Main, and only, storage compartment is ideal for long rides. Stays close while riding and doesn't slide easily. Tight and secure seal is great for security.
No outer pockets.
Like a bike basket but can haul nearly double the weight. Two metal hooks and elastic strap constitute a sturdy mounting system. Can double as grocery carrier. Buttons up to fold flat when not in use.
Open at the top and isn't ideal in rainy conditions.
Commuters can easily carry anything from their laptop to miscellaneous small items. Durable and lightweight. Slick design that fits tightly over rear wheel.
Is difficult to mount for some and not terribly resistant to tough weather.
Comes with rain cover. Fastens snugly to back of the bike. Comes with a laptop sleeve, mesh pockets, pen holders, and more. Easy to lock.
Mounting these can be arduous
Perfect for those seeking a pannier but also need a backpack for everyday use. Plastic clips secure bag to bike. Comes with laptop compartment and water-bottle holders.
Some expressed dissatisfaction with loose fit on bike. Doesn't hold a lot of volume.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
A bike pannier is a pair of bags that can be affixed to a cargo rack mounted on the front or rear of your bike, offering a convenient way to carry extra gear with you as you ride. Panniers are generally designed for long tours or short commutes, so they allow you to balance easily without having to carry anything on your back, no matter where you’re going.
Touring panniers are designed to be fully weatherproof and have plenty of space for long hauls. Commuting panniers vary in size and may be designed to bring your gear to and from work or tote your groceries. Many models are designed to be carried on your person after you’ve removed them from your bike. Choosing the right pannier for you means considering your needs, where you will bike, and what you need to carry on your bike.
Though the goal of most panniers is the same—to comfortably carry as much as possible on your bike—they vary in their design and features.
Before you make a purchase, it’s important to decide what type of cycling you will do most and how long you plan to ride with your pannier. The two primary types of panniers are touring and commuting panniers. Any pannier must be attached to a cargo rack, which may be installed on either the front or rear of your bike. While some panniers are sold with a rack, most are not, so you will need to purchase them separately.
A touring pannier is the original pannier design and the most common option. These bags are designed to be weatherproof and spacious for long bike tours in any conditions.
Touring panniers use lightweight materials to allow you to easily carry your gear. Many touring models have roll-top designs to prevent rain and moisture from entering the bag. Touring panniers are attached to cargo racks that are usually mounted on the rear chain stays.
Size may be less of a concern with commuting panniers since you don’t need to carry lots of essentials such as food and clothing.
Commuting panniers may be attached to bike cargo racks that are installed on the front fork eyelets, the handlebars or the rear chain stays and are often designed with several compartments for securing items such as laptops, notepads, and writing utensils. While some models are waterproof, commuting panniers are not always designed to withstand the elements, since they are not traditionally used for longer distances. If you plan to use your panniers for both commuting and weekend activities, like visiting the beach, you may want to choose a waterproof model.
The size and design of commuter panniers can vary, but most are made to be easily carried off of the bike, either by hand or as a backpack. Unless you plan to ride your bike right into the office or grocery store, this is a crucial feature. Also, consider how easily you can remove and reattach the bags.
The storage capacity of bike panniers varies greatly, and while more is generally better, it may be more space than you need. The volume of bike panniers is measured in liters, with the volume typically ranging from 15 to 35 liters. To find out how much space you will need, gather all of the gear you plan to bring along and stack it in a rough cube shape. Then, measure the approximate volume.
Beyond their overall design, bike panniers vary in their materials, placement, and included accessories.
Bike panniers are made from a variety of natural and synthetic materials that are designed to be lightweight, water-resistant (or waterproof), and durable.
Polyester is a water-resistant material that works well for commuter panniers. Similarly, cotton and nylon may be treated with waterproof coatings for bags that can hold up under a little rain.
For fully waterproof panniers, consider models that use tarpaulin, Cordura, or vinyl. These materials are often more expensive and are commonly found on touring panniers. Many waterproof designs have welded seams to eliminate points of entry for moisture. Rain covers may be included with touring panniers for extra security.
While the overall weight of your panniers is important to consider, the contents of your pannier will have a much bigger impact on the handling of your bike.
Panniers may be placed on the front or the rear of the bike. In either case, they attach to racks made specifically for the job.
Rear panniers are the most common and are often larger in size. They rest level with the rear wheel hub. Some people prefer the weight of their gear to rest over the back tire to aid with balance and handling.
Front panniers may rest on a cargo rack near the top of the tire or level with the front wheel hub. These are often smaller in size and allow the rider to easily access their gear while stopped without having to get off of the bike.
Panniers may close with zippers or roll-top designs. Zippers are usually found in less expensive models as they can become clogged with dust and dirt and become difficult to use over time. Roll-top designs close with straps and buckles and do a superior job of keeping dust and moisture out. In addition, they are more durable in the long term.
A bike pannier must be affixed to your bike with a cargo rack, usually made of steel or aluminum. In some instances, the rack may be included with the pannier, which alleviates hunting for a compatible rack. However, most panniers are sold without racks, so you’ll need to purchase one separately. Many panniers are compatible with any rack, but some require custom designs.
Bike panniers for $12 to $25 are basic in design and are typically intended for commuter use. They are rarely waterproof, but they may be easy to carry by hand.
Bike panniers for $25 to $75 come in a variety of styles and may be suited to commuting or touring. Commuter panniers in this range often have handles or straps for easy use off the bike, and touring models are often waterproof.
For $75 to $150, high-quality touring panniers are designed to withstand heavy rain and other inclement conditions, and the price can be well worth it for durable touring panniers that will last for years.
Packing panniers properly is essential to protecting your gear and keeping your bike balanced while you ride.
A. Typically, yes. Even when a manufacturer calls their product a singular “pannier,” they are usually referring to two bags joined as one unit.
A. This depends on what rack you plan to affix to your bike. Not all bikes can accommodate racks, and not all racks work with all panniers. Ideally, you should purchase your rack and panniers at the same time to avoid any issues.
A. Yes, though it may not always be listed. The straps between the bags can only withstand so much weight, and heavy panniers can make your bike unstable. However, most panniers should have no issues with carrying heavy laptops or books.
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