Bike Bins

27 05 2010

Bike Bins hard shell pannier...

I saw these plastic hard shell panniers at Bike Bike and was intrigued by the idea of a lockable pannier.  They are made by Bike Bins and feature a locking lid so you can secure items on your bike when about town.

View of Bike Bin with lid open...

They install easily on any standard rear bike rack and are waterproof.  You get a key for each bin and there are 150 keys used so you will likely need to carry a key for each bin unless you luck out and get 2 that use the same key.  Of course that also means someone else with a Bike Bin most likely won’t have a key that works on yours!

Bike Bin Specifications...

They are selling for $80.00 Cdn at Bike Bike for 1 Bike Bin.  That price isn’t out of line with other quality bike panniers, but it’s not a bargain either.

Bike Bins on Doug's CETMA Cargo Bike...

My friend Doug has a set of Bike Bins on his CETMA cargo bike.  I asked him what his thoughts were after using them for a while:

  • he liked the ability to lock them and keep a few essentials close at hand
  • they were reasonably durable although he has had some issues with the hinges vibrating loose requiring some intervention.
  • loose items rattle and make a lot of noise as you ride so he pads them with a jacket or a rag
  • overall his appraisal was positive

My own thoughts are that they could be a useful addition for an errand or commuter bike, but they seem like they could use another cycle of product development before I would be able to give them two thumbs up.  I’d like to see the following changes:

  • better quality construction…especially the hinges.  For $80 a bin I feel like they should be 25% nicer in terms of fit and finish.
  • have reflective panels on them or provide reflective stickers with each bin.
  • available in sets with the keyed the same so you would only need one key for all your bins.
  • have a better locking mechanism to secure the bin to the bike…currently they suggest you lock the rubber carrying handle to secure the bin on your rack, but a decent knife would liberate that easily.
  • offering some padding along the bottom and lower sides would make them more useable for carrying tools and a lock without making a ton of noise.
  • 17L is a bit on the small side…something like 25-30L would be more useful for shopping.

I may invest in one bin for testing purposes or I may wait a year or so in the hopes they address the issues above.  I’m not sure yet.  If you are in the market for locking panniers these are worth a look.


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15 responses

28 05 2010
J.

Probably not a problem for you, but I feel like I did some research recently and found that these Bike Bins are no longer available in the USA.

28 05 2010
Peter Davis

Just going by the photos, it looks as if one modest kick would open the lock. Not very secure for urban areas.

I think this area of lockable containers to leave stuff on your bike has huge potential, and no good solutions yet.

28 05 2010
thelazyrando

@J – really?…I wonder why they are no longer sold in the US?

@Peter – yes these are not theft proof by any means, but I think they would deter the casual thief as there is no way to know that anything valuable is in them and breaking them would attract attention.

I agree there is room for a light metal locking pannier that would offer more security.

28 05 2010
J.

Yep… Check it:

http://www.bikebins.com/bikebins_usa.html

“Unfortunately our Bikebins are no longer available in the USA.”

28 05 2010
Foraker

“I agree there is room for a light metal locking pannier that would offer more security.”

Hmm. Like an aluminum dry box? What about something like this:

http://www.clavey.com/product_info.php?products_id=34

28 05 2010
Peter Davis

> Hmm. Like an aluminum dry box? What about something like this:

> http://www.clavey.com/product_info.php?products_id=34

Looks great, but a bit on the pricey side.

28 05 2010
Pat

I just bought a pair from lexcobike.com – $50 each US. Haven’t used them yet.
Sent them an email had them in 3 days.

28 05 2010
thelazyrando

@ Pat – cool!

If anyone in the US really wants these I’m sure you could get them from Bike Bike as well.

28 05 2010
Chris

I bought a pair at MEC last summer for 35$ each… probably on closeout since they dont appear on their site anymore

28 05 2010
thelazyrando

@Chris – I believe that’s where Doug got his on clearance as well.

1 06 2010
Lief

Hey, if you really want to test one out without the investment you can give mine a try for a month or two this summer. (Might have a hard time locating the key for the lock) :)

I bought one, just one, and used it for about 1500 miles over the winter
I ended up not liking all the rattling, the wind resistance, the single-sidedness of only having one but not wanting to buy another.

I am not sold on it but still kinda want to keep mine, long term, for perhaps using on my upright or again next winter in the rainy months.
Works well for carrying a laptop and keeping it DRY.

If your road trip brings you to the left coast (Seattle or thereabouts) send me an email.

1 06 2010
thelazyrando

Thanks for the offer Lief…I’m not headed to Seattle right away, but I may be there later in the summer.

7 10 2011
Amedin

I bought a bike bin

I didn’t rate it highly.

too much vibration (maybe because it’s rigid?) and the lower hook snapped off after only a few uses.

The lock protudes inside the box and is quite sharp (it ripped plastic bags).

I wrote to them because I thought they’d be concerned about this early life failure. I got a reply that offered to sell me replacement parts and agreed that the lock was useless but it was too expensive to retool the machinery.

To be honest, I would have expected the manufactuer of an expensive piece of kit to ship a replacement part for free if it had failed after only a few uses.

So, I replaced the bin with a pair of Ortlieb panniers. Yes, they cost a little bit more but they work fantastically and are still going strong 2 years later.

7 10 2011
thelazyrando

@Amedin – I agree Ortliebs are a very nice long lasting soft pannier. The Donkey Boxx is a low cost durable hard pannier, but the Bike Bin is one of the few hard panniers I’ve seen that you can lock which is useful for some folks. Too bad it broke and they didn’t offer you better customer support….=-(

11 11 2011
MDH

I bought a pair of these 19 months ago when they were available in the US and have been very pleased with them on my daily commuter bike/trike on the rainy Olympic Peninsula. You can get the pair keyed alike and they came with reflective pieces to add to the appropriate side or end. Locks are only to keep the nonprofessionals away and these work well for that and they are very dry. The flat top of the pair and the bike rack make a perfect platform for large loads which I secure with a small cargo net conveniently hooked to the loops on the bin lids. I bolt the bins to the carrier frame so they are not removable and are more secure for commuter use. I keep all my loose tools etc. in a pouch so they do not rattle round but these bins do make vibration noise on a rough road. They have been through several falls with only minor damage. I can recommend them and prefer them to the collapsible style. The only good lockable metal panniers are for motorcycles and are much heavier (except for some BMW models) and far more expensive.

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