Beating the system - the cycling commuting section
15 posts • Page 1 of 1
I've been commuting a while but have just decided to take the plunge into complete bicycle reliance and sell the car, and am trying to kit out my bike to handle more stuff for big trips, shopping, etc.
Just wondering if anyone can comment on whether having a single rear pannier bag has a destabilising effect on the bike, or whether I would be better off getting double bags and spreading the weight between them?
I find a single pannier is fine - as long as it's light.
More than 5kg and I would spread the weight
"A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye."
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Stability only starts to be a problem when carrying quite a bit. I've not experienced any troubles until I was carrying more than about 7kg in one pannier.
Depends what you are carrying. If you only carry very small amounts of gear most of the time it would be better to invest in a rack-top or trunk bag. It creates a lot less aerodynamic drag than a single pannier and does mean that if you have to stuff more than expected into it that you don't end up with stability issues.
If you are going down the car-free route, get yourself a pair of fairly large panniers (in the order of 45+ Litres for the pair) to handle shopping and carrying large amounts, and get either a saddle-pack or a trunk-bag (one that mounts on top of the rack) for when you plan to only carry small amounts.
Or, you could get one of those large trunk bags where the sides zip open to become a small pair of panniers like this:
I regularly only carry the one pannier, one which looks like an ordinary shoulder bag and can carry about with me without looking too odd. This is the bag I take with me to work with my work clothes in it, and it does the job. I've put a fair bit of weight in it and it does make riding a bit odd, all the more if you've to go around a number of corners on downhill stretches.
Sometimes I add an Ortlieb if I plan on doing shopping, or take it instead if it's going to rain, as my nifty-looking Basil pannier/shoulderbag wouldn't stand up to a heavy downpour.
In one of the inner pockets I have a silnylon shopping bag and an ocky strap, in case I get something while out and don't have the capacity in that bag, and strap it down to the rack. This works quite well.
If you're going car-free, get a single normal-looking pannier bag for when you're just out and about (or if you're feeling like being busy, make one!), and pair of shopping panniers; if you get ones lockable to your bike it'll be peace of mind while you're in a shopping centre and don't want to cart about two unwieldy panniers.
Take a look at the panniers available at BSC Bikes; they do both single panniers and double panniers.
Another thing I would add from recent experience is that you should monitor how much goods you carry in your panniers. Just because there is space, does not mean your rear wheel can handle the weight. RD went in to my rear wheel due to wheel that buckled under load. Wheels were Aksiums and I weigh only 65 to 66kg.
Reynolds 953 (warranty replacement, 7 months and waiting)
Kona Jake the Snake
I have a relatively long commute (34km) and found that running only one pannier has resulted (or worsened) a slight asymmetry in my pedaling style. I'm now going to try alternating the panniers.
Oh, a top mount bag stops less wind - but can be hard to fit a laptop into.
Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
I haven't ever used a single pannier, rather leave both on if I need them and put half of the gear I'm carrying in each.
Avanti Quantum, Salsa Casseroll, Specialized Tricross
If you are going all out with front and rear touring panniers and racks its kinda nice to have a matching set.
That said, I swapped from one rear to both my smaller front panniers on my rear rack for commuting.
Seems to spread the load better than one 3/4 or full large. I keep one side for spares, shoes and wet weather stuff and the other for clean work clothes.
Depends how you want to define a laptop. My Acer Aspire One notebook fits into this Trunk Drybag
Prior to getting the drybag, I mostly used a pannier on just one side of the bike - even with 10 to 12 kg, it didn't unbalance the bike. Can certainly notice the difference in drag with a pannier v's topmount bag.
But I don't often carry the notebook. With 8 Gbyte flash disks, it's very easy to carry all your work home without the extra weight.
WombatK - Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead
Have had lower back issues previously, not keen to do anything that encourages assymetric pedalling style - for along that way lies pain.
Carried my laptop to work today in one of them. Apart form the extra 3kg of ballast, it all went quite well. Those reusable insulated Coles shopping bags are great for providing a bit of exta cushioning. Paid for it tonight on the way home though. Slooowww urrgh
"People have a right to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight." -- James W Loewen
No one addressed something that really bugs me when I see people riding with 1 rear pannier. They put it on the left!! Most panniers have reflective stuff on the rear pocket etc of the bag and as such it would make sense to me to have it on the right as this highlights the outer most side of the bicycle. Yet I still see people riding with the pannier mounted on the left most likely because it is easier to load, unload when they get to work. I guess they never think about the safety aspect of it.
What do you guys do??
A great adventure starts with a single step
Left side. So that if you stop by the roadside, you'll be on the safer side of the bike when using it. Similarly, if you have to chain bike to a lamp-post, pannier won't hang in traffic. It's also the non-chain side, less likely to get chain oil etc.,. on anything or foul chain when taking it on/off.
WombatK - Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead
I have foldable grocery panniers (Nashbar Townie) on both sides. I unfold and fill the right one first. I guess drivers are less likely side-swipe me (the rider) that way, but I shouldnâ€™t speak for what drivers think because I donâ€™t really know. It also seems like â€œthe correctâ€ one to fill first; my bicycle tilts to the left onto a kickstand, so if I fill the left pannier first, it really sags all the way down & outwards. If the right pannier is way too heavy, then the bike can topple that way, but that means I have to divide the load.
They are very impressive when fully loaded. Even shopping that is getting too heavy to carry by hand is comfortably held when I load up both panniers.
I do the swap between sides of a single pannier. Haven't worked out which side I like better yet. The reason for this is that I have one pair of panniers (left/right) and two bikes with racks to fit them, one lives in Newcastle as my uni commuter, the other in Artarmon as the shopping bike. In Newcastle I have been running with the left hand side as it makes it easier to park the bike in the house, fits better under the stairs and with the other bikes.
Currently in holidays so I brought the Newcastle pannier down and am riding with both panniers on. I have found that with my riding style (or rather getting onto the bike, lack of riding style) that I refer only one pannier -easier to get on and off without catching my leg.
But that's me.
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