The Ortlieb City Back-Roller Panniers

shoot-114If you ask anyone who makes the best panniers, the first name out of their mouth is almost always Ortlieb. At least if you’re asking a touring rider, they will be.

Ortlieb makes panniers of mythical sturdiness. It is, you always hear it said, impossible to destroy a Ortlieb pannier. Then someone will comment about that one guy who managed to do something so heinous, so monumentally stupid, that he broke his pannier. Shortly after, someone else calls BS on that and everyone laughs.

This product inspires that sort of loyalty. The first ultra-long distance rider I met taking a transcontinental tour had Ortlieb’s classic roll top bags front and rear on his bike. He looked like the prototypical long distance bicyclist. I expect every long hauler to have the same bags, and seeing them on a bike always make me think about the thousands of miles that are going to be ridden.

My fiancĂ©e was in need of new panniers before the next trip. Her last ones had met with an unfortunate accident. A bag with a hole in it is of limited usefulness, and one with several holes is, well, done. So I did some hunting around, and settled on these bags. I was prepared to pay much more for them than I did, and I didn’t mind the break.

As far as I can tell, the differences between the City and the Classic version are fairly limited. They seem to share the hardware that mounts them on to the bike: the QL-1 system. The Classic adds some internal pockets and a shoulder strap the City lacks. The City’s system for holding the top closed is a bit simplified, but it’s still very easy to use and waterproof. These bags are so waterproof, that you have to work excess air out of them as if they were giant Ziploc bags. shoot-113

They’re nothing more than big empty sacks. I don’t mind big empty sacks. As a longtime fan of the klettersack, I embrace simplicity in my storage. Steph will probably get a set of bags that she will use to organize things. I don’t really need frills, myself, but I may try that approach as well. There had been some complaints online about the mounting system on the bags, but I found the system to be excellent. You clip them bag to the top rail of your rack, then the bottom. The clamps that the system uses are adjustable, sliding in little tracks on the back of the bags, and clamped down in the proper place with hex head bolts. Once properly set for your rack, they can be left there unless you want to mount them on a different bike. Pulling up on the handle opens the top clamps, and the bag comes right off, one-handed. When mounted, they might as well be welded to the rack. No shifting, no rattles, and problems. They include some spacers to fit a variety of rack diameters.

It probably speaks volumes about my significant other, but I think the only thing I’ve given her that excited her more was the engagement ring.

I’ve looked at the higher priced versions and I’m not sure that they are worth the extra cash. These are very nice and extremely functional.


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