Friday, 21 October 2011

Long Term Test: Bike Bins pannier boxes

Length of test period so far: since June 16th 2010 - so that is almost 10 years and counting !!!
Product obtained from: Practical Cycles, via E-Bay
Product obtained by: personal purchase through "regular" sources
Price paid: approx. £65 Pounds for a pair (c. $103 US, 75 Euros)
Second Gear rating (marks out of 10): 8.5(1/2 mark lost because they only have a load rating of 5kg, 1/2 mark lost because they won't fit on a heavy-duty Dutch Steco rack, although there is a "work-around" as outlined below, and 1/2 mark because sometimes the hinge-pins need adjusting)

 We use a pair of "Bike Bins" plastic panniers when we want to carry more than a bit of shopping. Both Anna and I have front baskets on our bikes, so if we just want a few bits, we just use the front baskets. But when we want more, we clip on the Bike Bins panniers!
We have one pair of Bike Bins panniers between us, and we just fit them onto whichever bike is being used. It only takes a matter of seconds to fit or unfit them! (that's also why you need to lock them to the bike when you leave it in town, or wherever!)

 Our experience is that the panniers can hold about 5 or 6 kg (11 to 13 lbs) each.
At that point, the panniers seem to be flexing quite a bit, and we are concerned about the strength of the mountings (apparently top-notch Rixen and Kaul mounts are fitted). Perhaps the panniers WILL take much more weight than I have suggested, but we have NOT tested them to destruction!! After all, they are NOT a loaned-out set of "review" panniers, they are the ones we have bought with our own money (about 100 bucks!).

If one compares them to a pair of "soft" panniers, the Bike Bins panniers are much more watertight, and they do not "flex" and bend towards the rear wheel. Some "normal" panniers tend to "sag" so that the corner of the pannier rubs against the rear tyre or wheel with some combinations of bicycle and rear luggage rack. Having tried the Bike Bins panniers on a 700c-wheel bike, a 26"-wheel bike, and a 20"-wheel folding bike, we have encountered no problems at all with wheel rub (unlike "normal" "soft" panniers which tend to sag when loaded so they rub the rear wheel on my 20" bike !!!)

 We usually use the panniers as a pair, and both Anna and I think they are great! Sometimes we use just one pannier, though, and that is fine, too!
Heel clearance is not an issue on Anna's hybrid-style bike (700c wheels, normal wheelbase) even though I have size 11 feet (size 12 US measure!), BUT clearance WAS, however, an issue on my folding bike (short wheelbase, 20" wheel) , until I fitted a rear rack from a bigger bike, that meant that with the mounts on the panniers in the best position( as far back as possible!), my big feet finally cleared them! Before that, they were usable if you cycle with the instep (rather than the ball) of your foot, or you have smaller feet!
I will then see about getting (or making) a set of front pannier racks for the folder, and getting a second pair of bike bins panniers! The panniers have heel cutouts so that they give more clearance than a "square" pannier wood, but when mounted on my folder, they were sitting so low that my heels hit the side of the box rather than the heel cutout! (this might also be a problem if you have one of those special low-loader type rear pannier frames - the panniers are designed to sit high enough so that your heel passes through the area of the heel cutaway, and with a "taller" rear rack, I also achieved this on my small wheel folder!)

 We love the anti-tamper locks (although a thief with a decent screwdriver could probably break the locks!), and find that a typical adult-sized cycle helmet fits easily in a pannier. It certainly beats walking around town with the helmet hanging from your elbow!
 We love the way that on wet days they keep the rain and roadspray off the stuff in them, too!
 I found them a bit bouncy, UNTIL (after about 2 months! - doh!) I worked out how the clips worked at the top and the sliding grip worked at the bottom.
 The locks close alright, but you have to be careful how you close the lids - close them wrongly and the slight flex in the box sides means the locks won't line up. Do it right, and the locks always work. After a while, you get the “knack” :-)
We love them!

