Oct. 27, 2010
Total mileage: 3,043
The annals of the Spoked household include an event known as the Second Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. This dates from the early period of my return to adult cycling, when Mr. Spoked gave me the “romantic” gift of a bicycle helmet on Feb. 14. During the same 12-month period, but for another holiday, he gave me cycling gloves. I was most seriously displeased.
As a joke earlier this year, he emailed that my birthday gift was going to be a pannier. A decade ago I would have been offended, but this time I fired back with a link to the Queen Bee website and told him either the ginkgo or frond designs would be acceptable. The man can take a hint, and I’ve been enjoying my ginkgo pannier for some time now.
Panniers are bags that attach to brackets or racks on bicycles. They’re the mainstay of many urban commutes. My panniers carry clothing and lunch. Other commuters use them to haul laptops, paperwork, and anything else they require for the day.
You don’t need a fancy pannier. For a long time I used either a traditional backpack (it was hot and heavy) or cheap panniers (serviceable but a little small and plain). But, hey, if Mr. Spoked was willing to drop some bucks on a big and pretty bag, why not take advantage of it?
The Sweetpea has been rocking the new pannier for awhile now, and I’ve observed both advantages and disadvantages. What follows is a totally unsolicited and unbiased review. Mr. Spoked paid full price for the Queen Bee creation and we’ve spoken with no one from the company.
What I like (nay, love) about it:
- It’s beautiful.
- It holds a pair of heavy clogs and a full suit of clothes with some room left over.
- There are a couple of small interior pockets for valuables.
- It’s got a removable strap so you can take it off the rack and throw it over your shoulder for the trip to the bathroom or shower.
- The sides are fully reflective, something missing from cheap panniers.
What I don’t like about it:
- It has popped off the rack twice when the bike hit a hard bump. The top hooks are wedge-shaped rather than rounded as on our cheaper bags, and that keeps them from sitting tightly on the rack bars. Most commutes this hasn’t been a problem, but a couple of times the system has failed. There’s nothing fun about running after your belongings in traffic.
Will I keep using it? Of course. I haven’t been commuting lately because riding in the dark is scary, but beginning next March I’ll be getting back on the mule. I’ll have to work harder at avoiding bumps or find a better way of keeping the bag on the rack.
Mileage update: Since accomplishing my goal of 3,000 miles for 2010, I’ve been concentrating mostly on cyclocross. It puts a lot fewer miles on the odometer, but it’s good clean fun. Still, I miss commuting and have been thinking about making it central to next year’s cycling goal.