We rode with these on part of the GDMBR and Trans America. They held up great, were easy to mount and take off.
Now to the reasons it didn't get 5 stars. While on the trip black goop was getting all over everything in one of the panniers. It wasn't until I got home and turned it inside out I discovered that the coating had come off and created a black tar substance in the bottom of the bag. There was a very small amount of Cola (around a Tablespoon) spilled inside this panniers and I believe that was the culprit. It seems like the coating should be a little more durable on the inside or at least there should be warning regarding this. The other issue is that the shoulder strap design is worthless. As pointed out in other reviews the strap digs into your shoulder, this can be easily resolved by adding a pad. However, the biggest issue I have is that the attachment points on the bag are in the wrong spot. They are at the top of the roll down. They get in the way when you open and close the bag. When you try to carry it with the strap it causes the bag to bow upward making it awkward to carry with a full load. Also, every time you needed to get into the bag, it was easier to do if you removed the strap. We had to carry them through train stations and eventually just removed the straps and carried them by the strap that fastens the roll. I called Orlieb about these issues and basically told nothing they can do. I can sew and plan on moving the mounting point for the shoulder strap and adding padding to the strap. It seems like for the price you pay for these this is something they would want to do. There were a lot of people in the reviews wanting an exterior pocket, I didn't see this as an issue. Keeping it simple means less thing to go wrong and I barely used the interior pocket. I just put additional bags inside the pannier if I wanted to keep items separate.
Sturdy, solid panniers
Mark Kennet on 10/5/17
I am planning a cross-country ride for next year, and I bought these panniers for that, as well as grocery shopping in my neighborhood. So far, they are living up to my expectations - they are strong, waterproof, and easy off/on. My only complaint is that it would be good if they had some exterior pockets to manage small items like wallets that you want easily accessible but not on your person while riding. But this is not a big deal and is easily solvable through other means.
Larry Lansdowne on 6/11/15
Heavy, Waterproof, quick Mount/ Release, Worth it
Just about bombproof
Kathy on 11/2/14
These panniers hang on to my rear bicycle rack, no fear that they will fall off. Fast and easy to clip on and off, too. Best bit is that where they clip onto the rack is adjustable so that even a person with size 13/euro size 50 feet didn't rub heels on panniers with every pedal stroke. Lots of space for groceries. The inside is coated and slightly sticky, and there are no other pockets, so plan to use additional bags (the thin ones from the grocery store?) to manage your gear. The shoulder strap has just a thin plastic bit to keep the bag on your shoulder, so plan to at least pad it some if you will carry it off the bike very far. No plastic stink. I'd buy them again.
Bike tour guide
Dennis Lennox on 6/28/13
They've lasted two southern tier tours and are still going strong after 10 years of constant use. What a great product.
Solid design, horrible carrying strap.
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.