Is it worth paying extra for expensive panniers? (Updated 2+yr Later...)

Note: Updates to the blog are at the bottom if you like to get up to date if you have read the original blog already.

As a young cyclist, I used to go around with a backpack to carry whatever I needed. But now I'm a lot older, I have to carry a lot more as I now do my own shopping, get supplies for pets, DIY goods for the flat, etc, etc, etc... You get the drift, it means having a rucksack to carry this lot in from time to time isn't really advisable with all that weight on the back & so high up it makes you top heavy when cycling.

So the other choices are trailers & panniers, to which I now use both.

So as I have had a few years of using panniers, I have found them not quite adequate to the job. Well, the ones I have bought over the years. The first pannier I got was only a low budget £10 one to see how I go & to be honest wasn't expecting it to last.

It was small, simple to use & affordable for most. But in a matter of weeks I found it wasn't as waterproof as claimed, definitely not robust & after a month I was already sewing back on bits & new Velcro straps to hold it on as the old ones frayed to bits & I have been doing this regularly for a couple years.

In the end it was used as a tool bag for my longer rides than a shopping bag, I started using the trailer more until something else came up. Eventually I decided it was time to get another, this time go for a more expensive brand. When you have a look at what is about, the prices vary a lot. Definitely wasn't prepared to pay around £100 for a pair or even for 1 bag as I didn't know how good they are if at all.

Next one I tried a pair from Aldi, still below £20. They were of a reasonable size, each clipped on individually & for shopping they did ok.

Unfortunately the clips failed & rendered 1 side useless & as Aldi only gets them in from time to time the only option was a refund. So off I go again hunting yet another set & this time I did go for mid range & I bought bigger too at 47L in size that was almost double my last set.

Now when I got these, they looked great. Looked sturdier, thicker material & definitely right size to do the job or so I thought. On 1st load of shopping I found them awkward to strap down to the panniers & when lifting them onto the bike, this happened...

And why, well the next picture clearly shows the strain it takes & getting straps onto the pannier just adds to it as you had to lift them to gain access to straps. Clearly wasn't designed to come off the bike often, more like not at all. I guess as a Dutch brand, they don't worry about leaving them on the bike when shopping. Where as here, not a chance will I leave them on bike.

Warranty was useless too as seller wasn't of any help & passed the buck, so I decided to modify & strengthen the panniers instead as I needed them. But no matter how I set it up, modified the strapping, it just wasn't an easy set to use & would've been better as 2 separate panniers at that size. Also I kept kicking them when pedalling as strapping put them too far forward, they just wasn't working out but all I had.

As I paid quite a bit for them, I sure wasn't gonna throw them away & didn't have the finance to go any further up the price range. Plus the fact I was getting reluctant too after the messing around with these ones.

Well recently an online cycle shop Wiggle did a Twitter competition, just a simple Retweet one (My fav sort of competition). It was for a set of Ortlieb panniers, not a cheap set to get at £100 a pair. But I thought what the Hell, worth a go.

And would you believe it, I won! Woohoo!! Yes, that was my response & as soon as I got them I was like a kid at Christmas. Opening it up & couldn't put it down until it was put together & on the bike. Oh and Tweeted about it to all too as they sure did look good! lol

They were so easy to fit onto the bike, they just slide on & click into place & that is it. No fiddly straps, Velcro, rope etc. To take off is even easier, handle at the top which you lift up & panniers come off with it. Man, they are just so simple to use so why aren't ALL panniers aren't like these??

Size wise they are great too, nice contours so you don't kick them as you pedal & as I have found out I can carry as much as my previous 47L panniers & room for more. They are lighter on the bike when empty, something we all appreciate & also when it rains, they are totally waterproof (something none of my previous has ever been) & in our country is much needed.

So is it worth paying the cost of what these are going for? Even though I won them I now know what they are like, my answer will be YES!

