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  1. #1
    Senior Member FedericoMena's Avatar
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    What do you like in your panniers/bags/etc?

    A couple of friends and myself are setting up a small sewing workshop to build bike panniers and bags, as what one can find in local shops is very limited, and always imported and expensive. We want to make the designs available under a Creative Commons license so other people can make them too.

    What features do you like in your bags? I'm looking for bits of wisdom like:

    * Where to put extra D loops or daisy chains for strapping other things.

    * Interesting shapes for extra pockets.

    * Particularly clever attachment schemes.

    * Any unusual features you like.

    At first I'm looking for practical bags for everyday city use, not super-fancy touring gear. Think "roll up grocery panniers" and "generally useful trunk bag", not "ultra-waterproof around-the-world"

    Thanks for any tips you can provide!

  2. #2
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    Things I like on my banjo brothers panniers:
    - Being able to fit a digiorno pizza box inside the pannier - if that fits, all other groceries will fit (it was way more difficult to find this than you'd think - like 5 other panniers were to small to do it)
    - An internal pocket big enough to fit the rain cover for the bag assuming they aren't waterproof (you can't carry it in the bottom of the bag or eventually you'll put something in and it will poke holes in it
    - For groceries, that the top of the bag goes over the top and fastens - nothing is going to bounce out of the bag on the way home
    - Handles to carry the bag when off the bike were also nice

    The one thing I don't like about my Banjo Brothers market panniers:
    - Was difficult to get them to stay attached. They seemed to assume that you had something on the bottom of the rack that was pointy and stuck out, and one of my racks doesn't do that. Even after that they liked to bounce off the bike - not fond of that

  3. #3
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    My Ortliebs have a mesh pocket on the outside that's great for holding keys for the bike lock at work and the garage and house. Makes it easy to access when the weather isn't great without playing "Go Fish!" in the main bag.

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    Most of the high-end touring features (ortleib style) are good for groceries too.
    waterproof material is much better than w/p cover.
    A high collar for over-loading.
    Pockets that are wider at the base for security.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My early Bike packer Ortliebs have 4 D Rings on the lid,

    they are on an over the top of the wheel rack on my Bike Friday

    with a cargo stretch net .. I bring home Pizzas in their Boxes , and Etc.



    the Ortlieb horse saddle bag is still using that type pattern of bag, with D rings and Girth straps.

    but is no longer offered, in 2 pieces with the rack hooks ..


    OTOH what I dont like in them is Water..

    Sewn bags leak because they are sewn , making needle holes ..

    But the very dense woven canvas used by the British Carradice Company
    uses the way cotton swells when wet and their heavy dense canvas

    + wax treatment to resolve that.


    Maybe build a shop in Washington state or Colorado and you can use hemp canvas

    since it will be hard to get across the border even as just fiber , from Mexico.


    commuting how about something set up so your fime Suit and the rest of the costume
    for that suit & Power Tie job stay nicely folded so look goos once you get there .

    compartmentalized, zip open in several panels , with 300 degree curved zippers .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-13-14 at 11:48 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    Most of the high-end touring features (ortleib style) are good for groceries too.
    waterproof material is much better than w/p cover.
    A high collar for over-loading.
    Pockets that are wider at the base for security.
    If I remember right, the Ortlieb bags could not hold a Digornia pizza box - to small, or some weird aerodynamic cut or something kept them out. Was dissapointing.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    - to small, or some weird aerodynamic cut or something kept them out. Was dissapointing.
    the heel cutout profile?

  8. #8
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    I dunno- the DiGiorno pizza box in a Pannier would have to be slid in sideways, and if it thawed it would be all over the inside of the box. I'd carry the pizza box flat on top of the rack with bungees.

    But yes- grocery-bag size would be good. A removable padded laptop sleeve with a shoulder strap would be good- I would like to leave the panniers attached to the bike, and just bring in the laptop. Nowadays I put an entire computer backpack into the pannier, and bring that into the office.

  9. #9
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FedericoMena View Post
    What do you like in your panniers
    Beer.


