- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 12 January 2011
Panniers are a practical addition to a bike when you need to carry anything, but they aren’t always great for carrying everything. The Ortlieb Bike-Shopper, a close relative of the best selling and much lauded Classic Back Roller, moves away from the ‘one bag suits all’ mentality and focuses on carrying your groceries. Riding home with your shopping firmly attached to your rear rack is certainly more convenient than hanging it from your handlebars, but being able to carry your empty pannier bag into the store, attach it to your trolley and go shopping makes wonderful sense.
The Bike-Shopper has 2 large reflective patches to improve visibility at night, has a valuables pocket inside and, like other Ortlieb bags, is fully water proof.
If you are familiar with Ortlieb panners, you will appreciate the Quick Lock system (QL2) that securely locks the bag onto the pannier racks. Simply lift the bag with the handle to release the lock and in seconds flat you are on your way. Likewise you set the bag down into place on the rack, let go and the bag locks on and you are ready to ride. A few adjustments may be required when the bag is brand new to set up the best position of the bag on the rack and ensure it is clear of your feet when pedalling.
What makes this shopping specific?
There are two features that differentiate this bag from others in the Ortlieb series, the most immediately obvious of which is the Quick Seal. This is a chunky ziploc style watertight seal with a slider designed to keep your shopping inside. Compared with the roll closure system of other Ortlieb panniers, the Quick Seal is convenient to close, though both systems are, in my experience, perfectly watertight. A small tube of lubrication is provided, a tiny dab is required every so often to ensure that your Quick Seal glides smoothly.
The other detail that makes this a shopping bag is the shoulder strap. While I didn’t using this while shopping, it is handy for in between – from the bike to the shopping trolly or from the bike to the house. This keeps your hands free and it is easier to carry the loaded bag. An unintended highlight is that you can hang the Bike-Shopper pannier onto the side of the shopping trolly.
Ortlieb recommend that the strap is shortened to keep it from dangling about when riding. The easy solution is to undo the buttons on the shoulder pad and then clip it onto the bag handle, this keeps the straps safely out of the way when riding.
The Bike-Shopper in practice
In practice, the Bike-Shopper bag seems larger than it actually is; while it has a 20 Litre capacity, it is easy to misjudge how much it will hold and overfilling the bag means it won’t close. Transporting the bag to and from the bike, even with a heavy load, is simple with the supplied shoulder strap. When mounted, the bike ride is steady, even when used as a single pannier.
The bag needs to be filled to hold its structure and stay upright though you have to take care to balance it so that it doesn’t fall over. Without any content it can’t stand alone so at home is more conveniently stored hanging up or packed away.
Shopping on the bike?
If your shopping cart is overflowing, you would be better off looking at getting a cargo bike. If, however, you enjoy the convenience of commuting by bike and want to include some light shopping in your routine, the Bike Shopper is a practical solution – provided, of course, you have a bike rack.
The Bike-Shopper is flexible and sturdy without being bulky, but with a RRP of $199 it’s a considerable investment. Diggari (www.allegrobikes.com.au) in Melbourne is the Australian importer of Ortlieb products – take some time to have a look at their range of Ortlieb bags and compare their features. The Bike-Shopper is available from bike shops and adventure stores throughout Australia.