Pandemic restrictions have definitely disrupted our daily commute, our exercise habits and, perhaps most notably, how we socialize. Maybe a bike bag you used this time last year no longer serves the same purpose? Or perhaps you’re going on more adventures now, and could get better use out of a different model?
If you’re looking for a new bike bag but need some inspiration, there’s no better source than from our very own crew of super users!
Seven Two Wheel Gear ambassadors share which TWG bike travel bag they love best and why, what they take on every bike ride and how their riding habits have changed during the pandemic.
Squamish-based athlete and sports enthusiast Sarah Bulford – aka @mountaindarlin – is a passionate advocate of the Great Outdoors. When she’s riding into town to work at local cafes, Sarah loves the Pannier Backpack Convertible for keeping her laptop and extra layers safe and dry in the rainy West Coast weather.
As someone who rides dirt bikes as a hobby, Sarah says having something human-powered to explore on is important to her thanks to the sense of freedom that often comes from cycling alone. “Compared to my 200lb motorcycle, it feels like I’m flying when I get out on my road bike!”
In addition to his desk job at IBM, Tom now curates and organizes guided bicycle tours of Chicago under the name Biketropolis. He takes both visitors and locals on thoughtfully curated rides to explore the city’s architecture, history, and scenery. It’s a pursuit that lends itself well to decent bike gear.
“I love all of my Two Wheel Gear Bags – currently, I’m really putting the Pannier Backpack Convertible 2.0 PLUS to good use. While I am out promoting Biketropolis tours I can easily fit a box of 11×17 size posters I hang up at bike shops, historical societies and coffee shops.
“During the Pandemic I took advantage of the empty urban roads and took lots of great photos of architecture from just the right distances and angles you could only dream of doing during normal conditions”, Tom explains. “I also started releasing self-guided cycling tours with turn-by-turn audio cues and narratives so riders can go out solo or in small groups.”
For Joe, a professor who commutes to and from his workplace most days, Two Wheel Gear bike bags have a clear winner – the Pannier Briefcase Convertible.
“I have used this product daily and year-round since 2018 and it is still going strong”, Joe says. “I did use part of this credit to purchase the new Pannier Laptop Messenger bag which I assume will become my new favourite piece.”
On every ride – commuting or otherwise – Joe takes a repair kit. Having recently got his hands on the new Commute Seat Pack, he plans to use it for every ride he goes on – trips which total 18,000km a year. “Inside this bag I’ll always carry: tube, CO2 inflator, CO2 cartridges, multitool, tire plugs, tire levers. This bag gets moved from bike to bike and is always with me.”
“I have been working at home more often this past year. I noticed quickly that I missed my daily commute; I needed that time to prepare myself for the day or decompress from the day. During this time I would still “commute”.
“This commute changed from a twice daily 45 minute commute to a once daily 90 minute (and often longer) daily ride. This helped fill the void but is not quite the same as a twice daily ride.
“As the year progressed, my new “normal” now consists of a mix of working at home and going into the office with more time spent commuting and less time at home. With this, on days I work from home I do either a pre-work or post-work “commute” to make sure I still get that ride in.”
As an Emergency Medicine Physician based in Manila, the Philippines, Andro Umali commutes daily to one of the biggest hospitals in Metro Manila. When he’s not commuting, he’s weaving through the local streets to deliver medical treatment, provisions and COVID-19 kits.
Andro’s favourite bag is the Pannier Duffel. “It gives me the ability to carry all the stuff I need for a hospital shift and emergency clothing in times of extended shifts or being stranded! Sure, it doesn’t have as many organizational options built in, but the space is just awesome.”
Alongside his Pannier Duffel, Andro always carries his personal first aid kit, in case he needs to respond to roadside emergencies.
During the pandemic, Andro says his riding habits stayed relatively the same, “but what’s new now is the boom in cycling infrastructure and the number of people on bikes!”
“I guess that means that I get to meet more friends on bikes now than before the pandemic. Safe social interactions are possible on bikes, given that there’s open air, distancing, and easy communication even with masks! Mobility is humanized more during the pandemic because of bicycles.”
