Do you love riding your bike and want to carry things on it and not always carrying a backpack but are not sure what your options are and owing to this, you have postponed biking until you figure things out?
Have you come across different types of bike bags but do not know which is best for you?
If the above statements describe your current situation, then this book is just for you.
In it, you will learn the different bike bags in the market, how best to choose a suitable bag, the specific bag your bike is suited for, what to pack in what bag and any other question you may have about bike bags.
By the time you finish reading this book, you will know what bag to get and how best to use it.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Saddlebags and Bicycle Seat Packs
- Chapter 2: Bike Pannier Bags
- Chapter 3: Frame Bags
- Chapter 4: Top Tube Bags
- Chapter 5: Basket Bags
- Chapter 6: Bike Pack Bags
- Chapter 7: Handlebar Pack
- Chapter 8: Bike Trailers
- Chapter 9: Essential Tips for Buying Bike Bags
Chapter 1: Saddlebags and Bicycle Seat Packs
Saddlebags are also known as seat bags, under-seat bags, or bicycle seat packs. So what are some benefits of these bags:
Saddlebags pros include:
- Volume – Saddlebags come in various sizes. They usually start from 5 liters and go up to 15 liters. As such, you can have one that fits just beneath your seat or one that angles outwards and upwards.
- More room – Whatever bag you choose, saddlebags give you more room to carry your stuff.
- Stylish – Saddlebags come in different styles. You can even make one at home, and if you wish, you can get one with reflective material to increase visibility when you travel in the morning and evening.
- Attachment – Saddlebags can be easily detached from your bicycle if you’re using a click-in dock. Once you reach your destination, you can just carry them with you if you choose.
- Subtle – Some riders want to look cool as they ride, and others don’t want people to pay much attention to what they’re carrying. A saddlebag that fits just beneath their seat and blends in with their bike color provides the subtlety they need.
When to Use Saddlebags
Saddlebags are best for use when you have quite a bit of traveling to do or intend to go on an overnight trip. This is because they are ideal for carrying bike repair things such as spare tubes, zip ties, nuts and bolts, wrench, brake cables, chain tool, tire levers, compact pumps, lubricants, and multi-tools. As such, you can comfortably go on longer trips knowing you can repair your bike should the need arise since your saddlebag can carry all the repair tools you need.
But, they are also useful in carrying light and bulky items.
You can carry things such as clothing or even a tent inside your saddlebag. You can also use your bag to carry food items such as bread or chips. The trick is to place such items further on top of the saddlebag to avoid accidentally squashing them.
Another trick is to place items such as a wet tent on top of the saddlebag instead of inside the bag. In this case, the saddlebag’s external part acts as a raised platform where you can add more items if the bag is full.
Note: Saddlebags are not easier to reach into when you are riding. Thus, don’t place items in them that you may need to use as you ride. Instead, use them to carry things that you need once you stop for a break.
So, when is a saddlebag the most suitable bag to carry on your bike?
Bikes Suitable For Saddlebags
As long as your bike has enough space between the seat and the rear wheel, you can attach a saddlebag to it. The trick is how you attach it. There are two ways to attach saddlebags to your bike.
The first way involves the use of straps. You can use velcro straps to safely secure your saddlebag to the seat post and saddle rails. Remember, you don’t want your bag to sway back and forth as you ride. That is annoying and can mess up your balance.
The second way is to use click-in docks. The click-in docks tend to place a bit of distance between the bag and the saddle, and this ensures your thighs don’t rub against the saddle as you pedal your bike.
Click-in docks tend to be more expensive than velcro straps. Thus, if you plan to use your saddlebag on more than one bike, you should think of using velcro straps since you can transfer them to whatever bike you’re using. But all in all, whatever bike you use, make sure you attach your saddlebag to it securely.
Now let’s look at another type of bag you can use.
Chapter 2: Bike Pannier Bags
Bicycle panniers are rectangular bags designed to be attached to metal racks either on the front of your bike or the rear of your bike. The metal racks used often bolt to the frame directly, and you can use metal or plastic hook systems to secure your bags to the racks.
Pannier setups usually include two rear panniers and two front panniers. The rear panniers can hold 25 to 70 liters of luggage. The front panniers tend to be smaller than the rear panniers and can hold 15 to30 liters of luggage.
Below are benefits of bike pannier bags:
- Large storage capacity – Panniers are designed to hold a lot of equipment.
