead of clipping onto the side? These "City Panniers" from Laplander seem like they would work on both bikes (there's a photo of a Vegan City Pannier on a Batavus with a large dutch rack) because 1) they can be customized and 2) they appear to be shaped to reduce heel strike. They're made in Pennsylvania.

    http://www.laplanderbags.com/citypanniers.html

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  9. My Arkel cam lock bag (the same one as in your photos) has plastic over the aluminum which precludes scratching up the rack. The hooks on it might well be too small for some racks, though they work well with Topeak and Pletscher racks.

    It's too bad the Arkel hooks didn't work with one of your racks. Style aside, I'd take Arkel over Ortlieb any day. I'm much less happy with the Ortlieb bag than I am with the Arkel. While their attachment system is good, the "Ortlieb Waterproof" compromised the bag functionality for conditions OTHER than torrential downpours.

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  10. I use Ortlieb Backrollers on my 'go to' bike and believe they have the older QL1 hardware. It looks very similar to QL2, though perhaps not as stout. While it's a decent mounting system, I find the top rail that the hooks mounts to has bent a bit - perhaps from carrying it by the handle with weight in the bag. This makes it a little harder to mount to the rack. The bottom mounting thing can also be tricky to get on the rack. Moving it to another type of rack (your other bikes) would require re-adjustment and in the case of the QL1, this does require tools and is a bit fussy.

    I know this isn't a pannier review, but I will say that deep, narrow panniers like the Backroller (and the same applies to backpacks) can make it difficult to locate things that are burried on the bottom. A pannier with more pockets and a bit of that heal strike prone wideness (Arkel) might be better in this regard. That said, the Ortieb has managed to always keep everything dry on my rainy Portland winter rides. And though even I would agree that it isn't attractive, it is very visible.

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  11. I have KLIKfix fixings for my Knog Dry Dog (which I suspect would very much not be your sort of thing but I needed something that would withstand West Scotland's idea of a summer (the fact that it 'also doubles as a flotation device' gives you some idea of its waterproofing). The fixings are fine but rather hard to describe - two fairly chunky plastic hooks at the top and a side hook lower down hold the bag on the side of the rack, and then two little 'catches' between the hooks at the top click into place to brace the whole thing securely against the rack. As far as I can see the hooks are big enough to mount onto a much sturdier rack than mine. Once on there's no rattling at all and the only moving parts are the catches which aren't under any real load - that's taken by the hooks (and when I say they're plastic it's a fairly hefty resilient kind of plastic, not brittle, more of a resin). My particular bag can be demounted - although it's not really a one hand job - and then I can use the shoulder strap to carry the bag around - it doesn't look particularly elegant and the hooks are a bit of a pain as they dig into my hip but it's functional for short shopping trips or lugging stuff in and out of the house. The Knog bag itself is excellent - it feels really high quality and solid and while not pretty I get the impression it will last a while.

    Having looked around a bit (trying to get some pictures to explain what I meant) I've realised that 'KlikFix' is a whole suite of different kinds of fixings so you may come across others under that heading. They could never be described as classic, at least not now, but if they're as solid as they appear to be who knows, in 50 years time they may have become so.

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  12. heh, V, I'm sure that if Wheelworks or Harris stocked Berthoud or Guu panniers on a regular you would not hesitate in featuring them. ;)

    The mounting system on my MEC panniers uses a similar set of top hooks to the Ortlieb QL2, but are stabilized with a J-hook like the Arkels. The main difference is that the top hooks are fixed, so lateral adjustment is achieved by moving the J-Hook back and forth. The default top hooks might not fit racks with stout tubes, but they also sell substitute oversized hooks that you can re place and mount yourself using a drill (or have it done in store if you're in Canada). Similarly, the J hook by default may not be long enough to fit on racks that position their bottom stabilizer strut closer to the wheel axle, but MEC also sells longer J-hooks.

