26 Jul 2022

Everything you need to know about Ortlieb panniers

a wall of Ortlieb panniers & handlebar bags hanging in the Abbotsford Cycles shop

Ortlieb panniers will simplify your cycling life, but first we thought it would be helpful to break down some of the commonly asked questions we are asked about how they work, what the differences are between all the versions, and how compatible they are with your current bike rack.


What is the difference between Back-Roller Classic & Back-Roller Plus?

Ortlieb panniers come in Classic & Plus, the difference between these is in the type of material the panniers are made from, but both types are equally waterproof. The Classic is a tarpaulin type fabric, most easily identified as a shiny material with large colour panels & black sides. The Plus is Cordura which is an extremely durable, textured fabric that is commonly used in bikepacking gear & other outdoor & camping gear.


What is the difference between Back-Roller Classic & Back-Roller Free?

Ortlieb offer their famous waterproof panniers in a PVC free material, which they refer to as the ‘Free’ line. The Free fabric is just as waterproof as the Classic panniers, and is for those who support less plastic in the environment. The Free panniers look very similar to the Classic panniers with a coloured front panel & black sides, but come in their own separate colourways different from the Classic panniers.


How do you attach Back-Rollers to your bike?

Ortlieb Back-Rollers come with the Quick Lock system which easily mounts to a rear rack on your bike by simply dropping the hooks on to the top or side pannier rails of your rack using the carry handle. Lifting the bag by the carry handle releases the lock so that it is easily removed from the bike, and also dropped onto the rail. Releasing the carry handle closes the lock, securing the pannier to your rack instantly. The lower portion of the pannier also has an anchoring hook on a rail that can be adjusted & pivoted to clip in to the vertical stays of your rack, preventing the pannier from swinging outwards when you make a turn, and preventing the pannier from sliding along the length of your rack.

Attaching a Back-Roller to your bike is incredibly easy & intuitive once you have the bag in hand, and Ortlieb provide hook inserts with each pannier so that you can ensure the securing hooks fit perfectly to the tube diameter of your particular bike rack. Not to worry, Ortlieb has thought of everything & there will always be a hook insert or securing hook which will fit your bike rack, whether it is an ebike or a touring bike.


Do you need panniers on both sides?

No you don’t! Ortlieb sell most of their panniers in pairs, however they do offer the Back-Roller Free, and the Back-Roller Urban in singles for those who just need to carry a laptop & their lunch & change of clothes in to the office or just a few things to work of a day. There is no need to run both panniers on your bike if you don’t need them. You will naturally account for the uneven load on your bike with your own balance & you cannot damage your bike in any way by running just one pannier on one side of your bike. Many people run a single pannier because it is easier to lock up your bike against a pole or with another bike and others use their panniers reflective qualities on the right side of their bike to provide added visibility to motorists.


Are all Ortlieb panniers waterproof? Yes!

Ortlieb panniers are the original and the best in the world for fully waterproof, carrying capability and simple and reliable mounting systems. Mounting to your rear rack or lowrider, the famous Ortlieb Back-Roller is a weld-seamed, roll-top closure bag with a shoulder strap for easy carrying off the bike. Ortlieb offer two different mounting systems on their panniers, both are quick and easy to use and extremely hard-wearing and reliable.

Using the Quick Lock 2 (QL2) system allows you to whip your rear pannier off your bike quickly, but will hold fast on your bike while you ride over trails and roads in the roughest conditions. The Quick Lock 3 (QL3) system is for those who want a more streamlined look on their pannier by leaving more of the hardware on the bike.

Whatever bike you ride, whatever conditions you ride in, Ortlieb have a pannier that will work for you. For eBikes you can’t go past the style and simplicity of the Velo Shopper or E-Mate bags that are designed for your increased carrying capacity and the bolder styling and battery carrying needs of your eBike.

When it comes to commuting the Back-Roller Urban line have addressed the need for just one pannier bag for the laptop and lunch essentials, in a Cordura fabric that matches your office-wear. The High Visibility line of Back-Rollers in a high luminosity fabric give you the security to you need when the winter rolls in and you are riding home in the dark.

Looking for Ortlieb panniers in Melbourne? Visit our bike shop in Richmond, underneath the train station to see all the Ortlieb panniers from our online store in person & try them out on your bike.  And get those bike repairs you need done before your ride while you are at it!


Are Ortlieb panniers just for bike touring?

Ortlieb panniers are designed primarily for bike touring and bikepacking, but they can also be used for other purposes such as commuting, shopping, and general transportation. Ortlieb panniers are known for their durability, weather-resistance, and ease of use, making them a popular choice among cyclists who need a reliable and practical way to carry their gear on a bike.

While Ortlieb panniers are often associated with long-distance touring, they can be used for a variety of purposes and are versatile enough to accommodate different types of gear, from clothes and camping equipment to groceries and work supplies. Additionally, some Ortlieb panniers are specifically designed for commuters, with features like reflective detailing and laptop sleeves.

Overall, while Ortlieb panniers are particularly well-suited for bike touring and bikepacking, they can also be used for a range of other activities and are a popular choice among cyclists who value high-quality, durable gear that can withstand the demands of regular use.