Daily Commuting Tips: Let your bike take the load

For some reason (vanity perhaps) I’ve been using a courier bag for the past week to tote my laptop and daily schwag to work. I’d forgotten just what a pain in the neck (or more accurately the shoulder) carrying a bag on your back is when riding.

Even for fairly light commuting loads like mine, carrying the load on the bike has got to be the winner. No stiff ‘Courier’s Shoulder’, no sweaty back, no top-heavy handling.

Attach a pannier to your bike and watch the weight disappear. I find a single pannier works best – due to that Immutable Law which states that if you get a pair of panniers you’ll fill them both with junk you don’t need.

Here’s what I carry:

  • Rain jacket
  • Mini Pump
  • Tyre Levers
  • Spare tube
  • Allen Keys
  • Leatherman Tool
  • Gerber Cooltool
  • Keys
  • Wallet
  • Phone

All of this fits in my Pacific Outdoor commuter pannier, which fits snugly on my Dahon Speed D7. The Pacific pannier has got some great features – waterproof material so your gear stays clean and dry, Rixen and Kaul fittings so your pannier stays on the bike and it’s an open ‘shopper’ design making it really useful. You can take it into the grocers and fill it directly with shopping and just as easily unpack it when you get home. You can fit odd shaped items in it, like baguettes, magnums of champagne, small dogs, violin cases, you name it. In a word, useful.

There are lots of good panniers on the market however – the key features to look for are waterproofing and a proper fitting system.

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