Choosing the Right Bag for Your Cycle Commute

Created: Friday, September 16, 2022, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

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By Catherine Ellis, Hill & Ellis

We’re all aware of the boom in cycling over recent years, and the changes to the Highway Code at the beginning of 2022, meaning that not only is cycling an eco-friendly and pocket-friendly alternative to driving or taking public transport, but it is also becoming a safer option.

With people returning to work after the summer holidays, some will be returning to a cycling commute, while others may be making the switch to the saddle for the first time.

But… for most cycle commuters, the trade-off can be that they turn up at work looking less than prepared for the working day. Take your bag, for example. Panniers and rucksacks are traditionally functional but ugly and don’t really give the right impression as you head into the workplace, boardroom, or even to the bar after work.

Right Bag for Your Cycle Commute
Image: Yay Images

But how do you choose the right bag for you? Here are my five top tips:

1. Organization

There is nothing worse than spending 10 minutes rooting around your bag to find your keys, taking everything out – usually twice – before you find them buried at the bottom. So, look for a bag with internal pockets so that you can keep essentials, like keys or lights, separate and quick to access. I promise you will use it.

2. Invest in a bag that lasts

Make it last! Pannier bags can be expensive, and you will definitely put them through their paces on your commute, so it is worth investing in a really well-made bag. Look for bags that have reinforced stitching, riveting, YKK zips, and securely attached hooks as the hooks will be put under a lot of pressure over the years.

3. Make it secure

You’ve got all your valuables in it – your laptop, your phone, your wallet, or your purse – so it must be secure on your bike. Pannier hooks are definitely the best to secure the bag onto the bike as they offer the best fit.

Look for pannier hooks that can be adapted to your bike as this will mean the hooks will securely attach to your exact bike and the hooks will not be strained each time the bag is put on and off the pannier rack.

There are a lot of rubberized metal hooks on the market and they are liable to snap as they are put under pressure every time they are used, so ideally avoid these.

Also, opt for bags that have an added central security tab in the middle of the hooks to further secure the bag and prevent the bag from falling off over a pothole or worse being pulled off!

4. Rain protection

After 16 years of commuting by bicycle in the UK, it strangely doesn’t rain that much, especially during commuting time. Honestly! But, regardless of this, you still need to be ready for rain as let’s face it, this is the UK. So, check that the bag has a wax, silicon, or waterproof spray coating, or that it comes with a waterproof cover to protect it in any sudden shower.

5. Don’t compromise on style

Just because you want to cycle with it doesn’t mean it needs to look boringly practical. Remember as soon as it is off the bike you will be carrying it around with you for the rest of the day, so it may as well look good on your arm. Search for a pannier bag that fits your style, there are lots of varieties out there and you will be using it on and off the bike.

Whatever you choose, a good bag will help you enjoy your cycle even more – after all, there’s always something we need to be taking with us, even if it’s just a flask of tea on a cool day or a chilled bottle of water during the height of summer.

Catherine Ellis
Catherine Ellis is founder of Hill & Ellis, which produces a range of high-quality, stylish cycle bags. Each bag, designed in the UK, is created to transition perfectly from home to bike to boardroom to bar. They are functional, fashionable, and hard-wearing. There’s plenty of space inside for a laptop and other essentials, and each bag comes with patented pannier clips that fit almost any bike, allowing you to clip the bag on and off quickly and easily.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post or content are those of the authors or the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

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