Storing things when on a bike, biking with luggage seems to have a couple of options if you are wanting to carry more than just a small tool kit and your wallet (stored away unde the saddle). You can use either panniers, front or back, or a good old fashioned basket. Actualy, a third option would be a bag on the handle bars.
Initially I used a basket on the Highway as it was a quick and easy way to chuck in a bag and off you go to work. I would still use it but I was told it may be seen as a bit girly and after a while maybe everyone else had a point. I swapped to more manly panniers, although I still have a connector for the basket on the Highway just in case. Another reason to ditch the basket was that it affects handling and steering, and also it would not really go with the touring Royal.
A while back then I bought a rack and I swapped the low spec one from the Royal with the new touring rack, I had no panniers to put on. No problem though as we found out that a pannier used on the Phil and Teds childs pushchair would work just as well for a bike. We had one of these going spare, the pushchair had since long gone. For ages then I had been using that for work and it has worked very well. Being held on with Velcro only I am suprised how strong it is, although I would not trust carrying something more heavy like a large laptop, just in case. This bag has done well on both the Highway, for work, and the Royal for carrying snacks and such things.
If I were to do some proper touring, which I hope to do later this year, then a bag pinched from a pushchair is probably not really up for the job. I started looking for something proper. I soon found out there is only really one contender when it comes to serious touring panniers, you will never go wrong with Ortlieb. Waterproof and tough there seems little to compare, but unfortatly the price reflects the quality too. I was going to have to spend serious money on these and that is something I would have no problem in doing as I am always one to pay for quality. If I were about to embark on weeks worth of on the road touring then there would be no question, but maye these were a little too high spec for my little amount of possible touring. New then was dismissed and I started to look on gumtree and eBay.
A sure sign of quality is when second hand prices do not move much from brand new prices and this seems to be the case with Ortlieb. Watching various sales on eBay showed at the most they went for £10 or £20 cheaper than new, if you were lucky. With that, Ortlieb was now out of the question. I would have to go from waterproof to showerproof and see what the lesser makes had to offer. Again, maybe Ortlieb was a bit over engineered for my current needs.
I kept scanning eBay to see what was coming up and started to watch a number of hopefully. One such item was a pair of 16litre Altura Arran panniers which had a not unreasonable Buy It Now fee, plus the seller lived just 10 miles down the road in Brighton. With others on my watchlist I took the chance and bought them with the idea of saving money with having no postage to pay. The next evening I biked over to Brighton and a biked back the proud new owner of “as new” panniers. The gamble had paid off too later on in the week and I check, all others still on my watchlist had sold for quite a bit of money, the set I bought I paid around half price of the new value, so I was pretty happy with it all. The ride into Brighton and back was a nice one, the sun just setting as I passed over the lock at the power station.
Now a proud owner of two actual bike panniers instead of just one pushchair pannier, it is time to put them to use…