Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I think I hate my bicycle pannier

Gah, even the photo of the pannier is awful!
I've been cycling to work for quite a while now and over time the amount of crap I carry has changed quite a bit, not least because I now eat food each day than I ever have before.  A large part of the enjoyment of cycling to work is the chance to 'give it some beans' if I fancy getting a bit of extra exercise, and thanks to the increasing number of Strava segments en-route both the opportunity and motivation to push a little harder first thing in the morning is growing.

The downside of expending this early morning energy while wearing a rucksack is that a unreasonable amount of water defects from my body to seek asylum in the borderlands of my rucksack.  Put simply I arrive at work looking like I've been smuggling an incontinent medium-sized mammal on my back.

So I fitted a pannier rack that I found in the back of the shed to my single speed bike and fetched a second hand pannier bag from ebay.  The first day I cycled to work the experience of arriving dry was certainly novel, but on every day since I've had a growing feeling that I might hate the bicycle pannier system.  Here are a few reasons why I'll most likely be going back to using my rucksack (albeit with a fresh tee-shirt in it every day).

Reasonable ratiocination for pannier rancor:

  1. Annoyingly it takes me about five minutes to either put on or take off the pannier bag, whereas with a rucksack I step off the bike and the bag is still with me
  2. Because the pannier sits above the back wheel removing or fitting it makes my hands filthy
  3. Cold weather makes condensation form in the lid of my coffee flask, so when I get to work I have to wipe clean everything in the bag
  4. Despite the fact all the fixing bolts are tight the pannier rack still rattles like false teeth on a faulty fairground ride; I spend inordinate amounts of time troubleshooting rattles and creaks on my bikes, so having a metal rack that is seemingly impossible to silence crazes me
  5. Every sodding stone, tarmac pimple and crappy crevice in the road makes everything in the bag jump up and down
  6. Fitting a pannier rack and bag has ruined the 'lines' of my nice, simple, svelte single-speed bike
  7. Getting everything I need for the day in the pannier back is a pain, packing my bag each morning is a game of tupperware box tetris, and even although the bag is big I tend to leave something behind because of lack of space
  8. Having a rack fitted makes my bike harder to hang up in the narrow alleyway beside my house where I store my bikes
  9. I like cycling fast, but having a fully loaded pannier bag makes me cautious, so instead of sprinting to work like Cavendish I'm meandering like Ms Marple.
  10. Jelly on a drumstick would feel better to handle than a heavy pannier on a skinny bike
  11. Keeping the contents of my pannier dry will be more of a challenge than it was in my waterproof rucksack; I know I can get a bag to cover it, but each of the waterproof covers I've seen folk cycling with makes the rider look like their towing a prolapse
  12. Let's think about lag - surely a square(ish) bag on the bag of your bike creates more lag than a rucksack shielded by my generously proportioned body?  I'm not terribly fast on my bike, but every little bit of reduction in wind resistance helps!
  13. My thighs rub on the pannier bag, and they're hardly hefty as Hoy's!
  14. Now that I think about it, I think my back is colder without a rucksack on it...
  15. Originally I think I might have through panniers were a good idea because the models in the photos in the catalogues looked so happy to be carrying their bicycle bound burdens
  16. P-clips are ugly, and I had to use p-clips to fit the pannier rack to my bike
  17. Quickly popping into a shop becomes quickly locking up my bike and then slowly detaching the pannier back from the rack
  18. Racing for Strava segments when travelling too or from work didn't seem a problem with my rucksack, but now I have a rattling, clanking bag on the back of my bike sprinting up hills seems a bit pointless; I know I carry the same weight if I use a rucksack but it doesn't feel like it holds be back when it's on my, er, back.
  19. Shaking about old tupperware in my pannier bag has been a bad idea - the seals aren't great so this morning the habanero sauce from my boiled eggs leaked into my coffee mug. Didn't taste too bad actually...
  20. Three times now I've nearly dropped my bike when dismounting because of the extra weight sitting on the back of my bike
  21. Ugly, ugly, ugly.  Not all of them admittedly, just the ones in my sub-tenner price range
  22. Violent lurching when cornering
  23. When the rain is really hammering down my precious cargo (by which I mean my lunch) will be nearer the ground, which means it's nearer puddles, and therefore in direct line of fire for the bow wave when motorists overtake me while going through puddles
  24. X is always a tricky letter to deal with in alphabetical lists
  25. You still reading this list?
  26. Z was my favourite character in Police Academy, which has nothing to do with panniers but does neatly conclude this silly list.