    Seriously though, my biggest concern is good attachment to the rack - something that attaches positively, not just hooks with an elastic cord to the bottom of the rack.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  10. #10
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    a rigid or mostly rigid back side so there's less chance if it flopping into spokes on the back wheel when your rack doesn't have addition struts to help prevent it.
    waterproof material. not a coating. not a cover.
    top clips that are easy to get on and off the rack. clips or clamp. not just hooks that hang. those are worthless.
    and lower clip or strap or tie or something that can fit the many different kinds of rack struts out there.
    a shape that has it mostly vertical on the side that faces forward - to prevent heel strike - and a more bowed/curved back side to make up for lost space in the front. Obviously not too lopsided for balance's sake.
    small pockets or sleeves on the outer inside. I always see them on the inside right against the rack. This may be ok for things like a laptop, but cumbersome to get something smaller out of like tools because all your stuff is on top of it. This, in addition to an outer pocket (that is still waterproof).
    many available colors or print designs.
    Twitter@theSurlyBiker

  11. #11
    Senior Member FedericoMena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Seriously though, my biggest concern is good attachment to the rack - something that attaches positively, not just hooks with an elastic cord to the bottom of the rack.
    Interesting. I've never used bags with hooks or a quick-release system, just little belts. I was actually thinking of making hooks to make the bags easier to release from the rack. Do they bounce and fall out? Does it happen only when they are unloaded?

    If hooks are unreliable, I may stick to little belts in the beginning. Things like the Klick-fix system's parts seem expensive for what people would be willing to pay for panniers here.

    The rest of people's suggestions are very good! Please keep them coming!

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    I think the pannier market is pretty well sorted. The hot market is bikepacking if you ask me. Frame bags, handlebar slings, etc.

  13. #13
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Waterproof.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Shahmatt's Avatar
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    Would you consider building bags for recumbent bikes?

    I agree with other comments on waterprof. Too many good bags are out there need rain covers. Far better to omit rain cover and use materials that keep out water. Or at the least have very good rain resistance so that rain cover is last option.

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    Pannier rails that hook and lock can e rivetted/bolted to a correx stiffener plate.
    Rixen and Kaul are similar to Ortleib hooks.

  16. #16
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Personally I would look at Carradice bags for general designs. They can't seem to keep up with demand. For refinements on their designs, look at Acorn bags, which are simply amazing in quality and attention to detail. They have taken Carradice bags up a notch or two, but again they can't seem to keep up with demand. Carradice style bags are perfect for commuting ,, IMHO, because they are not too large and bulky like many panniers, are easy to install and remove, and center the weight so it has little effect on handling.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    1. A separate compartment for my wet, smelly workshirt so I can take it home and not stink up everything else in the bag

    2. An insulated compartment for my lunch
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  18. #18
    Senior Member FedericoMena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shahmatt View Post
    Would you consider building bags for recumbent bikes?
    Yes, but I have no idea what's involved Do they need different geometries?

    I agree with other comments on waterprof. Too many good bags are out there need rain covers. Far better to omit rain cover and use materials that keep out water. Or at the least have very good rain resistance so that rain cover is last option.
    Yeah, I'm not comfortable with the idea of leaving bags not waterproof(ish). Have to investigate which materials I can get here.

  19. #19
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    On my trek interchange bags, i like how reflective-d up they are, and how they can go from nearly flat to carry a full grocery bag's worth of groceries. I like the zip-away rain jacket they come with (even though they are pretty water-proof /no wet inside yet), and the zip-away adjustable helmet net. I also enjoy the padded handles, that feel good even if there is 25 lbs of stuff in the bag.

    While i like that they have water bottle nets on the aft (away from pedal) side, i dunno how much use i'll get. I also like all the loops on the outside here and there, though ive yet to need them.

    Most of all i love how easily i can unclip and remove them.

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
    Personally I would look at Carradice bags for general designs. They can't seem to keep up with demand. For refinements on their designs, look at Acorn bags, which are simply amazing in quality and attention to detail. They have taken Carradice bags up a notch or two, but again they can't seem to keep up with demand. Carradice style bags are perfect for commuting ,, IMHO, because they are not too large and bulky like many panniers, are easy to install and remove, and center the weight so it has little effect on handling.
    Zimbale also makes a very good bag similar to Carradice. I've been using their 18L bag daily for three years now and have no complaints.
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  21. #21
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FedericoMena View Post
    Interesting. I've never used bags with hooks or a quick-release system, just little belts. I was actually thinking of making hooks to make the bags easier to release from the rack.

