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I have looked for a pannier that can hold my 17" laptop for a couple of years. No such thing exists. I tried contacting a couple of places to make one, but they never replied. So, now I'm trying to make or combine things to get myself a rain-safe pannier for my laptop. Are there any ideas on what I can use? Here are the details of what I've got to work with.

My laptop dimensions:

  • 17" screen
  • 16.5" x 11" x 1.5" dimensions.

I bought an Arkel Cam Lock Hook Kit 10". That looked like a great way to attach a bag to my rack whether I use an existing bag or somehow make my own bag.

I also have a couple of laptop sleeves I got thinking I could put the laptop in a larger pannier in the sleeve. The sleeves ended up only protecting against scratches. The panniers I tested all stretched to leave room for the laptop, but the laptop corners were left very vulnerable with almost no protection.

Specialized 2011 Globe Haul 1 I have a Specialized 2011 Globe Haul 1. The rack is built-in and can hold up to 50kg (110 lbs). As the bike is designed to haul so much, the bike was geared very low when I bought it. I had an additional gear added to the front sprocket so I could ride better when going down hills. Even so, this is very decidedly a commuter bike, not a speedy racing/road bike.

What I have been using: I was strapping a laptop backpack on the rack (on top) with bungee cords, but the backpack is worn out. I'm afraid of getting caught in some Dallas rain, in which my backpack, with ripped sides and broken zipper, can't protect my laptop. Also, I had a really hard time strapping my lunch on with my backpack, and I sometimes avoided riding because it took awhile to get everything strapped on, so I'd like a pannier that makes it fast to get loaded and off riding. I will not wear a backpack or a messenger bag, but I'd be happy to modify something so I can use it as a pannier. I've got analysis paralysis so I'm reaching out for recommendations on what to use.

On vibration: I have one SSD and one standard hard disk. When I bought replacement disks, the new ones were thinner than the old, so I used some spare foam (static safe black foam for packing electronics in) to keep the drives in place. As such the drives actually have some cushion just for themselves).

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    We don't give specific product recommendations but this does feel like the sort of problem that somebody ought to be able to help with, especially since you'd have probably found any large enough pannier already! :-) Welcome to the site. – David Richerby Oct 7 '18 at 17:38
  • Also, I deleted the "specialized-bikes" tag. Although the tag doesn't have any usage notes, it seems that it's intended for questions about bikes made by the company Specialized, rather than bikes with a specialized purpose. (The tag system unhelpfully lower-cases everything, hiding this kind of distinction.) – David Richerby Oct 7 '18 at 17:40
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    @DavidRicherby guidance and more generic suggestions are welcome. Anything to help me get back on the road with my bike. I miss riding (between my bad bag and several other things, I haven't been riding in way too long). – cognifloyd Oct 7 '18 at 17:43
  • @DavidRicherby Globe Haul is a Specialized-owned brand. But the question is more about the bag than the bike, so I debated adding that tag anyway. It's fine to drop it. :) – cognifloyd Oct 7 '18 at 17:46
  • Huh -- didn't know that. Learnt something new today! – David Richerby Oct 7 '18 at 17:47
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Having a 17" laptop does limit your options.

If I understand it correctly, you want to carry your laptop on your bike (not on your body), in a bag that gives it some impact protection.

If you feel handy and are willing to throw some money at the problem, I'd recommend getting a hard-shell case filled with egg-crate foam, drilling holes in the case to install that Arkel mounting kit (or a different mounting kit), and sealing the holes with silicone caulk. I did a little poking around and found a well-known hard-shell case brand that does have briefcases for 17" laptops.

  • I've wanted to do that for some time for camera gear. It looks like a good option – Chris H Oct 7 '18 at 19:16
  • Hmm. I've looked at so many different things over the years. I looked at hard cases a long time ago, and didn't see how to make them work. I will look again now that I know more about pannier hooks and an idea I got from one pannier to mount it on an angle for heel clearance. – cognifloyd Oct 7 '18 at 19:28
  • I would probably mount it with the long axis vertically oriented. – Adam Rice Oct 7 '18 at 19:58
  • I'd tilt the case to maximise heel clearance. I've got some spare Carradice hooks that look like they'd work well. – Chris H Oct 8 '18 at 7:16
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Ortlieb make a "back-roller" in heavy vinyl that has a roll-top and a quick mount system. Basically you grab the loop on top, it detaches the grabs that attach to the top of the rack and it comes away. A hook secures the bottom of the pannier to the lower part of the rack so it cannot flap up and down as you ride, pivoting on the top of the rack (though it will if you do not adjust that hook and make sure it is engaged).

I rode with a few models of the old MacBook Pro 17" in one of these panniers and had plenty of room to keep the computer inside various padded sleeves for extra protection. Even with a huge computer in a padded bag there is enough room for a basic change of clothes. It is absolutely waterproof and even has a nice reflective patch on both front and back of the pannier. I still have the panniers as they will work with most bike racks, though I am using a backpack since I found one with a good suspension system that doesn't lead to sweaty back.

There are many options for 17" computers and I have a couple but the classic pannier is the most versatile. Can't imagine this not working unless you are carrying a machine where "portable" is an optimistic label.

addition: don't be misled by the measurement given for the bottom of a flexible pannier with flat panel sides - those sides easily extend to accommodate the 11"+ width of a 17" laptop in a bag. The only way to know for sure is try it.

  • Agreed, Ortlieb or Vaude rear panniers would certainly work. As you’ve pointed out, they are quite roomy which might be an advantage or a disadvantage. At least Ortlieb also offers office/laptop bags which use the same attachment mechanism: ortlieb.com/en/Downtown2 Unfortunately these seem to be limited to 27cm x 40cm x 3cm laptops but a slim 17" laptop like the Macbook Pro 17" with narrow bezels could still work. – Michael Oct 8 '18 at 8:34
  • The Ortlieb panniers are really high quality and I only stopped using them when I started commuting on a road bike and didn't want to put a pannier rack on it. – David Richerby Oct 9 '18 at 19:09
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Would a sturdy laptop bag combined with one of those solutions be an option for you?
https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/54936/34697

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