After reading the BikePacking article in the last Adventure Cyclist magazine I started thinking about how fun it might be to tour lighter. I'm not a weight weenie by any means, but the concept of shedding maybe 50% of the usual touring package seemed like it was worth some thought, especially for warm weather trips.
I started my search for a smaller touring kit by looking for smaller bags. Nothing says "Leave that at home" like "There's no room for it!"
I like the Ortlieb Back Roller Classics I have now, but they're big and relatively heavy (1900g/pair). The lightest Ortliebs I've ever seen are the Front Roller Plus panniers at 1440g/pair.
Then I noticed their Front Roller City bags on some of the European online bike stores. Capacity is the same as the Front Roller Classic and Plus models at 25 liters/pair. At only 1210g/pair they're comparatively very light, and at £60/pair ($93) they're inexpensive too! I ordered a pair.
The first thing I noticed is that there's less hardware, although for me that's no problem at all
. No fastening strap is included, nor is there a hook where the strap would attach.
Most obvious hardware difference is the anchoring hook and rail on the back. The hook can be flipped to point left or right, but it cannot be positioned any other way. It does not rotate like the hook on the Roller models. The single, straight rail that the hook is fastened to allows for horizontal adjustment but offers no vertical flexibility. For the record, the hook center is about 7.75" below where the top of a rack would be.
The closing clasps attached to the sides of the bag's opening are both male and therefore cannot be mated to each other. The only place they can attach to are the female sockets about halfway down the sides of the bag. I wonder why Ortlieb didn't just reverse the male/female configuration on one side so that there would be more closing options.
Otherwise construction is to the same high standards we expect in Ortlieb bags. No surprises. I'm ordering a second set now.