Reviewed By: Alex Richman on 12/25/06
The Ortlieb Backroller Classics are probably the most common pannier I see in Portland and for good reason. The Ortlieb's have a durable, smart design. The dismount system is top-notch, they really take no extra time to take off or put on your bicycle. These panniers are also 100% waterproof, which is very important for the Pacific NW. I love that there is no rain cover, the material that the bag is made from is water proof. The Backroller Classics sport a roll-down top which I like. On the plus side you can leave them open when it's not raining and you can really pack a lot in there - perfect for grocery runs. Because of the roll-down top, you also have more flexibility packing smaller loads down securely. On the downside it does take longer to pack your load in, and it does take a little time to get a feel for how to pack it. I think there are two major design flaws that keep the panniers from being perfect. The lack of an outside pocket is an annoyance in the rain if you need to lock your bicycle up. I commute to school and having a wet lock in the same compartment as books and papers is just a bad idea. I have to bungie my U-lock to my rack or bring a little cloth to wipe it down which is a bit annoying. My other complaint is that the shoulder strap that comes with this is just a joke. During the winter it's not so bad because I have a jacket to provide cushioning, but in the summer wearing a t-shirt, the strap really hurt my shoulder. Ortlieb should really spend the extra $1 it would take to manufacture a more comfortable shoulder strap. However since they choose not to that means I have to buy 2 new straps for this summer. Kind of a bummer. Overall, these bags are incredibly solid despite their minor flaws. For the price I'm not sure they can be beat.