Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

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Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby elStado » Wed May 04, 2011 3:25 pm

Hi all,

Looking to get some pannier bags and racks in preparation to possibly do a tour next year. Touring will probably be semi-self sufficient, carrying some essential camping gear but only basic/lightweight gear (small tent/swag/matress type of thing), cycling tools/spares and gear and personal effects. Will probably have a touring bike with front, rear, and saddle bags as well as a ~25L day pack strapped onto the top of the rack for use around town without the bike and extra storage.

If I don't do the tour (or even if I do) I'll be working full time at some stage and I hope I'll be cycling to work every day, so there will still be a valid use to have some good quality pannier bags at my disposal. I was thinking it would be good to get some rear panniers and a suitable rack now, so that I can break the bags in, test them out and soften the financial blow of buying gear for touring over time rather than buying everything in one hit and having to figure it all out/pay at once.

Right now I am thinking of getting a pair of rear pannier bags and possibly a saddle bag to be used in conjunction to the panniers or on their own for longer rides without need for pannier or backpack. That way I'll be able to carry some food, a mini D-lock and essential/emergency items (such as cash, phone and repair kit/multi-tool) with me when doing training rides.

I've spent a few minutes looking around on Wiggle just as a reference site, however I am happy to buy elsewhere/locally if they have quality gear and are reasonably priced. From my searches it seems that Deuter are the best in the low-mid cost area and Ortlieb reign in the mid-high cost area of cycling storage/bags. I don't have a fixed budget as of yet, still gauging the overall equipment costs. I don't mind paying extra for quality if it is worth it though and will give me lots of enjoyable use over it's lifetime.

Rear pannier bags:

Deluxe option
Name: Ortlieb Back Roller Plus Panniers
Price: ~$150.00 (pair)
Capacity: 40L (42 x 32 x 17cm)
Weight: 1.5kg
Water proof material: Yes - Condura
Summary: QL2 mounting system, reflective 3m reflectors, comes with shoulder strap.
Link: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/ortlieb-back-ro ... -panniers/

Budget option
Name: Deuter Rack Pack Uni Panniers
Price: ~$50.00
Capacity: ~36-38L (not clear on Wiggle)
Weight: ~1.5kg
Water proof material: No- comments indicate it is "99%" water proof though.
Summary: 'Universal Fit System', Zippered front pockets, LED attachment loop, 3M reflectors.
Link: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/deuter-rack-pack-uni-panniers/

Rear pannier racks:

Deluxe option
Name: Tubus Cosmo Rear Rack
Price: ~$135.00
Capacity: 40Kg
Weight: 730g
Summary: Universal model fits both 26/28" bikes. Constructed of tig welded tubular stainless tubing: the result is an extremely attractive and durable rack. Not sure why this is worth the extra $$? Both seem to have the same capacity/features.
Link: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/tubus-cosmo-rear-rack/

Less expensive option
Name: Tubus Cargo Rear Rack
Price: ~$105.00
Capacity: 40Kg
Weight: 625g (for 28" version)
Summary: The unique mounting system makes it compatible with most frames on the market.
Link: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/tubus-cargo-rear-rack/

Rear saddle bags:

Deluxe option
Name: Ortlieb Large Saddle Bag
Price: ~$45.00
Capacity: 2.7L (300mm in length, is 170mm wide and 140mm deep)
Weight: N/A
Water proof material: Water proof material: Yes - 100%
Summary: Scotchlite reflective detailing also functions as a impromptu mudguard.
Link: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/ortlieb-large-saddle-bag/

Budget option
Name: Deuter Bike Bag IV
Price: ~$22.00
Capacity: 1.1L +0.7L expansion for jackets (12+8 x 12 x 17cm)
Weight: 170g
Water proof material: Not stated - water/splash resistant.
Summary: 3M reflector, Safety Blink loop, washable outer material, light-coloured inner lining to easily find items.
Link: http://www.wiggle.co.uk/deuter-bike-bag-iv/

Phew. That turned out bigger than Ben Hur to list all that info. Please give me your thoughts and feedback.
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by BNA » Wed May 04, 2011 4:36 pm

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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby fattima » Wed May 04, 2011 4:36 pm

I've had my Ortlieb roller panniers for over three years and commute with them everyday, they get taken off an put back on the bike daily. So far I have had no problems with them at all, completely waterproof catches etc all still work fine and they have withstood a big slide down a concrete path when I came off the bike one day. My partner uses them on her commuter bike and like me has had no issues with the quality.
I use a Toppeak rack with them.

