Ortlieb Backroller Classic Pannier Bags

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Rating: 3.0/5 (3 votes cast)

100% Waterproof
Easy to attach
Properly rugged construction
Bit awkward to carry
So nice, you don’t want to use them!

Arguably the best panniers money can buy.  Completely waterproof, properly well made and plenty of room inside to store all your swag:  Nice and easy to attach to your bike, the classic comes with an organiser inside for money and keys etc; the top is secured with a shoulder strap, so you can carry the panniers around when you detach them from the bike.

Total Volume: 40 litres
Volume per Pannier: 20 litres
Attachment Mechanism: Ortlieb QL1 system
Waterproof: 100%
Size HxWxD: 420mm x 230/320mm x 170mm


Ok, first things first… putting the panniers on your rack…

The Backroller Classic attaches using the Ortlieb “QL1 system”; two hooks at the top that spring lock closed and a third hook fitting at the bottom, which just hooks over the bar of your rack.  I’ve probably not sold it very well, but it’s actually very good.  The hooks at the top are released using a simple pull handle, and because the third hook just sits over the bar of the pannier, all you do is pull the handle and lift et voila… off comes your bag.  Apply in reverse to re-attach.

When delivered all three hooks are just in a factory default position, but using a 3mm hex key you can move the top two almost the entire length of the bag, and the bottom one has plenty of movement such that you can find a position to fit any rack.

Another nice little touch, is that Ortlieb supply a few little inserts to go inside the top two hooks depending on the size of the tubes of your pannier racks.  The standard size is to fit a 16mm diameter tube, but comes with inserts for 11mm and 8mm diameter tubes so you can pick your nearest size and stops them rattling around en route.  You can see in the picture that I’ve used some of the inserts to reduce the gap down to fit my rack using the 11mm inserts.


The Bag

Right, now its fitted, you might want to know a bit more about the actual bag itself… yes?.. Good.

The bags are made of some beefy polyester fabric, supposedly tear-proof but I can’t comment on this yet.  Its coated in some sort of PVC like material, which is what makes is waterproof… which it certainly is!  It’s been absolutely poodling it down in the UK recently which provided a perfect opportunity to try them out… full bag, top rolled over 3 times and secured and I was out in the hammering rain for over an hour and everything inside was still bone dry… proper job.  All of the seams are sealed for maximum protection!

On the front and back of the pannier, there’s a patch of 3M reflective stuff, which is a bonus, as it’s always good to be seen, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it alone.

Anyway, the pair is 40 litres, 20 per bag, so there’s plenty of room inside for all your camping and biking gear.  As I mentioned briefly earlier on, there’s a nice little organiser that fits flush against the back panel for any important things that you don’t want to lose in the recesses of you bag; phone, wallet, keys, passport and so on… all good stuff.

On the classic, the top rolls down and is secured in two ways:

Firstly, there’s a compression strap with a buckle to hold the top down.  This is adjustable depending on how full you’ve got the bag and how many times you’re managed to roll the top down.  I think they recommend at least 3 or 4 times to guarantee that its sealed, and it certainly looks like once or twice won’t cut the mustard.

 Secondly, there’s a buckle on each side of the top bit, to which you clip the shoulder strap; the shoulder strap then runs across the front through a hook to pull down the end bits and stop water getting in.  I’ve noticed that on the City version of the panniers, there is no shoulder strap and the buckles instead clip to the side of the bag.



Lastly, once you’ve attached your bags, filled them and secured them… been on a sweet ride, you may… just may want to take them off again.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t, but then I thought some unsavoury vagabond might try and pinch them… Also I didn’t fancy carrying all my shopping up the stairs item by item.

In the fitting section, I said that to remove the bag from the rack, you just lift the little handle at the back and lift and away it comes… no word of a lie.  After this, it gets a bit tricky.  I’m not doubting the integrity and the structure of the bag, not at all, but, when I’d got a bag full of swag, I didn’t want to carry it by the little handle, because it didn’t feel sturdy enough to support the weight I had in it, I’ve not been able to find out if there’s a weight limit on the bags, but I was going on the weight limit of my rack, which is 25kg.  If anyone knows the please feel free to comment.

It’s a similar scenario with the shoulder strap, in this case, it wasn’t so much that the buckles wouldn’t support the weight of the bag, and it was comfortable to carry, but I couldn’t bear the thought of the strain on the seams… a personal matter I know, but I would think carefully about carrying them when you’ve got a lot of weight in them… If you can, leave them on the rack as long as possible.

Ortlieb Backroller Classic Pannier Bags, 3.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
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