Written by Nicole

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic vs Back-Roller City

You love cycling and are looking to buy a good bike bag to mount on your bike rear rack. Chances are, you narrowed down your choice to the Ortlieb Back-Roller City or the Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic. The Ortlieb Roller owes its name to the way you close the bag: you roll the top-side of the bag 3 times and snap the closure into place. By properly rolling up the top of the bag, you can be sure that no water will enter the bike. Both the classic and the City are made of the same waterproof materials and look identical. You might be wondering what the difference is between the Classic and the City then. In this article, I'll discuss those differences.

Multi-day bike tours or daily use

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic

The Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic is what started it all for the German brand Ortlieb. The bag is particularly popular among bike adventurers and cycling vacationers. It holds its own in both desert and Siberian weather conditions. The bag has an extra pocket to make sure that documents or a laptop reach their destination safe and dry. In addition, the Classic has a carrying strap that has a double function. You can use the bag as a shoulder bag to easily carry it with you. The strap can also be used during cycling to snap shut the roll closure of the bike bag. That way, you don't have to roll up the closure 3 times to close it.

Ortlieb Back-Roller City

Ortlieb Back-Roller City

The 480 grams lighter Ortlieb Back-Roller City is less suitable for use on multi-day trips. The City is perfect for a picnic in the woods, groceries, or your sports stuff. The bike bag doesn't have a carrying strap, which means you have to roll the top of the bike bag three times to close it. That can be annoying if you quickly want to grab something. On top of that, you can't carry the bag over your shoulder, which is particularly inconvenient if you're staying the night somewhere – especially after a long day of cycling. The City doesn't have an extra pocket for your valuables. All of that makes the City more suitable for everyday use than for multi-day trips.


You attach all Ortlieb bike bags to your bike with the Quick-Lock System developed by Ortlieb themselves. The Ortlieb Classic attaches using the Quick-Lock 2.1 while the Ortlieb City uses the Quick-Lock 1.0 System. Both systems are easy to use, but when it comes to details; they're quite different; the Quick-Lock 2.1 is the successor to the 1.0.

Ortlieb Classic: Quick-Lock 2.1

With Quick-Lock 2.1, you can easily attach the bike bag to the your bike's rear rack rods, using hooks that open and close automatically. You can change the positions of the attachment components on the 2.1 without tools; you'll only need to tighten the screws by hand. Thanks to the various large attachment hooks, you can adjust the hook system, enabling you to attach the bike bag on a bike rear rack with a tube diameter of 8-16 millimeters. The bottom hook, mounted on an elliptical rail, can be adjusted horizontally and vertically and can be rotated in 15-degree increments. Very handy when changing bikes or if your bike rear rack isn't of a standard size.

Ortlieb City: Quick-Lock 1.0

Basically, the Quick-Lock 1.0 is attached to your bike in the same way as the 2.1, but it's less flexible when it comes to placement on non-standard bike rear racks. First of all, you can't adjust the attachment components without tools. You'll need a 3-millimeter Allen key. Second, the bottom hook is mounted in a half-elliptical rail, that can be horizontally and vertically adjusted in 15° increments. The Quick-Lock 1.0 isn't as user-friendly as the 2.1 version, but will fit perfectly on a standard city bike. If you want to adjust the standard positions, that's a little more difficult though, and options are limited.


The choice between the Ortlieb Classic and the Ortlieb City isn't an easy one. The Classic is more user-friendly and more versatile as a result. The Classic is more convenient on bike tours, because you can carry the bike back without a bike thanks to the carrying strap. Both the City and the Classic are easy to attach to your bike rear rack. Thanks to the Quick-Lock 2.1 system, the Classic can easily be attached to any kind of bike rear rack. The attachment components of the Quick-Lock 1.0 system of the City aren't as flexible and that means you can't adjust the City to your bike rear rack as easily.

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