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.

Day 16 (6)

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.


Self standing

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.


Interior view

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.

Day 1 (4)

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!

5 comments on “Ortlieb Bike Tourer Panniers – Product Review”

  1. Hilary wrote:

    I can't imagine who you mean by that last remark Kern!
    Good review. I have the more basic back and front roller classics but they are pretty much bombproof and very easy to take on and off. All Ortlieb stuff seems to be made to last a lifetime.

  2. Chris wrote:

    Back in 2012 during our summer holiday in Germany almost every cycletourist seemed to have Ortlieb panniers on their bikes. They clearly enjoy a good reputation all over the world.

    I had a similar problem to yours, Kern. My rackbag has a 'landing strip' with clips and Velcro that fastens on to the top of the rack before the bag can be put in place. This makes it very difficult – although not quite impossible – to shoehorn in the top clips of the panniers. I love that suitcase 🙂

    When I picked up my (our?) latest bike – the Barron tandem – it came with a pair of panniers thrown in. They are barely used (but impregnated with cement dust) Carradice Super C – they retail at around the £100 mark when new, I subsequently discovered. I must remember to ring the manufacturer and ask how best to remove this film without spoiling the panniers.

    PS – I have been auditioning for a stoker. Looks promising... 🙂

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Yes, for proper cycle tourists Ortlieb is the thing to have, like a Brooks saddle. Ours are not Ortlieb and they do fall over, plus they have a front pocket full of little slots for bits and pieces which are mostly a nuisance because we have only one set of bits and pieces but four panniers each. They are ok, that's all (one good thing about them falling over is when you want to store eight panniers in the awning of a small tent without touching the flysheet).

    Chris wrote: I have been auditioning for a stoker.

    Has Mrs B resigned Chris?

  4. Chris wrote:

    Patrick wrote: Has Mrs B resigned Chris?

    She is on the reserve list.

  5. jim wrote:

    All that luggage. makes me break out in a sweat just looking at it.
    Patrick. I agree I must not be a proper touring cyclist. I'm probably more of a lazy tightwad as my panniers are from SJS costing ten pounds in total for the pair and if I am B&Bing, it is just a 300gram, 30litre Carradice Rackbag.
    I do a lot of laundry though.
    I must admit they look very nice, but ohh.. That weight!

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