Your Guide to Racks and Panniers

Here’s our complete list of the top 12 best bicycle panniers. These bike panniers are the best bike pannier brands in the world – best bicycle panniers.

1) Banjo Brothers 01130R Waterproof Pannier Backpack | 2) Roswheel 14892 Bicycle Expedition Touring Cam Pannier | 3) RockBros Bike Pannier Waterproof Large | 4) FJQXZ Extra Large Bike Pannier Bag 70L | 5) ArcEnCiel Bicycle Carrier Rack Pannier Bag | 6) Ibera PakRak Bicycle Commuter Trunk Bag | 7) Bike Panniers,Mikphone Pannier Bags 3 in 1 | 8) Bushwhacker Moab Red – Bicycle Pannier | 9) Tourbon Canvas Cycling Bicycle Bike Pannier | 10) Blackburn Local Grocery Pannier Bag | 11) M-Wave Amsterdam Topcase Box | 12) BlueTop Bicycle Rear Seat Trunk Bag |

Are panniers the best way to carry stuff on your bike? We take a not-at-all-biased look at your options in bags that hook on your bike.

Folks who choose to carry stuff in panniers tend to be a bit fanatical about it. They point to the advantages of panniers over shoulder bags and backpacks: no sweaty back, larger capacity, far more comfortable, easier to waterproof and did we mention you don’t get a sweaty back?

I’ve got to admit to a strong preference for panniers. Sure, I’ll grab a backpack or courier bag if I’m just nipping into town for the evening as an easy way of carrying the stuff I don’t want to leave on the bike, but to carry more than a couple of light items, it’s panniers every time.

Another big advantage of panniers is that they can only be used on the bike, which means a) I know where they are (on my bike) and b) neither of the teenagers is going to go to the hassle of borrowing them so they’ll stay there.

But I’ll try not to be too evangelical here.

Pannier Placement

Panniers hang at the side of your bike, on purpose made racks. They can fit in three main locations: next to the rear wheel; by the top of the front wheel; and next to the front wheel hub.

The rear location is the traditional place for large panniers, though there’s no obvious reason why – perhaps early cyclists were just aping the way horses are loaded behind the rider.

For this position to work well, your bike needs fairly long chainstays so that the panniers can be over the rear wheel contact point and still leave heel clearance. That means carrying rear panniers on a typical road racing bike isn’t ideal.

Not only will a light frame be flexible with a load at the back, but assuming you can bodge a rack on in the first place (see ‘What if my bike doesn’t have eyelets’, below), the bags will be so far back they’ll tend to sway and wobble.

However, touring bikes have longer chainstays and are usually stiffer so this is a good place for panniers on a touring bike; many such bikes come with a rear rack as part of the package.

If you need even more capacity, for a long tour or camping trip, then you’ll want to put panniers on the fork as well. You can get racks that put them up high, at the same level as rear racks, or down low by the wheel hub.

A high front rack is good if you want to carry light items on top of the rack as well. It’s a good place for a sleeping mat, for example. Typically, front panniers for high-position racks are smaller than rear panniers.

Back in the 1970s Jim Blackburn (founder of Blackburn Design) and Jim Gentes (who later founded helmet-maker Giro) did some experiments with luggage placement on bikes. They found that the best handling was achieved with a load spread between a low front rack and a conventional rear rack.

Handlebar bags were very popular among cycle tourists at the time, but Blackburn and Gentes found they should only be very lightly loaded; too much weight in a bar bag adversely affects the handling.

It turns out Blackburn and Gentes could have gone further. In 1984 adventurer Nick Sanders set a the first Guinness-ratified round the world cycling record, carrying his gear in just a pair of 45-litre panniers on a low-rider rack. I ran a similar set up for a while and they coped fine with a few days’ shopping as well as touring.

Photo Gallery of the Your Guide to Racks and Panniers

Sport Reviewer