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  1. #1
    lev
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    Arkel t-42 vs xm-45

    Arkel t-42 vs xm-45

    hi all,

    just wondering if anyone has or used the arkel xm-45....want to get panniers for travel later this year in South East Asia and was wondering which to get..i know there are lots of praises for t-42 and i am also leaning towards that model, but just want to get some feedback about xm-45..the shops dont have arkel products here where i live so i dont have any chances to compare and will have to order it through mail...one concern i have is whether i will have enough ankle clearance with the t-42. on its website arkel markets the xm-45 model as MTB panniers and it seems to be slightly narrower which got me thinking maybe it is a better option since i have a MTB(specialized rockhopper)..although i still prefer the t-42 layout more than xm-45..

    thanks for all your help...

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    I bet both would do a good job. As for myself, I really like the design of the XM-45 but never had the chance to try it... I think it's mostly a question of preference... I prefer to pack everything loosely from the top. If you prefer the t-42, then go for it!

  3. #3
    lev
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    @magictofu
    have you tried the t-42?? any suggestions?

    also, does anyone know where i can order on the net to japan?? still havent been able to find a site that will send it to japan...arkel dealers only have delivery options to the country they are in..if i have to, will order one in australia and get friends to post it but i would much prefer diract mail order..

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    Lev, I never did... the only pair of Arkel bags I have are around 15 years old and fairly small (front bags)... on the other side, I do spend quite some time drooling in front of the display at my LBS.

    Also, when my partner was looking into buying panniers, I did quite a bit of research for her... she opted for cheaper bags though.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lev
    Arkel t-42 vs xm-45

    hi all,

    just wondering if anyone has or used the arkel xm-45....want to get panniers for travel later this year in South East Asia and was wondering which to get..i know there are lots of praises for t-42 and i am also leaning towards that model, but just want to get some feedback about xm-45..the shops dont have arkel products here where i live so i dont have any chances to compare and will have to order it through mail...one concern i have is whether i will have enough ankle clearance with the t-42. on its website arkel markets the xm-45 model as MTB panniers and it seems to be slightly narrower which got me thinking maybe it is a better option since i have a MTB(specialized rockhopper)..although i still prefer the t-42 layout more than xm-45..

    thanks for all your help...
    I am also considering the Arkel XM-45 panniers. I have a mountain bike that I have rigged as a Tourer and I am of the opinion that the XM-45 would be a better fit on a mountain bike type tourer than the T-42.

    It helps to think of it this way: The XM-45 can go on your mountain bike and your traditional road-tourer frame, if you do decide to build or buy one, whereas the T-42 would only work on a road tourer without encountering heel strike issues. In other words, the XM-45 can work with two kinds of touring frames, off-road and on-road.

    I hope this helps.

    Regards.

  6. #6
    I can't remember
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    Lev, like I said in my message if you need panniers in a hurry and are willing to spend the cash then Arkel are a good bet. My panniers arrived less than a week after I placed the order. Thery're expensive, but in my opinion worth it.


    All the best

  7. #7
    lev
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    @LUCAS
    i have the same feeling that maybe xm-45 would be better for the bike i have..however like i said, i'm not so sure wether the design is functional or not...one thing i dont like about it is the top load hood..i had problems with my backpack which kept on falling back and down if it wasnt fully loaded..dont know if it will make any difference on panniers (as its not atttached to my back) but since i got burnt with my backpack dont want to risk without seeing or hearing others experience...in pictures it looks nice and all but thats because its filled to the max and lets its shape stay firm and well balanced..but if its half full, i dont know if the straps will be tight enough to hold your gear inside neatly..again with my backpack when i travel light nothing seems to stay neatly as they all slide to the bottom and get all creased and mixed which is a headache when you have to dig in to find the specific item...however, having said that i dont know if the t-42 will be any better but it seems to have more compartments (like the netting outside, internal frame in the main load area and some handy stuff like top pocket and fanny pack..). and you can use the top part as a flat surface to carry sleeping bag or mat etc...

    i'm just suprised that there isnt anyone who has used the xm-45..did a search on google for reviews and stuff but no luck..even in this forum, no one has commented or used these panniers..so without seeing it i would like to go for a safer bet which is t-42 with many praises attached to it on the net and in this forum...if there is someone here who had used this product please let us know what you think of them for example pros and cons...

