Sunday, 28 December 2014

Long Term Review: Aldi Bikemate Roll-Top Panniers

Aldi Bikemate roll-top pannier, seen here mounted
on the extra-long rack of a Pashley Mailstar

Top of Ditchling Beacon, with the Royal Mail team on the 2014 London 2 Brighton.
My Aldi Bikemate panniers are visible on the far right (mounted on "my" Pashley Mailstar)
I've had these panniers since about May (2014).
I paid, iirc, about £15 ($24, 18 Euros) for a pair of them at our local Aldi store.

I really like my Bikemate panniers.
They were available in a variety of colours including black with grey "fronts", black with blue and black with yellow.
I chose the black with yellow for its added visibility.

The fittings are a pair of simple hooks, with an additional velcro strap at the top and bottom for extra stability.
After trying it a few times, I stopped using the velcro attachments, deciding they were a bit too "fiddly" for my tastes. So for most of the test period, I have just been using the two hooks to attach the panniers to my luggage rack.

The panniers clip pretty easily onto a cheap steel rack with thin struts - the hooks are an "R" shape, and bend out as the hook engages, then pop onto the loop of the "R".
The hooks were quite a bit harder to get onto the much thicker steel tubing of the heavy-duty rack shown of a Pashley Mailstar (as shown in the picture above), and I would perhaps have a few concerns about the durability of the clips if constantly taken on and off larger diameter rack tubing.
But for thin steel tubing, like that on Mermaid's rack, they are ideal.

For loads they are each rated at 15 litres or 17 litres or something like that (I forget!), so they are a smallish pair of panniers, but being a roll-top design, of course they can be left "open" so that stuff can protrude from the top. I have also used to closing strap to strap a jacket to the top of the pannier.

I use one of these panniers every day for getting to work, and I find the shoulder strap that comes with the panniers to be very useful in walking from the bike parking to the office.
When I go shopping, I also use the shoulder strap to carry the pannier with me.

On the 2014 BHF London to Brighton bike ride, I took both my Bikemate panniers, and I had food and water in one pannier and tools in the other, as well as waterproofs, a first aid kit and route instructions etc. etc.
After the event, I took the panniers off the bike, and carried them about by the shoulder straps.
Very handy.

For the price, they represent VERY good value, and although I have a few concerns about their long-term durability, I recommend them to anyone looking for a low-cost pannier for everyday use.

Aldi stocked them as part of their Spring "Bike Event" in 2014, so I suggest that anyone interested in similar panniers should look out for theit 2015 promotions!

Update 31st December 2014:
I think more pics are needed so folks can see what I am describing better, such as pics of the mounts etc.
I also forgot, until I looked through my pics, that the panniers have a "raincover" - a large "shower cap" that covers the pannier. It lives in a zip-up compartment at the bottom of the pannier, and has a strap to prevent you losing it or leaving it at home.
I tried it once, just to see what it does, but I don't use it - rain or no rain :-)
I exppact it would be useful if the pannier was fuller, and thus could roll over so much at the top, and/or if cycling for several hours in really heavy rain.
Anyway, here are the extra pics of the pannier, and some of it's relative size against our long-term favourite (and benchmark pannier!), the BikeBins locking hard-sided pannier.

Two simple snap-over hooks to keep the pannier on the rack.
If find the top velcro strip to get in the way, and to be more trouble than it is worth, while the bottom velcro strip is both finnicky to attach and unattach AND the material it is mounted on is too weak, so the strap is likely to pull off its mounting on the pannier anyway.
The pannier would be better without the two velcro fitting at all!
To take the pannier off, I just pull up on the (buckled) closure strap, and the panniers easily comes off my thin-rail luggage rack.

My compact "Revolution" mini-pump
fits in nicely. With the pannier loaded,
I tuck the pump vertically against the
"end" of the pannier.

The pannier has a stiffened "back" and a small, loose,
stiffener that goes in the bottom.

The outside pocket is handy for a small puncture
kit, or, as in my case, a can of tyre foam.
Whether the pocket is on the "front" or the "back"
depends which way you put them on the rack.
Other than the pocket, they are "ambidextrous".

A bag of "Pets at Home" hamster bedding (medium size) just about goes in.
The Bedding pack is 12" x 10" x 4 1/2" (30cm x 25cm x 11.5 cm)
Compared to the BikeBins pannier, the Aldi Bikemate pannier is taller and slimmer.
Note the shaped sides on the BikeBins pannier, to reduce heel-clip, while the Aldi Bikemate panniers are straight-sided.
Note also that the BikeBins panniers are made from stiff plastic, while the Aldi Bukemate panniers are made of
soft plastic with a stiffener sewn in on the "mounts" side.

Another comparison pic. The BikeBins pannier has
Rixon and Kaul mounts and a lower rail with an
adjustable hook, while the Aldi Bikemate pannier
has a pair of simple snap-over hooks and a couple of
velcro straps. On the other hand, the BikeBins panniers
cost 4 or 5 times as much!

The Aldi Bikemate pannier will scrunch
down a bit to actually fit inside the BikeBins
pannier. The BikeBins pannier, being rigid,
clearly cannot do this trick!

The Aldi Bikemate pannier will fit in a cheap
front basket of the type sold in supermarkets.
The BikeBins pannier won't!

The Aldi Bikemate pannier WILL mount on a thicker bike rack. Here it is shown mounted on the heacy-duty rack of a
Pashley Mailstar. It is quite a squeeze to "pop" the hooks over the thicker rack, and I would have some durability concerns
if one was popping the pannier on and off a thick rack several times a day on a regular basis. The Aldi Bikemate panniers, like many others (including the BikeBins), aren't going to fit on a really thick heavy-duty rack of the type manufactured by,
for example Steco, but, as I have mentioned in my piece on the BikeBins panniers, there is a "workaround" even for that!
The Aldi Bikemate panniers are, in my opinion, MOST suited to the sort of thin steel racks that Anna and I have fitted on
our bikes. I used the same "lift by the buckled strap" technique to get the panniers on and off the Mailstar, but it was quite a bit harder than on my "thin-rail" rack!

The "shower cap" rain cover lives in a zipped compartment at the bottom of the pannier, and is attached with a strap to
prevent loss. As I usually only travel short distances when it is hammering down with rain, I don't use the rain cover,
finding that the general water resistance of the pannier material to be adequate for keeping out the rain. Might be handy,
though, when the pannier if full enough (or holding a tall, thin object) so that the pannier top can't be rolled over.

A cable lock can be slipped through one of the loops that hold
sholder-strap clips to give the pannier a modest element of
The shoulder strap is handy. Normally the pannier
would be rolled down a bit at the top and would
not be quite so much in my armpit as in this "demo"
picture! I use the shoulder strap on every working
day getting from the bike parking to the office.

What fits in the Aldi Bikemate roll-top pannier.
Probably good for "top-up" shopping, rather than the "main" grocery run.
Of course, as the panniers come in pairs, you could move TWICE as much as the food shown!


  1. Great little panniers and a great in depth review. Thanks for the anti-theft tip. Been wondering how to secure them. Won't stop the determined thief , but worth knowing.

  2. I am very overdue on an update to the panniers situation. I have rather a lot now ;-)
    And, yes, these yellow one are still used sometimes!