Looking to step up my fast commuting game; panniers, basket, what?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Looking to step up my fast commuting game; panniers, basket, what?

    Just picked up a leftover 2014 Raleigh Roper as my one bike commuter, gravel grinder, speed demon grocery getter. It's a heavy bike, built tough that can still be ridden fast. I've now decided to forgo driving to school anymore, so two days a week I will be doing a 26 mile roundtrip ride carrying textbooks, folders, laptop and iPad. I'll probably also bring a different pair of shoes and shirt. This is on top of my usual riding throughout the week, trips to the store, etc.

    Basically I'm trying to decide how to carry all my stuff. In the past all my commuting has been done with my large Chrome Ivan backpack. While its served its purpose, I'm tired of sore shoulders and sweaty back. The two main options I've narrowed it down to is to get a rear rack like the Topeak Explorer, and pair it with one of two things.

    -Inexpensive panniers, perhaps spending as much as $100+ for the Ortlieb City pair. I'd have the room to toss my shoulder bag in so I wouldn't have to carry them around the campus all day. I'm a little concerned about leaving them on the bike all day, obviously someone could just grab them. Price would also be higher this option.

    -Use a rear basket, something like the Wald Folding ones. Again I could just toss my bag and books in it, not worrying about it all day. The security wouldn't be an issue, and it'd definitely be the cheaper option. However I've heard the Wald is pretty heavy, and anytime they are folded they clank and rattle, making riding less enjoyable.

    Thoughts? I basically need a functional carry system that doesn't turn the bike into a dog on the off days and still lets me cruise around with the quickness.

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I had folding baskets on an old Raleigh Technium road bike. I liked the convenience, but they made the bike handle like ass.

    The bike had relatively short chainstays - it was more of a sport touring bike than a true touring or utility bike - and I could swear I could feel the rear triangle twisting. I got much better results with a pannier. I just carried my pannier around instead of using a backpack.

    Some other changes I made were to limit the amount of crap I carried to and from school and not to use clipless pedals. I left a lot of my books in my locker or, later, at my desk at school, bought an Android tablet and keyboard, leaving the keyboard at school, and used the computer lab when I needed more computing power or a bigger screen than my tablet has.

    You might also try a traditional messenger bag. On road bikes, I've found them more comfortable than a backpack. But thirteen miles would take me longer than I'd want to wear either.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    I don't think you are gonna be able to abandon a car doing a 26 mile round trip commute. During a downpour, you will get totally soaked even with the best rain gear possible.

  4. #4
    I need skills
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    panniers

  5. #5
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    I have had great luck with a cheap Bell saddle bag style pannier set, zip tied to my rack. With a bungee cord run through the rack, I can cinch them up and keep my textbooks from shifting. They are cheap and look it, so zip ties have been adequate insurance. Several companies make similar bags for about $40 on Amazon, they are all about as waterproof as a coffee filter at this price- so plan to pack everything in a trash bag inside them.

    The rack and cheap panniers option lets me cut the zip ties on Friday and put better bags on for a weekend ride.

    Ortleibs don't like to hang out in bike racks all day and tend to wander off, as do the other good ones.

  6. #6
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    Also, check your heel clearance with any rack and bag combo. Shorter chain stays can create a lot of conflict with cheap rear racks.

    I found one rack from Axiom with about two inches of extension behind the lower braze-ons, bags that were impossible with my Raleigh 26er or the cheap rack on my Bosanova are no longer an issue. You might not need the standoffs, but if you get panniers and have heel strike, it is good to know that such things exist.

  7. #7
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    Ortleib makes a backpack converter for their panniers. So if you can get your gear into one pannier then you could easily turn it into a backpack when you get to school. 26 round trip is very doable. I used to do the same 5 days a week, rain or shine. You just have to gear up appropriately which isn't terribly hard to do, just takes forethought.

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