ORTLIEB BIKE BAGS & PANNIERS – BUYING GUIDE

Shaun George BOTS Guides, Commute

Bike bags are small bags that latch onto your bike’s frame and are invaluable for carrying gear on bike rides, be it a day trip out of your crowded cities or an across-the-world bike adventure.

Although these are indispensable for long rides, these can become absolutely essential for your every ride bike commute or while you’re out shopping.

DO I REALLY NEED A BIKE BAG?

As the weather gets hotter and your traveled distances get longer you’ll come to realize that a simple backpack (the bag you sling on your back) is simply not sufficient enough to carry everything you need. A sweaty soggy back is the worst as you end up perspiring a lot more because of the backpack.

Bike bags to the rescue

  1. They will fit almost any bike – just strap them on, fill them up, and off you go
  2. They’re light – a full system is typically under 1000 grams
  3. Low center of gravity (C.G) – since these sit on the frame and not on your, the C.G is low and gives you a lot better control on the bike
  4. Weight spread – you can spread the weight of your luggage throughout the bike using different types of bike bags rather than slugging a heavy backpack on your back

All these not only make your bike ride more comfortable, but they also add a sense of safety and control as you enjoy riding distances or commuting to work.

Some frame bags

ORTLIEB is a world-class manufacturer of outdoor storage solutions. They specialize in waterproof bags and are also leading manufacturers of waterproof panniers for bicycles.

Check out what the brand stands for!

Since ORTLIEB’s foundation in 1982 they’ve manufactured solely from Germany. More than 70% of the materials used for their products are derived from Germany and the brand adhered to the staunch German ideals of perfection.

WHY IS ORTLIEB CONSIDERED THE BEST

Ortlieb is most famous for its vast lineup of bicycle frame storage bags, saddlebags, handlebar bags, panniers, and pannier bags. Actually, “famous” is an understatement, Ortlieb has a cult-like following in the bike touring world. The reason they’re a popular choice is because of their much-renowned quality and amazing waterproof technology.

PRODUCT LINEUP

1. FRAME-MOUNTED BAGS – these are sleek, aerodynamic, and quite spacious. They maintain a low center of gravity since they are attached to the bike frame close to the ground. These are perfect to load up your bike and still maintain good stability and steering.

A top tube mounted frame bag

The Ortlieb Frame-Packs allows you to exploit your bike frame to create valuable stowage. Thanks to its lower center of gravity below your top tube, the Frame-Pack makes for an ideal stowage location for heavy gear such as tools, camping stoves, and food supplies. The proven, waterproof nylon fabric and the waterproof zipper ensure that your things remain absolutely dry even in the most inclement of weather. 

2. HANDLEBAR BAGS – as the name gives it away, these are mounted on your handlebar and are used to keep the most essential and often used items like nutrition bars, food, water, and some commonly used tools. You have easy access to these items when you’re riding. It’s important not to overload the front with too much luggage as weight in the front can lead to instability and poor steering feel.

the Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack is a waterproof pack with 15 liters of space for your sleeping bag and sleeping pad. It also helps to ensure a balanced pack and load distribution on your bike. Thanks to the two-sided roll closures, you can easily access your stuff at any time. Compression belts and drawstrings on the outside enable you to stow and attach additional equipment.

3. SADDLEBAGS – these are bags that sit under the saddle and vary in size from the uber small (perfect for a spare tube and a patch kit) to the uber large where you can stash enough for a multi-day ride.

Versatile and lightweight: one simple tool-free maneuver is all it takes to fix or remove the waterproof Ortlieb saddlebag. The integrated mounting allows quick change from bike to bike. The roll closure with elastics ensures safe closure of the bag and allows tight packing.

4. PANNIER BAGS – are bags that hang off the side of your bike, on purpose-built racks called Pannier Racks. The racks are mounted to bike frames – usually on the seat stay assisted by the seat clamp or seat post. Pannier bags sit on either ride of the rear/front wheels to balance weight equally.

They are made of a durable polyester fabric that makes this pannier a long-lasting touring companion. The waterproof roll closure ensures safe and waterproof storage of food and equipment. With its quick fixing mount, it can be taken off the pannier rack in a jiffy and used as a normal bag.

WHAT KIND OF ORTLIEB BAG WILL I NEED?

What kind of bag and how many bags you need depends primarily on what the intended usage and riding distances/conditions.

ALL RIDERS – Saddlebags are essential for every rider. They keep all the basic spares you need – a spare tube, patch kit, a foldable multi tool and some cash – on the bike without you having to remember this on every ride. They are compact and are barely visible on the bike.

COMMUTERS – commuting often requires you to carry a change of clothes, office essentials, and sometimes lunch. You don’t need too many pockets, just a few extra pockets on the outside of the bag for commonly accessed items such as keys, a wallet, or your phone.

A nice pannier with one or two pannier bags should do the trick. A pannier rack will be a stable platform for your pannier bags that will be capable of holding your office essentials and clothes, food, etc.

BIKEPACKING, TOURING & RANDONNEURING – Long rides demand more out of you, which is why you will need to carry more with you as essentials – Food, clothing, and spares. Since you’re looking to carry a lot of equipment, it’s essential to spread the weight evenly across your bike. This will ensure stability and also keep the weight off your body.

Tourers and randonneurs like bike bags that are hassle-free, light, and reliable. They’re not usually concerned about having lots of pockets or sleeves on their bags. 

The desire for ruggedness and waterproofness of panniers also varies from rider to rider. Tourers may sacrifice a bit of ruggedness (and no reinforced back-board) in exchange for light-weight fabrics.

CARE & MAINTENANCE

Ortlieb bags are as easy to clean and maintain as they are to install and use. There’s no denying that your panniers will get covered in dust, mud, and everything in-between. Try to clean yours regularly and usually use a damp cloth to wipe them off; wipe, rinse, repeat. It won’t be long before you will have them looking as good as new.

All Ortlieb products can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap. Do not use solvents, alcohols, or acid cleaners. You may also use a soft brush to clean your Ortlieb product.

It’s worth paying particular attention to the retention clips, straps and closure systems to ensure that they are always free of debris or any other contaminants. This will ensure that they are performing at their best and will not hinder your ride in anyway.


Bicycle storage bags are the way forward! They keep the stress off you and improve your ride and comfort. It’s a no brainer for commuters and riders looking forward to their next long haul.

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