Bike bags for the luggage rack are many, you will also encounter them often when you are on the bike. Bike bags that can be attached to other parts of the bike are also plentiful, they are then mounted in the frame, under the saddle or on the handlebars.
Pannier bags that attach to the front of the bike have long been an accoutrement for true cycling adventurers, as they come into their own on very big bike trips - biking to the North Cape, across Africa, down the Great Wall of China, that sort of very big.
However, the new desire for cycling has helped front panniers rise in popularity in recent years, as more and more people of all ages now appreciate the enjoyable pace that only cycling holidays can offer. If you want to travel by bike, however, you need the right panniers, and that's where bags for "front of the bike" come in.
What kind of bike luggage bags are there?
Caution, to make sure you end up with the right bag when searching, it's important to distinguish between the following terms
- A handlebar bag is, as the name suggests, also attached to the front but to the handlebars of the bike
- A front pannier hangs from a front rack on the fork, just above the front wheel, it is also called a pannier or luggage bag "for the front". The term lowrider can be used for these racks and the associated bags
- A luggage rack bag or rear bag goes on the luggage rack above the rear wheel, it is also called a bicycle bag, pannier bag or luggage bag "for the rear"
Before you buy a pannier, though, you need something to hold the bag to the bike. There are two different types of front pannier racks, each of which will then fit other bags, or bike baskets:
- A front rack that sits in front of the handlebars above the mudguard is most commonly found on Dutch bikes, urban bikes or retro bikes. These racks are beautiful, but they have a disadvantage: their center of gravity is very high, so they can affect the handling characteristics of the bike. They should not be loaded too heavily. A smaller handlebar basket, which itself carries little weight, is perfect as a transport container here.
- Front pannier racks, which are attached further down on the fork can handle a little more load, because the lower the bike's centre of gravity, the more stable it will ride. You can attach panniers in pairs here. These pannier racks, or at least mounting eyes for them, can be found on many touring bikes and trekking bikes. About the bike panniers for these racks it goes here.
Some of the bicycle messenger bags and shoppers you can buy from the online store here can also be attached to a front rack like this.
Double is better - why you should always have two panniers on the front of your bike
I'm sure you've noticed that you can only order many of the front panniers in sets of two. There's a very simple reason for this. The more luggage you load on your bike, the more important it is that you add equal amounts of extra weight to the left and right. If you only put one heavy bag on, not only will your bike tip over when it's on the side stand, it won't go straight either. One-sided loading is already really uncomfortable to ride with panniers on the rack unevenly distributed weight on the fork even leads to falls in the worst case. Especially the panniers at the front of the fork are more suitable for light things like clothes or aluminum harness, heavy luggage belongs on the rack.
The permissible total weight or the permissible payload of your bike are limited, you must not exceed them. This, by the way, counts the bike, the rider (i.e. you) and everything on frame bags, water bottles, backpacks, saddle bags hip bags and the like, along with their contents.
How are panniers attached to the front of the bicycle?
First of all, it is important that the bags are really tight, in the front wheel area wobbly luggage is not a good idea!
There are two ways to guarantee a wobble-free attachment of the panniers. Some bike bags bring their attachment system with them. The scope of delivery then includes a holder that can either be screwed into existing screw eyelets or fixed with clamps around the down tubes of the fork. If you want to mount your lowrider without predefined mounting points, you have to make sure that the brackets are suitable for the diameter of the tubes of your fork and buy the necessary adapters if necessary.
If you have a front rack you can simply clip, pin, hook, snap or lash most panniers. There are also retention systems for front panniers, such as those from KlickFIX.
Are bike panniers always waterproof?
At least water-repellent a bike bag should actually always be. Here it depends on what you plan to do with your pannier and what it's made of.
- Pannier bags for bike trekking and bike touring are usually waterproof, they also have waterproof closure systems. They are made of waterproof fabric or truck tarpaulin, roll closures with clip seal the opening. What is valid in water sports, works just as well for bicycle luggage bags - the open end of the bag is folded over three times (at least, no less!) and then clipped shut, then everything inside stays nice and dry!
- With business bags and shoppers, it's a little different. With these bike bags, it's the look that counts most. Thick, bright red plastic and massive fasteners do rather bad in the office. Therefore, attention is paid here to a finer design, but there are rain covers that are supplied directly or can be ordered separately as bag accessories.
Does a front pannier always have to be attached to the front of the bike?
Bicycle front panniers are usually slightly smaller than rear rack panniers. If the mounting options allow it, there is absolutely nothing against mounting the panniers on the back of the bike instead of the front.
Of course, it is also technically possible to mount your side panniers for the luggage rack at the front, usually the design of the panniers is identical. However, bags for the rear rack are larger. Of course you have to make sure that the bags do not drag on the ground and get in the way of the front wheel. Also, don't fill them to the top, they will quickly become too heavy and make it difficult for you to steer.
The rear panniers are the same size as the front panniers.
Pannier bags designed for the front of an adult bike are smaller than pannier bags. So they also make ideal panniers for a child's bike!
How much does a bike pannier bag weigh, what can it fit inside?
While the larger rear panniers can hold up to 36 litres, the smaller front panniers have a capacity of 10 to 11 litres and weigh around 1kg.
The weight of the panniers, of course, depends heavily on the material and mounting device. Ultralight bags weigh 300 to 500 grams, while bags made of thick, waterproof tarpaulin with a click system weigh in at around a kilo.
You have to look a little closer at the information on the bags, because some manufacturers give the content and weight of a bag set right away. So if it says 22 litres capacity and 1000g weight, that's for two bags!
Which are the best manufacturers?
There are different manufacturers that make bike bags. Often these are well-known outdoor outfitters like Vaude. But of course bike brands like Restrap or Topeak also supply bike bags. It's hard to say which ones are the best. You should make sure that you can attach the bags to the front of your bike, apart from that the choice is purely a matter of taste. You can find many different panniers here in the BMO online shop, also in the Sale reduced Bike Packs pop up every now and then.
A few more handy hints about your bike pack bag:
- Reflective elements on your bike pannier bag will ensure that you are better seen
- In everyday use, it is practical if the bag simply remains on the bike. But you should then secure it with a small lock.
- Not only bicycle clothing has washing instructions, bicycle panniers also need to be cleaned after an off-road tour. Here you should follow the manufacturer's instructions so that the properties of the bag are maintained.
- It doesn't have to be a touring bike or trekking bike, you can actually attach your panniers to any bike - gravel bike, mountain bike, whatever. There are now gravel bags specifically for bikepacking with a gravel bike. Honestly? Just build your bags on the bike and enjoy the ride. No matter what it says on the bag!
- Many bike panniers have risers or even straps, and thus a backpack function