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Monday, March 6, 2017

My New Commuting Pannier is the Best Pannier


A few months ago, I began to feel like my twin Axiom panniers were just not quite what I needed for my daily commute. One pannier was always nearly empty. And the other, filled with my U-lock, cable, gloves, saddle cover, and other small accessories, often required a fair amount of digging to find what I needed. They were also not terribly convenient for on-the-go removal when my bike was locked up in an exposed public space; I didn't have any interest in removing both panniers and then carrying them around in the store or restaurant or wherever I happened to be.

I needed something with some organizing capacity, rather than a big, open well. I also needed something that could be easily removed from the bike and carried. And of course I needed a pannier that looked good on my vintage Peugeot. That's when I discovered the Blackburn Central Rear Pannier. Basically, it's a messenger bag - complete with shoulder strap, organizing pockets, and a laptop sleeve - that clips onto a bike rack. It has a built-in rain cover, which is outstanding, and the shoulder strap has magnetic clasps so that it stays tight against the body of the pannier when riding. Best of all, it's terribly handsome, made of a sort of gray cotton twill fabric. Plus it holds all the same stuff that my dual Axioms held.


Now that I've put a few miles on the Blackburn Central pannier, I can't say enough about it. Admittedly, it doesn't quite cut it when I have to carry an unexpectedly voluminous load, but I've been shocked at its carrying capacity. In fact, last weekend I hauled a 64oz growler and a 750ml bomber, in addition to all the other stuff I normally carry, which included a mini-pump, a well-stocked tool roll, and my jacket. It unlocks from my rear rack with ease and the magnetic shoulder strap is a particularly ingenious feature, so it transitions to shoulder bag duty seamlessly when I'm on foot. And it's a great looking accessory, regardless of whether I'm wearing a suit for work or jeans and a t-shirt for a trip to the pub. However, I should note that the rack hooks can be pretty uncomfortable when walking around with the bag for extended periods of time. They're not exactly low profile, and they tend to dig into my ribs and catch on my clothing, which is definitely an annoyance. But between the outstanding functionality of this pannier and its above-par aesthetics, I've been beyond pleased. This one's a winner for sure.

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