Larger loads can be attached across the lids
  For oversized loads, and when there is a bit too much shopping for the pannier boxes and the front basket, Anna straps stuff to the top of the boxes (using "shock cords" a.k.a. "bungee" straps/cords). The pannier boxes have various points on them designed to take straps/hooks etc. for this very purpose.
 Quite a few times Anna has strapped a king size duvet to the top of the boxes to take it to the launderette, where there are bigger machines than most folk in the UK have in their houses! The tops of the pannier boxes make a much wider platform to strap stuff to than the skinny little luggage racks you get on bikes, and make a bulky load MUCH more stable to move - the duvet being a case in point!
 Just a few weeks ago, Anna used the flat tops of the "bikebins" to attach several flattish plastic boxes (oversized A4 - some went in the bikebins panniers, the rest went on top!), which were bought to house my daughter's growing fossil collection.
  Anna also reports using the tops of the boxes for moving large-ish non-fragile (and not particularly heavy!) stuff that can be strapped down, such as large packs of toilet tissue/paper.
 In all of the above cases, Anna reports such use is simple and stable, and the flat tops of the boxes provide a major benefit over just a luggage rack alone.

Here they are being used on my folding bike to transport a paper shredder - one can easily see how oversize loads can be carried in this pic!


As I said before, we love 'em!

And, no, I don't sell them, and I don't get paid by them :-)

The panniers take a decent amount
of shopping - just remember to put
the tins at the bottom, and the
bread at the top!

Going shopping - lots of vitamins
and mouthwash visble here!
We just love the Bike Bins panniers, use them often (usually at least once or twice a week!), and wish to share our experiences with others.

Here is the manufacturer’s webpage about them:

Further reviews of this product can be found here: (look at page 2 of the pdf!) (this one has good and bad things to say about the panniers!)

Update (9th January 2012): So, exactly what will fit in them?
Two milk containers fit in. They are the standard British size of 4 pints (Imperial) each, which is 2.27 litres each. Because the boxes have heel cutaways at the bottom, bigger things (like these milk containers) sit better in the middle, with other stuff then packed around them.
First, put the heavy/tall stuff at the bottom, then pack the lighter stuff around it. Soft things, like these brioches go on top.
Packing tip: I keep some scrunched up old supermarket bags in the bottom of each pannier - it seems to help with making the load travel better, and reduces "rattling around"
A typical cycle helmet easily fits in the Bike Bins
An adult cycle helmet and other cycling paraphernalia fit easily into the pannier box, but an adult helmet and a mid-size child helmet are too big!

Update (14th January 2012): I notice that Practical Cycles is now selling the "Mark 2" version of these panniers, rather than the set described above. The main change seems to be that the little locks have been replaced with small plastic loops on the pannier lid and the box, so that a padlock can be used to lock the boxes (buy your own padlock!). The rest of the spec seems to be much the same. The new ones are supposed to be better in artic temperatures - I believe the early Mark 1 panniers were made from a different plastic that went brittle in the cold, but the later Mark 1 panniers (such as the ones I have) were made of the "new" material anyway! Either way, this is England, not Canada, so the winters aren't that cold :-)
Other than that, I stand by my review.
The price for the "Mark 2" has also increased over that of the "Mark 1" - by 23%.
I believe that both the Mark 1 and the Mark 2 version of the Bike Bin product are excellent.

You might, however, wish to compare them with the "City Box" from B&W (it's at the bottom of the page on the link).
Heavier, squarer, slightly larger (20 litres for the City Box vs. 17 litres for the Bike Bin) and roughly twice the cost of the Bike Bin product.
If you have a squarish object (like a laptop, for example), then the City Box might be better.
The lack of heel cutouts could be a problem, however, if you have big feet (like me!)
For our needs, though (mostly shopping), we'll stick with our Bike Bins.

