Can You Put Panniers On A Road Bike? | Road Bike Touring Guide

So you are planning your next road bike trip for the weekend and wondering whether you can put Panniers on a road bike. I can feel your excitement and so do your doubts.

To make the most of the adventure, carry all the essentials and perhaps little extras too. You wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for lack of something. That would be silly! Comfort complements adventure.

I must ensure that you CAN put Panniers on a road bike. Yes, it’s not just feasible, in fact it would be the smartest decision you make before the trip.

Attaching Panniers on a Road Bike will offer many advantages. Let me be straightforward.

  1. First, Panniers offer great storage space, along with better scope of organizing the luggage.
  2. They are handy for carrying a single large dimension unit.
  3. Panniers’ racks contribute to firmness and enhanced balance, which boosts the rider’s confidence.
  4. They save effort in packing/unpacking and carrying the luggage significantly.

Panniers are easily visible to co-travelers on the road, no matter in what vehicle and at what speed they are moving. This enhances safety and increases the chances of on-road co-operation. Seeking help in an emergency would also be easier.

Everyone would know that you are up for a long ride when they see Panniers attached to your bike.

If you have made your mind to use Panniers for the upcoming trip, let’s see how to attach them.

How to attach a Pannier on a Road-bike?

Mounting Pannier on the Bicycle’s Rear Rack

Rear Racks are also known as Pannier Racks. We attach them to the bike, usually for mounting Panniers.

The primary purpose of the Rear Rack is to avoid contact between the spokes and the pannier. Obviously, it is the rack that will hold the Pannier firmly.

Let’s see how to mount the Pannier to the Rear Rack:

Step 1: Locate the Pannier hooks and place them on the side rod of the rack. Exert a little pressure on the Pannier from the top. You would see that the hooks get clipped on to the rack.

Step 2: If your Pannier has a rotating clip on its back, adjust it to fix the bag with the rack firmly. The rotating clip usually fixes against the horizontal, slant, or diagonal bar of the rack.

Step 3: Take the Pannier strap and wrap it through the rack rods. First, take the strap towards the bottom rod and from there, move upwards to the top rod. Make sure that the strap wraps around at least one rung on the rack.

Step 4: Finally, use the pannier buckles, other straps, or simply a rope to fold the Pannier to compactness. This will ensure that it holds tighter to the rack.

Mounting Front Pannier and Bags

This would require Front Racks, and there are a few options to choose from. Each Front Rack type is suited for different use.

Low rider Racks: They keep the Pannier and luggage load as low as possible. They help in reducing the biking effort and allow greater consistency while moving at different speeds. Pannier and Bags fit on the sides of the front wheel.

Front Basket Racks: These are basket-shaped racks that attach over the top of the wheel. They reduce the strapping effort.

Porteur Racks: In simplest terms, they are Rear Racks designed from the front. They fit on the top of the wheel and allow attaching the Panniers and bags on three sides. On either side and the top. They maximize the load capacity on the front.

Suspension Racks: These racks are compact in design. They may allow attachment from the top or from below. A suspension fork is their distinguishing feature.

Mounting Panniers and Bags on the front end of the bike can be done in a few easy steps:

  • Step 1: Clip the Pannier or Bag hooks on the side rack’s side rods.
  • Step 2: Strap the Pannier or Bag by wrapping the strap around the top and bottom rods of the rack. Ensure that the strap wraps around a rod completely.
  • Step 3: Use the buckles, extra straps or rope to provide compactness to the setup.

If you are not using the Basket Rack, attach equal weights on either side of the wheel.

How to attach a Pannier on a Road-bike?
Image Credit: Richard Masoner | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Mounting Pannier without Rear Rack

So you do not have a Rear Rack? Your bike does not support Rear Rack for lack of eyelets? Maybe you want to avoid the extra weight it puts on the vehicle and legs, or it may be broken. No worries!

