Now I have to admit that I have no experience whatsoever with bike panniers, but I thought I’d share how I have finally managed to fit the cheap Ventura pannier rack and ETC pannier bags which cost less than £30 all in from Amazon.
The instructions are close to useless. I would start off by fitting the side supports onto the rack. Now, like quite a lot of cheap Chinese-made products, the materials are actually quite decent but the quality of manufacture leaves a lot to be desired. The welds are pretty uneven and, on my rack, the side supports were about an inch off fitting and basically needed bending to fit.
Next step is to set the adjustable legs on the bottom of the side supports to make the pannier the right height. I had to buy some 20mm bolts to mount the rack at the dropouts because of the mudguards.
Another odd thing about my rack is the two “pegs” on the left hand side. I have no idea what these are for but the one on the upper part of the rack obstructs the mountings – not helpful at all.
Another reason to ignore the instructions is that the suggested way of fitting the upper “flexible” mounting (with the nuts facing in) makes it almost impossible to reach the nuts with a spanner. So I have chosen to mount it with the nuts facing out. This still isn’t ideal, as I will explain in a moment.
Because my bike does not have rack mounts, I used the U-shaped mount supplied (which attaches to the reflector mounting). The seat stay clips that are included would only fit a very fat tube – no use whatsoever on my bike. The U mount is a bit wide for the way I have mounted my supports, meaning it has bent a bit at the ends, and the supports are at a bit of an angle.
Overall you get a fairly solid and adjustable rack with all the features you might expect, including a spring clip on the top. However it is tricky to fit (which could probably be resolved with a better design for the top mountings) and my way isn’t necessarily the best way. If it gets me to work with a change of clothes and without a sweaty back then it will have been time and money well spent.
The pannier bag itself seems quite sturdy for the money and will fit A4 files and my 11″ laptop bag in either compartment. It is held in place with velcro so isn’t a seamless fit on the rack – I’ve got no idea how much of an improvement the high-end bags are.
Hopefully this helps anyone thinking of buying these cheap components.