Previously I had some Tioga branded panniers and they lasted about 2 years before they had holes in them and they were never %100 waterproof.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby jet-ski » Wed May 04, 2011 4:38 pm

I have been getting around with a $40 Tioga rack on the rear of my bike and $80 rear Tioga panniers. After about a year, someone borrowed the panniers and overloaded them with about 25kg worth of laptop and other stuff, and broke one of the hooks!

I daresay my Tioga rack is heavier than those options and probably has a lower weight rating, but I've been using it for about 4 years now and it's not showing any signs of weakness.

Anyway I would get the Ortliebs - I will be next time. They are very well regarded and will last for a very long time. IMHO the rack doesn't matter that much. My commuter will probably be getting a lighter rack like a Tubus Fly in the medium term.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby elStado » Wed May 04, 2011 4:56 pm

fattima wrote:I've had my Ortlieb roller panniers for over three years and commute with them everyday, they get taken off an put back on the bike daily. So far I have had no problems with them at all, completely waterproof catches etc all still work fine and they have withstood a big slide down a concrete path when I came off the bike one day. My partner uses them on her commuter bike and like me has had no issues with the quality.
I use a Toppeak rack with them.

Previously I had some Tioga branded panniers and they lasted about 2 years before they had holes in them and they were never %100 waterproof.


Yeah thinking about it the Ortlieb bags will be much hardier and longer lasting than the Deuter panniers, which look like they are made from thinner material from the photos. I want something that will give me many years of reliable service in all weather conditions. Poor man pays twice so to speak.

Still unsure about the rack. I want something strong, effective and long lasting, but I don't want to go overkill either.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby wookie661 » Wed May 04, 2011 5:44 pm

im currently using a 40 dollar tioga rear rack from cellbikes.

and i bought a set of tioga rear panniers, used, one with a little hole in the bottom and the two little zippered pockets dont work. but one is perfect, the left hand side one.
Payed 99c for them, and 10 dollars posted, but it cost the bloke 11.30 to post them.

Anyway, im trying to say that you can commute/tour on a budget. But if i had unlimited money, i would buy the most expensive things as they are sure to last longer.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby elStado » Wed May 04, 2011 6:02 pm

wookie661 wrote:Anyway, im trying to say that you can commute/tour on a budget. But if i had unlimited money, i would buy the most expensive things as they are sure to last longer.


I don't have unlimited funds. But these are bags not Ferraris. Also keep in mind that I may potentially be touring for 6-7 weeks, covering ~350km a week. So I'll need bags that are hard and won't fail on me.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby mikedufty » Wed May 04, 2011 6:13 pm

I made my own. Inspired by the old Wilderness Equipment bags which I couldn't afford. Bought a bit of cordura and sewed them up on my mum's sewing machine at the end of Year 12. They are still going after 24 years of daily use. I have had to do a bit of patching and upgraded clips and changed the stiffener boards from plywood to aluminium, but the basic cordura is still there. Have been using the beto racks that come with rear child seats for the last 8 years or so, seem to be very strong. I had a blackburn before that which is still good after 20 years or so (now on a spare bike).
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby trailgumby » Wed May 04, 2011 6:14 pm

fattima wrote:I've had my Ortlieb roller panniers for over three years and commute with them everyday, they get taken off an put back on the bike daily. So far I have had no problems with them at all, completely waterproof catches etc all still work fine and they have withstood a big slide down a concrete path when I came off the bike one day. My partner uses them on her commuter bike and like me has had no issues with the quality.
I use a Toppeak rack with them.

Previously I had some Tioga branded panniers and they lasted about 2 years before they had holes in them and they were never %100 waterproof.

+1 for Ortlieb Back Roller Classic + Topeak rack combo. Solid and robust as.

Mine survived a 25km/hr slide down the road when I got sideswiped by the hater in December 2009. Just a light scuff that didn't compromise the watertightness of the bags. (Naturally, I got his insurance to pay for replacement everything 8) Too bad I'm not as tough as the bags. :( )

They cost an arm and a leg if you buy locally, over $350 :shock: So I'd be happy for you to say stuff you to the local distributor and pay $135 or so from Wiggle. :D
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby CommuRider » Wed May 04, 2011 6:56 pm

mikedufty wrote:I made my own. Inspired by the old Wilderness Equipment bags which I couldn't afford. Bought a bit of cordura and sewed them up on my mum's sewing machine at the end of Year 12. They are still going after 24 years of daily use. I have had to do a bit of patching and upgraded clips and changed the stiffener boards from plywood to aluminium, but the basic cordura is still there. Have been using the beto racks that come with rear child seats for the last 8 years or so, seem to be very strong. I had a blackburn before that which is still good after 20 years or so (now on a spare bike).