Panniers can be mounted without a Rear Rack as well. These Panniers can be Seat Packs, Frame Panniers, or Handlebar Bag. They are attached to the seat, inside the frame triangle or quadrilateral, or the handlebar. These bags come with longer and stronger straps and have lesser carrying capacity than rack-based Panniers.

Each of these bags requires at least two fastening and attaching mechanisms. One of these is the Velcro strap, and the other, the adjustable buckle strap.

Here’s how to mount these Panniers.

  • Step 1: Locate the mounting and attaching position. It is back of the seat for Seat Packs, handlebar for handlebar bags, and between the rods of the mainframe for Frame Panniers.
  • Step 2: Open the Velcro straps and tie them around the frame rod. This would not be enough, as the bag might still swing.
  • Step 3: Use the other buckle straps to fix the bag with the seat, frame rod or handlebar.
  • Step 4: Adjust the buckle straps to tighten the hold and make the Pannier compact.

Other carrying options when touring on Road Bike

Panniers are not the only option for carrying luggage on a Road Bike tour. Here are a few other options you may wish to consider.

Saddlebag

Saddlebags attach on the road bike with or without a support. They hitch from under the saddle.

Saddlebags with support require a hoop as a support. We attach it from under the saddle. They offer a greater carrying capacity than the simpler, unsupported ones.

Front Basket

This is a traditional way of carrying items on touring everyday distances. However, for Road Bike trips, you may choose a front basket shaped rack. Look for a matching bag that fits into the basket. It can be held firmly into the basket with straps and hooks.

Seatpost Bag

These are soft case type of bags that fasten to the seat. They maintain their shape. Seatpost bags remain firmly attached under their own weight and by the strength and tying technique of the straps.

Frame Stowage Bag

Frame Stowage Bags can be a single bag or a kit. These bags attach directly to the bike frame in the space between the rods. They are designed in the polygon’s shape enclosed by the frame rods between the seat and the handle.

A kit of Frame Stowage bags may include bags that fit between the seat and the top of the rear rack. It can also include a front handlebar bag, besides one that fixes tightly over the top rod of the main bike frame.

Trailer

Trailer can be an interesting though trickier way of carrying the luggage. It’s like a pull cart attached to the rear of the road bike. It’s good for carrying heavy loads.

Mounting Rear Pannier Rack on Road Bike

If Rear Pannier Rack is the option you have chosen (it is the most comfortable and smartest option too), let’s see how to fix it on the bike.

Step 1: The first aim is to find the area where the rack will fit best. This is around the wheel axle.

Step 2: Now position the rack above the rear wheel. Look for the fixing spot on the bottom of the rack. Try to match it with the rear dropout around the axle.

Step 3: Does the rack fit easily? If yes, then make the attachment. If no, find your toolbox, adjust the tightness of the wheel for the fitting. Tighten the things back after rack-axle fitting is completed (That’s after the remaining steps of course!). Before moving further, see that you can still able to move (rotate) the rack for adjustments.

Step 4: Now it’s time to move to the bike frame and rack attachments. Adjust the rack position. Find the eyelets on the rear side of the bike-frame.

Step 5: Adjust the struts or alternative extensions to match the hole or eyelets on the rear side of the frame. Ensure that the rack is level. Make the attachment.

Step 6: Tighten the attachments at the frame and the axle.

Step 7: Try fitting the Pannier and take a quick trip to ensure that everything’s smooth.

I felt that I could do more than just lay out the essential steps for putting Panniers on Road Bike. My friends keep asking me to suggest which Pannier Racks should they buy. Let me put those queries to rest now.

5 Best Rear Pannier Racks

1 ) Rambo Extra Large Cargo Rear Bike Rack

As the name suggests, this rack allows an excellent carrying space. It has a rugged design, built and feel. Made from Aluminum alloy, this lightweight rack ensures greater luggage weight without straining the muscles.

It should be your ideal choice if you are up for a long trip and have plenty of stuff to take along.

