Ortlieb Bike Tourer Panniers – Product Review
In spring a young man’s thoughts turn to love; a not-so-young man’s thoughts turn to touring.
One of the challenges of touring on a tandem is luggage capacity. Mary’s philosophy is to take absolutley everything she might possibly need. Before we got Lady CoMo this approach worked reasonably well, but the tandem forced us to rethink our approach.
The Ortlieb panniers that we settled on have been excellent. After completing two tours with them we fully expect they will be with us for the rest of our touring days. Here is what we like about them.
First and foremost, they stand upright. This may not seem important, but you really appreciate it when packing and unpacking day after day, or transfering your bags from bike to room to luggage closet, etc. Our old panniers always toppled. When packing one had to hold the pannier with one hand while stuffing with the other, and whenenver they were laid down they toppled in an unruly pile.
Second, they are simple to mount and dismount. An adjustable brace on the bottom of the pannier slips into the frame of the rear rack. Pulling up on the handle opens the spring loaded top clips, allowing you to place them on the top rails of the rack. Let go the handle and the clips close on the rails. Voila, the pannier is mounted.
Mounting: Insert bottom brace ...
... Place clips on top rail. Ignore dirt.
Dismounting is similarly simple. Pull up on the handle and lift off the pannier. That’s it.
The panniers open and close very simply. Our old ones had roll-and-velcro, and roll-fold-and-clip, and clip-only mechanisms. The Ortliebs simply fold over and click to secure the main luggage compartment, and a simple slide mechanism to close the front pocket.
We decided to also get the top-mounting suitcase, which gives us a total capacity equivalent to approximately three panniers. (I should note that the capacity of each pannier is identical to our old Axioms.) The suitcase mounts and dismounts with a simple click mechanism and can be opened when mounted on the bike. This where we keep our rainwear.
Mounting bracket for suitcase
The suitcase comes with a mounting bracket which clamps on to the rear rack with four bolts. Once the bracket was installed, we discovered that we needed a new rear rack because the top clicks of the panniers were blocked by the suitcase bracket. Ortlieb provides an adjusting component to accommodate this, but it would not work with our rack.
The zipper of the suitcase is noteworthy. It is quite stiff, and Ortlieb provide a small tube of silicone for lubrication. I was surprised at this – I would have expected silicone to increase resistance rather than lessen it. The zipper is well protected with an overhanging flap, keeping it totally waterproof. We have ridden through quite a bit of miserable weather and have never had a hint of leakage.
All in all we are more than pleased with them. They are expensive, but amortized on a cost-per-ride basis we consider them a good investment.
Ready to roll!
P.S. Based on the photos in this blog I would say we do not keep our bikes as clean as others who will go unnamed. The flash has done us no favours. The bikes really aren’t that bad – honestly!