Monday, November 29

Drive – Or NON DRIVE?

Panniers at REI
Commuting is getting more utilitarian, with the acquisition of some supplemental carrying capacity. Specifically, I have finally broken down and am acquiring a pannier, specifics of which will be revealed in due course. The question is: “drive or non drive?”

Many Choices are Out There

The very sparse traditional “conventional wisdom” I’ve found holds that you should locate a single pannier bag on the left-hand side of the bike when riding in countries where people drive on the right side of the road. The logic appears to be that the load causes the rider to lean to the right, which is away from traffic (towards gutter bunnies?). Personally, this seems like a pretty weak and minor consideration (and I have NO INTENTION of suddenly starting riding in a manner that would encourage my motorists to get so cozy), but there really OUGHT to be some sort of logical rationale. Personally, I can see logic between locating a single bag on either the drive OR the non drive side of the bike. In favor of the non drive side, one has virtually eliminated any possibility of grease or other chain splatter from involving the pannier bag. In favor of the drive side, on the other hand, one need not remove the bag when lying the bike down with the drive side up. If one is the sort of person that likes to lug a kickstand around, it would also seem to be a more stable platform with the bag on the drive side.

Absent any solid advice from my reader, I plan to mount the bag on the non-drive side and, on the relatively uncommon situations where I have to lay my kickstandless bike down for some reason, to remove the bag beforehand.
But Which Side of the Bike Does "Just One" Go?


Pondero said...

Non-drive side...because that's what Myles does...and he's bodaciously cool.

Big Oak said...

I alternate. I have two panniers, so I grab whichever one is closest and slap it on and fill it up. I actually overloaded it a couple weeks ago - left side only, and I noticed I was leaning noticeably to the right to help balance the load.

I have trouble committing, so I probably will keep alternating.

cycler said...

I personally mount my bike from the non-drive side- maybe because I rode a horse that way? Anyway, my kickstand folds up on the ND side as well, and it makes sense for me to be able to pull my pannier on and off from that side too (esp. when it's heavily laden and unbalanced- it's easier to keep the bike from falling towards me).
Because of the IGH and the chaincase, I guess I didn't ever think of the "keeping it out of the muck" argument" . Most panniers have nice reflective rear patches, which add visibility to cars passing on your left.

Oldfool said...

Get a kick stand. Put the bag on the drive side. That is much more stable when you load the gallon of wine into it. On the non-drive side, assuming you drive is on the right side, when loading the wine it tends to fall and break the bottle. That was originally why I switched to boxed wine.

cycler said...

Oh, and both my "storebought" and my DIY pannier are reversable- so you can put it on either side. The Ortlieb briefcase has a really cool system that also allows you to instantly adjust the position of the hooks relative to the center of the bag, so that you can easily adjust for heel strike, and easily re-adjust if you want to swap sides.

Steve A said...

So, let's see. So far, we have two "drive" and two "non drive," with an "alternate back and forth" just to keep things all tied up. I also always mount my bike from the non-drive side except when I specifically practice doing otherwise. I shall have to see if either side affects that.

I DO have a kick stand. I keep it safely in a cabinet in the garage. I'm not sure how a kick stand in the cabinet affects which way the bike will fall over, however. Perhaps the kick stand on my wife's bike influences my bike?

Rat Trap Press said...

Ha, Chris is funny! I always use the non-drive side but I can't honestly tell you why. I must have read it somewhere. I don't see any reason why you couldn't use the drive side apart from the possible cleanliness issue you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I use the chain-side to hang one pannier, and get on/off my bike on the non-chain side. (sorry, getting confused on what is drive and non-drive!) I have short legs and got this thing in my head that my leg would get caught up on the bag when getting on or off my bike and the bag was on "the same side". But now that I think about it, my bike gets unbalanced when my bag is heavy - I've almost dropped it a few times. I think I'll try switching it over to the non-chain side, and see how I do. Hopefully my shoe won't get caught up when I swing my leg over!

Khal said...

I mount my pannier on the drive side at night so my left side ankle reflector is more visible to following and overtaking motorists. Otherwise, I don't agonize over it too much.

If a little bit of lean caused by an imbalanced bike causes someone to sideswipe me, they are overtaking within the error bars of a crash anyway.

Chuck Davis said...

Load depending, I don't think it will make that much diff either side, if it doesn't have a reflector, it could mask the reflector

Apertome said...

I don't think it matters.

That said, I put my pannier the drive side. I don't have a kickstand, and when I lean my bike up against a wall or something, I lean the non-drive side against the wall. This leaves the drive side facing me and I can easily mount the pannier while the bike still leans against the wall. Being careful of course not to upset its balance.

I haven't noticed getting a lot of gunk on my pannier. If I do it's very easy to clean, so I don't care much.

The leaning argument seems tenuous. If you are loaded to the point where you can't control your bicycle, you're going to have problems regardless.

Tracy W said...

Works either way, but I put my single pannier on the drive side. I mount from the other side and it's out of the way of my leg (I need all the help I can get!).

RANTWICK said...

Get two. I know there is no problem with using a single pannier, but I really like having one "static" pannier (this one is on the non-drive side for some unknown reason) and contains tools and emergency stuff that once packed I rarely access. I just leave it on the bike most of the time.

My "active" drive side pannier comes on and off the bike all the time, and is used for lunch, clothes, laptop, that kind of thing.

I think two just looks nicer. I'm a symmetry freak, it would seem.

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