This is particularly a strong rack and can compactly fit heavy loads. The design comes with ample rods to hook, tie and fix the Panniers tightly.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 18. 75″ X 15″ X 7″
  • Weight: Lightweight
  • Built: Strong. It takes away the concern for mid-trip breakdown.
  • Design: Its special design offers enormous space for fastening and hooking the luggage.
  • Looks: Rugged, immune to scratches and rusting.
  • Luggage Capacity: Can carry heavy luggage.
  • Usage: It is usable as a stand-alone rack on any bike whose frame can support it. It suits almost all varieties of Rambo models. However, it cannot be used with Rambo R35 models.
  • Price: Even though it is slightly pricey, but its durability, strength and lightweight make it value for money.

2 ) Racktime FOLDIT Adjustable Rear Bicycle Rack

The best thing about this rack is its affordability. A foldable rack at its price is a rarity. The other good thing is that it is available in two size variants. You may choose the 26” or the 28” depending upon the wheel size.

The rack is smooth in folding and unfolding. It holds nicely and is easy to install despite its elaborate looks.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 26” and 28” with 10mm tube diameter.
  • Rack Weight: 720 g
  • Carrying Capacity: Up to 25 kg. This rack is ideal for carrying large unit stuff.
  • Built and Design: The rack is made of stainless steel and is designed to fasten the larger units of luggage tightly. It is great for carrying laptops and camera setups.
  • Usage: Most of the Racktime FOLDIT users are surprised by the smoothness, durability and installation ease of the product.
  • Price: Buying this rack would be one of the smartest decisions you can make before the next trip. Be prepared to be impressed without burning a hole in your pocket!

3 ) Blackburn Outpost Fat Rear Bike Rack

A complete racking solution for Road Bikes – that’s the best way of defining this Blackburn product. Ideal for any width and size of tire, it can be fixed both on the front and the rear. If that’s not enough, it is compatible with the disc braking system too.

This rack is a rare design and scores between good and excellent in all departments. It’s easy to install with adjustable height and width.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: This rack has adjustable dimensions. It’s an all-rounder rack, suited for tire dimensions of 26” up to 29”, and tire width of up to 3”.
  • Rack Weight: 1406 g
  • Built: It is made with special aluminum alloy that keeps it lightweight yet imparts is strength and durability.
  • Design: This rack has a design that has become the envy of every rack and bike accessories company. It is super-adjustable, can be used in the rear or front, and offers maximum height and width adjustments. All of this, without having to bend or stretch anything.
  • Usage: It’s quick and easy to install, and ideal for carrying heavy luggage over long distance trips.
  • Price: With its features and versatility, the price is justifiable.

4 ) Ibera Bike Rack Touring Carrier with Fender Board

This is a flexible bike rack which comes with a Fender Board that enhances carrying capacity by volume. It also offers enhanced protection and smarter fastening of Panniers.

The frame fitting struts are stretchable and bendable. This makes it suitable for bikes of all seat heights.

This rack is a superb choice for those desiring to carry heavy and voluminous loads for long trips. The rack fits well and supports the balancing efforts on turns with its lightweight makeup.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 15″ x 6″ x 14″, with seat-frame struts stretchable up to 9”. It is suited to tire-frames between 26” and 29”.
  • Rack Weight: 750 g
  • Carrying Capacity: Up to 25 kg
  • Built: This rack is made of anodized Aluminum pre-treated with heat. The material offers it great strength while keeping the rack weight to the minimum. It’s resistant to wear and tear, scratches and discoloration.
  • Compatibility: With mounts frames and non-disk brake bikes.
  • Design: Highly adjustable yet sleek. The rack allows fastening heavy loads on the sides and top of the rack compactly.
  • Usage: The rack is very durable and there’s no fear of breaking even after sustained usage on long trips every year.
  • Price: Surprisingly cheap when compared to its performance and specifications.

5 ) Dirza Rear Quick Release Cargo Bike Rack

This is a truly flexible bike rack. It’s usable on bikes of sizes ranging from 18” to 27.5”. The best part is that it can carry enormous amounts of load, both in terms of volume and weight. It’s a heavy-duty bike rack.