    The top hooks on MEC panniers are heavy plastic, the J-hook is aluminum. I have found that my J-hook does damage the paint on the rack. Scratches look most severe at the top edge where the hook wraps around its bungee, but isn't limited to that area. This seems to be an unavoidable side effect of the design. As one hits bumps, the pannier may swing outwards, but the hook and bungee will pull it back, and the force will cause it to bang against the rack frame. Plastic may help, but that might come at the cost of durability.

    for what it's worth, the scratches are more visible on my 520 and Raleigh because their racks have triangular struts that intersect with the pannier hook when it's mounted. The rack on the ANT is like your constructeur, the struts angle away from the central axis of weight. There is a small welded eyelet for the hook at the bottom. So, when the panniers bounce on the ANT, they will swing back and contact the rack at the sides and not at the metal hook. The eyelets took a bit of finessing to make it easy for me mount, but once we sorted it out, it's been great.

    also, for what it's worth, the 520 has probably seen 5000 miles with the panniers, so while the rack scratches are fairly obvious, they do appear to be merely cosmetic and don't appear to have compromised strucutural integrity.

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  13. oh, I should also say, in comparison to Anon @ 4:04's comment, the top hooks on my MEC panniers have not had any issues in the several years that I've owned them, even when riding at -5C and below. has a set of Vaude panniers which have also been similarly stout (though the fabric on one pannier had started to fray around the six year mark, and she was able to get a patch kit from Vaude). Perhaps, now that Vaude has been acquired by Ortlieb, their materials might see some improvement?

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  14. A classic Pannier with a modern mounting system would be fantastic. Now, why wouldn't that be available? Sounds too logical I suppose. Always room for the entrepreneur...
    I have a Berthoud handlebar bag which uses the KLICKfix, It is easy to mount onto the handlebars (even I could do it!) and the design works very well.

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  15. VERY nice set of comparison shots. Having owned Arkel & Ortlieb, I'd like to comment on their systems.

    1) Arkel is ridiculously stable once you're used to it, and super easy to get on and off the rack. However, yes, it does have a maximum tubing size limitation. However, I will say that it auto adjust to all smaller sizes automagically.

    2) Ortlieb does go to larger sizes, but you have to have snap in adapters to adapt it to smaller tubing.

    PS - Another attachment system you might consider for a custom bag is the R&K Kickflix - I've seen them for sale on line...
    Here's one place (I'm not affiliated with them) - http://www.velofred.com/index.php?cPath=135_141

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  16. The Klickfix mounting hooks are very nice and can be adjusted to fit different sizes of rack tubing. Wiggle and other mail order/online retailers stock them separately as replacements for Carradice and other bags that use them.

    Speaking of Carradice: Have you looked at their Office Bureau bag? It's black canvas. A few years ago, they were being made with "chrome" leather straps. That made it look something like a satchel or the "Danish book bags" that were popular about twenty years ago. (I still picture Allen Ginsberg lugging one as he ambled into a poetry workshop I took with him!) Then Carradice switched to black nylon webbing. However, I understand that they're making them with tan leather. And they're big enough for a laptop.

    One thing you might not like about the Carradice Office Bureau is that its mounting bar is slanted. The good news is that it eliminates heel strike (while preserving the bag's classic profile). The bad news is that it means the bag can be used only on one side or another of the bike.

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  17. I prefer the Jandd products over all the others reviewed since they are the most utilitarian as well as the simplest on and off the bike. I also find the mount to be very secure having hauled loads of heavy items (car parts) with no issues at all.

    IMO bike bags are all about function and not about making a fashion statement. That said, simplest is always better........

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  18. Velouria, the KLICKfix system is supposed to fit rails with diameters from 8 to 16mm. If MDI or your local bike shop has a set of calipers, you could measure the diameter of the rails on your rack. From the photos, it looks like they are less than 1.5 cm, so I would expect it to fit.

    But, I have not used a bag with that system, so I can't confirm for certain.

