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Bike Pannier Bags – Plenty of Storage Space for Everyday Life, Leisure or Travel

Cycling is good for the environment, the body and the mind. That’s why this form of transport has long been used for more than just leisure time. More and more people are using bicycles for their everyday journeys. That’s why there are now many practical accessories to store your essential day-to-day baggage securely. Pannier bags are true space miracles. They are not only indispensable for everyday life on your city bike, but also bike tours and trips on a trekking bike or e-bike. Find out here what really matters when it comes to bike bags for the pannier rack. Read more

What Kinds of Bicycle Bag Are There?

There are many types of panniers for your bike, such as handlebar bags, frame bags, saddle bags, rear panniers and many more. In general, the main difference between the bags is where on the bike they attach, which is easily figured out from their names. Panniers attach to the pannier rack and hang parallel to the rear wheel on the right and/or left or sit on top of the rack. However, there are also inflexible variants in the form of cases or hard shell cases, which are also strapped onto the pannier rack’s carrier surface. These are often lockable and thus an ideal way to store a helmet or rain jacket you don't need when strolling through town. Pannier bags are therefore primarily used on city, trekking or e-bikes, rather than on MTBs or road bikes. 

In order to be able to use panniers on your bike, you will of course first need to fit a pannier rack on it. If you don't already have one, you will find a large selection of retrofittable pannier racks in our range. 

Why Get a Pannier for Your Bike?

Now you might be asking yourself why you even need a pannier bag. It offers numerous advantages, which makes it the ideal choice for almost every cyclist. No matter what you take with you when you’re on your bike, a pannier bag will ensure your luggage is kept safe and sound during the ride. Most models offer at least as much storage space as a backpack and do not affect your riding at all. A fully loaded backpack on your back can also lead to balance problems during cornering or braking manoeuvres; which could prove dangerous for others as well as yourself. Since bike bags in general, and of course also those that attach to the pannier rack, are attached to the bike, they offer you greater freedom of movement. This turns even long tours into a relaxed adventure. Pannier bags are indispensable companions, especially on extended bike trips: they offer plenty of volume, are easy to reach, easy to mount and can carry loads in a way that doesn't affect the bike’s centre of gravity too much, meaning you can keep control of your bike even with a heavy load.

Classic Pannier Bags, Side Panniers or Double Panniers – Which Is the Right One for You?

We primarily distinguish between three types of panniers: There are classic panniers that sit on the pannier rack’s carrier surface; connected panniers that hang over the pannier rack; so-called double panniers and side panniers that hang parallel to the rear wheel on the right and/or left.

Classic Pannier Bags

The classic pannier bag attaches to the pannier rack’s clamping surface. Sometimes this type also comes with fold-out side pockets, so that it can become a triple bag if you need more storage space. These mostly compact bags often impress with additional outer pockets, drink holders for water bottles and carrying straps so that they can also be used as shoulder bags. Cases, hard shell cases and pannier rack baskets are a special form. Even though pannier rack baskets are practical because you can store a lot in them, panniers, suitcases or cases have the advantage over bike baskets in that they can be firmly closed so their contents cannot fall out. In addition, your precious luggage is protected from all weather conditions.

Double Panniers

Double panniers, as their name suggests, consist of two connected bicycle panniers. They also offer the option of attaching an additional bag, which can be fastened in between on the carrier surface – making the double bag a triple bag. This type of bike bag is ideal for bikepacking tours or extended bike trips where a lot of storage space is needed. However, the disadvantage is that this variant often does not allow bags to be removed individually for use as a shoulder bag, which limits your options when transporting luggage on the bike. 

Side Panniers

Side panniers are attached to the front wheel on a low-rider front rack or the rear rack carrier. They are available as single panniers or in pairs and can be attached independently of each other. Front panniers are a good idea, especially for longer tours, as distributing the load stabilises your bike’s centre of gravity. They usually have a smaller volume than side panniers for the rear wheel so that you don’t touch them with the tips of your shoes when cornering and to keep the centre of gravity and required steering forces under control. These bicycle bags often have shoulder straps so that they can quickly become a pannier backpack or shoulder bag. That’s what makes this version not only your perfect choice on trekking tours, but also ideal for everyday errands in the urban jungle. As a rule, the side panniers are also easy to attach to and remove from the bike thanks to their modern fastening systems. 

Here are the three main types of pannier bags at a glance: 

Classic panniers Double panniers Side panniers
  • Compact all-rounder
  • Often equipped with extras, such as additional outer pockets, bottle holders or fold-out side pockets
  • Can also be used as a shoulder bag when you get to your destination, thanks to attachable shoulder straps
  • Mounting mostly required via mounting plates/rail systems on the pannier rack.
  • Often only water-repellent material (rain cover required for true waterproofing)
  • Plenty of storage space for effective use on cycling trips or longer tours
  • Often less expensive purchase
  • Often only water-repellent material (rain cover required for true waterproofing)
  • Not ready to use on arrival, as bags are often connected
  • Easily mounted by laying over the rack
  • Modern fastening systems facilitate mounting and removal
  • Easy mounting, mostly without additional mounting plates/rail systems
  • Often waterproof material
  • Comfortable to carry even after arrival, as straps turn the pannier into a backpack or shoulder bag
  • Can be used in everyday life or for cycling tours


However, no matter what type of bag you choose, it is important to find out if your pannier rack is suitable for its mounting or stable enough for bike panniers. 