- Multiple storage rooms – Panniers often come in pairs. This means you have additional storage to keep your stuff in.
- Bike balance – Since some panniers are used in pairs, their load on either side of the bicycle wheel helps balance the bike. In fact, it is advisable that you use both front and rear panniers to keep your bike steady. This means additional storage room.
When to Use Bike Pannier Bags
Due to their large capacity, you can pack a variety of things in bike pannier bags. You can pack your cooking equipment, bike repair gear, clothes, and food items. Thus, if you want to go on a bike tour, bike pannier bags should be a go-to option.
Although they are relatively large, the trick is how you pack your pannier bags.
You need to start with your heaviest items. These should include items such as bike tools, frying pan, and tent. Pack these items closer to the tires. Push them further forward to anchor the rest of the items and improve your bicycle’s stability.
Also, since the bags can hold several items, it would be wise to categorize the items and place them in smaller plastic bags. This is especially so if you have water-sensitive items with you. Additionally, make sure the front panniers are similar in weight so that they can balance. You can have more items in your back panniers, but they too should balance to distribute the weight evenly.
If you’re new to bike packing, you’ll want to get panniers for your road trips. This is because many people tend to carry more things than they need when they first go on a bike tour. As you become an expert in packing, you may discover the need to adjust the capacity of your panniers. But as they say, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Bikes Suitable for Bike Pannier Bags
Panniers come in various sizes, and different brands have different sized racks to fit your panniers. Thus, you have to be careful when purchasing panniers. The bikes most suitable for pannier bags are touring bikes, outfitted mountain bikes or adventure road bikes.
Chapter 3: Frame Bags
Frame bags, frame packs, or frame phone bags are bicycle bags designed to fit into the triangle of a bicycle. This is the space between the down tube, top tube, and seat tube of your bike. Although frame bags are usually intended to fit snugly into that space, there are partial or half-frame bags sold in the market.
Since such bags don’t occupy the whole triangle, they leave enough space for you to mount water bottle cages on the frames. Depending on the size of your bag, you can mount one or two water bottle cages or bags.
Frame bags pros include:
- Snug fit – Since many bikes have similar triangles, it is more than likely for you to find a universal frame bag that fits your bike well. However, you can still have a custom-made bag for a better fit.
- Secure – Frame bags have multiple attachment straps. These straps allow you to attach your bag to the seat tube, down tube, and top tube. As such, your bag remains secure even if you are riding on harsh terrain.
- Convenient – Frame bags are positioned for convenience. Their position allows you to reach down as you continue on your way and remove an item from the bag.
- Easy to organize – Many frame bags come with multiple pockets. Thus, if you like your things well organized, you can assign them pockets and put the things you need to use often on the outside pockets.
- Stylish – Frame bags come in various styles, sizes, and colors. You can match them to your bike. For instance, if you have orange frames, you can purchase a brown frame bag to enhance your bike’s look.
When to Use Frame Bags
The frame bag is often used to carry dense or heavy items, especially when you’re going off-road. This is because its positioning enables you to effectively keep the weight off the steering. It centers it on the bike, allowing for a smoother ride even when you are on rough terrain.
You can use your frame bag to carry items such as your repair kit, cooking kit, medical kit, torch, wash kit, and music player. Try to keep the weight in your frame bag between 2 to 4kgs. But remember, your legs will be pedaling, so don’t make your frame bag too bulky as you’ll have trouble pedaling.
Bikes Suitable For Frame Bags
Ideally, you can use a frame bag on most bikes. You can use such bags on road bikes, touring bikes, cyclocross bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and adventure road bikes. However, when using them on bikes such as road bikes, you have to keep the weight of the things you want to carry at a minimum because such bikes are meant to be used on smooth roads, and they are not meant to carry heavy loads.
Also, their use will depend on your purpose. For example, if you plan on going for a long trip, the triangle between your down tube, top tube, and seat tube would serve you better if you mount a water bottle cage on it. This way, you can drink water as you continue your ride. As such, always think of your needs before deciding on a frame bag.
Now let’s take a look at top tube bags.
Chapter 4: Top Tube Bags
Top tube bags are mini bags or packs placed on the top tube of your bicycle. Most top tube bags are placed at the head tube end. However, you can reverse such bags and place them at the seat post end of your bicycle’s top tube. Some riders use two top tube bags using this placement method.