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  19. Ortlieb bags come in many more styles/colors and mounting hardware. QL1 is available on the classics and QL3 available on some of their newer styles. They also come in non pvc water-proof materials. After using many pannier mounting systems and even making my own, the Ortlieb system is by far the most secure and easy to remove. In my opinion, I would never put anything of value in a pannier that didn't have locking clasps that surround the rack rails. The hook + lower bungee system that comes with cheaper and even most extremely expensive high-end panniers just isn't secure enough. One or two big bumps and the hooks come off easily. I do believe that if Ortlieb didn't have their mounting system patented worldwide, we'd be seeing it on many more bags.

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  20. These DIY solutions can work for small panniers with not a great deal of weight in them, but for more serious loads you may want to opt for a more heavy duty mounting system.

    Velouria (and Anonymous 3:29)--I've mostly used panniers with this type of fastening system. And I've toured fully loaded for thousands of miles and many years and never had a problem. The only times a bag would "come loose" is when I didn't load it on the rack properly.

    And this type of hooking system isn't just on "cheapo" panniers--this is the standard hooking system for Axiom bags, and for quite a few custom bag makers.

    Now I'm not saying that the Ortlieb system is bad per se. And I don't know what the failure rate is for their mounting system. But at least with the simple metal hooks and bungee system, if something breaks it's easy to fix or replace. You can find bungees in any gas station and the metal hooks can be found in hardware stores. Ortlieb? You'll have to order through them. Not so bad for around town commuting, bad if you are on a long tour in the middle of nowhere.

    And to answer the question as to why more other bag makers don't use Ortlieb's mounting system: it's prohibitively expensive. I know of a local bag maker who used to use the Ortlieb system, then moved to the simpler hooks/bungee system because he couldn't afford buying the hardware anymore. He tried to get a better deal through Ortlieb, but they wouldn't lower the price because they saw him as a "competitor", even though there's no way he'd come close to Ortlieb's volume.

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  21. My touring bags are Axiom and have the metal hooks on top, bungee and metal hook on bottom setup. And I sometimes load fifty lbs of groceries between the two of them, and they're fine! I've also toured a bunch with them. I think if they're sturdy enough, they're fine.

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  22. http://www.bikebagshop.com/ortlieb-bag-parts-c-43.html

    I was looking at this a few months ago -- that site has all of the parts for a QL1 system and all but the top rail for QL2, so you could easily do a QL1 top w/ a QL2 bottom. the QL1 is just as sturdy/easy as the QL2, but you need your hex keys to adjust it. I found a position that's stable on both of my bikes and just locked it in. I did end up buying the waterproof back-rollers, but my style is more of a co-ordinated utilitarian modern kind of thing, so they work for me.

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  23. Regarding the open hooks + bungee system used by OYB, Jandd, Axiom and others: My comment about the system not being meant to support a great deal of weight was intended to be specifically about the OYB pannier, the hooks on which are quite small, and not about the other brands. I've made this clear in the text now.

    As for their effectiveness and reliability when touring, carrying laptops, etc - I can only speak of myself, and I personally would prefer to use a system where the top hooks locked around the rack.

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  24. PS - Since someone mentions saddlebag style panniers... banjobrothers.com has a VERY simple / utilitarian set of saddlebags... Rivbike.com had a much more expensive pair as well...

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  25. Re double/ saddlebag style panniers: In that category, the world is your oyster as far as classic and reliable goes. There is Laplander, Rivendell, Brooks, Linus, Basil - too many good ones to list in a range of price categories. But in this post, I am talking about a pannier that doubles as a workbag/handbag/laptop bag when off the bike. In order for that to work, it must (1) be a single bag, (2)be easily removable from the bike, and (3) have a quick release system. The double/ saddlebag style panniers are designed to stay on the bike, not to be removed every time you walk away from the bike.