Another alternative would have been the Ortlieb Tour Box - but good luck with finding one, because they are no longer listed on Ortlieb's website, and most stockists have run out. Here is a hint of what you might have had.
19 litre capacity, and again, no heel cut outs.
No doubt they were well made, but they cost about FOUR TIMES the price of the Bike Bin product ...
Here is a user review of the Ortlieb Tour Boxes, anyway

There are also various designs of "soft" pannier available.
While I have received no real trouble with them on a "regular" bike, due to the geometry of my folding bike I find that soft panniers give me bigger "heel-clip" issues, and when they have a load in them, soft panniers are prone to sag into the wheel, causing severe rubbing and wear to the affected corner of the soft pannier :-(
I guess it has something to do with the panniers sitting lower on a small wheel bike. the soft panniers I tried, although nice and big, didn't have heel cut-outs, either.
I have, obviously, put the soft panniers away in the garage in the box marked "failed ideas - for future development", and gone back to our ever trustworthy Bike Bins hardshell panniers!

I also prefer the locks of the BikeBins panniers - I can visit one shop for a few bits, then lock the stuff in the pannier and go into a second shop without having to carry it all around all the time!

On a recent trip I went to the library, then the bank, then one supermarket, then a second supermarket. I locked my helmet in the pannier when I got to the library (to drop off books for my wife), then walked to the bank. Then back to the library (for the bike!), then I cycled to the first supermarket where I got 3 kg of salt and four large pots of Yeo Valley yoghurt (there is an offer in Sainsbury's!).
Then onto Lidl (their prices are cheaper!) to get the "bulk" of the shopping. While I'm in Lidl, my helmet in locked inside one pannier, and the salt and yoghurt are locked inside the other.
Coming out of Lidl, I put on the helmet, loaded the other pannier, put a loaf of bread in the first pannier (on top of the yoghurt and salt), and put the rest in the clip-on front basket I have.
Then I ride home :-)

So that's 4 locations visited, without me having to carry my helmet around the shops with me, and with the first set of stuff from Sainsbury's safely locked away while I went into Lidl. Because of the rigid structure of the panniers, my bread (in one pannier, at the top, inside) and my grapes (in the other pannier, at the top, inside) arrived home undamaged, even though I had a total load of about 15kg (5kg in each pannier, plus the same in my little basket).

Difficult to do that with (non-locking) soft panniers - one wouldn't have the security to lock away the helmet and the shopping from the first shop, and if we had soft panniers and they had sagged under the weight, the bread would have gone triangular and grape juice would have been dripping out ...

Update (7th April 2012):
I have recently bought a heavy-duty Steco rear luggage rack from Holland. It is pretty sturdy, and has thick tubes making up the rack.
Nice and strong, but ...
... the tubes are much too thick to get the mounting clips of our Bike Bins panniers over them :-(
So just be aware that, although the mounts on the Bike Bins carriers will fit a variety of different rack with different thickness tubes, if you have a really strong rack, you may not be able to get them to fit.
In that case, all I can suggest is that you look at something like the Basil rear basket (the "Cento" model) with "wings" (actually two rear frames for mounting panniers when using that basket), or the Steco adaptor kit for mounting panniers with a child seat, which has smaller diameter tubes that the main rack it mounts to (the adaptor kit also moves the panniers back on the rack, so will reduce issues with heel strike etc. whatever "single" panniers you mount - but if you move the panniers too far back, you may have issues with your rear light/reflector not being very visible).
Update (16th April 2012):
After a weld cracked on the original luggage rack that came with my bike, I replaced with an old carrier from a cheap "hybrid" bike that had 700c wheels. So the "new" rack sits much higher than the "original". The taller luggage rack means the problems of clearance between the panniers and my heels appear to be solved! The panniers sit both higher AND further back than on the original (smaller) carrier. They do, predictably, make the bike somewhat more unstable on it's stand, but it was never that stable anyway :-)
no more "heel strike" problems!

Update - two years on (30th June 2012):

We've owned the Bike Bins pannier boxes for just over two years, now. They still get regularly used several times a week, and we still think they are the best small/medium-sized pannier on the market. The rigid sides really help in keeping transported goods, such as bread, from being flattened - always a concern with "soft" panniers.

