Commuting: Backpack or panier bags- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Commuting: Backpack or panier bags

    I've always used a back pack for commuting, but recently bought some pannier bags. Also bought one of those bags that sits on top of the rear rack and have been using it this week. The jury is out as to whether or not I'll like this system.

    One reason I bought these bags is because alot of times I can't stuff everything I need into a back pack. Food, work and workout clothes, towel, misc stuff, etc. Sometimes it's a bit much to get into a pack. Another reason is in the summer time when I cycle to my other job in the hot afternoon sun, it would be nice NOT to have a pack on my back.

    Now that I've used these bags a few times, here's my impression. I've noticed that just having the bags and rack on my bike makes it seem that my bike (Trek 1000 road bike) is "heavier" to pedal down the road. I know I've added some weight, but it seems alot heavier for some reason. My avg. speed has drop a little since Iíve put them on. Now, the temps in the morning here are around the mid 30's and I know that the cold does affect performance. So Iím hoping that what I perceive as extra weight is just the natural cold doing what it does. My second impression is that the bags do affect the handling of the bike. But I can chalk that up to just not being used to having them on there. Third, I do have alot more room and all three bags now which is what I wanted to begin w/.

    So I guess what I'm asking is what do you other commuters prefer?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    a backpack is often too hot for me to go very far with, a messenger type of bag is better in this regard. But for shorter distances, I prefer the 'totability' of a messenger bag.
    For longer rides/commutes panniers are good to keep stuff off the body & center of gravity low, though they DO change handling and make the bike seem heavier. Since it's on the bike, not on you. Also, the more space you have to fill, it's more likely you'll fill it

    check the commuting, touring forum over at rbr, the sister site, if you haven't.


  3. #3
    nnn
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    I have two commuting bikes - mtb and road with paniers. I find using the backpack on the mtb helps me to control everything much better and I feel safer, on the eoad bike it's more difficult and the bike can feel very sluggish to twist and turn, but an added bonus is I feel much fresher from not having a bag over my back.

    If I had to chose just one I would probably chose using a backpack.

  4. #4
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    Try a Chrome Bag

    Not to promote one type of brand over another or spout off about how it's the only thing out there but it seems to work great.
    My daily commute is 14 total miles and I do it everyday. It keeps me healthy and refreshed as I arrive to work. I use a Yeti ARC X Cyclocross bike because I live in Colorado. By Commuting with a Cyclocross bike I can switch the tires based on time of year and condition. It has been snowing regularly in the denver area leaving an inch or so on the side roads almost all the time.
    I use the Large Chrome Messenger Bag. I carry my laptop, attire (shirt, pants, tie), and a small hand towel, and a lunch. It has a tarp like linear to keep out the elements and protect my computer. I attach two blinking lights to each of the straps for a protection from motorists. It also has reflective tape on the straps. The one thing I try to leave at work are shoes (one brown,one black) because they seem to take up space in the bag. It is still roomy enough to put the extra clothes necessary for the morning but not the afternoon. You might want to check it out mine is like new and I have used it for three years
    l i v i n'

  5. #5

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    I've commuted with backpacks, messenger bags, and panniers. My least favorite method is the backpack. My back just gets too sweaty, and I don't have a shower at work. I currently ride with panniers, and it leaves me feeling freshest when I get to work. I don't find the change in handling to be a problem, but I don't carry much back and forth. When I occasionally ride my road bike (no racks) I'll switch to the messenger bag.

  6. #6
    Tree Hugger
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    Quote Originally Posted by COburns
    The one thing I try to leave at work are shoes (one brown,one black)
    It might be a good idea to have 2 shoes that are the same color. People must laugh at you alot, when they see you wearing one black shoe and one brown one.
    I love mankind - it's people I can't stand. ~Charles M. Schulz

  7. #7
    out of shape
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    i just bought an osprey stratos 24 pack, i bougt it for the trails and it was too big and uncomfortable for me, for you it might just work. 1500 cubic inches of space, it has a fiberglass frame to keep it stiff, and it has netting on the back with hollow space to keep airflow on your back, or you can put a hydration pack on it. it says its good for commuting, it got a good rating but it was too big and heavy for trail riding. it kind of curved in the back and made my spine in a messed up shape, but no one mentioned it in the review so it just might be me.

    http://www.rei.com/product/733143?vcat=REI_SEARCH
    click on more views to see the vent system on the other side
    doylestown pa
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  8. #8
    is buachail foighneach me
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    i would definitely take a bike mounted carying system over a back mounted one any day of the week. if you aren't carrying a laptop or clothes that need to be really presentable, i find that just wrapping them in one or two plastic shopping bags and bungeeing them to the rack and/or tieing them to the handlebars is best use of space. think of it as training though, and let those panniers fill up. when you get on your lighter, more flickable mtb at the weekend you'll be flying after riding a bike with panniers all week.

  9. #9
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    Not sure of the physics behind it but weight on the bike i.e. panniers etc. always is more noticable than the same weight on you. I assume it has to do with a bike that is 20 lbs with 10 lbs of stuff has a 50% weight increase. The same 10 lbs on a 150 lbs person is less than 10% weight increase. Anyway I've commuted with both a backpack and panniers and prefer the backpack. Seems to have a less noticable weight issue, lower effect with stopping distance, and less handeling impact then panniers do.
    Blogging about nothing since 2005
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  10. #10
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    Tried both extensively this past spring/summer/fall. I arrived to work a lot less sweaty with panniers, but I had more fun on the ride with a backpack.

    Towards the end I only used a backpack. Had to set my priorities straight.

    Oh, and I also decided to take it easy on the ride to work, and rip it on the way home. Not a bad compromise.

    Ant

  11. #11
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    Crome bag... It will carry everything

    Even a Man Purse
    Bikeless Rider

  12. #12
    i also unicycle
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    i run just one pannier, i get shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, other odds and ends, and sometimes an extra set of after work hanging out clothes in it. sure it makes the bike (a jamis aurora touring bike) handle a little funny, but after a couple weeks i got used to it. i did do a coast to coast(oregon->boston) tour on the thing, so i'm very comfortable with the set up and weight on the bike. for quick errands around town a backpack or messenger bag works great, longer distances and larger loads, panniers are the way to go.
    mtbr says you should know: i work in a bike shop.
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  13. #13
    A Superhero Named Tony
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    I use a backpack and it works fine, but will hopefully be switching to an extracycle (in the form of a Surly Big Dummy) soon. Then I can haul groceries and such.

  14. #14
    Five is right out
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    I used a single pannier. It changed the bike handling a little, but commuting is hardly taxing on the balance front. The pannier was an Ortlieb, so completely waterproof. I never had to worry about rain, and the boxy shape made packing easy.


    If I had shopping, I'd just throw the other pannier on.

  15. #15

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    I use a trunk bag. For anything longer than a mile or so, I prefer to put the weight on the bike.

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