Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the best accessorizer. I don’t own many shoes, and I only own one handbag. Yet, in the space of a year, I obsessively tried out several bags for the bike. It was a process of trial and error, sometimes pretty frustrating. Here are some of the bags I’ve looked at, with commentary.
The Timbuk2 Bullitt Pannier. I wanted a bag that I could use as a pannier, but was convenient to carry off the bike.
What I like: it had the style of Timbuk2 messenger bags, and their durable material.
What I don’t like: The hooks had to be placed in a such a way so that the bag stayed on the rack if I hit a bump. Although there was a Velcro strap to hide the hooks when carrying it as a messenger bag, I still managed to get the hooks caught on my clothes. One side is stiff, which is great for a pannier, but not comfortable when carrying for me. I also tended to overstuff the bag, which made me lopsided.
Status: given away.
I should note that R has an updated version of this bag, and loves it– it’s his commuter bag.
Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers. I got this to counteract the lopsidedness I was experiencing with having only one pannier. I got these to use as rear panniers, because the smaller size suits my small bike better.
What I like: Having two panniers distributes the weight more evenly, and makes me feel more stable on the bike. The hooks allow the bags to stay very securely on the rack.
What I don’t like: Even though they have shoulder straps, they’re not comfortable to carry over longer distances because of those hooks. They also look dorky off the bike.
Status: Still have them for when I commute to work. Maybe someday I’ll tour with them.
Basil Mirte Shopper bag. I wanted a bag for groceries that I could carry in my backpack and take out when needed.
What I like: It fits a lot of groceries, and it’s cute– almost too cute for my road bike. I like that the hooks can be hidden.
What I don’t like: I can’t quite carry the bag on my shoulder– the straps are part of the bag and are unyielding.
Status: Still use this when I do a quick grocery run.
Axiom Atlas handlebar bag. I wanted a small bag to hold sundries when I went on group rides.
What I like: I liked the slim design of the bag.
What I don’t like: I hated the attachment system, which involved bungee cords that are supposed to attach to the front fork. The cords became unattached during a ride and got caught in my wheel, which resulted in a fall.
Status: given to a thrift store.
Avenir Excursion handlebar bag. Take 2.
What I like: The attachment system is stable. The bag holds all the things I want for a ride, and the outer pockets are roomy as well.
What I don’t like: the map case at the top is too small to see half of a cue sheet– I have to fold it in some weird way to make it fit, and then I can’t read all of it without taking it out.
Status: I’m keeping it. I did a semi-DIY fix by clipping a Bar Map holder to the top.
Ortlieb Ultimate Plus handlebar bag. I got this specifically for the separate map case accessory that I could attach to the bag.
What I like: the map case is exactly the size I wanted.
What I don’t like: The side pockets are too small. The bottom isn’t stiff enough for me, and I worried about it sagging. And the attachment system is horrible– it uses a wire to thread through the bracket and the handlebar. I realize that there is an alternative Klick Fix bracket that can be used instead, but I was annoyed that I had to buy that separately when it really should be included instead of the system they have.
Status: given away.
I’m sure I’ll be trying out more bags in the future, but for now, I’ll use what I have.