Author Topic: Minimal pannier setup  (Read 4690 times)


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Minimal pannier setup
« on: December 23, 2020, 12:30:46 am »
Iím just imaging myself being alone in a strange country with my bike and tons of panniers front and back and feeling uncomfortable having too much bags around the bike with all your belongings scattered around

Iím not sure I would be able to relax . Iíd be like Attila the Hun and never get off my horse, not even to sleep 😆 incase stuff gets stolen.

But I suppose I have to accept certain types of travel demands the capacity to carry everything you need unless your going credit card touring

I have quite a methodical /analytical mindset and like to think far and deep into the future and overcome potential problems before I even arrive at them.

I would like to have maybe two bags

1. I like the look of the longer ortlieb bags that lay across the rear rack horizontally that are often attached to two panniers underneath creating an upside down ďuĒ shape . If that makes sense . Except I donít want the two panniers underneath , I just want a big wide horizontal bag that gives me the appearance of width from the back and is waterproof and large enough to hold everything of secondary importance to me

2. I donít know if they exist but I would like some sort of reverse backpack that you could wear under your T-shirt or jacket , that could store your valuables like phone , credit cards , wallet , psssport etc. Something subtle and if possible hidden . And easy to access. Basically you would love with this on most of the time you are off your bike. This back I would probably put at the front of the bike when riding so itís visible and accessible at all times.

So when your off your bike you would only have 1 big bag with stuff like clothes etc, that you would be semi ok with if it got stolen , as long as you still have your secret stash hidden on you.

I would maybe carry a cheap iPhone and spare wallet with some British money and maybe a small amount from the country Iím in. Maybe an old out of date passport. You could give these to the local thieves if they corner you while your real stuff is hidden . Then you say well gotta go and pedal like crazy lol. Yes, quite the imagination indeed

Anyone sussed out any best practices or methods of safety/ looking after your gear ?


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Re: Minimal pannier setup
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2020, 03:15:54 am »
Everyone has their own preferred way of doing things...and that way may vary depending on where one tours and for how long.

For my longer tours and self-supported expeditionary tours where I must carry a lot of spare food and water (up to 26.5l for my desert tours), I go with 4 panniers, a handlebar bag and a roll across my rear rack (plus a rack-top load under it).

For lighter touring, I use either only a Carradice Camper Longflap or that and an Ortlieb Large handlebar bag, as shown here: This package is small and light enough for me to simoly remove and carry whenever I leave the bike.

In-between, I use various combinations of the above (I have two complete sets of Ortlieb front and real panniers and handlebars bags, so I can tour with four front panniers...or four rear ones but usually two front and two rear). I also have some rack-top bags I can use at the rear if I wish.

As for theft avoidance, I always place my valuables (money and electronics, camera, travel documents) in my handlebar bag and I always take it with me when I leave the bike for any reason. I equipped my Ortlieb panniers with their anti-theft tethers (fine stainless steel cables) that I secure with my frame-mounted ring-lock's plug-in cable or chain (depending in where I am touring). They wouldn't deter a determined thief but they would slow someone and deter a snatch-and go kind of theft. I also have my more heavily loaded rear pannier mounting rails equipped with a second set of mounting hooks. This also slows removal, a boon to avoiding theft. My underseat saddle tool bag is secured with the same cable that secures my saddle and also latches into the bolt of my frame mounted ring-lock.

I leave the bike unattended and in the open as little as possible and of course make sure it is locked securely. If one is staying in a hotel, the concierge will generally be happy to store it in a secure location for you.

I also have my bikes equipped with remotely-controlled motion-detector alarms secured under the saddles. They noise they make is pretty noticeable (113dbA) and us intended more to startle a thief who might not expect it and to notify me, 'cos most people in cities seem to ignore alarms of any kind. I've found it really useful for my forest camps to deter porcupines and other small animals who might otherwise gnaw into my bags. It works great with the remote control for startling/deterring bears and mountain lions. :)

In all my international travels, I've never lost anything due to theft or pilferage, unlike here in the US, where I have lost some small items to pilferage, generally by people who acted on impulse and were looking for a souvenir.

