Saturday, 19 October 2013

Summary of our views on Bike Bins rigid-sided panniers after three-and-a-half years of regular use

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!).
    The best way of fitting the Bike Bins panniers to a Steco rack (or other "thick-tubing" 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 (and he is probably right!), but if anyone wants to come up with a mount that fits, then he would be very interested to hear from them. So get the 3d printers going folks, an opportunity awaits!
So, overall, after more than 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.

A fuller review of the panniers, with lots of pictures and discussion about how we came to our conclusions is available here
If there are any questions you have about this summary, or you just want to chat about panniers, or anything else, then feel free to post in the comments box below.

If you wish to thank me for this review, then please comment and/or click on one of the advertisers' links - you might like some of the cycling related stuff (I know I do!)

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