If you’ve ever done a search for bicycle pannier bags you know how limited the selection is. If you’ve got a cruiser bicycle or a bike that requires a bit more style and sophistication than the sporty selections available at most bike shops, I am going to save you a few hours of research and send you directly to Basil, a company based in the Netherlands that makes the coolest bike bags anywhere.
Pannier bags are more than luggage for your ride, they are what makes hauling the gear you need for your journey, work stuff, picnic paraphernalia, and more possible without having to wear all that weight on your shoulders. Since our regular bicycling oftentimes includes grocery shopping and farmers markets and always includes kiddos, having a good bike bag is an absolute necessity.
For years now I have been lamenting the fact that pannier style bicycle bags for my beautiful ride were impossible to find. A quick look into bicycle chat rooms will tell you that there are many, many bicycle owners who agree that bike pannier bags are rarely described as stylish. I had almost given up the hope of a bag as beautiful as my bike until I found Basil and promptly fell in love with numerous pannier bags in their collection.
Here’s a look at some of our favorite Basil Pannier bags:
The Basil Jada Double Bag – What originally sold me on the Basil Jada was the adorable design. Yes, I know I require a lot of hauling and handling from my bike bag and shopping for biking accessories based on looks alone is not the best plan, but since cute was an ultimate requirement of mine if it was going to permanently ride with me, I thought I might as well choose my favorite design and give it a whirl. It just so happens that the grey/white floral print Jada Panniers couldn’t possibly be a better fit for my little beach cruiser bicycle, both in looks and in functionality.
The Basil Jada is made from water repellent polyester and each bag measures 14.5”*6”*12”. While they are lightweight when not loaded, the Basil Jada Panniers come packed with features of a serious pannier bag, from reflective strips to pockets galore to store all that little stuff that would easily get misplaced on a bumpy ride in a big bag. While it does have numerous pockets (5 on each bag, 10 in total) and various storage capabilities including elastic holders to keep items upright and organized, the two main compartments can only be described as cavernous with 35L capacity combined. The bottoms of each bag can be rigid with the included bottom insert, or you can fold the rigid bottom up or take it out completely if you’re hauling soft items.
I have been able to cary obscene amounts of gear with me in the Jada Panniers, adding some serious style without horribly effecting the quality of my ride. The bag has a cinch-able top that is covered by a double lined flap top with a stiff edge to keep the flap from flying up as you ride. You can still access all four side pockets of the Jada Double Bag as well as still unzip the very front pockets on both bags when the top is closed, making grabbing little items even easier on the trail. I love that when the water repellent double lined flap is down it completely covers the top of the bag and the main storage compartments. So, when the Pacific Northwest weather doesn’t cooperate and I get caught biking through a downpour, the contents of the Jada Panniers stay surprisingly dry.
Basil D’Azur Double Bag – A classic look with a slightly military-esque feel, the Basil D’Azur is anything but your typical bicycle pannier bag. Made of a thick and robust water repellent canvas with a blue striped inner lining, the Basil D’Azur styling can work on both classic bicycles, city cruisers and European inspired rides, and every thing in between. The double D’Azur can hold an amazing 40L of gear with a boxy and utilitarian classic styling, which makes it perfect for day trips as well as hauling groceries and more home from the market. The bottoms of both double bags can be reinforced with the included rigid inserts, or you can keep the bag folded flat against your bike by folding up or removing that insert. The bottoms of both bags have an even higher level of waterproofness, which is great if you remove your bags at your destination and need to stand them up.
Each Basil D’Azur bag measures 15”*7”*13” and comes with straps to attach additional gear to as well as a huge main storage compartment. Both sides of the bag has reflective strips for safety, all without compromising it’s great looks for function. The Basil D’Azur line of Basil bags is absolutely one to check out on the Basil site – there are messenger bags, an amazing D'Azur Weekender bag measuring 17”*7 3/4”*12” with more pockets than you could use in a lifetime, and even more D'Azur products available that can give your bike it’s very own luggage set. For those of you who bike for weekend trips or even load up for camping, the D’Azur series is absolutely for you.
Basil Tour XL Double Bag – For those of you who have a sportier ride to outfit, Basil also makes a line of practical and functional pannier bags that can go from mountain bike to city streets with ease and makes hauling all your gear easy and efficient. Each Basil Tour XL bag measures 13”*7”*13” and is extra large for transporting everything from work bags to sports equipment and makes these the ultimate city necessity. They are made from a water repellent 600D polyester and have sporty features like a rounded front for those who tend to kick their bags with their heels when riding vigorously.
The bag is reinforced and sturdy, which makes it great for hauling just about anything and everything, and it comes with pockets to help organize all that gear while you ride. The sides and bottom of the Tour XL can even be double reinforced when you use their included side and bottom rigid inserts. These inserts can all be removed if you find them unnecessary, which allows the bag to fold flat against the sides of your rear rack and keeps them out of the way when you’re not using them.
When full, the bags can unfold to hold all of your gear and they have a slightly padded top that covers both the top of the Tour XL as well as rounding over the sides to keep the insides of the bag from filling up with water in a downpour and keeps the contents of the bag safe and secure no matter where you ride. The inside of the Basil Tour XL is covered with a wipe-able material that is easy to clean out and adds to the bag’s water proofness. Reflective strips on all sides are great to help make the dark bag visible at night, which is great because you just may forget what time it is when you’ve got a whole days worth of gear and toys with you on your journey.
A note to keep in mind – the Basil Pannier Bags don’t come with much in the way of instructions and trail-and-error may be required in order to fit the bags to your bike or rack. Since the Basil Pannier bags are secured with adjustable straps and bands, you can get a really nice custom fit to your bike by making minor adjustments here and there as necessary. Most pannier bags require a rear rack for your bicycle, and Basil bags are no different. Basil does make their own rear bike racks you can purchase, or you can simply use any old bike rack in your local bike shop.
To see more Basil products, visit their website at http://www.basil.nl/. Prepare to spend some time there, they've got one of the largest supplies of bike gear anywhere, all of which I would love to own.
Where to buy: In the States you can use the Basil retailer locator on their website.