I like to try to ride my bike whenever I can in an effort to burn off some of the extra pounds that I put on in my gig as a food writer. I have a Litespeed Titanium road bike that I ride for fitness, but it’s not very practical for in town use, especially since I use Speedplay pedal clips that make it almost impossible to walk in the specialized shoes when you’re not on the bike.
So for just getting around town or riding to the YMCA and back (where I then go to a spin class … go figure), I usually commute on my old 2008 Novara Fusion, which I affectionately refer to as “Big Ugly.” Yes I am aware that it bears more than a passing resemblance to Steve Carrel’s mode of transportation in “The 40-Year Old Virgin.” I like to consider it as being too ugly to steal; plus it weighs a ton, so I could probably catch anybody trying to rip it off by chasing them down on foot.
You can imagine that I was excited when Detour Bike Bags offered up a sample of one of their Georgetown Dry Panniers for me to try out. For the uninformed, pannier is just a term for a basket, bag, box or similar container carried either in pairs or singly across a rack mounted above the rear wheel of a bicycle.
The Georgetown is made of thick vinyl, and it is well-constructed and tightly stitched. The pannier attached very stably to my rack with the use of two hooks, a secure clip and a bungee strap to keep the bottom of the bag hanging parallel to the bike frame. Once attached, that baby wasn’t going anywhere, most importantly not into the spokes of my rear tire which could cause a real headache. (Even though I always wear a helmet, and you should too, kids!)
The contents of the bag are doubly secured to insure that they stay dry and safe on your ride. After unclipping the hinged top of the bag, there is a second closure where you roll up the top of the internal compartment and secure it with velcro straps. The manufacturers encouraged me to test the watertight properties of the Georgetown, but I think they just wanted to have a chuckle at the thought of me riding Big Ugly through one of Nashville’s torrential summer afternoon thunderstorms.
I showed them though, by simply sealing a roll of paper towels up inside the Georgetown and washing my bike with a hose. Afterwards, I checked the paper towels and found nary a drop of moisture. This thing is good!
You can see how deep and roomy the Georgetown’s inner compartment is, although some of that space is lost when you roll down the top for security. Even after that, there is plenty of room for a change of clothes and even an extra pair of shoes. I also appreciated the inclusion of a zippered inner pocket to hold the contents of my pockets instead of having change, my wallet, my phone, pens etc. jangling around in the bottom of the bag.
There is also an exterior pocket that is not necessarily as watertight, but which is a convenient place to access keys and ID without having to unroll the flap of the large compartment; there’s even a handy key fob to clip your keys to. I imagine they would suggest that you keep your phone there too, but I prefer the extra protection of the interior pocket in case I were to accidentally lay the bike down on the side while riding. It happens every now and then…
The last nice feature is the included carrying strap so that when I get to the gym, I can just pop the Georgetown off my bike and carry it over my shoulder like a portable gym bag. While it’s nothing fancy, and the strap isn’t especially padded, it did offer another bit of convenience to an already useful and functional piece of bicycle commuting equipment.
What I Like: Sturdy construction and a thoughtful design make this a nice tool to keep your belongings safe and dry while cycling.
What Needs Improvement: I wish there was a place to put a business card or some sort of identification that would be easily visible. When I use this as a gym bag, it would be nice for someone to be able to identify the owner in case it got accidentally picked up out of one of the open lockers in the workout room.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample