I'm getting ready for a week's touring in Victoria in September. It caused some minor angst over which bike to take because the Bianchi, which though it is good and fast for audax riding, has no rack mounts and would be no good for carrying the stuff I'll need for a week on the road. So I'm getting the Crosscheck ready for another road trip.
The tour is a ride from the end of the Spring into Seymour audax ride to the start of the Mallee Routes audax - around 400km over six days, so it's not going to be a big rush. Even so, I'm keen not to be too weighted down by gear.
Enter these rather natty Gilles Berthoud panniers and rack bag. I'd had my eye on them for a while, but the upcoming tour and a rather nice tax return brought them forward a little on the wishlist. They're canvas trimmed with leather and have a capacity of just 9 litres for the panniers and 5 for the rack bag - perfect alone or in combination for audax rides. So I'm going to have to pack light, which suits me just fine.
After using them for the last couple of weeks I'm really impressed by these panniers. They're big enough to carry everything you're likely to need on a commute and nothing more. Being so tiny, I don't even notice them at all - they have no effect on the bike's handling at all. With top hooks and a strap and buckle arrangement, they sit solidly on my tiny Velo Orange rack.
They're handmade - which makes them a tad on the pricey side - but are clearly built to last. I'm delighted with them, but I do have a couple of criticisms. The panniers have no handles for carrying them off the bike; which is a minor daily irritation. And the rack bag didn't have a tab to hold a light, although some unstitching and some needlework on the leather patch on the back today put that right. These minor niggles aside, I reckon these bags and I will do a few miles together over the coming months and years.
3085km so far this year.