There is currently (July2012) a "sale" on Bike Bins panniers - see here for details

Update  (12 August 2012):

I've posted some pics of our panniers here, so you can see how they are wearing - click on the various pics to see a large picture showing the various scuffs etc. they have picked up!
Having had the panniers for a couple years, and having used them consistently at least two times a week for shorter trips to the supermarkets and the town centre, the panniers have long since rewarded the initial investment we made in purchasing them in savings on fuel, wear and tear, and parking charges compared to using our car!

The math works out along these lines:
short journey cost = circa 1 pound a time.
pannier usage = twice a week
usage period = (for simplicity of maths!) circa 110 weeks
110 weeks x 2 times a week x 1 pound saving per time = 220 pounds saved.
cost of panniers = 65 pounds
therefore the saving we have made is 220 pounds minus  the 65 pounds (for the panniers),
which is 155 pounds (c. 250 dollars, 185 Euros).

Saving 250 dollars (or 155 pounds, or 185 euros) in a bit over two years is well on the way to paying for a decent bike!

Update: 26th December 2012:
Anna likes the Bike Bins panniers so much that she has taken to leaving one of them permanently padlocked to the rear carrier on her bike.
Can't get much of a better endorsement than that!

Update: 11th January 2013:
The panniers are rated at 5 kg carrying capacity.
Anna, however, has taken to moving a 7.5 kg bag of potatoes in one of them whenever she buys it from the local supermarket.
The panniers seem to be suffering no ill-effects (as yet) from this intermittent overloading - I'll keep you posted.
I occasionally overload the panniers to 6 kg, with no ill efects, but I do cycle home quite carefully when I'm doing it (as does Anna with her 7.5 kg load)

Using a Bikebins pannier for
extra stability and support

Update: 10th February 2013:
Anna, however, has stopped moving a 7.5 kg bag of potatoes in one of the panniers (after I complained!), and now straps the potatoes across the top of the two closed pannier boxes (and obviously, the rear pannier rack as well). It is purely as a precaution, as we have yet to suffer any problems :-)
the weight is now spread across the two panniers and the rack, which is much better!

The panniers seem to not be suffering any ill-effects (as yet) from the various intermittent overloading they get - I'll inform you if we have any problems!

Update: May 2013:
Anna moving objects again (here it is two small laundry baskets) using a Bikebins pannier to give extra stability and support to the load

Update: August 11th 2013 (more than three years have now passed!):
Anna has gone to visit her mother for the summer - a regular occurrence, so nothing to worry about, and I am fending for myself for a few weeks. So, of course, I am getting the shopping.
Because I often work long and/or irregular hours, I eat more tinned food while Anna is away. As anyone who has moved half a dozen tins in a backpack will tell you, it is often not a comfortable experience - the tins tend to rotate so as to be as uncomfortable as possible.
Good job I have the Bike Bins panniers. Tins and milk in the bottom, then "medium stuff", like potatoes (I buy smaller bags on my own!) and fruit, and then bread on top. To protect the fruit from being bruised by the tops of the tins, one can either use something like a thick carrier bag, an old t-shirt, or, as I do, lay some slim groceries in first - something like slim packets of factory-packaged cheese or some such.
I could drive our car (automobile) to the supermarket, but by the time I have parked, particularly at busy times, and got out of the car-park again, I could have already cycled there and back, got the shopping, and be at home with a nice cup of tea!
So we find that using a bike for shopping can be quicker as well as the economic, environmental, and health benefits.

Update: August 15th 2013:

I found a blogger in Canada (Edmonton) who has three Bike Bins.
You might want to read her comments on them as well - not as favourable as mine, but it is good to read a variety of views!
It is worth reading, because hers, like mine, are the opinions of someone who has paid their own money for the panniers, and has used them for a number of years.
Most other reviews you read (such as those I have "linked" much further up the page) are magazine reviews from folks who have been loaned a "test" set of panniers for one or two weeks.