They hold a lot of shopping quite well, not straining when it holds the heaviest of my shopping (20+kg so far) & I often have to check they're on the bike as I don't notice them on there when pedalling. It comes with a 5yr warranty, replacement parts & additional extras you can attached for more carrying. You can even turn them into rucksacks. lol

Now I know & if ever I need to get more of them (can fit them on front fork panniers too) or finally replace these tho not in a while. I will most definitely go for these again as so far they haven't come off my bike (except to fill with shopping) & unlikely too for quite some time.

There are a couple things to bear in mind tho when using them, firstly due to the mounting on panniers they do rattle a lil bit. Was disconcerting at first as I kept thinking I hadn't clicked it in place correctly. But when it has shopping, the rattling goes. Its just how they fit & nothing wrong with them.

The other which I say is important is careful how you pack the panniers, it doesn't like sharp corners pressing against the plastic fabric. I can see this could eventually tear it & not sure how easy it is to repair or if is even covered under the long warranty. So if packed sensibly, you won't have any problems & I for one am proud & glad to have these lovely if bright Ortlieb panniers.

Thankyou for taking time to read this & hope this is of use to those who're looking for a good set of panniers.


Since I had posted this a few days back, I have had the misfortune of a slide after coming off on a bend due to leaves. Thus the left hand pannier went scraping along the tarmac. All looked ok when I picked up the bike & pannier was covered in mud.


So after I get indoors with bike I took pannier off & gave it a wipe down & cleaned it up. I let the pictures show how it fared a slide on tarmac...

 Other than a few scrape marks on hard plastic parts, you wouldn't know it went for a slide. Another plus for the brand.

UPDATE (1yr later)

Well I thought I check to see when I posted this blog & would you believe it, its been a year already since I posted this blog.

So how have they faired over the year? Well for starters, they haven't come off my bike other than when sharing them with the other bike when I go out for rides & they're as much as part of the bike as my bell.


They still look almost new despite the 100s of miles I have done with them from around town to all around London & carrying God knows how much weight each time I cycle to the shops or just for a fun ride.



So I can happily say they are worth far more than what they cost to buy, if anything I am looking into buying the smaller version in White for my Roadrunner.

Update 18th June 2016

It's now been over 2yrs (almost 3) since I got my nice big yellow Ortlieb panniers, they've done a lot of rides with me & battled thru all sort of weather & road conditions. So how have they fared so far? Bloody well I say, I have now bought a 2nd smaller white set which gets used as much as the yellow ones & all still look almost as new. There's also been some changes to the bike collection to use them on too.




I have fitted the exact same Axiom rack on all my bikes so I can just clip whatever panniers I want for the ride onto whatever bike I choose to use, even the folding one which if you're asking doesn't effect the handling of the bike but actually improves it as all these racks move the panniers further back & help give clearance to pedalling.

They're so good they're even a feature on my wall with the bikes. :)

And that concludes my blog. The Ortlieb panniers have proved their value in money & in my opinion are worth paying for to get many years & rides out of them. I hope this has helped you in your search for a good quality panniers.


  1. A while ago I bought a pair of Altura Dryline 32s, and I've been very happy with them. Click-on, click-off, and a good range of adjustment to ensure no heel clearance problems. Until recently they've been on my #3 bike, an old Raleigh M-Trax to which I'd fitted a clunky old Zefal rack that I had lying around. A few weeks ago, I bought a TorTec Ultralite rack and fitted it to my #2 bike, a TriCross Comp which has a pair of clip on mudguards. Since then they've had even more use. I use the TriCross for winter sportives, and there are only four screws involved in removing and replacing the rack. These modern panniers have been a revelation. I tried using panniers decades ago and the shapeless, heel banging efforts that needed a lot of fiddling with straps almost put me off the idea for ever.

    If I ever feel the need for even bigger panniers, I'll take a look at the Ortliebs but I do have a lot of time for the Alturas.

    1. I've looked at Alturas before as it seems to be a popular brand on bikes, but was put off by the price so did go cheaper. Now I know different & it seems from feedback on the social network everyone else has same feeling on these sort of panniers, just never found any reviews to compare & why I decided to do one.

