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Ortlieb Back Roller Classic



Classic panniers indeed, a well thought out design and well worth the money

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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A good set of panniers can be an investment that sets you up for many years of happy load hauling. Keep your eyes peeled and you'll see plenty of Ortlieb's Back Rollers on both commuters and grizzled tourists. There's a reason for their ubiquity - they're bloody good.

The Back Roller Classics (please someone, start a band. It's such a great name) take their name from the way they close. They roll up, with a single clip and strap holding them shut. It's basic, but it works very well, the roll prevents water from getting through while allowing enough slack to accomodate larger loads. Total capacity for the pair is 40 litres, which is about as much as you'd want to be carrying.

Where they really score is in the ease of use. The top hooks open and close when you lift the carry handle, which makes attaching and removing them a doddle. The retaining hook at the bottom is easily moved on an elliptical track to suit your rack, as are the top hooks. It's simple and pleasant to use, unlike the (much cheaper) Canyon panniers I tested earlier this year which were a fiddly pain, despite having an almost identical body.

Internally you get a couple of large pockets, one of them zipped, to hold important stuff like keys, wallets and food. There's no external pocket, not unusual for a waterproof pannier, but Ortlieb being thorough and German do make an external pocket which is available as an optional extra. Oh and the reinforced bottom has fixings for their back pack system. This isn't just a pannier, it's part of a fully integrated bicycle cycling luggage system.

On a recent tour they were a faultless companion, although the bright yellow and black colour scheme proved irresistible to an impressive array of insects. Less entymologically attractive colourways are also available.


Classic panniers. Been around for a while but a well thought out design and well worth the money. test report

Make and model: Ortlieb Back Roller Classic

Size tested: Yellow/Black

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Ortlieb say - "From Oslo to Cape Town, ORTLIEB Back and Front-Rollers have long since been classics among waterproof bike panniers. Outdoor specialists swear by the functional and strong system of front and rear bag loading on both sides. And since every ounce is crucial for long distance bike touring, the Rollers' main advantage is their little net weight.

No matter whether you bike forest tracks or desert roads, cross canyons or rivers, the extremely durable outer fabric has proven its strength in numerous real tests. These are not the only reasons why the all weather solution was awarded several times by the bicycle press: hermetical roll closures, shoulder straps and the ORTLIEB QL System ensure that food and equipment are not only protected 100% but also accessible at any time."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Classical rear pannier (pair) with roll closure

QL1 mounting system

Sides of PS 490 nylon material, front and back of PD 620

Including integrated inner pocket and shoulder strap

Pannier can be easily mounted to racks with a diameter up to 16 mm, reduction pieces for 8 mm

and 11 mm rack diameters included

Top QL hooks and lower sliding hook adjustable with Allen key no. 3

Can be used individually (e.g. for shopping, sports, picknick)

Can be combined with the ORTLIEB Rack-Pack

Comfortable to carry with shoulder strap (can be taken off)

Highly reflective Scotchlite reflector

Simultaneous use of ORTLIEB Travel-Biker, Bike-Box or Shuttle possible

Can be easily cleaned inside

Optional accessories: ORTLIEB carrying system,outer pocket/s size S, mesh pocket, bottle cage

Panniers come as a pair with shoulder strap (length appr. 75cm)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
Rate the product for value:

Not cheap, but can be found online for less than the rrp. Great quality though.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Excellent. I'd happily take these on a long tour and they'll be a regular commuting companion for years to come.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Tough, waterproof and easy to use.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product


Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Classic panniers.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 5' 8  Weight: er....86kg

I usually ride: Kona Dew Drop  My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Audax and long distance solo rides

Add new comment


V6matt | 13 years ago

I don't care for 'em much.  46
I commute and they don't suit me really.

Narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. Just an odd shape for carrying square shaped files and stuff.

No internal dividers either just a single pocket with a smaller mesh zipped compartment.
The pocket is always riding up when you trying to get stuff from the bottom of the bag.

They're expensive too and only sold in pairs (I only use 1)

Undoubtedly waterproof, they do have a habit of not clipping on properly and the bottom adjustable clip can come off the rack if you go off kerbs and over bumps often enough.

I've gone back to riding with a small back pack and will be dumping the pannier for a top box or open basket on top of the rack instead.

You pays your money..................

pedalingparamedic | 13 years ago

Very happy with my Back Roller Classics which I've had for 2 years of commuting and still look like new when sprayed with a bit of diluted degreaser and wiped with a sponge.

Never had one come off, but I do take the precaution of putting a strap through the handles and round the rack - otherwise they are that quick to lift off that a scrote could easily grab one and make off while you're stopped at the lights if you were not careful.

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