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  26. @chris "oh, I should also say, in comparison to Anon @ 4:04's comment, the top hooks on my MEC panniers have not had any issues in the several years that I've owned them, even when riding at -5C and below." - I (Anon @ 4:04) thought I stated most clearly that I never had any issue with the top hooks or any other vital part of my Ortlieb Office bags - these parts are still original and in perfect working condition after years of heavy use, with no signs of wear whatsoever. The only parts that seem to be prone to deteoration are the buckles that fasten the rolling cover to the sides of the bag. And as this thread is about pannier mounting systems, as Velouria pointed out rightfully, this small and maybe coincidental failures of buckles may be seen as irrelevant. The Ortlieb mounting system itself seems to be flawless, as far as I can tell after years of hard use.

    But this will not keep me from trying a pair of "open hook" panniers made in China (I at least appreciate the fact that the country of origin is stated quite clearly and in large letters on the packaging) that were to be had for only six Euros each (about 8,33 US Dollars) I bought in a super market last week. They seem to be quite well made (featuring pin-tucks on the edges), and will presumably even look period correct on a 1980s bike (not to mention the word 'classic' here ...). :-)

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  27. Re: The Axiom system: There is a plastic piece that is between the two metal hooks that swivels. You can swivel it upwards to "lock" it to the rack. You can't lift them off, as I find out every time I try to remove my bag and forget that I "locked" it! :)

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  28. Regarding double panniers, I have a set of the Linus canvas/leather ones, which I attach to my Dutch cargo rack by securing one of the lower straps around a rack leg. The other side remains unsecured. This is really quite fast, so I never leave the panniers on the bike when going into a store.

    I only do it this way when loaded, since weight prevents the other half from moving. When unloaded, I secure both panniers with only their lower straps. It's somewhat more fiddly, but waaaay faster than doing up all the straps provided.

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  29. This recommendations are really helpful. My conundrum is that I'm leaning towards either the functionality of the Basil D'Azur messenger bag or the fastrider. I'm with Velouria on the classic looks, but also need something that can be functional both on and off the bike. For me, the Basil's system of hiding the hooks is attractive, especially since I'm not one to park my bike and leave the pannier on. So, with that in mind, something easy and quick to remove that won't tangle in clothing is ideal.

    I currently own a Basil mesh rear basket which is fantastic but I'm a little bit unsure about those plastic hooks. Basil seems to make quality products but I wonder if it would be possible to replace Basil's hook system with something more durable?

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  30. Velouria said...
    Regarding the open hooks + bungee system used Jandd, (snip) My comment about the system not being meant to support a great deal of weight (snip) I've made this clear in the text now.

    As for their effectiveness and reliability when touring, carrying laptops, etc - I can only speak of myself, and I personally would prefer to use a system where the top hooks locked around the rack."

    ********************
    My reference to hauling heavy items,i.e car parts, was intended to showcase the robustness of the Jandd bags and nothing else. I find that the hooks on the Jandd bags are really well made to the point that bending them in use is very hard to do. I seriously doubt that leather ,or any other type of mounting straps, will do as well.

    The material used to make the bags is also robust making the whole package, to me, perfect for hauling anything that I can throw in them ,no sharp objects please!, a really good deal for those of us on a tight budget.

    http://www.jandd.com/

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  31. I have previously expressed my satisfaction here with the ortlieb pannier connection system (and trust it to carry my laptop securely), and I use it with my thick tubed rack and on a thinner rack interchangeably without using the inserts. The R&K Kickflix from the velo fred website look pretty similar and self adjusting from the photos I can see- I wonder how durable/reliable they are?

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  32. Amanda - I've heard good things about the R&K system, and the fact that Berthoud uses them on panniers meant to go on randonneuring bikes suggests that they are strong and reliable. I'd like to know for sure whether they'll fit the oversized tubing on my Gazelle's rack, but otherwise I am sold.

