This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ortlieb Front Roller Plus

I have been looking for a new set of bags for my bike for a while now.  I really wanted something in a brown waxed canvas that would match the Frost River bags I already have.  Frost River doesn't make front panniers and the only thing I could find in their line is one of their simple book bags or day packs.  While they cost $70-110 each, the cost is high but not for the quality they provide.  The only problem is that they would have to be converted,it would cost another $70 per bag to have Frost River custom make the fittings in place of the backstraps.  Of course, that put the price waaay out there and too much to pay just to roll the dice and hope they would work. One of the recent weekend jaunts made me look a little more carefully after one of the hooks for my existing bags broke.  It's easily repaired, but hell I'm an American, why fix something for $10 when I can spend $100 on something brand new to break!  Besides I wanted to give the old ones to my son when he gets his LHT in a few weeks.
In rambling through a few websites, I looked at Ortlieb since they come so highly recommended.  They have a reputation for being totally weatherproof, but the ones I had seen in person were pretty darned ugly if you ask me.   All I had seen were really bright obnoxious colors and black.  I found the Front Roller plus is available in several more appealing colors one of which (hazel) presented a pretty good match for my Frost River bags.

Now the Ortlieb bags have a couple of features you would expect on bike bags, like reflectorized patches, waterproof, rubberized innards and these interesting pockets
one with a zipper and one without

one is solid and the zippered one is mesh.  I have found no use for them, but I suppose they can hold toiletries.   The whole pocket unit can swing out vertically so it lays across the top of the clothing or gear and can be reached quickly.
What I really loved about the bags was the suspension system.  The hooks that attach to the rack are actually full loops which adjust horizontally on a track to fit any rack.  The great thing is the full loop they create around the rack itself,
The loops themselves are attached to the handle you see there and release whenever the handle is lifted, either mounting or removing them.
It's almost too simple and convenient to completely secure the bag.  The bottom track has an open "hook" which adjusts to keep the bag from bouncing laterally. It was really a pleasure to take them off and put them back on again,several times over again.    I know I haven't been "bicycle front pannier shopping" for a while but hey, what'll they think of next?
The bags really are a nice size for the way I travel.  One held 3 days of clothing, one shoe, cook kit and tool rollup; the other held my sleeping bag, one shoe, stove and rain cape. The top of the bags fold over nicely and secure all weather tight with a webbed strap an clasp.

The only thing I miss about the other bags is the small outer pocket each had, but I can live without that.  The only bad thing I can say about them is- they rattle.   The plastic loops and hooks provide a totally secure load without having to be cinched tight like other bags, so they bounce and rattle a little.  On the other hand they come with a shoulder strap system to attach which might prove useful sometime, maybe.  At $115 dollars for the pair they are a bargain.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. You can now get external pockets which may fit your panniers. Check Ortlieb's website for the details.