Update: August 26th 2013:
Another pic showing what will fit in a pannier. I took this about a week ago, and cycled home with it, then unloaded everything for the photo at home. This isn't a "fake" exercise for my blog - I really did buy that shopping, and I really did bring it home in the pannier on my folding bike.
I thought I would include this pic because it gives a bit of realism to the load figure of 17 litres :-)
Obviously, if you get two panniers, you can get the milk and bread in the other one!
(there is a "milk" shot much further up this page!)

It all fits in a Bike Bins pannier:
4 packs of sliced cheese (300g, net, each), some beans, a cake, some small fruit pies,
two tins of baked beans (420g, net, each), 2 tins of chickpeas (400g, net, each)
a can or "high energy" drink (250ml), and two bottles of beer (500ml, each)

Update: October 14th 2013 (three years and 4 months after purchase):
We're still using them regularly.
Anna put the panniers on her bike on Saturday, and (along with her front basket) got the weekend's food shopping.
I'm expecting to use them later today, moving them to my current bike, and I'll be getting some essential groceries, like milk. We buy milk in 4 pint (imperial), 2.27 litre plastic bottles - that's 4.8 US pints, so about 20% more than a 2 quart bottle. That's the most common size that milk is sold in. You can get two of those bottles (that's a gallon(imp), 1.2 gallons (US) of milk) in one pannier, and that's about 90% of the load rating for one pannier.
After my regular bike broke, I quickly got my wife's bike out of the garage to cycle to work. It still had a Bike Bins pannier attached to it (secured with a combination lock and chain). One of the guys I work with, who doesn't normally see our panniers, said how much he thought that a hard-sided pannier was a great idea. I explained to him about how much we can get in it, and how a regular cycle helmet will fit in one, so it is handy when you leave your bike locked up, and don't want to be carrying a helmet around all day.
He was very impressed, right up to the point when I told him how much they cost :-)
He thought they sounded a little pricey.
So, thanks for your honesty, unnamed work colleague (his name is John, and he usually cycles to work everyday as well, in his case on a dated American-made (remember when stuff was actually made anywhere other than the Far East?) mountain bike).
John may be right.a

Perhaps they do sound a bit pricey for panniers.
But given the utility and convenience we have enjoyed for nearly three-and-a-half years, with hopefully more to come, we think they are well worth the price.
I said to John about the way a soft loaf of bread starts off square and ends up triangular in a backpack or most normally panniers, and how our bread (thanks to the bike Bins) remains square, he just grudgingly said he has got used to bread not being the same shape it was when you bought it :-)
I guess for us the four biggest advantages are (based on nearly three-and-a-half-years of use!):
  1. The "plastic box with a close fitting lid" design keeps stuff dry from rain and road spray even on the wettest days (and we are occasionally caught out in very heavy rain when returning fromma shopping trip) 
  2. The lockable nature keeps things "out of sight and out of mind", be it cycle helmets on a trip to the cinema, or the items bought in one shop when we visit a second shop - we feel reasonably safe about leaving stuff on the bike while we go elsewhere 
  3. The size is just about right. A pannier will take a regular adult cycle helmet, and the assorted paraphernalia of cycling, or it will take 2 standard plastic milk bottles (jugs) - see the vaious pictures above to get an idea of what will fit in them.
  4.  Fragile stuff, like standard loaves of soft bread, grapes, blueberries, bananas, etc. etc., as long as it is carefully packed, doesn't get crushed, because the rigid structure of the pannier protects them.
The biggest negatives we can think of are:
  1. The rigid structure of the pannier means it won't bend like a soft pannier to take "odd" objects - like a football, for example) - but you could always put a rigid Bike Bins pannier on one side of your bike, and a regular, "soft", pannier on the other - or carry the oversized object in a front basket, or strapped on top of the panniers (see pictures above, although if it was a football, we would put it in Anna's front basket).
  2. The weight rating is only 5kg (11 lbs). It would be nice if it was 7.5kg (16.5 lbs) or 10kg (22 lbs).
    But, as an "economy" luggage rack, as fitted to most modestly priced bikes, is only rated for 10kg (a pair of 5kg panniers!), perhaps that is not so bad. Also, we can usually fill the panniers up on a supermarket run without overloading them. Depends how much beer and how much tinned (canned) food you buy. When I moved an Irvin Record bench vice (vise), which is the heaviest single, unsplittable, item I have yet moved, I put it in my wife's front basket, not the panniers.
  3. The Bike Bins panniers will only fit small to medium size tubing on pannier racks. That covers most racks, but if you have your eye on something really heavy duty, like a Steco rack (the Dutch ones that you see adults sitting on in photos, while their friend pedals the bike), be aware that the Steco tubes are too thick for the Bike Bins fittings to go over. This is not just a "but I read it on the internet!" opinion either - I actually have a Steco rack (in the garage! - we don't use it because the panniers won't fit!).
    So I have both a heavy-duty Steco rack, and 2 Bike Bins panniers, so I know of what I speak!
    The best way of fitting the Bike Bins panniers to a Steco rack would appear to be either get a rear basket with pannier mounts on it (the Basil Cento rear basket with the optional side "wings" would appear to fit the bill - but it prevents oversize objects being strapped on top of the panniers!), or get the (rather pricey) Steco kit that allows pannier fitting with a child seat - it moves the panniers back a bit and down a bit, and has much thinner tubing that the main rack!)
    I personally contacted the maker of Bike Bins about the panniers not fitting a Steco rack, and he said that given the cost of manufacturing "extra big" mounts to fit the panniers, the cost far exceeded the expected gain from doing so, but if anyone wants to come up with a mount that fits, he would be very interested to hear from them. So get the 3d printers going folks, an opportunity awaits!