Can you post a photo of this? Sounds very durable. And you don't have the sewing design by any chance?
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby il padrone » Wed May 04, 2011 7:14 pm

elStado wrote:Still unsure about the rack. I want something strong, effective and long lasting, but I don't want to go overkill either.

Tubus Cargo is not overkill. They are the current de facto standard for loaded touring, like Blackburn was in the 80s. The Tubus racks are lighter than the comparable alloy racks, far far stronger and also much more rigid on the bike. They just work and have few disadvantages. The cost penalty is minor in their much longer life span.

I'm expecting mine to be still holding my bags in 20 years of rough rutted roads and heavy loads.

If you're just carrying a couple of light bags to work or the shops then a Topeak or Tioga will probably do you. But I'm looking at your thread title - "Best...."

As far as bags are concerned it's got to be either the Ortliebs, with some of their removable pockets as well; or a pair of the excellent Carradice Super C rear panniers. Fully waterproof and durable proofed cotton duck with plenty of capacity (something a fair few cheaper rear panniers seem to lack).
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby elStado » Wed May 04, 2011 9:46 pm

mikedufty wrote:I made my own. Inspired by the old Wilderness Equipment bags which I couldn't afford. Bought a bit of cordura and sewed them up on my mum's sewing machine at the end of Year 12.


I like your DIY ethic. I've made a few things from scratch in my time, including the foot retention system I am currently using on my fixed gear bike.

Could you put up some more info? Pics, design blueprint, dimensions or anything?

I'm not afraid of spending some time making something as long as it is going to be good quality and value. My GF has a sewing machine that is fairly good too.

il padrone wrote:Tubus Cargo is not overkill. They are the current de facto standard for loaded touring, like Blackburn was in the 80s. The Tubus racks are lighter than the comparable alloy racks, far far stronger and also much more rigid on the bike. They just work and have few disadvantages. The cost penalty is minor in their much longer life span.

I'm expecting mine to be still holding my bags in 20 years of rough rutted roads and heavy loads.

If you're just carrying a couple of light bags to work or the shops then a Topeak or Tioga will probably do you. But I'm looking at your thread title - "Best...."

As far as bags are concerned it's got to be either the Ortliebs, with some of their removable pockets as well; or a pair of the excellent Carradice Super C rear panniers. Fully waterproof and durable proofed cotton duck with plenty of capacity (something a fair few cheaper rear panniers seem to lack).


Yeah well I guess "Best" was a bit confusing. I meant best option for my situation.My only thought is that I want to tour overseas, so not sure if it is better to buy something basic for commuting here in Perth, and then buy another rack when I go over? Given the size and weight it might have to work out like that. I just hate buying something "cheap" and then having to replace it in a short period as it wasn't up to the job. ~$90-100 IS quite a lot for a rack though.

I'll have a look at the Carradice Super C bags.

Any thoughts on the rear saddle bags? I was thinking about it today and is there a potential issue with having a large rear saddle bag in regards to space if I want to have a day bag attached to the pannier rack as well? I have slightly shorter legs for my height, so my seat post doesn't get put up too high. I already have issues fitting more than two items on my seat post as it is.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby il padrone » Wed May 04, 2011 10:53 pm

elStado wrote:Yeah well I guess "Best" was a bit confusing. I meant best option for my situation.


Well, yeah, a bit hard for anybody to judge what is "best" for your situation. We can't presuppose to judge your $$$ limit, specific needs/uses for the gear, nor your attitude to cheap vs. quality gear.

elStado wrote:Any thoughts on the rear saddle bags? I was thinking about it today and is there a potential issue with having a large rear saddle bag in regards to space if I want to have a day bag attached to the pannier rack as well? I have slightly shorter legs for my height, so my seat post doesn't get put up too high. I already have issues fitting more than two items on my seat post as it is.

Yes, they may cause a problem, particularly with a short seat height.

