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The Brae Yonder 50L Pannier Bags have a simple design, are well made and stand up to the elements brilliantly. And refreshingly, in spite of these qualities, they don't come at an eye-watering price. The stripped-back design is easy to warm to and will likely be a hit with those of us who rely on a bike more than a car for day-to-day errands and commuting. They haven't fallen short for modest tours while I've been testing and the five-year warranty is an encouraging back-up to cover a few potential niggles.
Bikepacking may be the big influence in bike baggage these days. However, the trusty pannier remains a go-to for commuters and shoppers alike, not to mention old-school tourers. Personally, I much prefer a pair of panniers over multiple bags when embarking on a longer tour. And I know I'm not alone in that.
Marco Librizzi, an avid cyclist and tourer himself and the man behind the Scottish company Brae, designed the Yonders with three priorities: 'a clean design', 'quality' and 'affordability'. And I'd say he has achieved all of these. The company's also doing its best to minimise environmental impact.
You mount the Yonders to your rack using a conventional, reliable three-hook system. Adjustment is tool-free. The arm hugs the vertical rails of any rack very effectively, while the dial offers 360 degrees of adjustability, and I had no issues getting the perfect position on every rack I've tested it on.
The rail hooks can take one of seven positions, with a plastic pivoting 'pin' popping in and out of holes along the rail. Again, I've had no problems getting the hooks into positions to suit every rack. Having said that, I'm personally sceptical about the long-term reliability of the plastic pins.
If they aren't meddled with much, they'll almost certainly be fine but, if you regularly change the hook's position, the pins might be prone to premature wear and tear. Encouragingly, Brae can supply replacement rails with mounted hooks.
The Yonders use a handspring release mechanism, which is as smooth and reliable as any I've come across. The main carry handle is separate to the quick release handle, which I like, as it reduces wear and tear on the springs.
Without any supplied hook adaptors, to cope with pannier rails of different diameters, I've been pleasantly surprised that the Yonders have sat securely and without rattling on our increasingly rough roads, as well as a selection of towpaths and firetracks. That's not to say they won't be causing aesthetic wear and tear on rack rails in the long term.
The panniers have stood up to the elements well. The website doesn't list an IP rating but they are described there as 100% waterproof and I'd have no doubts about their ability to keep your kit dry in any conditions. In addition to rain, they've been subjected to ford crossings too, with the kit remaining dry as a bone throughout. As with all roll-top bags, waterproofing relies on you making sufficient folds when closing the panniers.
It's refreshing to have a very simple closure – one clip either side and no excess strap to note. This is a contrast to the Brooks Scape Pannier's closure that I struggled with a little.
The 600D TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) material has a fabric-like texture and appearance. The panniers don't clean up as well as some. The bright red I've been testing isn't ideal if you want to avoid them looking grubby. Black might be a better option to disguise ageing.
Two substantial reflective patches sit on either side of each pannier, effectively increasing visibility on the road.
A packed Yonder measures approximately 40cm x 38cm x 21cm, boasts a 25-litre capacity with a 10kg limit, which are pretty standard figures for rear panniers, indeed a bit more volume than some. Each pannier weighs 970g including the shoulder strap. The fully welded construction is very tidy and both the inside and outside are cleanly finished.
Inside, there's a c36cm sleeve that reaches right down to the bottom of the pannier, which is designed to take a 15in laptop and a shorter, 10cm, zipped mesh pocket. There's no excessive tapering towards the base of the pannier, which means you can pack bulky items at the bottom and shouldn't ever want for space.
A chunky carry handle, which stands proud of the pannier, makes it easy to transport them and doesn't interfere with the quick-release mechanism that is activated by a fabric handle.
In my opinion, the shoulder strap isn't a winning design; the fabric is very smooth and prone to slipping through the buckle, creating a longer strap than you might want. Leaving the shoulder strap attached when the pannier's on the rack comes with a warning; you need to include it in the closing roll to prevent it flailing about as you ride. If you rarely use a shoulder strap, this will be of little relevance as you can take the strap off the pannier.
