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Ortlieb Back Roller Classic vs Plus - a review

If you are looking for cycle touring panniers, you've probably worked out that Ortliebs are the way to go! But one question remains: the Back Roller Classic or the Plus?

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First up, the similarities

Ortlieb Back Roller Classic and Back Roller Plus are both great panniers with many of the same features..

  • Waterproof: All Ortlieb pannier bags are waterproof, so you can keep riding when the rain starts to pour.
  • Internal zip pocket: Both feature an internal pocket with a zip section to organise your gear.
  • Shoulder strap: Both the Classic and Plus bags come with a detachable shoulder strap so you can easily carry your panniers around.
  • Rolltop closure: Both share the traditional Ortlieb rolltop closure for simplicity and waterproofing.

  • Now, the differences.

    The fabric and the mounting system are the two main differences.

    Ortlieb Plus fabric versus Classic fabric

    Ortlieb Back Roller Plus panniers are made with PS36C fabric. This is a PU coated Cordura fabric with a softer, more fabric-y feel. It is also PVC-free. This lighter fabric results in a finished weight 220 grams lighter than the Back Roller Classics. When you're touring, every little bit counts.

    The Back Roller Classics feature the PD620/PS490 PVC-coated polyester fabric which Ortlieb has been using since the dawn of time. It's a little bit heavier, but it's been proven to last and last.

    Ortlieb QL1 versus QL2 mounting system

    QL1 and QL2 are two different versions of Ortlieb's patented Quicklock mounting system. The Quicklock system has the spring-loaded hooks attached to the grab handle of the pannier. So when you pick up the pannier, the hooks automatically open, allowing you to move it on or off your bike rack with ease!

    The QL1 system featured on the Back Roller Classic is adjustable to fit virtually any rack using an allen key. This system is reliable and will suit most people just fine.

    The QL2 system on the Back Roller Plus has a couple of extra features. It's fully adjustable by hand, not requiring any allen keys. It also has more positions for the lower hook. You can also angle the top bar of the mounting system slightly, giving you more heel clearance if you have large feet and a small frame.

    Confused? Check out these two videos to get the full story (sound not required):

     

     

    Other considerations

  • The Plus fabric is softer so some people prefer it for city use
  • The Classic fabric may be more durable, so if you're riding from Cape Town to Cairo the Back Roller Classic may be for you
  • Both bags are backed by Ortlieb's five year warranty
  • Both come as a pair of panniers with 40 litres capacity
  • Both have large 3M reflectors back and front for safety
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    Summary

    So there you have it! The Back Roller Plus panniers are lighter and easier to adjust, while the Classics are slightly heavier and more bombproof. Now you just need to choose a colour!

    Ortlieb Back Roller Classic Panniers   Ortlieb Back Roller Plus Panniers

    Front Roller Panniers

    All of the above comments apply to Ortlieb Front Roller Classic and Plus panniers as well. The front panniers are just smaller in volume.

    Other Ortlieb Panniers

    There is much more to the Ortlieb range than just the Back Roller panniers. See our full range of Ortlieb products.