I use a large Cannondale seat pack (half the length of the Ortlieb seat pack) to just hold a few tools, puncture kit and spare tube. This is close up to my rack bag (Ortlieb roll-top bag), that holds my tent and thermarest. Day items go in my handlebar bag. With a bigger seat bag you won't be able to securely fit a rack duffle bag. Some cyclists use a large Carradice saddlebag that fits crosswise, instead of a rack duffle bag (not any in my club though).
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby eeksll » Wed May 04, 2011 11:18 pm

I have a topeak super tourist rack. I use ortlieb panniers. Only been commuting for 18 months ish. Use the panniers daily (work week) for first 6 months and then gradually used it less and rode the roadie more now probably only use it 2 days a week.

Initially the paint started coming off the rack where the pannier hooks onto the rack. But closer inspection a while ago showed that it seemed to be eating into the metal as well. Same thing is happening on a work mates super tourist rack. I dont know if its wear or just compression of the metal. Ill take a pic sometime and post it here.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby il padrone » Wed May 04, 2011 11:26 pm

Yes, that happens if you ride lots of rougher roads. Plastic mounts can wear into alluminium alloy. Even steel racks will wear a bit, but with the Tubus, after 7-8 years it is just the powder-coat that has worn off a bit.

But it is things like this that will really convince you that Tubus cro-moly is better

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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby baabaa » Thu May 05, 2011 12:34 pm

Can you post a photo of this? Sounds very durable. And you don't have the sewing design by any chance?


If you are keen on DIY give wilderness equipment a call.
They are in WA and may be able to help with photos, old plans and materials used.
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If you don’t get far I can do some measuring up of my WE front and rear panniers. I would post some photos if I knew how...
The next best thing would be Summit Gear who still make old school natural fibre panniers.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby lethoso » Thu May 05, 2011 10:50 pm

+1 for the ortlieb backrollers, mine haven't skipped a beat. I found them cheapest on PBK when I was looking (about $110 for the classics).

As for a rack, I bought the cheapest alloy one wiggle have. It's already got some reasonably deep wear marks from the panniers sliding around a little (after maybe 2500km use?). I suspect it'll conk out eventually, but it should be good for a while yet. They were also a bit of a PITA to mount - slightly too narrow to fit on my surly easily, and alloy doesn't spread very well :|
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby brokenbus » Sat May 07, 2011 6:20 pm

I have been using Topeak Drybags on a topeak super tourist diskbrake rack.The have been waterproof but I have only had them for 6months. They get a fair workout over dirt roads as I do at least 40km a week on dirt and they seem to stand up to it pretty well.
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/topeak-drybag-panniers/#more
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby LHT » Sat May 07, 2011 6:31 pm

I can't speak for the Carridice Super-C rear pannier bags, but I have been living with the Super-C front panniers for over 9 months and 10,350Km now, and they are simply a brilliant bit of gear; no problems with water getting inside, and they have weathered some truly amazing downpours.

Ortlieb and rollers; say no more, they are the business.

Tubus racks; absolutely, but my current front alloy rack setup is more rigid and has more fix points than the Tubus front unit, and it's a whole lot less expensive, BUT; I have front suspension.... so.. it is hardly relevant to your needs => Is tubus; is good.

If you decide to go Ortlieb you will be very happy, and I suspect the Carradice rear units might be as good as their front units?

Have fun spending, and touring after all! 8) :D
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby il padrone » Sat May 07, 2011 6:36 pm

There are also the new Carradice Carradry panners - look almost identical to my Ortlieb Bikepackers. 16L bigger and 20 pounds cheaper than those Topeak ones.

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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby LHT » Sat May 07, 2011 6:42 pm

I'm a little suspect on the durability of the Topeak units, after having spoken to tourers living with them. :wink:

Some folks go on about mold and stuff infecting the truly waterproof panniers; I reckon it's a furfie unless you store a loaded pannier away for weeks or something.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby elStado » Tue May 10, 2011 1:08 am

So I am tossing up between the 40l Ortlieb Back Roller Plus Panniers and the 54l Carradice Super C Rear Panniers...

Each has their pros and cons. I wanted to make an order from Wiggle as there's a 20% off voucher that expires tomorrow (of course Wiggle is always having a sale so its not a major drama).

