I had a hilarious conversation by the bike racks at the farmers market this weekend. A woman and her family had just ridden up, and we started chatting about my Sahn helmet, the merits of no holes in your helmet (ventilation v style and not getting rained on). She noticed my Linus pannier bag and was amazed to see a such a nice-looking bag be a pannier, and not look like a WATERPROOF RACING CYCLIST kind of bag.
I admit I have spent maybe more hours than would be strictly healthy searching out bike gear that does not look like Bike Gear, if you know what I mean. In my moments sweating up a major hill, then walking up the rest of the hill, then stopping at the top texting my husband about how I think I might throw up or something, but trying to look nonchalantly busy with an important message from a cool person about some pop-up supper club, I am deeply embarrassed about my obsession with nice-looking gear.
But then I think – what, I can’t have anything nice until I can do the Tour de France? Forget that. If I’m going to suffer trying to get up these damn hills, I’m going to have a nice jacket/pannier bag/bike basket while I do it. *stamps foot*
So now that we’re all on the same page, let’s look at some pretty pictures of nice, functional panniers that don’t look like scuba gear.
The aforementioned Linus’s The Sac (check prices). I’ve been using this one for about a month and I really like it. Fits my 13” Macbook in a sleeve while still being able to close with the powerful magnets at the top. I’ve also fit a 1lb bag of kale, a bunch of radishes, a small bag of nugget potatoes, my wallet, my make-up bag, and a package of smoked salmon. So you know, it’s flexible. Small ring and padlock included should you want to secure it to your bike.
Dutch bike accessories brand Basil is a great place to start when it comes to beautiful baskets and bags. Their bike pannier options are excellent. This Bohème Carry All comes with pannier hooks under a zippered flap, and loads of space inside, with some compartments to keep your small bits contained. It’s water-resistant too. I love this black and charcoal version, but it also comes in lovely red and aquamarine versions too.
If you’re looking for more storage capacity and the ability to attach panniers around a child seat, this double-bag from Basil is an excellent budget option. It’s got a 35L capacity, reflective bits to make you more visible in the dark, and a closure that allows you to lock your panniers to your bike. I love that these are so roomy, but also actually beautiful. That’s a bit of a Cinderella pannier, I have to say!
image courtesy Bike Belle
The Bike Belle MIRA Au Lait is from the Polish bike accessories brand’s Kickstarter campaign, and they kindly sent me one to try out. I love it, and when I was working in an office in Vancouver I was asked repeatedly where it came from, and when I demonstrated the built-in pannier hooks, there were gasps. It’s vegan leather, which keeps the price affordable and water resistant. I routinely packed my Macbook, a packed lunch, notebooks, pens, a cardigan, and a water bottle in there comfortably. There’s a shoulder strap included as well.
Image courtesy of Bike Belle
I have a deep love of satchels, and Bike Belle doesn’t disappoint with this blue and white canvas version. Water-repellant canvas with leather trim, this retro beauty has a zippered flap that covers the pannier hooks when you take it off your bike, so you won’t catch it on your clothing. It also comes in cherry red. There’s a shoulder strap tucked in there too.
Tourbon is a brand I hadn’t seen before, but I like their waterproof canvas bags. They do a nice over the rear rack double bag for a reasonable price. They roll up when not in use to save space, and you can detach one and bring it with you as a shoulder bag.
Have you found a beautiful bike pannier? Please do share.