So, overall, after almost three-and-a-half-years of use, we are delighted with our Bike Bins panniers, and would recommend them (advice about how to fit them to a Steco rack notwithstanding) to anyone.
If there are any questions you have about this review, or you just want to chat about panniers, or anything else, then feel free to post in the comments box below.

Update: 18th March 2014
I've written a short piece with pictures showing how the panniers have faded, and explaining how using the panniers for shopping has paid not only for the panniers, but for th bike as well!

Update: 30th October 2014
Four years and four months and counting. Although we now have amassed a variety of panniers, Anna still keeps one of our Bike Bins panniers permanently attached to her bike.
Now I have my larger Pacific Outdoor "Co-op shopping pannier", I use the Bike Bins less than I used to, but the locking feature on the Bike Bins pannier is still unmatched for trips that involve going to several shops on the same trip.
In the Summer, while Anna was away visiting her mother, I was using a Bike Bins pannier on one side and the Co-op pannier on the other. Mind you, for the moment, Mermaid doesn't have a basket fitted, so I find the extra space of the Co-op pannier useful (the Co-op pannier is roughly double the size of the Bike Bins pannier).

Anna's standard bike equipment - a Basil basket and one
Bike Bins pannier.
Anna, who has a decently-sized Basil front basket, never uses my Co-op pannier, and uses one or two Bike Bins panniers instead. As I said, Anna's standard shopping kit is the (fixed) Basil basket and one Bike Bins pannier, with a second pannier as required.
Sometimes the hinge-pins start to work a little loose, but are easily re-centred with a key or a coin. Here you can see on pin has moved quite a bit, and the other is just starting to shift. No doubt it is caused by a lot of opening and closing of the pannier lid, and, as Anna uses them almost every day, is likely to affect us more than less-frequent users!

Sometimes one of the hinge-pins starts to work a little loose, but lifting the lid a little allows the pin to be easily pushed back to a "centred" position using a coin or the side of a key, or suchlike. But this happens only about once every 6 months or so, and hardly detracts from our enjoyment of the Bike Bins panniers.
The one "killer" feature of the Bike Bins panniers, that sets them apart from a lot of other perfectly good panniers, is the locking feature (in the "Mark One", like we have, there are built in locks, while in the later "Mark Two" model, there are a couple of loops moulded into the design allowing the panniers to be locked with a small owner-supplied padlock).
If you wish to thank me for this review, then please comment or click on one of the advertisers' links - you might like some of the cycling related stuff (I know I do!)