  2. I too have looked at Ortlieb and, like you, would fear leaving them on the bike in certain places. 25 years ago, when I started commuting by bike, I bought a single Karrimor traveller pannier, which I used for nearly a decade. In my late teens a couple of friends suggested riding from Oxford to Chelmsford (home) via the south of England i.e. staying outside the M25, so I bought a second Karrimor. They had changed the fabric colours in the intervening years but the two are identical in design and function, both with rucksack straps tucked away.
    Last year I started commuting by bicycle again so dug out my trusty panniers. The older one was showing its' age along the seams so I searched that well known online auction site and found one NOS (new old stock) to match the later one circa 1995.
    £18 was enough to make it mine, so I am now the proud user of a matching pair of 20 year old Karrimor Traveller panniers, used on my 1993 Carrera MTB turned commuter/allrounder.
    Oh, and it has a coupling for a Spokey Joe trailer (£30 from Asda) too...

  3. Great review - I've read it several times over recent weeks.

    What do you think of the yellow colour? Would you buy yellow in the future? What do you think of the colours generally?

    I am wondering whether to buy red or yellow so that they help my bike be seen but the blue ones do appeal. Any thoughts on the colours?

    Ruddy expensive - about £100 is the cheapest on Amazon UK or in some online bike shops. Some places are selling them for £120 which is crazy.

    1. I love my Yellow Panniers, they are really vibrant & yes I would buy yellow ones if I needed them. It all depends on the bike as i bought the next smaller set to go with my roadrunner bike as it's colour scheme is Black & white. I find when looking at them in the shops that their colours they come in all are bold strong colours. I have just received a rack bag I bought which was on offer & it is Asphalt grey & looks just as good. As for being seen, all panniers have reflectives on them & I put reflectives on my wheels to help get noticed in the dark. The reflectives stand out more than the pannier's colour's.

      As for the price, £100 for a pair of Orlieb 40L roller panniers is a good price & well worth it for the waterproofing & 5yr guarantee. I have paid £30-40 for cheaper ones in the past & barely last a year. So if I did that every year that would be £150-200 spent on cheaper panniers in that 5yrs. My yellow panniers are now 4yrs old, still waterproof, still in one piece & still used many times a week for shopping & still looking good. I'll update the blog very soon so show this.

  4. Thanks Wolf - much appreciated.

    I will bite the bullet and buy a pair from Amazon. The cheeky so and so's want £90 for the red or blue ones but £120 for the yellow ones. So, it is red or blue then :-)

    They have offered me £6 off if I buy something before the end of Nov so that brings them down to £84.

    1. Does sound a bit of a cheek for charging more for yellow, try a price comparison for them on Google shopping for cheapest yellow ones. I found it useful when buying the latest addition 'rack bag' & got it for half the price.

    2. Rutland Cycling is selling all colours for £94.99 plus £1.99 for supposedly next day delivery... so ordered.

      I also sent an email to Amazon complaining - bit of a rant - about the £120 for the yellow ones - turns out that the yellow ones are sold by a third-party etailer and all the other colours all sold by Amazon for £91.

      But the yellow stands out considerably more than the other colours and I want to be seen as much as possible by cars and other vehicles. I have an orange Mountain Warehouse jacket for winter and a lime green specialized helmet for all year around. With the yellow bags there will be no excuse for not seeing me! LOL!

      My ruck-sack zip broke in the pouring rain yesterday and I am fed up with having my shopping on my back going up the numerous hills in Swansea so I am looking forward to getting these. They are indeed pricey, and I shared many of the reservations that you initially raised in this wonderful blog post, but this post of yours certainly helped sway me to order them.

      Thank you :-)

    3. Thankyou for letting me know & glad my blog was of help, I am not one for cycling with rucksacks so always used panniers (even on motorcycles). When you get them, take your time to set them up as it took me a few goes to get the right position for easy clipping onto the rack & no rattle as well as away from the feet. I bought the same rack for all my bikes so the setup is the same no matter what bike I use. I am now looking at buying an Ortlieb rucksack in the new year for when I am walking as finding the £30 ones I use atm barely last a yr, similar scenario as to the panniers to be honest. Hope you enjoy your new panniers as I am with mine.