As a young cyclist, I used to go around with a backpack to carry whatever I needed. But now I'm a lot older, I have to carry a lot more as I now do my own shopping, get supplies for pets, DIY goods for the flat, etc, etc, etc... You get the drift, it means having a rucksack to carry this lot in from time to time isn't really advisable with all that weight on the back & so high up it makes you top heavy when cycling.
So the other choices are trailers & panniers, to which I now use both.
So as I have had a few years of using panniers, I have found them not quite adequate to the job. Well, the ones I have bought over the years. The first pannier I got was only a low budget £10 one to see how I go & to be honest wasn't expecting it to last.
It was small, simple to use & affordable for most. But in a matter of weeks I found it wasn't as waterproof as claimed, definitely not robust & after a month I was already sewing back on bits & new Velcro straps to hold it on as the old ones frayed to bits & I have been doing this regularly for a couple years.
In the end it was used as a tool bag for my longer rides than a shopping bag, I started using the trailer more until something else came up. Eventually I decided it was time to get another, this time go for a more expensive brand. When you have a look at what is about, the prices vary a lot. Definitely wasn't prepared to pay around £100 for a pair or even for 1 bag as I didn't know how good they are if at all.
Next one I tried a pair from Aldi, still below £20. They were of a reasonable size, each clipped on individually & for shopping they did ok.
Unfortunately the clips failed & rendered 1 side useless & as Aldi only gets them in from time to time the only option was a refund. So off I go again hunting yet another set & this time I did go for mid range & I bought bigger too at 47L in size that was almost double my last set.
Now when I got these, they looked great. Looked sturdier, thicker material & definitely right size to do the job or so I thought. On 1st load of shopping I found them awkward to strap down to the panniers & when lifting them onto the bike, this happened...
And why, well the next picture clearly shows the strain it takes & getting straps onto the pannier just adds to it as you had to lift them to gain access to straps. Clearly wasn't designed to come off the bike often, more like not at all. I guess as a Dutch brand, they don't worry about leaving them on the bike when shopping. Where as here, not a chance will I leave them on bike.
Warranty was useless too as seller wasn't of any help & passed the buck, so I decided to modify & strengthen the panniers instead as I needed them. But no matter how I set it up, modified the strapping, it just wasn't an easy set to use & would've been better as 2 separate panniers at that size. Also I kept kicking them when pedalling as strapping put them too far forward, they just wasn't working out but all I had.
Well recently an online cycle shop Wiggle did a Twitter competition, just a simple Retweet one (My fav sort of competition). It was for a set of Ortlieb panniers, not a cheap set to get at £100 a pair. But I thought what the Hell, worth a go.
And would you believe it, I won! Woohoo!! Yes, that was my response & as soon as I got them I was like a kid at Christmas. Opening it up & couldn't put it down until it was put together & on the bike. Oh and Tweeted about it to all too as they sure did look good! lol
They were so easy to fit onto the bike, they just slide on & click into place & that is it. No fiddly straps, Velcro, rope etc. To take off is even easier, handle at the top which you lift up & panniers come off with it. Man, they are just so simple to use so why aren't ALL panniers aren't like these??
Size wise they are great too, nice contours so you don't kick them as you pedal & as I have found out I can carry as much as my previous 47L panniers & room for more. They are lighter on the bike when empty, something we all appreciate & also when it rains, they are totally waterproof (something none of my previous has ever been) & in our country is much needed.
They hold a lot of shopping quite well, not straining when it holds the heaviest of my shopping (20+kg so far) & I often have to check they're on the bike as I don't notice them on there when pedalling. It comes with a 5yr warranty, replacement parts & additional extras you can attached for more carrying. You can even turn them into rucksacks. lol
Now I know & if ever I need to get more of them (can fit them on front fork panniers too) or finally replace these tho not in a while. I will most definitely go for these again as so far they haven't come off my bike (except to fill with shopping) & unlikely too for quite some time.
There are a couple things to bear in mind tho when using them, firstly due to the mounting on panniers they do rattle a lil bit. Was disconcerting at first as I kept thinking I hadn't clicked it in place correctly. But when it has shopping, the rattling goes. Its just how they fit & nothing wrong with them.
The other which I say is important is careful how you pack the panniers, it doesn't like sharp corners pressing against the plastic fabric. I can see this could eventually tear it & not sure how easy it is to repair or if is even covered under the long warranty. So if packed sensibly, you won't have any problems & I for one am proud & glad to have these lovely if bright Ortlieb panniers.
Thankyou for taking time to read this & hope this is of use to those who're looking for a good set of panniers.
Since I had posted this a few days back, I have had the misfortune of a slide after coming off on a bend due to leaves. Thus the left hand pannier went scraping along the tarmac. All looked ok when I picked up the bike & pannier was covered in mud.
So after I get indoors with bike I took pannier off & gave it a wipe down & cleaned it up. I let the pictures show how it fared a slide on tarmac...
UPDATE (1yr later)
Well I thought I check to see when I posted this blog & would you believe it, its been a year already since I posted this blog.
So how have they faired over the year? Well for starters, they haven't come off my bike other than when sharing them with the other bike when I go out for rides & they're as much as part of the bike as my bell.
So I can happily say they are worth far more than what they cost to buy, if anything I am looking into buying the smaller version in White for my Roadrunner.
Update 18th June 2016
It's now been over 2yrs (almost 3) since I got my nice big yellow Ortlieb panniers, they've done a lot of rides with me & battled thru all sort of weather & road conditions. So how have they fared so far? Bloody well I say, I have now bought a 2nd smaller white set which gets used as much as the yellow ones & all still look almost as new. There's also been some changes to the bike collection to use them on too.
I have fitted the exact same Axiom rack on all my bikes so I can just clip whatever panniers I want for the ride onto whatever bike I choose to use, even the folding one which if you're asking doesn't effect the handling of the bike but actually improves it as all these racks move the panniers further back & help give clearance to pedalling.
They're so good they're even a feature on my wall with the bikes. :)
And that concludes my blog. The Ortlieb panniers have proved their value in money & in my opinion are worth paying for to get many years & rides out of them. I hope this has helped you in your search for a good quality panniers.