Most people in the Philippines assume that riding around with any sort of load requires that you carry it in a bag you put on your person. The poster child for this is the backpack. Over time, messenger bags have also gained popularity, but the general concept is still the same.
When I bought my Dahon Vitesse, it came with a rear rack fitted. It even came with a hooked bungee cord. This dinky little feature meant that I had a few more options for carrying stuff around. I used to simply lash odd-sized stuff down to the rack with the bungee cord, such as my badminton racket bag and a roll cake bought from a local bakery.
Over time, I learned that the best use of a rear rack is with panniers.
With panniers, you can let the bike carry the load for you. This greatly improves your comfort, especially on a ride or commute over a longer distance on a bike with drop bars. No longer is your back’s sweat trapped underneath a bag – now it can evaporate and and do its job of cooling you down. No more awkward weight shifting around your person as you pedal, change positions, or turn into corners.
I chanced upon a Thailand trade show in 2013 hosted at the SM Aura shopping mall. Bicycle accessory marque Vincita had a booth there. I came home with their B050WP-A small waterproof panniers, and I’ve been using them for the past three years.
- Sold as a pair
- Waterproof via 500-denier nylon and tarpaulin material and welded seams
- Roll-top closure
- Top flap with mesh zippered pocket
- Fixed handle and detachable shoulder strap for carrying off the bike
- Plastic backboard gives stiffness and shape when mounted
- Rear hooks mount on most racks with 8-16 mm diameter tubing
- Reflective patches and Vincita logo for better visibility
- Available in various colors
- Dimensions per bag: 38 x 25.5 x 11 cm; 800 g
- Capacity: 10.6 L per pannier; total 21.2 L
I bought the yellow version of these panniers for visibility. The yellow does tend to attract scuffs and dirt, though, and it won’t hide them as well as a darker color would. Two reflective triangles on the sides and the reflective Vincita logo itself increase your presence as well.
If you’re used to the compartments of a typical backpack, these will disappoint you. Like most roll-top panniers, each of these Vincita units are essentially just a single large compartment that you dump your stuff into. It’s up to you to divide the area as you see fit. I usually do this with plastic bags for dry goods, or lunch containers if I’m carrying food.
To close up the panniers, you mate the top lips by pressing the Velcro strips together, then roll the top closed, securing everything with the top buckle at the sides. I find that the B050WP-As are most water-resistant when the top is rolled up at least three folds. If you’re willing to forego closing the top, the pannier will basically act as an open basket, swallowing long or awkwardly shaped objects.
A top flap offers additional security by sliding over the roll-top closure, where it cinches things down further with two buckles. The underside of this flap has a zippered mesh pocket for small objects. I use these to store the detachable shoulder straps, which are comfortably wide, and attach to the sides of the panniers with large buckles.
Because of the “small” size of the B050WP-A panniers, they’re fine for use on either a small-wheeled bike or a bike with larger wheels. I did have to think more about what to pack on my rides, though, since 10.6 L per pannier isn’t a lot when you come from a backpack with 28 L of capacity. At least this was an opportunity to restrain my inner pack rat.
Water resistance is excellent. The tarpaulin material and high-frequency welding excels at repelling water, while the nylon on the sides and bottom is pretty good, but it can get overwhelmed. This is why serious bike tourers still wrap the contents of their waterproof panniers with plastic bags as an extra precaution.
The only time I’ve had water ingress was when I mounted them on my Dahon Vitesse and rode through torrential rain. Because the Vitesse is a small-wheeled bike, the panniers are closer to the asphalt when mounted, and this can overwhelm the canvas and wet it eventually. Even so, water ingress was relegated to a tiny puddle at the bottom.
The stiff backboard plays host to the mounting system. Two top hooks slide along on a plastic rail, joined by a Velcro strap at the middle used for retaining the pannier onto the rack. The bottom rail has a single large hook, which is meant to stop the panniers from swaying side to side. I set the hooks to mount the panniers at the very back of the rack in order to avoid heel strike will pedaling.
If there’s any weak point here, it’s in the bottom hooks. Mine fell off mid-ride and have gone missing. The Velcro strap “retention mechanism” also isn’t confidence-inspiring when you first use it. However, so far it’s proven quite effective. Finally, little things like bad stitches mean these panniers fall a bit flat in finishing terms.
All things considered, Vincita has a great offering here. It’s not the best; brands like Ortlieb and Axiom are still better. When you think of local availability, though, Vincita is one of the few that has a distribution presence here.
If the B050WP-A pannier set isn’t big enough for you, Vincita also offer a slightly larger B060WP-A version with 15 L per side.