July 3, 2006

    I am finally making the switch from my beloved backpack to panniers (my back has been begging for a while). I have been hesitant to switch, mostly because I love using my backpack to carry to the gym, Pilates classes, the grocery store, and basically all over the place, and panniers don't seem as "carry-all" friendly due to their lack of shoulder straps.
    However, I found "The Bug" backpack by Arkel that is a one-sided pannier that easily converts to a backpack . . . seemingly the wonder bag I have been looking for.
    I have heard mixed reviews on a one-sided pannier. What do you think? Does it throw off balance and make the bike pull to one side, etc.?
    Also, just wondering if you know of other brands that offer a pannier that converts easily to a carry-all bag or perhaps you may have a suggestion for a double-sided pannier that would be easily toted about? Thanks for any advice!

Charlotte J.

    You can eliminate the problem of a pannier not having a shoulder strap by—ready for this?—putting on a shoulder strap.
    Get a strap made for this purpose at any luggage or travel store, many department stores, and (of course) on-line. Most panniers have two hooks that let ‘em hook onto a bike’s carrying rack, and you can simply tie the strap to the hooks. I welcome you to try more elegant attachments involving grommets or bolts, but the tie-on method has served me reliably (using only one, often heavily-loaded pannier) for many years.
    I wonder from whom you’ve heard the “mixed reviews” about using only one pannier. Ever walk thru an airport carrying a heavy suitcase in one hand? If so, did it make you “pull to one side?” Of course not; you compensate naturally. Same with a pannier on one side of your bike. A pannier filled with gravel, however, might challenge even those with the most developed inner ear . . . but we can always think of exceptions, eh?
    Given the ease of installing a shoulder strap, I don’t think you need bother with backpack panniers. But in addition to the fine products from Arkel (the brand I use) and the products on the right, check out the backpack panniers from Serratus.

Mr Bike

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