    @hardtail
    thanks for your message..today did overtime at work and will be using todays pay to get the panniers . and the fact that it gets delivered in such short time is great...can you tell me which internet site you got it from?? i checked the main site and it has regions (US, Canada, Australia, EU etc)..but when i checked their delivery it only mentions delivery within those countries..besides i would rather order from the same place, as you said your one took less than a week...
    and how is the gt-54 anyway? i really like the design but i'm concerned it might be too big and heavy for my needs..what kind of bike will you be using those on? like i said, because i have a mountain bike i think it might be an overkill and too heavy..but let me know your initial thoughts about it..and thanks for your help, really apreciate it..

  8. #8
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    I have T-42s and GT-54s, and use them on a touring bike. I use the T-42 on the rear for day rides, commuting, etc. and put them in front when I tour.

    Both the T-42 and GT-54 have a tapered front end, and especially with the current adjustable hooks, you won't have any problems with heel clearance. I can't compare with the XM-45, though.

    One thing that worries me about the T-42 is that they use smaller less "heavy duty" than zippers on the GT-54. Mind you, I just replaced my T-42 after 8 or 9 years of year-round commuting, including rain, snow, sleet... sometimes with heavy loads, but its zippers are becoming temperemental. So if you are planning to overstuff your panniers, the GT-54 will definitely be more resistent.

    I was about to say that the long and low pole tube might be a problem for off-road riding, but it now is removable and you can install it high if you ride a lot offroad. My GT-54 predate this new feature by a few years.

    As for "GT-54 panniers being too heavy for the bike", I can't see that as a problem for the bike or even for the bicycle tourist. However, if you only want to carry a minimum of gear, why should you get bags that seem heavier than what you put inside. Besides, if you tour via hotels and the like, you'll prefer a lighter bag to carry inside.

    One word on the XM-45 vs a backpack. Even if partly loaded, the XM-45 won't fall down. There is a hard plastic backplate (light, but resistent, even at -20 C) and the hooks are attached to it. If your panniers are half empty, the only noticeable differences will be :
    - the bottom will sag by about 2 cm because your panniers won't be "blown out";
    - if you have one single heavy item in a pannier (a lock, for example), it might move a bit.

    Regarding ordering: write to the head office on the "Contact us" page :
    http://panniers.com/contact.asp?fl=1&site=cdn
    I know they deliver almost everywhere. I once had a few technical questions and got answers very quickly from them. No experience with ordering, however, because their panniers are sold in bike shops in Québec.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  9. #9
    lev
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    @Michel
    thanks for your help...since you have both the t42 and gt54 which do you recommend for 10-15 day touring?? i wouldnt mind the gt54 as it has nice compartments but i read some people mentioning that it was too big and prefered t42. i guess it depends on each persons preference, but is there a major size difference between the two?? i know the dimensions but i just cant picture how 5cm would make much difference (gt-54 45 x 40 x 20 and t-42 40 x 40 x 15).
    also, i have disc brakes so i will have to get old man mountain rack as its the only one i know that can be adjusted for disc brakes..and my chainstay is 42.6cm. do you think there could be a problem with heel clearence..i know you wrote i shouldnt have a problem but just want to make sure as i have had no experience in panniers and racks...

  10. #10
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    It depends a bit what you bring and how much you pack it.
    I have filled to capacity the T-42 on weekend outings where I didn't need a tent, but a sleeping bag, but they were in Spring where I need to be prepared for any kind of weather. Case in point, in 2004, I went there with +15 C... and came back the day after at +2 C. I also had a book or two and my camera in the panniers.

    In a nutshell, if you are a minimalist and mostly eat in restaurants (or people's places) and sleep in hotels, you will have plenty of room with the T-42. If you are further away from the beaten track, camp, prepare your own cooked food, prefer to bring a few changes of clothes rather than wash daily, then you will prefer the GT-54. In all this I have assumed that your tent and sleeping bag would be attached on top of your rack, and that you might have a handlebar bag for a few minor items (camera, maps...).

    As for a practical comparison between both bags, I'll say it's the depth (20 vs 15 cm) that makes the most difference. The T-42s tend to remain flat whereas it's easier to overstuff the GT-54s. For example, I think I can only pack a mummy (narrow sleeping bag) in the T-42, but I can pack almost any type of sleeping bag in the GT-54. I also like the outside pocket of the GT-54 for toiletries, and the large vertical pouch is great for tent poles... or 3-4 extra bottles of water.

    As for heel clearance, it is not a problem especially with the new adjustable hooks. Just push the panniers further back.