Top tube bags can carry 1 liter to 8 liters of luggage. Some bicycles have bolts on which you can attach the bags, but most bags are attached using straps.
The pros of having this bag include:
- Easy access – When it comes to bicycles, the ease of access is determined by how easy it is for you to reach for something while you ride your bicycle. Top tube bags are literally in front of you when you ride, and you can easily access them without stopping.
- Convenience -Top tube bags are designed to be accessed using one hand. You can place things such as phones in the bag, and you’ll be able to reach them easily when needed.
- Light-weight – Some riders struggle with balancing their bikes if the weight is not evenly distributed. The placement of the top tube bag rarely interferes with your bike’s balance.
- Security – When you are traveling, you still want to keep an eye’ on your property. When you place your valuables in a top tube bag, you’ll rest easier knowing they are in your line of sight.
- Attachment – Most top tube bags can be easily detached from your bike. As such, you can take them with you if you don’t want to leave your property outside.
When to Use Top Tube Bags
Top tube bags are the type of bags you use when you are running errands around town. They give you a safe place to carry your phone, wallet, documents, and other valuables as you go about your business.
You can also use such bags to store some snacks when you have to go for longer journeys. Sometimes you cannot stop and sit down to eat, and you have to re-energize as you ride. Place your snacks or sandwich in your bag, and you’re good to go.
Bikes Suitable for Top Tube Bags
Top tube bags can be placed on all types of bicycles. You can put them on hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, cyclocross bikes, and road bikes. However, some bicycles tend to have a shorter top tube, making it difficult for riders to pedal as their knees end up touching the bag. Thus, test out your bike before deciding on a top tube bag.
Chapter 5: Basket Bags
Basket bags are not new to bike packing. They are the type of bags we are used to seeing on kid’s bicycles. But recently, they’ve made a comeback amongst bike riders of all ages. As the name suggests, basket bags are baskets that are placed at the front or rear of the basket.
The front baskets are usually smaller in size, and they are mounted to the front fork or handlebar. The rare baskets tend to be deeper, and they can be used to carry larger items.
The pros of having such a bag include:
- Cost-effective – The good thing about bike baskets is that they come in different shapes and sizes. You can also easily find a cheap basket and turn it into a bike basket using straps.
- Ease of packing – Bike baskets often don’t have lids, and they have a large surface area. This makes it easier for you to pack your stuff. You can also use them as a holding place whereby you pack your things in a bag and then drop the bag in your bike basket.
- More room – Both the front and rear baskets give you additional space to store various items.
- Carry taller objects – The good thing about using open bike baskets is that they allow you to carry taller items. You can carry your groceries without squashing them.
- Off-bike utility – Bike baskets that can be quickly detached are useful when you’re going shopping. You can take them with you, do your shopping and reattach them before riding back home.
When to Use Basket Bags
Bike baskets are the type of bags you want to use when running errands or shopping. This is because they allow you to place your goods inside the basket quickly. For longer trips or bumpy rides, you can use bike baskets that have lids on them. For instance, steel bike baskets can even be locked to provide additional safety when you store your things.
Bikes Suitable For Basket Bags
Ideally, you want to use bike baskets on smooth roads. This means using them on bikes such as road bikes, cyclocross bikes, and hybrid bikes. However, you can still add a basket to any bicycle provided you ensure you don’t carry too much stuff on bikes that are not designed to carry much weight.
Remember, bike baskets can be custom-made to match the sleekness of your bicycle. So, you don’t have to worry about them ‘cramping your style.’
Chapter 6: Bike Pack Bags
Bike pack bags are soft bags you can carry on your back while riding your bicycle. You can still attach bike pack bags to the frame of your bicycle using velcro and straps, but the ideal way to carry them is on your back.
So what are the pros of having such a bag? Here they are:
- Better bike handling – The bike pack is often placed closer to your bike’s center of gravity than other bags. As such, it allows you to have better handling of your bike since your bike will not be leaning too much on one side. Your bike will feel nimble and be more responsive simply because it is well balanced.
- Efficiency – There is something known as aerodynamics that is important to cyclists. When you are on your bike, you want to move fast if you can. Since bike packs are lighter and don’t allow much room for over packing, they can give you that freedom you need to move faster while expending little energy.
- Less wear on your bike – The thing about bicycle bags is that they take a toll on your bicycle. But bike packs are not placed directly on the bike. This means your bike will experience less wear and tear. As such, you won’t have to spend so much time on maintenance or replacing parts.
