Bike commuting isn’t just about riding to work. It’s about consciously choosing to ride a bike to a destination instead of driving a car. The benefits of bike commuting are too lengthy to discuss in a review lead-in but they’re there.
Regardless of your motives, there are certain items you need to carry with you and for safety reasons, you need vessels in which to carry them so you can keep both hands on the handlebars.
It also helps if the vessels are tough, come in fashionable colors and are purposeful because the urban cyclist—especially a discerning Minneapolis cyclist—is a breed that functions best with a variety of options. Like the ones from Detours and Timbuk2, who have evolved their lines so that cyclists can move seamlessly between bike and lifestyle.
Detours Day Pass handlebar bag ($27.50)
Think of the Detours Day Pass handlebar bag as the modern day “basket”. Only cuter and cooler.
Following the trend of seamlessly switching from bike to lifestyle, the Day Pass attaches securely to your handlebars with a single buckle.
When you get to your destination (e.g. local fashion boutique, farmer’s market or coffee shop), unbuckle it and, using the adjustable and removable shoulder strap, sling it over your shoulder.
It’s not too big, it’s not too small, it’s just the right size for carrying keys, phone, wallet, map, book, snacks, etc.
Review note: The Day Pass works best in the daytime. If you have handlebar lights, the Day Pass doesn’t achieve a very good fit. It doesn’t fall off, but it will shift from side to side quite a bit.
Detours Slice top tube bag ($20)
For years, I likened top tube bags as superfluous and silly. Why would any proper bike commuter add a top tube bag when she already has a pannier in which to carry everything?
Well, the simple answer is that when you’re at a stop and your phone rings, or you’re lost and need to pull up Google Maps on your phone, a top tube bag makes items considerably more accessible.
The Detours Slice top tube bag is like a glove compartment for your bike because you don't have to dismount and rummage through the abyss that is the pannier.
It mounts to your top tube with a Velcro and an elastic strap, does not create any wind resistance, it weighs in at a bloated half-pound and offers 25 cubic inches of cargo space.
Certainly enough to hold my work ID badge, keys and phone. On longer round-the-town rides, it holds snacks.
Review notes: I have no idea how I managed to be a bike commuter all these years without the Slice top tube bag.
Detours Wedgie seat pack ($24)
If the Detours Slice top tube bag is the glove box of your bike, then the Detours Wedgie seat bag is the trunk.
The Wedgie seat bag holds up to 40 cubic inches of cargo (for the Medium size). To put that into perspective, 40 cubic inches is plenty of room for a spare tube, patch kit, tire levers and a multi-tool.
Detours added some nice safety features, too, like reflective piping on both sides and a reflective band on the back panel for blinkie light. If you need more space for your cargo, there is a size large that holds up to 60 cubic inches of cargo.
Review notes: Buy! Buy!! Buy!!! At $24, it’s a no-brainer. And the nice thing is you can bling out your bike by getting the Wedgie, Day Pass and Slice all in the same pattern.
Timbuk2 Moraga pannier ($89)
The Timbuk2 Moraga pannier mounts on the rear bike rack via the Timbuk2 Quick Clip pannier hardware. An additional Velcro strap adds an extra bit of on-bike security.
As a shoulder bag, it has a women’s specific back panel with molded pods for ventilation. A front zip pocket with tricot lining holds sunglasses or phone.
An adjustable shoulder strap lets you wear it over the shoulder or cross-body (a la messenger style). You can also carry it with the short hand straps.
It has one main compartment, that can hold an eReader (or book), bike lock and other purse-items, and two internal zippered pockets for wallet, phone, etc.
It's really a sharp looking bag and is perfect for a ride up to the coffee shop, a music festival or any other ride that doesn't require a lot of cargo capacity.
Timbuk2 is about safety and durability so they added reflective print on the sides, a coated fabric liner for water resistance and a water-resistant bottom boot for puddles.
I love the Moraga as “shoulder bag that attaches to my bike rack”. Complete strangers will actually get in my face as I’m loading up and ask, “Your purse/pannier setup is très adorbs! Wherever did you get it?”
- Make sure the clips will work on your rack before tossing the receipt. If your rack bars are too thick, the clips won’t achieve a secure fit and it will pop off when going over a bump. My rack bars happen to be just the right size for a secure clip. But when I loaned the Moraga to a friend to ride to a music festival, she had issues with it popping off.
- Despite what Timbuk2 says, the Moraga is not a viable laptop carrier. I just don’t see how it would fit.
- It's small. If you’re looking for a pannier in which you can use for bike commuting to work, I swear by the Timbuk2 Tandem pannier. It holds shoes, clothes, my lunch and occasionally, my laptop. It’s my commute-to-work workhorse. I’m on Year 3 of hauling mine through Minneapolis heat, humidity, rain, slush, sleet, snow and punishing winds and it’s still holding up.
Timbuk2 Madrone backpack ($129)
The day that I bought a bona fide commuter bike with a rack on the back was the day that I made the conscious decision to never again carry a pack on my back.
Lots of reasons, really, and they all revolve around comfort and functionality. Why would I want to carry anything on my back when I don’t have to?
Perhaps I was a bit hasty when I made that decision. The Timbuk2 Madrone backpack is a cycling pack designed for women who ride.
It has a women’s specific back panel fit with molded pods that add space between your bag and back for ventilation. In proper Timbuk2 style, the Madrone has loads—and I do mean loads—of organization. And it’s actually comfortable on my back.
- I love the fabric in Timbuk2's new women's line! It is soft and durable and the organization opportunities are there.
- Don't overload the Madrone with weighty objects because it doesn't have a waist belt to offset weight from your back and shoulders.
Timbuk2 Tandem pannier ($129)
If you’re looking for a pannier in which you can use for bike commuting to work, I swear by the Timbuk2 Tandem pannier.
It holds shoes, clothes, my lunch and occasionally, my laptop. It also holds a few groceries in addition to the daily cargo needed for commuting to work.
It’s my commute-to-work workhorse and it's a sturdy beast.
- I’m on Year 3 of hauling mine through Minneapolis heat, humidity, rain, slush, sleet, snow and punishing winds and it’s still holding up.
- Having this pannier on the back turns your bike into an SUV!