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A couple of decades ago it was common to see panniers like Axiom's Kingston Commuter Pannier, which were prevented from flapping up and down on the rack by a hook attached to an elastic strap. These days, that system has been superseded.
The attachment system is poor – one of the worst I've seen on any modern pannier.
The obvious disadvantage in dangling a hook in the vicinity of your spokes is that if hook meets spoke, face meets tarmac. That's why most modern panniers are stabilised instead by plastic cleats that tuck behind one of the pannier struts.
The Axiom's hook didn't snag my bike's wheel, mainly because there are a couple of horizontal straps to hold the luggage elastic snug against the back of the bag. So even if the lower hook did detach itself from the rack, it should be on a short enough leash not to reach the spokes.
But testing revealed that, with minimal stretching, it could go into the wheel. On the one hand, Axiom have this covered: you can adjust the length of the luggage elastic with what they call their Tie-Down system - and what I call knots. So you can put enough tension in the luggage elastic to make a hook-spoke interface unlikely. On the other hand: your security depends entirely on these two knots. If either comes undone, your pannier hook goes fly-fishing for your spokes.
I discovered that even when they appeared to be done up tight, the knots could be undone by the pressure of one finger. I don't know if it's the elasticity, the thickness of the strap, a lack of friction on the surface of the strap, or a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, I was entirely unhappy with it and would not trust this system on tour. I was nervous even riding around town.
The plastic top hooks are simple ones from Rixen and Kaul. They fit 6-20mm top rails, according to the blurb, and were fine on the 10mm rails of the pannier rack I used. The inside of each hook has a flexible central strip, which compresses flat as you push the hook onto the rail and then springs out again. This gives some security that the bag won't leap off over a bump. A fold out catch, in between the top hooks, adds to that security. Elegant it isn't, but it should work okay. It did for me.
The hooks themselves are fixed in position 11.5cm apart (centre to centre). This means that you can't easily adjust where the bag sits on the rack. Depending on where the rack's vertical struts are, the pannier will have to sit further back or forward to suit. It probably won't clip your heels though, as it's left-right interchangeable, so it tapers on both sides.
Getting the bag on the rack is a bit of a hassle: you have to put the bottom hook in position, lift the bag up against the force of the luggage elastic to get the top hooks in place, then deploy the fold out catch. To get it off, it's likewise fussy: you have to hold the bike down with one hand or you'll lift the back wheel into the air. Compared to the easy-on, easy-off of Ortlieb panniers, it feels deplorably low-tech.
The bag itself is okay. It's not great, but it passes muster. It's made from tough polyester that's described as 'water resistant' and genuinely is; I rode through showers without stuff inside getting wet. You'd want a rain cover when it's chucking it down.
Closure is by drawstring and two buckles, so it adjusts well to different sized loads. It will accommodate A4 files. There's a stiff back to the pannier to give it shape and keep it away from your wheel, and the base is padded.
Inside there's a small zipped pocket under the lid. Outside, there are some useful reflective patches, a mount for an LED light on either side, and a carrying handle. There are two D-rings on top of the bag, for attaching the provided shoulder strap.
While it's not entirely awful, I'd strongly recommend buying a pannier from Ortlieb, Carradice or Altura instead of this. Some of those alternatives will be more expensive, some won't. For the cash-conscious, the Altura Arc 15 Roll Top is £4 cheaper than Axiom Kingston Commuter and is better in every way.
An adequate bag with an awful hook-and-elastic mounting system.
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Make and model: Axiom Kingston Commuter pannier
Size tested: n/a
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?
It's a commuter pannier, sold singly, that will fit either side of the rack.
600D Water-resistant polyester
RIXEN & KAUL VARIO adjustment hooks fir 6mm-20mm racks (preset to fit Axiom racks)
Replaceable Rixen & Kaul FLIP-LOCK
Shaped and padded bottom with feet for stability when off-bike
2 way 3M reflex reflective Axiom logos
LED light mount for added safety
Single side can be mounted on either side of rack
Ideal size for frequent commuters
Pocket inside canopy
Includes deluxe shoulder strap
Main compartment dimensions: 38 x 29 x 14.5cm (15" x 11" x 5.5")
Volume: 18L (1098 cu in)
Weight: : 634g (1.4lbs)
Bag fine, though not waterproof. Attachment system awful.
Cumbersome on and off, compared to most panniers, and the fear of a sudden rear wheel skid is always at the back of your mind...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Compared to most modern panniers, not very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Reflective patches. Drawstring and buckle closure.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Attachment system. Note completely waterproof.
Did you enjoy using the product? No.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Age: 42 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,