Testing baggage over the course of four weeks isn't ideal, particularly when it comes with a five-year warranty. It's simply impossible to inflict the wear and tear that a set of panniers can experience in the medium-to-long term. Quality panniers should just keep on going, and I have decades-old Ortlieb panniers that are still fully functional if now a little marked.
There are no reinforcements at the base of the Yonders, making them more vulnerable than a pannier with extra material at the corners, such as Ortlieb's Roller Back Classics. If you regularly take your panniers off the bike and drop them on the floor, you might want to change that habit with the Yonders.
Stacking gear on top of the rack and panniers forces the carry handle to lie flat. This hasn't been affected during testing but could conceivable be an issue over time and is something to be aware of.
That said, the five-year warranty goes a long way to suppress my concerns regarding the adjustment pins, as well as the above niggles. Additionally, if Marco's response time to my queries is anything to go by, I'd say problems should be dealt with swiftly – purchasing from small companies has its advantages.
You'll have change from £100 when you buy a pair of Yonders at present, as they are presently on offer at £95 for a pair or £49.90 for one, in black or red. Of the panniers we've tested in recent years, these are unquestionably the best value.
Lara really rated the Altura Thunderstorm Pannier, which was £79.99 when she tested it but is now £100 – though it's widely available for a good deal less. This matches the Yonder in terms of quality, and Lara felt it could stretch to touring duties in addition to its urban purposes.
Ortlieb's Back Roller Classic panniers are also much more expensive at £139.99 a pair.
Despite their simple, straightforward design, the Yonders do exactly what a pannier should – they keep your gear dry, sit securely on your rack without requiring a tool to get that perfect position and they're easily accessible. And they will appeal to a range of cyclists from commuters to full-on tourers.
The price is virtually unbeatable and a five-year warranty goes a long way to alleviate any potential concerns about durability.
Stripped-back design that delivers – and their five-year warranty should cover any potential weaknesses
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Brae Yonder 50L Pannier Bags
Size tested: 50L
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Brae says on its website: 'Our Pannier bags are designed to take you into the distance, to go Yonder.
'Making sure you have space to take all the items you need be it a morning commute, an evening ride to the beach, or a ride across the country. Our Yonder bags will get everything there nice and dry.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fully welded construction
Tool-Free set up and adjustment.
Handspring Quick Release.
Reflective strips front and rear.
Internal laptop sleeve & zip mesh pocket.
Detachable carry strap
600D TPU material
25L Capacity with 10KG weight limit (per pannier)
Packed H:40 W: 21 L:38cm
5-year manufacturer warranty
Fully welded and cleanly finished.
They do exactly what panniers should. The shoulder strap isn't the best but this is a minor niggle, particularly if you don't tend to use one.
Difficult to fully judge durability after only four weeks, but they seem sound, and I've talked about a few potential weaknesses in the main body of the review.
Very good for a capacity of 25 litres.
The fact that these offer just as much capacity as any other, are 100% waterproof, well made AND come with a five-year warranty makes them excellent value for money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They do exactly what a pannier should, without any fancy additions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Simple closure without excessive straps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm one to pull off a pannier and dump it directly on the floor on arrival at a destination. I would personally like some kind of reinforcement at the base to prevent the main body of fabric taking the direct hit of my rough handling!
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Very good when lined up alongside the likes of Altura, Brooks and Ortlieb.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The stripped-back design is easy to warm to and if you are watching the pounds, the Yonders are a super choice. They do exactly what a pannier should and are easy to adjust. Quite simply, they are perfect for the commuter and any of us relying on a bike more than a car on a daily basis.
The five-year warranty massively alleviates my concerns with the hooks' pin, the proud carry handle and the lack of reinforcement at the base.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…