I still remember a small village outside Nikopol in Bulgaria where I stopped for supplies. An older gentleman greeted me as I was in the process of locking my bike and urged me to refrain, saying his was an honest village and they would take it as an insult if I didn't trust them enough to leave it unlocked. After some thought, I left it with him -- but still glanced out the store window. He stayed next to the bike for all the time I was shopping and it came to no harm. Another time in Turnu Măgurele Romania, I needed to leave the bike to use the toilets located under the city park. While I used care to lock my bike and take my handlebar bag, a gentleman there also volunteered to watch the bike and did so honorably and carefully. We had a nice chat lasting about 30 minutes afterward and he told me of his time spent in New York City "where you couldn't trust people like here".

With care, I think you can have a good experience in many places while touring. Unfortunately, I live in an area of extremely high bike theft and a number of tourists' bikes and all their gear gave been stolen as they stopped for groceries on their way through town. Most were crowd-funded replacement bikes and were able to continue their tours, but not in the same way as they arrived.




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Re: Minimal pannier setup
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2020, 08:17:27 am »
Putting documents and valuables in a handlebar bag that you take with you seems to be fairly standard.

I dislike handlebar bags, so have gone for a slightly different approach. For documents and valuables I have a small (15 litres max) minimalist rucksack, which generally goes in one of my rear panniers.

Inside this rucksack I have some money in a wallet that I use for food shopping, but I have most of it plus passport and credit card in a pouch that I can take out of the rucksack and strap under clothing when not cycling. 

- - - - - -

For a long tour I would find it difficult to use only two bags. I generally want about 70 litres capacity for long camping trips, plus some sort of "overflow" capacity, plus 2 or 3 water bottles on the bike frame. If cooking, one of the 3 bottle cages is used for a fuel bottle.

I could probably manage camping using a pair of the biggest Ortleib rear panniers, Back-Roller Pro Plus with 35 litre capacity each side. These are the panniers I generally use for local supermarket shopping.

But I prefer to spread the load, with a pair of 21 litre Bike Packer Plus rear panniers and a pair of 15 litre Sport Packer Plus front panniers. I believe having some weight on the front makes the bike more stable than having nearly all the weight in one lump at the back. It also helps keep the front wheel on the road when climbing very steep inclines.

Oveflow capacity is generally something bungee-strapped across the top of the rear panniers. For example, tent rolled up inside the sleeping mattress. These items can go inside one of the panniers, but I often prefer to have them out and leave space for food purchases.   

If I need more capacity I can do :

- Bike Packer Plus front and rear (84 litres)
- rear Back-Roller Pro Plus with front Sport Packer Plus (100 litres)
- rear Back-Roller Pro Plus with front Bike Packer Plus (112 litres)

And finally, an Ortleib roll-top Rack Pack that can add another 31 litres. 

If I want to combine cycling and walking I can fit my 38 litre rucksack across the top of the rear panniers instead of the Rack Pack, as in the photo below when I did a fixed-base cycling/walking holiday with my wife. This assumes having some kind of reasonably safe storage for the bike and panniers.


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Re: Minimal pannier setup
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2020, 07:50:49 pm »
Looks good.
I have a couple of variations on your setup.
I use a Revelate Tangle bag in that space under the toptube, putting most of the heavy metal items there improves handling.
I have straight handlebars and put the sleeping mat under them and in line with them, between the cables and the stem there is a suitable space.
Stay safe.


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Re: Minimal pannier setup
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2020, 01:02:25 am »
Great tips guys , thanks

Some good food for though

There is no short cut to experience I suppose , I guess you just have to do a tour or two to find out which methods work for you and continue to refine it over the years