Update 21st December 2014:
We have now owned these panniers for four-and-a-half years, and recently the mounting strip cracked on one of them, necessitating a repair.
Easy enough, it turned out, to order a similar mounting strip for another make of pannier!
We could have contacted Bike Bins, who no doubt have either spares for sale, or they will point you in the direction of someone who has, but we went for a "worst case" scenario to see what could be done if the original manufacturer was unable to supply parts.
Anyway, our pannier is all fixed up and as "good as new" for just $20!

Update 27th October 2016:
A cold trip to Oxford back in February 2016.
Oh, look, the bike next mine has a faded Bike Bins pannier!
(I have the blue and yellow panniers in this pic)

A typical Shopping trip for Anna's bike - note the open Bike Bins pannier.
I've tagged along for the ride, and have the two blue panniers.
The Bike Bins pannier is still the best way to keep your sliced bread from being squashed!

Update: 20 May 2020 - in "lockdown".
Yes, almost 10 years on, the Bike Bins panniers are still in use.
Anna's bike looks pretty much the same as it does in the picture above - same front basket, same two rear panniers.
I use the second Bike Bins pannier as a "long-distance" box - I keep all the junk I like to take on rides over about 5km (3 miles) with me ... the sort of journey where walking home is boring ;-)

I keep the following stuff in the second Bike Bins pannier (the one not mounted on Anna's bike).
  • a couple of spare inner tubes
  • a puncture repair kit
  • a "mini bike tool" set (one of those things that looks like a bloated Swiss army knife, and comes apart into two parts and has a variety of "hex" keys and small wrenches as well as a cross-head screw driver attachment).
  • a lightweight cagoule (i wear it under my yellow cycling windcheater/waterproof if i get too cold!)
  • various pills - hayfever/allergy, paracetamol (acetaminophen) etc. etc.
  • toilet paper (if you have travelled much, you'll know why!)
  • a generously stocked first aid kit (it is actually TWO first aid kits!)
  • there is room for some other stuff, too, like extra water, or waterproof trousers, or some food, etc. etc, but I tend to add that on a per trip basis, rather than leaving it in the pannier all the time.
For riding to work (yep, working in Logistics, I was instantly classified as an "essential worker", so I get to go to work same as normal, and usually by bicycle!), I usually take one of the blue panniers shown in the picture above.
But whenever I go for a spin (last Sunday I went for a 12 mile (19 km) "lockdown exercise" ride with my daughter), I put that pre-packed Bike Bins Pannier on the left side of the bike.
If I need extra junk, I just hang another pannier on the right side of the bike.
(I leave Anna's panniers on her bike, rather than "borrow" them, because ... )

Further Update: 20 May 2020:
It has come to my attention that Bike Bins did a kickstarter attempt to produce another run of their excellent panniers ... but the attempt failed to garner enough "seed" capital.

I wish they had told me about it!
As well as giving them a "shout out" I would have ordered another four for us! (priced at £150 - that's about $185, 170 Euros).

Well, who knows?
Maybe they will have another go in the future, or someone else will try to make something similar.
I have in my mind that I could make a similar thing using a sheet of carefully cut and folded aluminium (US: aluminum) with tabs glued down with epoxy resin. SJS Cycles sells the mounts (or equivalent). So maybe I will give it a go. Watch this space ;-)


  1. I have owned my bike bins for over four years now and use at least one of them every day. amazingly useful and hassle free, the only reason i can think of as to why not every cyclist has them is that they are not really available in the US anymore. i was lucky enough to score mine during a rare opportunity.i even use mine for camping (keeps bread from getting crushed!) and on my canoe to keep things safe and dry.

    1. I know what you mean - many a time in the past have I taken a triangular loaf of bread out of a rucksack (backpack)...

