GearList: The Pannier Rack
By Nathaniel Wu
Are you running out of storage on your bike? Tired of stuffing your backpack before a trip? A pannier rack and bag may be the solution. The pannier rack is a rack that fits on the front or back of a bike, and combined with a bag, can serve as a huge storage space. It is perfect for commuting and trips, but for others, it may not be so obvious.
Let’s start with the advantages. As stated before, a pannier rack and bag can hold a large volume of gear. The average pannier bag can hold 20 liters, which is about the size of a 5 gallon water jug. They are also convenient to load, given that a rack is already installed on the bike. For those who carry backpacks, a pannier bag may be a relief for the bulkiness of a backpack.
However, there are also disadvantages of using a pannier rack. First, it might not even work for certain bikes. Using a pannier rack requires that the bike already has mounting points to install the rack. Road bikes usually don’t have mounting points, but touring and gravel bikes often come with them. Another disadvantage is weight. No matter how you store it, gear will always add weight, which can make riding more difficult.
After reading this, you may realize that the pannier rack and bag are not for you. For others, it may be the dream solution to a common problem. When purchasing one, there isn’t too much to look for. Make sure it fits within your price range (average costs around 40) and the reviews look good. To install one, you may need an adjustable wrench and a set of Allen Keys (hex wrenches).
Regarding pannier bags, there are multiple options and types. Some fit directly on the top of the rack while others hang off on the sides. Choose the storage option that fits your type of riding and storage needs. Also, pay special attention to the strapping method. For heavier luggage, Velcro is not going to cut it.
This was a very basic introduction to pannier racks and bags, but if you want to find more information, check out YouTube videos and scour the internet for the wealth of information it offers.