Our Ortlieb Bicycle Panniers:
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a very organised person and an excellent extremely thorough persistent researcher when it comes to planning trips away, buying new investment or expensive items and so on. So, when I began my search for the perfect panniers for our first bike tour, I was no different in my approach!
The good news is I have done all the handwork, all the website trawling, review reading and in-store examining so you don’t have to! All of this research led us to buy Ortlieb Panniers and we have never looked back - they are fantastic!
Tell me more….
Well I quickly realised that Ortlieb have a cult like following in the bike touring world. Review after review I could find very little if any negative feedback from current users. The few semi negative comments were very minor, more like suggestions than complaints such as people suggesting the inner pockets be removable.
I also carefully studied the Ortlieb Website to see the different panniers available and I watched some user reviews on YouTube which were great as I got to see what they actually look like, how big they are, what they hold, how they work etc.
Once on the road, Ortlieb were by far the most popular choice among bike tourers, on both of our cycling tours. One couple had gone all out and were using Ortliebs bright yellow panniers, handlebar bags and had matching yellow jackets, helmets and sun glasses which made us smile :-)
The Ortliebs We Chose & How much we paid…
Ok, so they are not cheap but we viewed them as an investment; something which we hope to use yearly, for months at a time, for a many years to come. We have most definitely tested the Ortliebs now, they have done at least 8000kms over two years. Based on this, we both agree wholeheartedly that they have been well worth the expense.
We both chose the Ortlieb Sport-Packer Plus Bike Panniers from Bike24 in granite black for our rear panniers. A set of two is 145euro.
For the front rack we both purchased the Ortlieb Sport-Packer Classic Bike Panniers also from Bike 24 in black. A set of two are 119Euro.
We both also have Ortleib Handlebar bags. J has the Ortlieb Ultimate Six Plus Handlebar Bag, 7L in signalred-chili from Bike24 for 90euro.
I bought the slightly different Ortlieb Ultimate Classic Six Handlebar Bag 7l in red which is also available on Bike24 and is 70euro.
NOTE: For more information on our Ortlieb Handlebar Bags see our other article “What to store in your handlebar bag?“
Why we love our Ortlieb Panniers?
1. THEY ARE QUICK & EASY TO USE
You will be clipping the panniers on and off at least twice a day, so it is important that this process is quick and easy.
The Ortlieb system has:
“Automatic closing and opening of hooks by lifting the pannier handle. When the pannier is lifted by the handle, the two hooks on the reverse side are opened. Then the pannier can be hooked into the rack. Once you let go of the handle, the two hooks close around the rack tube.”
What this means in reality is that you spend a minimal amount of time fitting them on and removing them - so more time for cycling!
2. THEY ARE WATERPROOF
We have been absolutely soaked to the skin and our stuff has remained completely dry inside the bags. On one occasion our Ortliebs got so covered in mud that we took them straight from the bikes into the shower and hosed them down - not a drop of water went through the material.
3. THEY ARE DURABLE
Our Ortliebs have done 8000kms+ and they really look great. They have been leaned against walls, trees, picnic benches and more; they have brushed off trees, bushes, walls and humans; they have been lifted on and off the racks 1000’s of times - it doesnt matter, they are as close to perfect as you can imagine!
4. THEY ARE EASY TO CLEAN
Your panniers will get covered in dust, mud and everything in-between. I try to clean ours regularly and usually use a damp cloth to wipe them off; wipe, rinse cloth, repeat. It won’t be long before you will have them looking as good as new. Pay particular attention to the back clips that attach to your rack as dust and particles can cause these to stick and/or impede their ease of use attaching and detaching to your bikes racks.
5. THEY CAN BE LOCKED TO YOUR BIKE
We chose to buy the Ortlieb Anti-Theft devices when we bought our Ortlieb panniers. We bought two sets each, one for the front panniers and one set for the back panniers. You fit these anti-theft devices yourself and use them in conjunction with normal key padlocks. We use one device on each pannier and then one padlock to lock the pannier to the rack/bike. These provide added security against “bag grabbers” as you cycle or when your bike is parked up. However, the wire of the anti-theft is very thin so a determined thief could snip them and take the pannier off. Regardless of this, I think they definitely act as a deterrent whereby a would be thief would perhaps move to another bike that didn’t have them before trying to cut yours off.
6. THEY ARE EASY TO CARRY
The Ortlieb pannier have a handle on the back as well as a detachable shoulder strap with snap hook. This makes them easy to transport.
7. YOU CAN REPLACE PARTS IF NECESSARY
The fact that you can buy parts of the Ortliebs separately, such as screws or the shoulder straps means that if you lose something or a part does break, you can most likely replace just that part and not have to purchase a whole new set. Ortlieb also offer repairs although having not needed this service I don’t know much about it, but you can find out more here.
8. THEY ARE POPULAR & SO READILY AVAILABLE
When it comes to buying Ortliebs before your trip, you should have no issue finding them online or in-store. The advantage of buying in-store would be that you can physically see them, their quality, size etc. before you buy. As I said, we purchased online as this was more practical for us. Also, this is kind of related to the previous point but if something breaks while you are bike touring you shouldn’t have to cycle too far to find an Ortlieb supplier as they are really popular in Europe. Also, if like me, you decide to buy a handlebar bag mid bike tour, you should have no problem doing so.
Overall we are very happy with our Ortliebs. We would agree that the inner zippered pocket should be removable as honestly we have never used them and they can be slightly annoying when packing and unpacking but certainly not a deal breaker. We also find we rarely use the shoulder straps and will probably not bring them on our next tour but this is totally personal preference and I think it’s great that they are provided so you have the option. I think if you were bringing your Ortlieb on a plane as carry on luggage the shoulder strap would be very useful.
TIP: We would recommend checking the tightness of the screws of your panniers from time to time, including those which are inside of your pannier. Due to vibrations these can loosen over time.
More Bike Touring Blogs:
If you liked this blog you might like some of our other bike touring blogs too so we have attached some links below to make it easier for you to find them:
- Our Essential Bike Tour Items.
- Eight Useful Bike Touring Kit Items.
- What to Consider before your First Bike Tour.
- What to Store in Your Handlebar Bag?.
- Choosing a Bike Touring Route.
- Using Planes, Trains and Boats on your Bike Tour.
- Buying versus Renting Bike Touring Gear.
Even more noroadlongenough bike touring blogs available here.