Commuting on the streets of Manila, Aldrin’s priorities is a bike bag that can carry his laptop safely and securely.
“My go-to Two Wheel Gear bag is the Pannier Backpack Convertible 2.0 LITE (22 L). It’s the perfect size for my commute to work. I can put my 15″ laptop inside with padded protection and not worry about it with all the bumps and just bad road conditions we have here.
“I like it when I can also just throw in all my stuff (cables, chargers, external hard drives, extra clothes, headset, jacket, notebook, pens, etc) and not get lost with the bright orange interior. The magic of it as a 2-in-1 bag hasn’t waned a bit. I really like the black colour exterior, as it looks low-key but professional and easily blends in the office and more formal settings while coming off the bike rack. It’s a really compact and well-made bag.”
For small bits and pieces, Aldrin never rides without his Commute Top Tube Bag (1 L) and Commute Seat Pack (1.5 L). “I had a few hits and misses with small bags for tools and other essentials, and I have never had luck finding a good one until you guys came out with these two bags!
“Just being able to quickly access my mobile phone is so important to me whenever I am out riding, and this is what the Commute Top Tube Bag provides. Same with the Commute Seat Pack – at first it looks bigger for my bike and to my liking, but then I realised it has a good amount of space that I just need to bring along essential tools and gears – including a rain jacket. I don’t have to worry if I have a wrench (which could be a life-saver apart from our usual multi-tool) because it’s there in my Commute Seat Pack including my patch kit, pump, tire levers, and others.
“What I really appreciate about these bags is the quality – not just with the materials but the process it went through to produce these bags – that I know would stick around with me making my trips on my bikes more fun and stress-free.”
Aldrin’s riding habits have changed in the past 12 months, going from riding five days a week to work., to less frequent and short essential trips like picking up food supplies and medicine.
“I now try to make each ride or trip on my bike count”, he says. “Just knowing that there is still an ongoing pandemic whenever I am out riding changes your perspective in life. Riding my bike now has helped me with my mental well-being even for quick trips to the market, pharmacy, coffee shops, and malls.
“The pandemic and the restrictions it brought made living in the city more difficult but riding my bicycle has helped me manage that in many ways.”
Commuting to an office in downtown Vancouver (pre-2020!), Rob’s favourite bag was the Classic 2.1 Garment Pannier, which he’s had “for many, many years.”
“Right before COVID, I actually got the 3.0. However, with working from home this past year, I haven’t gotten to use it much. But for commuting to my office downtown Vancouver, nothing beats the Garment Pannier. It has all the space and features I need to be comfortable on my ride, then change and look good for a day at the office.”
Every single ride, Rob takes a water bottle, a spare kit (“which I keep in my Commute Seat Pack”), his keys, his folding bike lock, as well as his wallet, phone, and Garmin.
“Pre-pandemic, I would say about 90% of my riding was commuting to and from work. I live almost 20 km from my office, so it was a 40 km round trip – pretty solid workout. But because my work is mostly office-based, it has been a pretty seamless transition to working from home instead. Therefore, no more commuting.
“So now, about half of my riding is purely for fitness. The other half is riding my kids to school, family bike rides, and the odd errand. But with vaccines ramping up and cases going down, we’ll have to see what happens in the next few months.”
Adam’s basically a veteran Two Wheel Gear fan, having used the Classic Garment Pannier since 2008! While he confirms this is his favourite model, he also takes the Pannier Backpack Convertible on almost every ride.
“My riding habits actually changed a bit before the pandemic hit, I was hit by a shuttle bus while riding on September 25th 2019 (thankfully, my garment bag and I both survived!). I was rear-ended and had a concussion. I didn’t even replace my bike until the following January.
“Frankly, I just haven’t gotten back into the daily frequency. My office job had us on shifts during the pandemic, I was working late (until 9:30pm) and riding in the dark and alone is too much for me right now. I returned to a normal working schedule as of a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to reintegrating the bike commute.
“I also build hardwood furniture as a business. My shop is right off a paved trail and I’m hoping to integrate my bike into that daily routine as well.”
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