It’s designed for easy installation and offers quick release. The company has laid special emphasis on reducing the bulkiness of both the rack and the luggage it carries.

If you are a lover of carrying your mini-home to the trip, this one’s for you.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 20.6 x 6.7 x 4.3” (Package)
  • Rack Weight: 1.27 kg
  • Carrying Capacity: Up to 50 kg
  • Built: This rack is built to hold heavy luggage with impeccable firmness. It is made of aluminum with a classy finish which would make your bike more photogenic.
  • Design: It’s a highly adjustable rack. The support rods for frame attachment can be stretched from 9.7” up to 14”. It comes with a bracket for seat pole attachment. Your seat pole should be at least 2” with a minimum 30 mm diameter to fit this thing.
  • Usability: This rack is great for long-trips on a variety of bike sizes. Especially, if you like ensure no lack of comfort on the way and at the destination. It can be fitted to bike sizes between 18” to 27.5”. However, it is not meant for suspension bike, folding bike, beach cruisers and bikes with tires fatter than 4”.
  • Price: This would be an intelligent purchase for heavy luggage carrying. Also, if you have different sized bikes or want to share gear with friends, this could be your rack.

How Should A Bike Pannier Fit?

Well, let’s be clear on this – Not every Pannier fits every Bike! Again, not every Pannier will fit any part of the Bike.

Before thinking of fitting the Pannier, you need to ensure that you have the right Pannier that can be fitted. For this, you have to:

  1. Make sure that the Pannier or Pannier set fits the rack and frame of your bike. For this, you need to note down accurately the Pannier specifications and match them with your Bike and Rack models’ specifications.
  1. Identify the right Pannier for the right position. Whether it’s a:
  • Rear Rack Side Pannier
  • Rear Rack Top Pannier
  • Front Rack Side Pannier
  • Front Rack Top Pannier
  • Handlebar Pannier
  1. Have the right set of tools for attaching the Panniers.

What’s the best material that helps Panniers fit on the Bike?

Actually, it’s three different materials that can impact the Pannier fitting. The material of the Rack rods and frame, materials of Pannier straps, and the material of Pannier hooks and clips.

The most favored Rack rod materials are steel, aluminum and their alloys. Pannier strap materials should be non-skidding.

Best straps are those of Nylon threads knitted for maximizing friction.

Pannier hooks and clips should be of stainless steel, aluminum alloy, or flexible plastic, depending upon the amount to weight they have to support.

What’s the right way of fitting the Pannier on the Bike?

Pannier should be first hooked and clipped with the Rack. Thereafter, the strap should be used to fit the Pannier firmly to the Rack to avoid swinging.

What closing methods are available while attaching the Panniers?

Pannier bags come with different closure options. The most prominent are:

  • Zip Closure – Good for compact packing of luggage.
  • Flap Closure – Suited to large sized luggage.
  • Roller Closure – Usually found on large Panniers with adjustable size.

Bonus Tips

Here’s a few:

  • Take the Pannier strap across the top and bottom rack rod while tying. Ensure that at least one Rack rod completely wrapped around with strap.
  • Carry compact Panniers for long-tours as they allow favorable aerodynamics.
  • The lower the Panniers with load, the better the balance.
  • Make sure that the load is balanced on either side if you are attaching a Pannier bag pair.

Now let me make it easier for you by giving the list of the best Panniers to choose from.

The Best Bike Panniers For Road Bikes

Ibera Quick-Release All Weather Bike Panniers

1 ) Ibera Quick-Release All Weather Bike Panniers

This Panniers pair is stylish, compact and durable at the same time. It is designed in a shape that enhances airflow and reduces sweating. It is suited for daily use or for longer adventure trips.

It takes just 3 seconds for clipping and unclipping. You wouldn’t require straps to attach it to the bike rack.

Each bag has ample compartments to keep the stuff organized. The pockets and compartments are carefully designed for easy access.