- Stable – When you carry your bike pack, you’ll notice it has adjustable straps that you can use to have a snug fit. This allows you to move in-between spaces and ride through rough roads without your bag falling over. And even if you were to fall, the bag does not break since it contains no racks. If it tears, you can just repair it with a needle and thread.
- Ease of navigation – Bike bags are designed to be carried close to your back. This means that they don’t dangle haphazardly onto your sides when you carry them properly. As such, you can easily navigate through traffic, narrow gaps, and in between trees.
- Make them yourself – The good thing about bike bags is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for them. You can easily make one yourself. And if you are going for a unique look, you can have one custom-made for you.
- Stylish – Bike bags are not just stylish but also trendy. Many companies are coming up with sleek designs, so you’re always in for a treat when you want to purchase a bike bag.
When to Use Bike Back Bags
Bike packs are the type of bags you use when running errands, attending meetings, or going to school. This is because they allow you to safely carry your property inside the bag, knowing that you won’t have to leave the bag behind when you go inside.
Also, you can use bike bags when you are traveling long distances. This is provided of course that you don’t have to carry much. If you keep your load light, you can travel further in fewer hours than you would have if you were using a heavily loaded bicycle.
Bikes Suitable for Bike Bags
No matter what bike you ride, you can use a bike pack. However, you may want to test out the bag first before you use it. You basically want to ensure that it does not have dangling bits that can get caught up in your bicycle and lead to accidents. And if you’re traveling long distances, you have to be cautious of how much load you’re carrying because the load puts a strain on your back, shoulders, and neck areas.
Now let’s take a look at handlebar packs.
Chapter 7: Handlebar Pack
As the name suggests, a handlebar pack is a type of bag that is often attached to the handle of your bicycle. Handlebar packs can be attached to your bike by use of straps or clamps.
Handlebar pack pros include:
- More room – An additional storage space equals more room for you to carry your things.
- Detachable – Most handlebar packs are detachable. This means you can quickly remove the straps from your bike’s handles and carry the bag with you as you arrive at your destination.
- Easier to reach – Handlebar packs are easier to reach than some other bags, such as seat bags. You just have to stretch your arm in front of you to reach a pocket.
- Stylish – Handlebar packs come in various styles. It is possible to find one you admire or one that matches your bicycle. You can also make one for yourself at home.
- Convenient – Handlebar packs are convenient in that you can easily pack your bag inside your home before attaching it to your bicycle. This means you can take your time packing instead of rushing at the last minute and forgetting some things.
When to Use Handlebar Packs
Handlebar packs are most useful when it comes to carrying loads between 1 and 2kg. You can use them when you are running errands or when you have something precious you want to carry and keep an eye on while you are riding. Handlebar packs are also useful when you are riding for long distances. You can use them to carry bulky items that occupy space but don’t weigh too much. For example, you can use such bags to carry your tent, sleeping bag, or bulky clothes.
You can also use handlebar packs when you are going on a bike tour. For instance, if your bag had a transparent outer pocket or cleat plastic sleeve, you can place your map inside it, and you’ll be able to look at it as you travel. This way, you won’t need to waste much time trying to figure out where you are as you ride.
Bikes Suitable for Handlebar Packs
Handlebar packs can be used on a variety of bicycles. You can use them on mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, adventure road bikes, touring bikes, cyclocross bikes, and general road bikes. But you have to ensure that the bag you use does not hinder your ability to operate your bike’s shifters or brakes. Also, you should not overload your bike. The extra weight will negatively affect the handling of your bike since it affects your bike’s balance.
Now let’s look at something that you can use to carry a lot of luggage.
Chapter 8: Bike Trailers
A bike trailer is a type of carriage that comes trailing after your bike and is great when you want to carry many items or things that are bulky. It is basically your bicycle towing a trailer after it. The bike trailer comes with a single wheel or two wheels. Bike trailers with a single wheel are often as wide as the handlebars of your bicycle, and they tend to fall in-line with your bike. On the other hand, two-wheel bicycle trailers tend to be wider and bulkier.
Bike trailer pros include:
- More confident riding – Bike trailers give you confidence since you can feel them trailing after you. Even if you are not looking at your luggage, you know it is there, and you don’t have to waste time wondering if you’ve lost something.
- More room – Bike trailers have a lot of space. Of course, they come in various capacities, but generally, they give you more storage than you would get from other bicycle bags.