    (I) Do they bounce and fall out?
    (II) Does it happen only when they are unloaded?

    If hooks are unreliable, I may stick to little belts in the beginning. Things like the Klick-fix system's parts seem expensive for what people would be willing to pay for panniers here.

    The rest of people's suggestions are very good! Please keep them coming!
    Yes (I) and no (II). I picked up one of the Sunlite Fortress panniers on clearance and quickly discovered why they were on clearance (other than not making a good backpack either). These have just two plastic covered flat metal hooks at the top and a small bungee at the bottom, which is a pretty common pannier design. Several times I had the pannier bounce off the rack. When I was lucky the bungee somehow came off and the whole thing just dropped into the road and I was embarrassed and had to go back for it. I think I ended up dragging it by the bungee at least once though. I quickly started using a buckled strap through the carrying handle and wrapped around the rack itself to ensure that it couldn't hop off and haven't had that problem since, but it'd be far better not to have the problem to begin with! Needless to say, this pannier gets used the least. Adding the strap makes it a little bit less convenient to take on and off. I've never had a pannier "jump ship" when was lightly, or un-loaded, every time with a nice load in it, usually hitting some sort of inevitable road unevenness sent it flying despite a fair amount of weight in it.

    Ortlieb really nailed the design for panniers attachment; easy on, easy off, no messing around with straps or bungees, and I've never had one hop off the rack before. Not just that, but it's not something I EVER worry about happening, which is REALLY nice! Not only is the top attachment great, but their bottom attachment tab is far superior to messing with bungees down there. That lower part might be something that could be very easily replicated. I could see recreating it by simply cutting up some thick plastic (like restaurant food buckets) and making a sandwich of spacers and then the two layers of the tab itself glued (and maybe riveted) together. Nearly free except for labor.

    I can see where you'd especially be trying to keep costs a little lower given your location though, and I've never seen Ortlieb or those style fixing systems for less than 10 to 15 dollars for just the upper part (plus shipping). I will say my Basil pannier top attachment surprised me and works really well too, I've never had that pannier jump off and I've given it plenty of opportunity. In fact, I trust that little clamp at the top of my Basil Weekender so much, that I've often carried heavy loads in it without bothering to attach the velcro strap at the bottom to my rack. I've never searched for just their attachment online, but it might be available cheaper than the German ones.

    Speaking of the Basil Weekender, if someone made that bag in something waterproof, and it had straps on the side to compress the load, and the top came together a little less frumpily, I'd be very interesting in buying one. That bag is so close to good, but has some serious flaws.



    Maybe people could tell you which panniers they have of the hook style that do stay on. I imagine there are some out there that are slightly better engineered somehow that do better than that Sunlite one I have. I've heard other folks gripe about that style of attachment, so I know I'm not the only one that's had problems with them, but on the other hand, this was the standard way of attaching lots of panniers for a long time wasn't it? Some of those have to be a little better.


    Someone mentioned reflective elements. I'm of two minds when it comes to reflective stuff; 99% of the time I really want it, but the once in a blue moon that I'm stealth camping its nice not to have them. I'd appreciate reflective elements that were removable, perhaps velcro? Or snaps?


    It's been mentioned already, but having a way to actually carry the bags off the bike is a huge plus. A small carrying handle should be the minimum (could be just a strap sewn to the top). I like a nice sling, mounted on sling swivels, so providing the points to attach one is a big plus in my book. One of the many things I love about my Zimbale bag. You can provide either a very inexpensive (and lightweight!) sling or no sling at all and if they want one, or a nicer one, the purchaser can foot that expense themselves.



    .
    ISO: 22" GT Rebound frame, year 2000 model

  22. #22
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Sturdy D-rings to attach a shoulder strap
    Excellent quality zippers and stitching.
    Durable fabric that is resistant to puncture, abrasion, sun fade, snags.
    Fabric is water resistant and doesn't absorb water.
    Large reflective elements including loops for blinkies
    Smallish easy-to-access pocket for keys, padlock, cable, clif bar, work ID, wallet, phone, lights, sunglasses
    Mesh external pocket for water bottle/thermos.
    Large enough to carry shoes.
    Mesh area for carrying wet stuff on outside of bag
    A few D-rings for clipping on other items outside the bag (eg: helmet)

