We pick the top cargo holders for your ebike
Before I got myself an e bike, I was always looking for ways to trim the excess weight and make journeys easier:
- Lighter, even more uncomfy saddle? Yep, ouch….
- Smaller bike pump? Check.
- Cleaning the mud off? Check.
- Taking the insoles out of my cycling shoes? Natch.
If things became drastic, I might even’ve considered eating a salad or two.
Ok, I’m lying, it never got that serious 😊
But all that’s changed with the ebike. Now I find myself adding weight ON to the bike….and me as well. And I’m still cruising past all the traditional cyclists huffing and puffing up the hills on their old skool bikes.
But what’s the best way to carry that extra weight on your bike? I’m not talking about the bit round your middle, I mean the groceries, the laptop, the change of clothes and all the rest.
What you need are pannier bags. So, let’s take a look at the options.
Quick answer: Topeak MTX Trunk Bag
Factors to consider
We’ll get into the details of my recommended panniers in a moment. But first, let’s look at the important things to consider when you’re deciding which one is right for you and your electric bike. Here’s a brief summary – more details on each of these at the bottom of the page.
- What do you need to carry?
- Does your ebike come with a pannier rack pre-fitted?
- Where is the battery stored on your bike?
- What conditions will you be cycling in? Wet or dry?
- Do you have big feet and a small frame?!
- Will you need to take the pannier on and off the bike regularly (e.g. for commuting)?
My top recommended panniers for electric bikes
Ready to check out the panniers? Okay, let’s go.
If you’re after a pannier bag that covers all the bases in any season, then this could be the droid you’re looking for.
It’s a single bag that you can fit to a rear rack on either side of your bike and it has plenty of space for leisure or commuting.
Note that, whilst the bag is advertised at 25L, this is the unfolded volume. The bag is designed with a top that rolls down to secure it and this reduces the volume to 22L. It doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the carrying capacity though and the big benefit of this type of closure is that water can’t get in through the top opening. Unlike with zips, which can fail and let water in onto your clean clothes and laptop. Not a great look for the office.
The bag also comes with a handy removable shoulder strap and an outside pocket for frequently used items. Finally, the wipe-clean fabric used on the bag is very useful if you’re planning to head into work on Monday after taking the bike and bag through the mud on the weekend.
If a single pannier bag doesn’t give you the carrying capacity you need, then the next option is to look at twin panniers. This set from Ibera is waterproof and has an easy quick-release fixing system, fitting most standard rear racks.
Each bag can be used independently, and they have a 15L capacity per bag. To give you an idea of what this looks like, see the customer review photos on the product page for what one lady fitted in on her grocery run. I suspect she’d of had an easier time hauling that lot if she’d been using an ebike!
These bags have the same waterproof roll-down closure as the Waterfly bag above and come with carrying handles, although unfortunately not shoulder straps.
Now, I grant you, the panniers above are somewhat on the rugged masculine end of the spectrum and you might be looking for something a little more feminine and sophisticated. If so, the Tourbon Tote bag is a neat choice.
The Tourbon comes in two different colors and with either handles or a shoulder strap. It’s part of a lovely range of pannier bags from Tourbon.
This is a fantastic pannier bag that looks great on and off the bike. As one reviewer says, “it doesn’t scream ‘giant ugly cycling bag’ when I’m not on my bike”.
It also has plenty of space for commuting items, with room for a laptop and all your accessories.
Made of canvas and leather this gives the tote a water-resistant finish to protect everything stored inside. Probably not as waterproof as the 100% polyester bags, but infinitely more stylish.
Of all the recommendations on my list, I think this is my favorite.
The Topeak MTX Trunk bag is an expandable pannier that sits on top of your rear rack. So, bear in mind that this won’t work with ebikes that have a battery stored on the rear rack.
However, the best thing about this bag is the expandable side pockets. When you need to carry a small amount of gear, then you can pop everything in the pockets in the main central section. This includes space for an extra water bottle. A useful feature if you need to carry more liquid for longer trips.
If you have more stuff to carry, just open up the side pockets and they fold out into two side pannier bags. Big enough for a laptop and plenty of clothes.
The Topeak has a special quick release system, making for fast and easy securing of the pannier bag. This needs the compatible rear rack from Topeak. Then once you’ve quick-released the bag, it has a removable shoulder strap for easy carrying
My final recommendation is a bit unusual.
Also from Topeak, the Trolley Tote Folding Basket is the perfect choice if your ebike trips often involve grocery shopping or deliveries.
The basket fits easily with the Topeak quick-release system and has a capacity of 25L. When it’s not in use, it folds up for easy storage. When it is in use, it has a telescopic handle and trolley wheels.
Have a look at the company video for more details.
Bear in mind that you will need two hands to take the basket on and off the bike rack. So make sure you have a kickstand fitted to your bike or an extra pair of hands.
What do you need to carry?
It’s important to think about what you are wanting to carry on your bike. Do you just need a small amount of space for a repair kit? Maybe something to pop a few groceries in for a trip back from the store? What about a laptop and change of clothes if you’re cycling to work? Or do you want something even bigger for all the kit you need for long-distance touring?
Does your ebike come with a pannier rack pre-fitted?
Look at the ebike you have (or are planning to buy) as this will determine what style of panniers will work. Some ebikes come with front and/or rear racks or baskets ready fitted. That’s great, but you will need to check whether the pannier bags you’re considering fit onto these.
Where is the battery stored on your bike?
Also, some ebikes and ebike conversions have a battery fitted on a rack over the back wheel. This is important as many twin bag designs (like this) won’t fit on top of the battery.
What conditions will you be cycling in?
Are you likely to be riding in very wet conditions? If so, it’s worth spending extra on a fully waterproof pannier bag. Although bear in mind that the cost of these can be significant. So, if you’re unlikely to encounter too much water on your travels, then you should be able to get away with wrapping your belongings in a garbage bag inside your panniers. This is what I often do and it’s a great cheap alternative.
Do you have big feet and a small frame?
One mistake I made early on was to buy a square-shaped twin pannier bag. As soon as I jumped on the bike and started pedaling, I noticed that my heels were bashing the bag on every revolution. Highly irritating and with the potential to cause damage to all my stuff.
This can often be a problem if you have big feet and a small bike frame (and certainly if you have a combination of the two). If that’s the case, then look for bag options that sit on the top surfaces of your ebike (so long as they don’t interfere with the bike battery) and don’t hang down the sides of the back wheel. Or, if you need the extra carrying capacity of that style of pannier, then look for one that is narrower and swept back at the bottom – see recommendation 2 below.
Will you need to take the pannier on and off the bike regularly
Many of the bags I looked at had fiddly systems, like lots of Velcro straps, for fixing them to the bike. If you need to secure and remove the panniers regularly, for example if you’re commuting to work, then look for a bag with an easy quick-release mechanism. Many panniers also have a shoulder strap, which can be very practical for carrying when they’re off the bike.
Final word of warning
Loading and unloading your panniers can be tricky if you’re also having to hold up your bike at the same time. Even more tricky if you’re needing two hands for the cargo.
We’ve been trying out a number of kickstands on our family’s endless fleet of bikes (groan….) and this one is the best. It’s been great for everyday use and worked a treat on a recent bikepacking trip we took, where we had waaay too much kit with us.
Panniers for electric bikes
eBikes are made to make your life easier. That includes carrying cargo.
Now that you’ve got your electric bike you can stop worrying about what extra weight you can trim off you and your trusty steed. Add panniers, and revel in the amount of stuff you can carry and still cruise past traditional cyclists.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go buy those panniers and get loading!