Once you start thinking of your bike as a means of transportation and not simply recreation, you’ll very quickly realize you need a few things. I agree with Elly Blue that essentials like cargo racks should be included in any basic bike build, and not aftermarket add-ons. (Thankfully, a lot of smaller companies recognize this. My Public C7 came with a great rack (fine, insert off-color joke here, if you must) and fenders—and once I factored in the cost of adding these things to another bike that was under consideration, these features decided it for me.)
When it comes to kitting out your own ride, you’ve got options. There are some pretty sweet lights out there. We’ve found a plethora of bells and fenders and racks we’d happily spend money on. You should be able to find precisely what you want. For bags, though, we had to look a little harder.
Backpacks are great for the trail. Messenger bags are a fine stand-in for the briefcase I’ll never carry. But when the bike’s carrying me around town, I want it to carry my stuff as well. As the old saying goes, once you go without a sweaty back, you never, um, go back. Getting my bag off my back and onto a rack was a great thing. I’m more comfortable, I move more easily on the bike, and I don’t have to worry about where to position the chest strap (Under the breasts=world’s most uncomfortable push-up. Over=smush, ow. Some of you ladies know what I’m talking about.)
So I switched to panniers. And they pretty much live on my bike, which has unexpected benefits. I’m never without hauling capabilities. Unplanned stop at the library or the grocery store? No problem. Chuck it in the pannier.
Once they’re off the bike, though, I run into a few issues. Those hooks? They catch on everything. They make the bag uncomfortable to carry (if it even comes with a shoulder strap, which many don’t). That big, stiff framesheet certainly serves the purpose of keeping the bag out of my spokes, but it also makes for an awkward carry off the bike.
We had a very simple idea: wouldn’t it be great to have all the benefits of a pannier without the hardware?
Allow me to introduce you to the first in our line: the Ready Bag. In the coming weeks, we’ll add to our lineup. We’ve got several designs at various stages of development, but here’s a quick look at what makes all of them Bike-Ready:
The Ready Rack. If the hooks aren’t on your bag, they have to live on your rack. We’ve designed a simple, lightweight system that will fit on any standard rear rack. It installs in seconds, without tools, and incorporates upcycled inner tubes from our local bike shop.
The Bags. A pannier in the streets; a nice shoulder bag in the, um, everywhere else. Rhymes aren’t really our forté. We’ve taken our experience building our own gear for backcountry trails and applied it here. Double-stitched seams. Reinforced stress points. Polyester webbing—durable, UV-resistant, rot- and mildew-resistant. We’ve selected fabrics for their superior abrasion resistance, water resistance, and good looks (sometimes you can have it all!). Fully lined for extra protection.
Other things we thought about:
Black is great. Looking for black gloves or a black earband inside a black bag? Not so great. All our panniers have light-colored interiors, to make it easier to find your stuff. For the exterior, choose from an array of fabrics to suit your style: Antron nylon for bombproof abrasion resistance coupled with sleek good looks, X-Pac fabric for absolute waterproof protection and unsurpassed toughness, or Cordura for time-tested durability.
Flat bottoms. Rounded panniers look nice, and may help with heel clearance if you’ve got short chain stays and a compact rack, but they can be a bear to deal with off the bike. Our bags sit flat, for easier loading.
Easy on, easy off. Easy open, easy close. You don’t have to buckle, snap, lock, or otherwise tinker with anything to get our panniers on and off your bike. One-buckle closure gives quick access to your stuff.
Weather resistance. We can’t recommend scuba-biking with our bags (though if you do scuba-bike, we’d like to see photos!). But we can say they’ll keep your stuff dry on those rainy day rides. Choose a bag in X-Pac fabric for absolute waterproofness, or go with one of our other fabric options for a high level of water resistance. All our bags are fully lined and seam-sealed, and we offer a rain cover for extra protection, should you so desire.
Lock stowage. Our pannier handles are designed to accommodate a standard U-lock.
Care to see more? We’ll be making our debut at the Philly Bike Expo this weekend—stop by our booth and say hey. Not in the mid-Atlantic? Check back here next week—after Philly, we’ll enjoy a couple days’ R&R, then the bags will be up in our store. We’d love to hear what you think—leave us a comment, or find us on facebook or twitter.