These Ortlieb throwovers are really well designed if you are prepared to pack light enough to get everything you need into 52 litres of space.
The first obvious advantage over hard luggage, is their versatility. The bags are a pair through the use of two wide strips of velcro which is infinitely adjustable to fit the width of any bike seat. For added security of course and to stop someone walking off with them, you can put the main straps under your seat, but the bags are also located front and rear with tensioning straps and easy to use clips. You can attach the straps to pillion footrest hangers in an instant for example, ensuring they don’t waggle about if they aren’t full. But their easy on/off nature, means you can switch them between bikes.
They don’t necessarily require any welding or even off the peg racks, but I would recommend something to stop them rubbing on the tyre if you’ve loaded them up. They come with stiff plastic inserts so that they hold their shape, but I rubbed a hole in mine when they touched the tyre two-up and it was real shame as up until that point they had been 100% waterproof in torrential downpours and even a river crossing. The rollover closing system is simple and foolproof, and adjusts regardless of the contents you’ve filled them with.
One issue with using a soft bag is being able to find stuff within it, but the innermost wall of these Orliebs has a zippered compartment and lots of handy little dividers which I suppose I should call an organiser. It’s a really nice touch. So too is the pair of reflective panels on the back.
For many, the idea of soft luggage scares them, not least the perception that theft is prevalent, but there’s probably more chance of something being stolen off your bike in the UK than there is anywhere else in the world. I know that Lois Pryce travelled Africa with soft luggage and didn’t lose a thing. Yes, a knife could slash them, but so could a big accident and if that happened they wouldn’t save your bike as it slid up the road. But then again, there’d be some ‘give’ if you caught your ankle under them when ‘paddling’ in sand or mud.
It’s all swings and roundabouts and the preference is personal, but if yours is for soft and you aren’t worried about where you’ll put your stickers, then these, completely waterproof, well designed and made bags should be something you consider.
I bought mine from TravelDri Plus and if you don’t want to buy them online, unseen, TravelDri are bound to have a stand at every event you attend this year! Call 01647 24523 to find out. (No, there isn’t a digit missing, they are in Devon…)
upper width:38 cm
bottom width:28 cm