I got a question on my Outings In The City post about the CleverChimp panniers that I have on my bike, so I thought I would do a quick post about them, a sort of review, you might say. Just to be clear, this was not endorsed in any way by Clever Cycles, I’m only doing a review because these bags have proven useful to me personally, and because I was asked about them by a reader.
The CleverChimp panniers are the house brand of local Portland bike shop Clever Cycles. They are made from vinyl with a plastic lining inside, and are the type that flop over the rear rack – both bags being connected together.
They attach underneath the rack with two adjustable straps with plastic clips, and have a cutout for bungees to go through over the top of the rear rack.
They are specifically designed to fit a full paper grocery bag, so they each hold quite a bit. They also happen to be exactly the right size for vinyl records :)
Each side has a large reflective strip across the back to add to your visibility, and they have side-flaps that fold out from the top flap to help cover the gaps so less water gets in.
They also have a strap to cinch in the top of each bag, so if you fill it really full, you can cinch the top in and still close the top flap.
There are 4 riveted holes in the bottom of each bag to allow any water that does get in to drain out.
After having used these for several months now, I think they are wonderful. You can fit a lot of stuff in them, they are well-thought-out, simple and work very well. I comment often that it feels great to just go to the store and never worry if I can carry back what I need to buy – I’ve never really thought about it, and it’s never been an issue.
The question on my previous post was about how water-proof they are. I would say, in general, I’ve found them to be about 98% waterproof. We leave our bikes parked outside at home, and I leave the panniers on the bike at all times, and after heavy rain overnight, there will be a small amount of moisture inside, enough to dampen a piece of paper or a thin cloth, but not enough to do damage to anything other than paper. I have never had any problems with them leaking or letting in more than just that cursory amount of water, and I’ve carried things like my camera in there during very heavy rain, and I’ve never had a problem with it getting wet over a 30-40 minute ride.
Something like this, to me, is about the closest you can get to having a trunk on your bicycle without permanently attaching a locked box to the rear rack. I do occasionally leave things in the panniers while running in to get groceries or into a shop of some sort, and I’ve never had troubles with them looking like they’ve been gone through, nothing has ever gone missing, nor has it ever seemed like anyone has tried to remove the bags themselves from the bicycle, even sitting outside at home overnight every day. When they are totally empty, it always surprises me how light the bike feels, as I pretty much always have something in them.
There are only two issues with these that I’ve come across. The first one is a bit silly, but the fact that you can carry so much stuff in them means that sometimes you have a hard time carrying it by hand once you need to leave your bike. For instance, sometimes on my way to work, I’ll have my work bag, my lunch, my camera, a tripod, and say, for instance, a thermos of coffee or a small bag of something else I’m taking in with me. This all fits easily in the bags, but it’s a bit awkward to carry in to work once I get there.
The second issue is that they are so large, the distance between the pedal cranks and the rear wheel hub on your bicycle needs to be fairly long, or you will hit the bags with your heel while pedaling. I couldn’t have used these on my 1953 Raleigh Sports, for instance, as the bike was just too short to accommodate them.
In any case, the bags have proven extremely useful for me, they are well made, practical, simple, and well-thought-out, made by a local shop, and I’d definitely recommend checking them out if you are in the market for panniers like this. We got ours second-hand with the WorkCycles Secret Service when we bought it from a friend, but Clever Cycles sells them for $115 in their shop, here.
That concludes this edition of Bicycle Stuff with Dave, now back to our regularly scheduled programming :)
Hope you all had a nice holiday, those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving, and hope the rest of you are having a nice weekend!