Have you realized your racks, bags, and panniers are junk?

When I was younger I used to buy my bike bags at the army surplus store. They weren’t actually army surplus equipment. There was nothing army about them. They were cheap junk. I still have some of them.

I’ve bought several cheap bike rear racks too, including the classic cast-aluminum “mousetrap” rack, shown here pinching someone else’s wallet.

Cast Aluminum Rear Rack
Photo: Andrew Dressel

Stand by, because I’m about to tell you about a sale on Ortlieb, Tubus, and Racktime products. (Click that link if you can’t wait.)

Ted and Chamba
Richard Simmons called. He wants his shirt back.

I never use those bags anymore. They were cheaply made, with no organizational features–basically nylon pouches designed by someone who vaguely recalled what a bike looked like. They’re mementos now.

I do still have the rack and baskets and they may ride again one day. The picture on the right is me, commuting with my dog, Chamba, around 1998. I still have those cheap folding wire baskets too. Even the shirt.

And that’s the only bike I ever owned that I threw in a dumpster. I don’t even remember what brand it was.

Chamba died, as must we all one day.

Death. Impermanence. The futility of life.

Do I have you in a buying mood yet?

In retrospect, the bags and the bike played out about as you’d probably expect. As for the rack, I feel like I’ve beaten the odds. Cast aluminum is weak, but cheap to use in manufacturing. Those shopping baskets will probably last forever, but they’re heavy as hell.

Now that I’m in the cycling industry, I’m in a position of being constantly reminded of the Philistine that I am with regard to my gear. And I frequently hear unprompted testimonials from cyclists who made better gear investments:

I’ve had these panniers for 50 years, and the only problem I ever had with them was when a volcano shot a blob of red-hot lava on the zipper! Dang thing jammed until I could put come Crisco on it. Still got burn scars on my thighs, though. Wanna see ’em, feller?

So some things are built to last.

Which brings me to…

Ortlieb, Tubus, and Racktime Products On Sale

Until August 24, all Ortlieb, Tubus, and Racktime Products are 10% off at Bike Bag Shop.

Let me help you get that image of me in a tank top out of your mind:

The Ortlieb Back Roller Classic waterproof panniers are rear panniers suitable for an expedition, or a rainy commute, The roll-top closure, waterproof fabric, durable design, and easy mounting system make these rear panniers great for daily use.

Now available with the Bike Shop Hub logo.

The RackTime Shoulderit is both an attractive shoulder-bag and bike pannier. Functional and ready for a trip to town. This bag clicks on and off your bike rack in seconds. A strong magnetic flap holds the shoulder strap aside when you are riding.
$49.00 $44.10

The Tubus Cargo comes in two sizes: 26″, which fits most 26″ wheeled mountain bikes and 700c road bikes, and the 700c, which is designed to provide extra clearance on road bikes with full-wrap fenders.


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4 thoughts on “Have you realized your racks, bags, and panniers are junk?”

  1. Kevin Love says:

    Rear racks are for girlfriends to ride on. See:


    Any piece of crap that won’t support a passenger’s weight should be banished to the landfill where it belongs.

    My bicycle, a Pashley Sovereign Roadster, came with a factory installed girlfriend-ready rack. Used with massive 70 L Basil panniers they will swallow an entire trolley of groceries to take home to the woman who has successfully made the transition from girlfriend to wife.

    She still rides on the rear rack.

  2. C.Cook says:

    Kevin, Epic Photo!

  3. BluesCat says:

    Ooo, hey, Kevin. Mrs. Cat would get REALLY suspicious if I were to put something called a “girlfriend-ready rack” on one of my bikes: she doesn’t ride!

    She’d probably threaten me (again) with what she calls “A Mrs. Bobbitt”!

  4. Mike Myers says:

    It’s funny. I have a really high quality set of panniers on one bike and an el cheapo set on another. They’re about the same age, but the cheap set gets more use than the expensive set(grocery bike has the cheapos). The $14 set of Nashbar ATB panniers are holding up like they’re made of Mythril.

    My Carradice panniers will outlast them, I’m sure, but they were $150 for the set.

    I do have a Tubus rack on one bike, and a vintage Blackburn MTB rack on the other.

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