This pair will allow you to carry loads of stuff to the trip without looking or feeling bulky. Don’t worry about the rains, it comes with a waterproof cover!

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions (each bag): 5.7 in x 11.8 in x 5.9”
  • Materials: Water-proof Nylon
  • Carrying Capacity: 15 L and up to 9 kg for each bag.
  • Compatibility: This pair is really versatile and can attach easily to all varieties of racks.
  • Compartments: Each bag has a large pocket enabling easy and protected space for things like laptops and cameras etc. There’s a pocket at the top besides drawstring type of pouch.
  • Opening, Closing and Setting: Elastic bands with buckle straps enhance efficiency, while adjustable bottom hooks allow it a firm fit with different rack designs and types. The 3-point interlocking mechanism allows stability and avoids swinging.
Rhinowalk Bike Bag Waterproof Bike Panniers

2 ) Rhinowalk Bike Bag Waterproof Bike Pannier

This is a great Pannier Bag if you have to carry your laptop of up to 14”. It is designed for the ease of carrying the large gadget and keeping it safe from shocks and water.

It’s a rear rack Pannier Bag that offers stylish looks and high capacity to carry stuff over medium distances. Everything is so easy to place and access from this bag.

The bag offers protection from water and heat. Made from polyester, it will surprise you by its ever fresh looks and stain and scratch resistant built.

I would insist that you check the specifications before choosing this one because it is not designed to fit with all racks. However, the good part is that it also usable as a regular backpack or handbag.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 17.7″x8.66″x12.6″
  • Materials: Water-proof Polyester and Mesh
  • Carrying Capacity: Up to 27 L
  • Compatibility: Compatible with specific rack designs only. This bag fit preferably with racks that have an elaborate rod design with diagonal or horizontal rods.
  • Compartments: It has a simple big-opening multilayer compartment design. This bag is good for carrying smaller stuff like Smartphone, keys, stationery, wallet etc. in an organized way. Thanks to a dedicated pocket for these.
  • Opening, Closing and Setting: It comes with a belt, buckle and a 360 degree adjustable back hook for attaching to the rear rack. It has a 17.3 mm adjustable mechanism for main rack rod attachment with detachable hooks.
VAUDE Aqua Plus - Rear Panniers Bike Bag Set

3 ) VAUDE Aqua Plus – Rear Pannier Bike Bag Set

This is a customizable, smart-looking and environment friendly Rear Pannier Bag pair. Made from water-resistant PVC free Tarpauline, it’s a great bag pair for long bike tours.

Each bag is customizable for size reduction allowing better aerodynamics. Moreover, the ratio of bag weight to carrying weight is excellent, one of the best in the industry.

The identical bags have a simple design with basic compartment and a pocket which allow large dimension luggage.

This Pannier pair is specifically designed for adventure trips. However, you would love it in everyday use as well. Thanks to material quality, it will retain its charm and won’t disappoint when put to the real task.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 14.56 x 13 x 12.2”
  • Materials: Water and Scratch resistant Tarpaulin and Polyester
  • Carrying Capacity (Pair): Up to 51 L and 25 kg
  • Compatibility: Compatible with most rack types.
  • Compartments: Main large compartments in each bag coupled with an inside pocket for better organization of stuff.
  • Opening, Closing and Setting: The pair boasts of a specially designed QMR2.0 attachment mechanism that offers intuitive interface. Back hook helps in locking with the bike-frame and prevents swinging. Each bag comes with a side-roll, removable shoulder strap which can be used for fastening, and top roll.
MaxMiles Bicycle Waterproof Rear Panniers

4 ) MaxMiles Bicycle Waterproof Rear Pannier Bag

This Pannier Bag can be carried on the top of the rear rack. It is waterproof and looks sturdy. It can be attached on almost all bicycle rear rack setups. Its sleek design promotes better balancing to the rider.

This one’s essentially a Pannier that is suitable for everyday use, or to enhance the organization of luggage on the long trip. It is especially designed to allow easy access to bottles, maps, binoculars, etc.