    Panniers:
    Ability to wear as backpack off the bike (Arkel has system to keep straps out of spokes.)
    Ruggedized bottom and side facing wheel; stiff side facing wheel
    Panniers have quick on-off attachment to rack that allows concurrent use of trunk bag
    Profile to prevent heel strike

    Trunk bags:
    Insulated to be able to use as cooler and large enough for 32-oz sports drink or a couple of 24-oz water bottles.
    Expandable top
    Bungees on top for jacket, ziplocked map+cue,
    Movable divider for main compartment to keep it organized
    Quick attachment allowing concurrent use of panniers
    Profile to allow concurrent use of large below-saddle bag

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    1. A separate compartment for my wet, smelly workshirt so I can take it home and not stink up everything else in the bag

    2. An insulated compartment for my lunch
    Or a compartment for a change of clothes, really. I carry a spare set of clothes, lunch, iPad and fancy headphones. A more organized trunk bag would be great.

    Really, a bag that fits full size tablets well would be great. Sliding pocket on the top of a trunk bag?

    I'm focused on trunk bags because of heel strike issues, my bike has a short wheelbase.

    A handlebar bag that could carry that stuff would be really appealing too. I suppose most rando bags might qualify.

    Really, I'd like some organizational options, not just a giant sack like ortliebs.

    edit: OH! Panniers that make fashionable messenger bags/backpacks. Or at least not hideous.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Shahmatt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FedericoMena View Post
    Yes, but I have no idea what's involved Do they need different geometries?
    Great! We recumbent cyclists really need options. Some examples of recumbent specific bag companies below:

    Radical Design is a popular brand, but they are quite expensive:

    https://www.radicaldesign.nl/en/products/recumbent-bags

    More recently Smoky Mtn Saddlebags was introduced and reviewed over on the Bent Rider online website.

    'BentRider Online» Blog Archive » Welcome To Two New Sponsors!

    Smoky Mtn Saddlebags

    The market is niche, but if you contact the folks over on bent rider online I'm sure they'll help review and introduce your products to the forumers should you decide to start making a few.

    I am new to recumbents myself but you may realize, as I have, that there's a lot of variety in these bikes out there. This can make it hard to standardize bags. From the top of my head there are the long wheelbase, short wheelbase, compact long wheelbase, front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, moving bottom bracket, fixed bottom bracket, trikes, low racers, high racers, velo mobiles and so on.

    Some points to ponder:
    1. Many recumbent cyclists try to adapt regular bike bags for their use - mainly top tube bags and panniers. Top tube bags seem to work alright. However many panniers do not fit as recumbents tend to have smaller wheels (16" or 20") and associated racks.

    Shorter, wider panniers that can fit these smaller racks on smaller wheels would be really handy here. You may also be servicing the folding bike market with panniers that are short but wide (think Bromptons and the potentially huge UK market).

    2. Recumbent specific bags are bags that fit under the seat (in the mid ship position) or rest on the seat back. Mid ship mounted bags can have large capacity, and are much preferred as they lend to stability. But options appear to be woefully low. Most mid ship bags mount on a rack and come in pairs so that they attach on either side of the bike.

    I personally, for reasons specific to my bike, need a single mid-ship bag that does not require a rack but has a frame or some rigidity on the inside so that it can stand without a rack. But my need would be a minority I think.

    Seat back bag designs vary greatly depending on the bike, as the seat back shape can be variable. Some seat backs are supported in the middle by seat post - so many seat back bags tend to be designed to fit on either of the seat back as opposed to be directly behind and possibly in a position interfering with the seat post.

    Take a look at the sites to get an idea.
    Last edited by Shahmatt; 07-07-14 at 08:02 PM.

  25. #25
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    My Ortliebs have a mesh pocket on the outside that's great for holding keys for the bike lock at work and the garage and house. Makes it easy to access when the weather isn't great without playing "Go Fish!" in the main bag.
    I think, instead of an outer mesh pocket where keys are visible to the world (or in addition to an outer mesh pocket) it would be good to have a small carabiner inside near the top where you can clip your keys, and keep them hidden and dry, and access them easily without having to play "go fish"!


    Somebody already mentioned laptop sleeve; laptops are of widely varying sizes nowadays. I think an effective one would have to have some way to change sizes so that any laptop can be held securely.

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