Cycling Panniers – It's All About the Material

The right material is extremely important as your pannier is directly exposed to the elements and must protect your items from them. Most panniers are water-repellent or even waterproof, so that the luggage – for example a laptop on your way to work or your change of clothes on a bike trip – are optimally protected from dirt and moisture. Commonly used materials are polyester, nylon or canvas fabrics, with some being water repellent or waterproof in themselves and others, such as canvas, waterproofed by the manufacturer. This waterproofing should also be re-impregnated from time to time in line with the manufacturer's instructions. On the other hand, bags made from PVC-coated polyester, more commonly known as truck tarp, are waterproof and dirt-repellent. This variant of the pannier bag is particularly robust, abrasion-resistant and durable; the style is usually sporty. Bicycle bags made of leather or with partial leather applications on the fastener and carrying strap, which are just as indestructible when properly cared for, are now somewhat harder to find. Since leather requires a lot of care to withstand wind and weather while still remaining beautiful for a long time, the manufacturer's care instructions really have be followed in this case. 

If you are carrying things that must not get wet under any circumstances, such as important documents, a camera or a laptop, then you should not only look at the outer material’s water resistance, but also the quality of the seams. If these are welded or similarly finished, the pannier bag will withstand even the strongest rain shower. 

As a general rule, the bag must be able to withstand all loads and meet all your requirements. 

💡 Another tip: If you use the pannier bag for your daily shopping, you should choose a bag made of flexible material, which can move with and thus optimally adapt to the contents. Rigid styles or models with a rigid back section, on the other hand, are ideal for transporting books, documents or a laptop. 

The Different Fastening Systems – How the Pannier Stays in Place

Pannier bags are attached to the pannier rack or the bike in various ways. Straps, hooks, rails or click systems are used for this purpose. The best-known brands with established fastening systems are KLICKFix, Ortlieb and Vaude.  

The KLICKFix brand offers a system with a pannier rack adapter. This consists of a large, lockable plate that is firmly mounted to the pannier rack with screws. It is important to note that the pannier rack must not be wider than 14.5 cm for this. The side panniers are then simply hung in the side slots of the adapter. Baskets or classic pannier bags are clicked into place on the top. This system’s special feature is that baskets, bags and boxes can be released with just one click as soon as the lock is opened. Classic pannier bags or boxes, for example, are attached with the UniKlip fastening system without further adapter plates and impress with their ability to be mounted on a wide variety of pannier racks without further equipment. 

The Ortlieb Quick Lock system is available in three variants: Quick Lock 1, Quick Lock 2 and Quick Lock 3. However, the basic principle is the same for all types. Ortlieb side panniers have hooks on the back that make it easy to hang them on the pannier rack. This system offers a special feature with hooks that automatically lock or unlock by attaching or lifting the bag. It is therefore self-locking. To secure the lower half of the bag as well, there is a third hook that clips behind one of the vertical pannier rack struts. This prevents the bag from coming out or slipping during a bike ride. Ortlieb uses its own Rack-Lock system for classic panniers. There is a kind of rail on the bag, which is adjusted once to the pannier rack. With four adjustable hooks on the underside, Ortlieb panniers with their click-mounting system can be easily attached to all common pannier racks, secured – the release lever then serving as a key to prevent the bag from being stolen while it’s on the rack – and removed again in no time. No further adapters are necessary. 

The QMR (Quick Mount Release) system is another fastening system with hooks used on side panniers by Vaude. These hooks are attached to the back of the bag and allow it to be easily hung on the luggage rack. Make sure that the hook fits the pannier rack’s tube diameter. Vaude supports a size range of 8-16 mm. For this purpose, interchangeable adapters are included, which can be changed easily. 

During assembly, it is always important to ensure that the system components as well as the bags, cases or baskets themselves are fitted according to the manufacturer's instructions so that the rider is not hindered when pedalling and the luggage doesn’t fall off.  

Helpful Features for Bicycle Panniers

Your personal taste and needs will ultimately determine your choice of bag design. However, we recommend that you also pay attention to seemingly minor details. Many brands already equip their bicycle bags with reflectors or reflective elements. Even if you don't plan to ride your bike at night, reflectors are crucial at dusk or in bad weather conditions to ensure your visibility and thus your safety. Additional outer pockets are also a helpful feature for quickly and easily accessing small items without having to search for them in the pannier’s main compartment. Make sure your pannier bag has extra compartments for better organisation on the inside, too. This way you can always have an overview of the entire contents of your pannier.