- Easier movement – Bike trailers don’t come between your legs and the pedals. They don’t impede movement around your bicycle’s chain. When you use them, you are free to move about without worrying about bumping into something or your clothes getting caught in something.
- Convenient – When you stop for a break, you can use a kickstand to keep your bike trailer stationary. This comes in handy when you don’t have a wall to balance your bicycle on.
When to Use Bike Trailers
Bike trailers are often used for touring. If you plan to travel and would love the freedom to move about and still have your things with you, you may want to think about buying a bicycle trailer. You can place all your bulky or heavy items in such a trailer.
If you have a kid and want to take them with you for a ride, you may want to use a child carrier bike trailer. And if you are carrying a lot of luggage, a bike trailer will be useful to you because of its low center of gravity. This prevents imbalance since the weight is grounded.
Bikes Suitable for Bike Trailers
Generally speaking, you can attach a bike trailer to most bicycles. It is just a matter of determining how well your trailer will attach to your bike. Remember, bike trailers can carry a lot of weight. Thus, if your bike is up to lagging the weight around, then you’re good to go. If you’re unsure which bikes to attach trailers to, go for touring bikes and adventure road bikes since they are made to carry more weight than road bikes.
Now let’s look at some tips you can use to make the best out of bike bags.
Chapter 9: Essential Tips for Buying Bike Bags
When selecting a bike bag, there are some things you should consider. These include:
Ease of access
One of the first things you should think of before buying a bike bag is how often you want to reach into your bag during your trip. The items you want to use during your trip should be in pockets that you can easily reach. Thus, it helps to plan out your packing before the day of the trip. Make sure you know where each zipper and each opening are found so that you can arrange your bag well on your bicycle. For instance, you don’t want a zipper facing down when trying to get your phone from the top tube bag.
Nowadays, it is possible to find bags that can be expanded or compressed using expandable collars and compression straps, respectively. These types of bags allow you to carry all kinds of loads without wasting space. If your load is small, you can compress your bag to avoid flapping. If you need more space, you can expand your bag to make more room instead of using various bags each time you want to carry something.
Water-resistance is something you should always consider when buying a bag. This is especially so if you want to go on bike tours and are unsure of the weather patterns. If you get a waterproof bag, you will be sure that whatever is in your bag will be protected from any damage by water. However, remember that a heavy downpour can soak through material that is water-resistance after a certain period. Thus, you should check on your property as soon as possible.
Most people just think about a waterproof bag and not much about a bag that is strong enough to withstand UV rays. Your bike bag will be exposed to other elements in addition to rain; therefore, it is important to go for a strong and durable bag that can withstand UV rays among other harsh weather conditions.
You should also consider how your bag would be attached to your bike when selecting a bag. This is because sometimes you have to pack in public places. This means you may want to carry your gear with you for safety reasons. If your bike has a quick release or uses clips or hooks, you can easily detach your bag from it and take it with you.
Center your weight
It is important that you look for a bag that will ensure you keep your weight centered on your bicycle when carrying various bike bags. You shouldn’t have too much weight in the front or the back. Ideally, you want to keep the weight balanced. This will allow you to get a better handle of your bike. It will also prevent you from putting too much strain on your body and prevent mechanical breakdowns.
Reliability of the brand
It is best to buy a bag from a reliable brand always, as this will ensure that you get the best quality. Do your research well and even read customer reviews before purchasing. Also, it is best to spend a bit more and get the best product rather than saving a few coins and having to buy another bag within a short time.
Finally, whatever kind of bag you opt for, always remember to use space wisely
When it comes to packing your bag, you may feel like you need to utilize every bit of available space. However, it is good to remember that you may end up picking up a bunch of souvenirs during your trip. They will need to go somewhere.
Also, when you pack your bags, you want to mark down where something comes from and whenever you use it, you need to return it to its place. This way, you won’t lose your things.
Bicycle bags come in various shapes, colors, styles, and sizes. They are designed to give you more room to carry your stuff, and you can use them on day trips or overnight trips. Many times, the type of bike bag you need depends on your needs. For instance, if you intend to carry bulky items, a top tube bag won’t do. However, as you become more comfortable adjusting to the weight of the bags, you will find that you can safely use a variety of bicycle bags to cater to your every need.
I hope that the information in this book has opened your eyes to the different possibilities when it comes to the kind of bike bag you desire.
All the best as you choose one that suits you!