Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Racers collect scars. Tourists collect gear.

About the time the video of the nasty pileup and chain reaction crash in stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse was making the rounds on the Internet I was checking out a laptop pannier for a commuting customer who had changed bikes and needed to reconfigure his bag setup.

The crash video conjured up memories of various less spectacular but still out of control situations I'd seen or taken part in during my competitive years. Bitch as I might about the motoring public, I feel safer duking it out in traffic than rubbing elbows in a sprint with a bunch of charged-up racers. Most of my scars date from that era, although the deepest one does not.

Most racers collect only scars. Someone has to fill out the field.

Tourists have always been interested in equipment to help them carry loads. Tourists and randonneurs embraced multi-geared bikes earlier than their more overtly competitive counterparts. I love bags and widgets. I thought the Axiom Transit laptop pannier was so cool, I got one for myself. Then we ordered a third one for the shop. We've already had to reorder.

The Transit is a slim, well-padded single pannier with a removable padded sleeve for a notebook computer. The inner bag is a completely free-hanging, coated sack with a spindrift extension. The pannier has a skirted flap top closure for weather resistance. Outside the main compartment it has a medium-sized outside pocket with a hanging organizer section in it. I don't often ride with a computer, but I have wished for a slim pannier proportioned to hold documents.

A visit to Axiom's site indicates the Transit has been replaced in their current lineup by two even cooler-looking laptop panniers, the Pioggia and the Vancouver.

The Transit is set up to mount to either side of a rear rack. It has reinforcement at the corners to protect from heel scuffs, reflective trim and shoulder strap D-rings. The shoulder strap is included. A zippered flap covers the rack hooks if you like. It is a well-designed and nicely made bag. Great. An invitation to carry more crap. Actually, on certain days I wouldn't mind a little extra capacity. The slim pannier gives a nice extra 4-500 cubic inches (officially about 450).

I think of my commute as a summer-long tour. Working for eight hours in the middle of my ride kind of blows the illusion, but at least my fantasy life has a toehold.


Steve A said...

Thanks for the review! I've sorta been looking at panniers for quite a while.

cafiend said...

Bear in mind this is only a little one. A friend of mine bought some Axiom dry bag panniers that looked really good, too. They have several models. I still have an ancient pair of Touring Cyclist panniers from 1980 for when I need camping or grocery space.

Ham said...

My favourite is an Altura bag that does great service, I'll do a write up soon.

Steve A said...

I hope to hear more on this from both of you. Amazingly, I have never owned panniers.