Friday, September 5, 2014

Are Panniers Old School? Well, Yes and No.

Office wire baskets: lightweight, strong, and cheap.
Toss anything inside and secure with a bungee.

As more and more people take to the roads on two wheels, hauling groceries and/or work items is a necessary component. And not everyone can afford high-end panniers. Ingenuity is key, especially in a college environment where second hand bicycles provide inexpensive transportation. Almost anything goes for containers.

Crates come in many colors and sizes. They are highly visible to road users.
Backpacks and messenger bags aside, riders are becoming creative, using any type of metal or plastic container. I've seen front wicker baskets strapped to rear rack. Plastic crates are everywhere; they can be stylish, available in various colors and sizes, and are a sturdy as they come. Opaque storage containers with lids are handy when it rains. Commonly, office-type coated metal baskets are being re-purposed, zip tied to racks. They are a lightweight alternative to a crate. I grabbed two white ones from a lawn giveaway pile. I like their versatility: use on front or rear rack.

I love tulips, especially adorning panniers.
What panniers I see are often cheap and practical, reminding me of Dutch-style bags. They are basic, have one compartment, and come with straps that link both panniers, which renders hooks and springs unnecessary.  A simple Velcro strap secures bags to rack. When a rider needs to haul a myriad of items, enclosed and out of sight, this type of bag is a perfect compliment to any bicycle.

Panniers with volume - perfect for groceries.
While durable panniers may be old school or unaffordable to the masses, they're still the right choice for touring. Nothing beats compact storage, multiple pockets, snug and secure rack fit, and the ability to remove bags, separately, keeping gear and clothing organized.

What ingenious baggage solutions have you seen in your cycling community?


  1. As the realization that practical bikes are made to carry things sets in, so many different solutions appear out there. This is another reason why I would not commute on a racing bike, since they require backpacks, which are so much less pleasant than any other form of bike haulage. Throw on the panniers and go! Basket and bungie! Flowers and baguettes for all!

    1. I agree. It's the creative possibilities that convert a simple bicycle into a commuter machine. I'm enjoying all aged of riders in our community. There's a growing number of ladies in the 70's cycling for enjoyment and not necessarily to get to the grocery store. It makes my heart sing.

  2. I have 4 bikes....and have not put a basket on any. I use panniers...Most versatile for me. I'm car-free so. So least amount of bungie cord effort and things flying out of baskets, the better for me.


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