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  33. I took the Fastrider for a test ride this weekend and I did not experience any swing or sway or heel strike on the Raleigh. So, aesthetically wise and for my work commute I'm happy with its performance. I have to say I received a lot of interesting looks from people. You don't see lovely bicycles and lovely panniers much where I live, so this is going to be fun commuting this spring and summer :)

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  34. SM - True, plus this pannier is huge and resembles a big boxy wicker basket, which always gets people's attention. I was in a sewing store the other day and bought a fairly large sewing basket, then proceeded to stuff it into my Fastrider Shopper... which already had both my laptop and my camera in it. All three of the people working in the shop gathered round to watch!

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  35. I know this answer isn't going to be the most glamorous, but it's what we do: Rein and I both have basic double panniers on our bikes with the basic webstrapping on the underside which makes them a pain to take on and off. It's good for NL so that no one is encouraged to steal them while we shop. They're pretty much permanent.

    We use fabric bags for shopping. We put our groceries strait into the cart and not bag them until we get to the bikes. We then line the panniers with the fabric sacks. The groceries get packed into the pannier/fabric sacks. Then when we get home, all we have to do is lift out the filled fabric sacks.

    Trying to get a full sack into a pannier is a pain. It's just easier to pack it in the parking lot while the bike is in the rack.

    When we do our Saturday shopping, I usually have 3 to 4 bags of groceries on mine and Rein has two sacks and a big sack of dog food.

    I also suggest looking at the Fast Rider catalog on their website. It does come in English. They have some pannier sets with a diagonal shape at the bottom to avoid heel strike. They are pretty nifty.

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  36. I would HIGHLY recommend the Rixen Kaul Office bag. I searched long and hard for the same kind of bag you are looking for, and am very happy with this one. The mounting system is very robust (assuming it fits the rack you have.) In addition to providing laptop capacity, a nice look off the bike, etc, the mounting system hides away cleanly when the bag is off the bike, and can even be removed completely in a few seconds. This was crucial to be as I have a long walk with the bag over my shoulder, and didn't want hardware destroying my clothes. I purchased it from Velo Fred and they were a pleasure to deal with (no affiliation, just credit where it is due).
    -Pete

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  37. With regard to your wish that the Ortleib bags were available in other fabrics, you can buy the fixings from - http://www.bike-components.de/shop/cat/c261_Bits---Pieces.html - and could always add them to the bag of your choice

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  38. any idea where I can get the parts of a Fastrider pannier? My bottom bracket is broken.

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  39. Thanks for this informative post. Now I understand why the fellow at the bike shop was so enthusiastic about the Ortlieb mounting hardware... and why not to trust a cheap pannier with just open hooks at the top!

    In the end the comment stream steered me towards Laplander, and I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of my City Panniers.

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  40. Does anyone know the QMR attachment system that Vaude uses? I'm thinking of ordering one of their Wright Tarp panniers.

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  41. This blog was very interesting and informative.
    I have wondered how different systems attach to racks. I have just a purchased pannier with the much mentioned klicks system. I was hoping there would be a picture of one attached to a rack.
    All in all a great blog.

    Dee
    Uk

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  42. The Loan Peak Mounting system seems to address the issues identified with open hook + shock cord attachment systems quite well. Loan Peak hooks are plastic (but TOUGH) and wrap all the way around the rack bar. The bungee/shock cord attachment provides tension and secures the bag from below. These have been well tested by touring cyclists for their strength, simplicity, and reliability.

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  43. It would be really good if the manufacturers would post specs on how large tubing their hooks will accommodate and also distances for openings. My tubes are also thicker than normal. How large are your tubes?

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  44. I posted earlier to recommend the Lone Peak mounting hooks, but appear to have missed the wide diameter dutch rack requirement. I would bet that the Arkel Cam-Lock system would work best as they are quite wide and the cam locks adjust to fit rails of any diameter. It's a remarkably nice system.

    As well, I recently completed a mounting system retrofit for as set of Jandd Mountain Panniers with Lone Peak, Arkel, and basic hardware store parts that might be of interest to anyone looking for custom mounting solutions. See link below.

    https://sites.google.com/site/hugfly247/home/projects/custom-pannier-mounts

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