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I’ve been meaning to make the plunge into using a pannier for a long while now. Regardless of how well built a backpack is, it doesn’t half give you a sweaty back – not a great look when you roll into the office.
So, after finally investing in a pannier rack, I decided to give the Vaude Silkroad pannier bag (large version) a whirl, available from Go Outdoors for £37.99 (£33.99 if you have a Go Outdoors discount card).
On and Off
The first aspect to consider with a pannier bag is getting it on the rack. Fortunately for me, the Vaude Silkroad road is exceptionally easy to set up, with four Velcro staps holding the bag securely to the rack. These straps also mean that it is quick and easy to get the bag on and off the bike – with 30 seconds being more than enough time to have it installed or removed. If you’ve got more heavy, expensive items in the bag, it may also be worth providing extra security to the bag by wrapping some bungee cords around it, to prevent any unwanted falls during turns.
This is a spacious bag, with the main section boasting eight litres of carrying capacity (or, in real terms: two 750ml smoothies, four bananas, one pair of keys, one pump, a bag of dry roasted nuts, one notebook, two pens and a cuddly toy). You can also make more use of the space by using the expandable zip. A mesh pocket can be found on the lid inside the bag, so you can keep phones etc. away from anything sharp or in danger of leaking, as well as an extra interior pocket, ideal for wallets and spare change.
- Comes with waterproof cover
- Two interior pockets
- Two exterior pockets
- 8+3l space
- Removable shoulder strap
- Expandable zip
- Reflective details
- Bottle holder
- 4 velcro straps to secure to rack
The Silkroad also boasts various outer pockets, including one slim one running down one side (ideal size for a cheque book – if anyone still has one), as well as a slightly more spacious one on the opposite side, which is better suited for a big slab of ‘share-size’ Dairy Milk. Last but not least, the bag also comes with a well-cushioned bottle holder at the rear, which is just about reachable when you’re riding, although replacing the bottle is no easy feat while on the go. The bottle holder also boasts two reflective strips to boost your visibility when riding in the dark.
Other features of the bag including an easily removable shoulder strap, which makes it a useful number off the bike too, a removable red rain cover – in case the weather turns, and weighs in at just 0.465kg – so it won’t be slowly you down unnecessarily.
My first experience of a pannier bag hasn’t disappointed. It makes riding a heck of a lot more comfortable and less sweaty. It takes the pressure off my back, so I can ride with a better posture, while also enabling me to carry the gear I need on my commute.
It’s not the most stylish number in the world, but it’s not ugly either. It’s a solid, practical bag that does the job with ease.