It’s a customizable bag, and there’s a range of sizes it can be folded and unfolded into. Whether you want to fit the stuff of two medium-sized Panniers tightly, or you want a compact storage, this bag will impress you.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 7”
  • Materials: Water resistant Polyester
  • Carrying Capacity: Up to 35 L, and 10 L when folded to maximum compactness.
  • Compatibility: This is a very versatile bag and can be attached to the top of the rear rack of any type of bikes of all sizes and design.
  • Compartments: This bag offers great organization. There’s a main compartment, zipped side pockets, bottle mesh, and map holding pocket.
  • Opening, Closing and Setting: The shoulder strap is adjustable. The handle allows adjusting the bag while attaching, or carrying it standalone.
TOURBON Roll Top Panniers Backpack

5 ) TOURBON Roll Top Pannier Backpack

This is a classy-looking Pannier Backpack for women that can double-up as a plain handbag. Easy to hook and attach, and designed smartly for easy-access, this bag is women riders’ first choice. Its attachment clips are plastic coated that allow smoother functioning.

Despite is sleek look and limited carrying capacity, it scores big with the level of organization it offers for the belongings.

It’s a kind of bag that adds dynamism to everyday life with its firm structure. Shoulder straps add to its versatile utility.

Features and Benefits:

  • Dimensions: 15.75″ x 4.33″ x 11″
  • Materials: Scratch resistant Nylon, and cotton webbing on handles.
  • Carrying Capacity: Up to 12 L
  • Compatibility: This is a multi-purpose bag. It can be attached to the top of the rear rack of any type of bikes of all sizes and design. It is designed primarily for everyday usage and short trips.
  • Compartments: This bag offers high level of organization. Besides the main pocket designed to carry a laptop, there are three internal pockets. If that’s not enough, there are two side pockets and a front pocket too. No more worries of organizing and accessing the possessions!
  • Opening, Closing and Setting: This Pannier is really quick to attach or detach, thanks to its plastic coated clips. The handles allow adjustment while setting, while the shoulder straps ensure a firm fit on the rear rack.
Bike Handlebar Bag Bicycle Frame Bag Bike Front

6 ) Bike Handlebar Bag Bicycle Frame Bag Bike Front

This one’s for the front handlebar. It’s sleek, well-designed, and looks stylish. If you have small sized stuff like wallet, Smartphone, keys etc. which you wish to pack together, then this bag is for you.

It’s made of durable, scratch resistant and water-proof polyester. The bag holds its shape and its lightweight hardly feels while biking.

Whether you are planning to go on a long trip and short of Bag space, or you require a handy carrier for leisure, this could be the ideal choice. It’s a shoulder bag too.

Features and Benefits:

  • Materials: Scratch resistant Polyester. No need to worry about tears.
  • Compatibility: This is a multi-purpose bag. It can be attached to front handlebar of all sorts of road bikes. It’s designed primarily for carrying tools and smaller gadgets and stuff.
  • Compartments: It’s a great bag for organizing the small-sized possessions that are often difficult to access in larger bags. It has sufficient interior compartments.
  • Opening, Closing and Setting: It fits firmly on the handlebar, thanks to its non-slithering straps. The bag comes with three removable shoulder straps which can convert it into a shoulder bag, chest-bag or a cross-body bag after removing from the front frame.

Conclusion

It’s very much possible to put Panniers on a Road Bike. In fact, they would impart comfort to the journey. Panniers are more likely to mount with racks on the road bikes. The rear racks can carry greater volume and load Panniers than the front rack ones.

Not all racks are fit for all bikes, just as not all Panniers are fit for all racks. Some Panniers work without racks too. It would be wise to check the specifications before finding the most suited Pannier for your next trip.

Bon Voyage!

Also Read,

Gravel Bike Vs Road Bike | What Are The 9 Main Differences

How To Remove And Repair Bike Chain Without Special Tool

Are Retrospec Bikes Good? What You Need To Know Before Buying!

How To Remove Bike Crank Without Puller The Easy Way

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