  2. Hi
    Thanks for the awesome review! I would love to get a pair of these Bike Bins, shipped to the USA. Their website says to ask for a quote, which I have done. However I have yet to get a reply. Are they still in business?


    1. I am sure they still are.
      Bike Bins have a phone number you could try
      +44 1747 871765.
      Don't forget to allow for the time difference - usual office hours in the UK are 9am to 5 pm Mon-Fri (although some places may be 8-4, and some may be open Saturdays, and some have answering machines when no-one is there).
      Folks sometimes don't respond to "work" emails here at the weekend!

      You could also try Practical Cycles, which is where I got our set of Bike Bins from:
      (and ask them for a shipping quote)
      For me, Practical Cycles was about 10 pounds (15 or 16 dollars) cheaper for a pair than Bike Bins (but I get free UK shipping!).
      I guess Bike Bins do a sales service, but they don't want to undercut their main retailers, who have a higher profile!!!
      The Bike Bins on sale at the moment are slightly different than the ones I reviewed. Mine (the Mk1) have built in locks, while the current set have moulded loops and you buy a small padlock yourself. security for both versions is about the same.
      I carry an extra cable lock wrapped around my carrier to lock the carrying loops of the BikeBins to my carrier when I leave it parked, then I slip the lock off when I want to move the boxes :-)
      Hope this helps!

  3. Thank you very much for taking the time to plot your journey with Bike Bins! It's a lot of money to spend, and luggage solutions are very influenced by personal taste and circumstance, so it's so useful to hear your experiences in detail and especially over time. Thank you :-)

    1. Thanks, its nice to be appreciated :-)
      The whole idea of my Long Term Tests is to give an extended user's view of the item(s) being reviewed - magazine reviewers rarely use the products for more than a couple of weeks.
      Our views on the panniers are the most extensive, merely because we use them so often!
      You are right that the Bike Bins are a LOT more expensive than some of the "luggage solutions" available, but we think they are worth it for:
      1) the lockable feature
      2) the hard sides stop bread and soft stuff getting crushed
      3) the rain protection - the pannier body is one piece of plastic, and the lids fit fairly well.
      To me, they are a bit like small motorcycle panniers (which I had when I rode a BMW motorcycle about 20 years ago).
      Some folks like wicker baskets and such, for the style, but we go more for "practical" than "pretty".
      indeed, my wife does most of our food and household shopping using a metal front basket and our Bike Bins panniers - and she still has one of them almost permanently mounted on her bike.
      They will be used for getting some groceries later this evening.
      However, be careful if you have a large tube luggage rack, such as on a Gazelle bike, or similar, because they tubes are to big for the panniers to clip on to.

  4. The questions is... How are the Bike Bins getting on!?

    1. still both in use. both very faded. Anna still has one or her "shopping bike", andshe isusing it for shopping as I write!
      the second bike bins pannier has my "distance kit" in it, so when I go for a decent ride it already has a lot of the stuff I take. i certainly took it on this trip (although it is not on shot for the video):
      i took it on this trip as well, and it is visible in 3 of the attached photos:

      Sadly, last time i looked, Bike Bins were out of production.
      But I reckon I can keep mine going for a while yet - they are simple moulded boxex with "off the shelf" panel locks (that used to fit car boots/trunks back in the 1960s and 70s) combined with Rixon and Kaul mounts that were used for a number of pannier types - SJS cycles carries a variety of spares for the mounting hooks.
      Any future cracks/damage to the panniers themselves couls be patched up with epoxy resin and a bit of glass fibre.
      So in summary, one of our pair of Bike Bins panniers is still in regular use, while the second is saved for keeping my travel kit in and gets used for rides over about 10 miles.

  5. were can i purchase these in the U.S?

    1. HI.
      Sadly the Bike Bins seem out of production :-(
      so unless you can find them "second-user" on Craigslist/ebay etc etc then i think the answer is ... you can not.
      There was an attempt to fund another production run (with a different locking method) on Kickstarter, but it seems to have failed to garner enough interest.