Although I purchased it quite some time ago, I’ve only recently begun using my Transit Metro Rear Pannier (from Performance Bicycle) on a regular basis. Before going any further, let me just say that this review is non-comparative. That is, I’m reviewing this bag without having ever used any other pannier, so I’m assessing it solely on its own merits.
I bought this bag for the following reasons:
(1) I wanted a medium-sized bag — something big enough to be worth using, but small enough to avoid too much unused space and to discourage overfilling it. It had to be big enough to haul everyday commuting necessities and still have room for items pertaining to wherever I happened to be going that day.
(2) The price was right for a trial run. At full price, this pannier is competitive, but not especially inexpensive. I purchased it on sale, however, and saved about 40% off list price.
(3) I wanted something that would be simple and easy both to attach and to remove so that I could make quick transitions whenever I arrived at my destination.
Size — I regularly carry my rear and front lights (when they aren’t mounted), u-lock, pump, spare tube, multi-tool, tire levers, patch kit, and a couple of bungees. Depending on the season and weather, I might add a rain jacket, rain paints, helmet cover, winter gloves, fleece cap, or balaclava. With any of the above, there remains enough space for my lunch and my laptop with cables or some books. When carrying the pannier as a shoulder bag off the bike, it feels comparable to a computer case, which is to say somewhat wide and boxy. I prefer to keep the shoulder strap short and to carry it over one shoulder (versus across the chest like a messenger bag). I also don’t use it as a bag throughout the day, but rather just get from my bike to my office.
Attachment — The bag attaches by two sheathed flat hangers at the top. At the bottom is a third hook, which is adjustable. The third hook is anchored to the bottom of your rack and then pulled tight by means of a belt running diagonally along the backside of the pannier. Contrary to what some reviewers have said, I think the bag is easily adaptable to a wide range of rear racks. I will agree, however, that the buckle you use to loosen and remove the bag can be difficult to access once the bag is on and tied down. I have not had any trouble with the bag coming loose or falling off.
Nice features of this bag include:
* Exterior mesh pockets for stashing last-minute extras and assorted interior pockets to help keep small items organized and easily accessible;
* A built in high-visibility rain cover;
* Reflective material; and
* A hidden panel designed to cover the hooks and straps when toting the bag around on your shoulder.
The bag, I think, is well made overall, particularly with regard to buckles and clips, all of which appear and feel sturdy. The tab used to tighten the buckle that holds the flap closed loosens a bit too easily. And once it has loosened to the full extent, it is difficult to get a sufficient enough grip on it to cinch it down.
At present, I am using only a single pannier. Fully loaded without another pannier carrying roughly equal weight on the opposite side makes the bike a bit wobbly while riding (but certainly not dangerously so) and virtually impossible to keep from toppling when you’re off the bike. The latter might be remedied by a center- or rear-mounted dual kickstand.This, of course, is not a criticism of the pannier.
Personally, I would forgo multiple interior pockets in favor a single, mid-sized, zippered pocket on the inside. I would also happily trade the exterior mesh pockets for some load control straps that allow you to collapse unused space and keep the stuff you’re hauling in place and closer to the bike.
When all is said and done — and pending an opportunity to test another style or manufacturer of pannier — I would give the Transit Metro Rear Pannier three-and-a-half or four stars out of a possible five. It scores higher if you can get it on sale.