Ortlieb

Pro:
- Durable and long lasting
- Looks (looks schmick and visible on the road)
- Waterproof cordura fabric
- Much lighter than the Super Cs (1.5kg VS 2.3kg)
- Decent capacity
- Good locking system
- Comes with shoulder strap for off-bike use

Con:
- Much more expensive compared to Super C (108 pound VS 82 pound)
- More attractive might = higher risk of theft
- A bit cliché as far as pannier bags go..

Carradice

Pro:
- Very durable, easy to repair and long lasting
- Good value (~25 pounds cheaper) compared to Ortlieb equivalent
- Can be water proofed with wax (or use liners)
- Breathable material
- UK made and good rep for customer support
- Bland looks (also somewhat a con) not as attractive to thieves
- Good capacity

Con:
- Bland looks, not as visible and reflective as Ortlieb
- Heavier than Ortlieb
- No shoulder straps
- Rack attachment maybe not as good as Ortlieb
- To be waterproofed manually + extra cost/time to do this


Cant decide. I wish I knew someone who had both of these bags so I could have a hand on look and hear feedback for them both and decide. One of the major pitfalls of online shopping unfortunately. :roll:
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby eeksll » Tue May 10, 2011 9:45 am

You could also consider these
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/carradice-carra ... 5360050260

I am kinda considering these, I want bigger panniers and I understand these are waterproof so no need to waterproof them yourself. But I think I want a shoulder strap, I use my front roller ortlieb shoulder straps all the time, I wish they where a bit longer though.

personally i would not consider non-waterproof panniers, just does not seem to be worth the effort.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby HappyHumber » Tue May 10, 2011 12:43 pm

elStado wrote:Con:
- A bit cliché as far as pannier bags go..


WTeFF!? God dammit man.... slap yourself.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby elStado » Tue May 10, 2011 2:30 pm

eeksll wrote:You could also consider these
http://www.wiggle.co.uk/carradice-carra ... 5360050260

I am kinda considering these, I want bigger panniers and I understand these are waterproof so no need to waterproof them yourself. But I think I want a shoulder strap, I use my front roller ortlieb shoulder straps all the time, I wish they where a bit longer though.

personally i would not consider non-waterproof panniers, just does not seem to be worth the effort.


Yeah I have been looking at those too. However they are short on stock (eta June I think) and also I read in the reviews that there are some people who have issues with it getting in the way of your feet while pedalling. The "v" shape of the Ortliebs are known to avoid this issue. I am also thinking that maybe they are too big.. you know how it is, the more luggage space you have the easier it is too fill it up.. which results in more gear and more weight slowing you down.

Sometimes, as with rucksacks, it is better to get a smaller bag and then just limit yourself to what you can fit in that bag. That's why I got a Osprey Waypoint 65L rucksack for backpacking (which is probably too big anyway) instead of a 85+ bag I see some people using which would be horrible.

HappyHumber wrote:
elStado wrote:Con:
- A bit cliché as far as pannier bags go..


WTeFF!? God dammit man.... slap yourself.


Come on. You know I am right. They have become the iconic "deluxe" pannier bags. Of course Ortlieb have earned this for a reason, but it still, IMO, screams out "rob me! I like to spend $$$ on a pair of pannier bags".. ya dig?

ED: Maybe I am over thinking this. But the thing is I hope to get 15+ years of use from my pannier bags, which is why I want to make the right choice from the start and not regret anything. I guess worst case scenario is I could sell them and buy something else, but I would prefer to get it right from the start.

ED2: Any further thoughts on rear saddle bags? I am thinking that I may not even use them while touring if I have large panniers, but a saddle bag would still be handy to have on longer local runs where I want to carry a spare tube, mini-tool, cash and phone without needing to have in my pockets.
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Re: Best pannier bags and racks for touring and commuting?

Postby HappyHumber » Tue May 10, 2011 2:59 pm

elStado wrote:ED: Maybe I am over thinking this. But the thing is I hope to get 15+ years of use from my pannier bags, which is why I want to make the right choice from the start and not regret anything. I guess worst case scenario is I could sell them and buy something else, but I would prefer to get it right from the start.


Yes, you're over thinking it. I think you're projecting your own perceptions of a product onto other people. If you get too obsessed with what you think other people are thinking about you that's not very positive personal quality. Most people, bar a few other bike nerds, won't even notice a brand of a bag. Focus on the practicality of the product - not some watery perception of your own image.

Just buy a set of bags and ride, goddammit.
Do you enjoy talking in circles? Love arguing over silly semantics with like minded people?
Try an online forum today!
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