    Assuming you don't have front panniers, you might be OK, depending on your touring style. Unless I'm mistaken, weather ranges from very hot to too hot, so you won't have bulky clothing to carry. Other stuff:
    - if you bring cooking gear (stove, pots...), you will probably prefer the GT-54;
    - if you go to remote places and need to bring food for a few days at a time, then you'll prefer the GT-54;
    - if you travel through civilisation all the time, mostly eat locally and/or with cold food, then I think the T-42 could be enough;
    - Tools : most of the tools are heavy, but don't take too much space.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  11. #11
    lev
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    thanks michel
    i was thinking maybe get t-42 and t22 for front (although i have suspension forks so dont know how good that would be) or just get gt-54 for rear..but i've read on some posts that having just rear panniers can make the control of the bike more difficult when riding and that its better to have front panniers to balance the weight..which do you think would be better? t42-t22 combo or gt-54 and a handle bar bag? (i rather much prefer not putting a rack at the front so i can save money as i have disc brakes and the racks are 105$)

    and it seems like i got two threads going about same topic..sorry everyone..i thought maybe michel wouldnt see my response so i started another thread about chainstay length...not intentional..
    Last edited by lev; 07-11-05 at 10:40 PM.

  12. #12
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I mentionned the GT-54 being too big in another thread. I had a set with a non-removable tube pocket, and changed it for a T-42 set. It's not so much that the GT-54 are too big but the T-42 being large enough. Basically, by using the T-42, you change the tube pocket for a normal size pocket and trade all the outside pockets for a large mesh pocket. You can see what I carried in this post:

    Ottawa to Montreal and back

    Loaded bike picture:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/attachment...chmentid=33981

    My bags were really stuffed, but everything went inside the panniers, so even if you have a bigger tent or sleeping pad than I, you can always put them on top of the rack. That frees a lot of space for food and clothing. If your sleeping doesn't fit well, use a compression stuff sack (or just compress it, in its bag, at the bottom the pannier).

    I find the GT-54 overbuilt for a few reasons. They have many pockets but no mesh pockets. These are useful for items you need quickly or to dry clothes/towel/dish cloth during the day. I'm not sure about their new waterproof lining either. It doesn't protect the outside pockets, especially the top ones, where the maps are likely to be. And if it starts raining and your stuff is not inside the liner, you need to repack everything. With separate covers on the T-42, you can keep them in the mesh pockets and cover the entire bag quickly when rain begins.

    There's one little design flaw with the GT-54: the butterfly pockets (held with velcro) can't hold much weight when the butterfly wings are open. I used one of these pockets for the tools, which are small but heavy. Once I had a flat and needed the tools so I had to detach the pocket from the main bag (because it's too heavy to stay on with only the velcro holding it)... and forgot it, with all my tools. I don't blame Arkel for my own idiocy, but the fact that the pocket couldn't stay on the bag meant I had to take it off the bag in the first place. Being detachable was great though, as I could use the pocket with my tools and stuff it in my handlebar bag for dayride/commute.

    What you lose with the T-42 are the beefier zippers and the shower pocket. The zippers are good on the T-42, but just better on the GT serie. The shower pocket on the T-42 doesn't compare with the one on the GT-54. I used the latter as my standard shaving/shower kit. BTW, even though the shower pocket on the GT-54 is held with velcro, it can't fall like the butterfly pockets because of the way it is designed. And if I wasn't clear about the butterfly pockets, they can't fall when the wings are closed, only with when the wings are open.

    I think if you need something bigger than the T-42 + top of rack, you should think about front panniers instead of adding on the rear. I'll be touring for 3 weeks this fall and I'll add the front panniers (GT-30). The front are mostly there because I'll need colder weather clothing in the rear and 2-3 days worth of food on some occasions. Handling is more twitchy with only rear panniers but nothing unmanagable.

    In conclusion, you can't go wrong with either. If the GT-54 are too big, you can always take the tube and/or butterfly pockets off (might as well use the T-42 ). What I find great about Arkel isn't so much the the "amount" of features but attention to details. Among all panniers and backpack I've seen, Arkel are the easiest to pack. The stiff frame makes the bag so much easier to pack. The smiley zippers might sound silly but they do work. And a pocket means extra room, not "extra-room-only-if-the-adjacent-compartment-isn't-full".
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lev
    thanks michel
    i was thinking maybe get t-42 and t22 for front (although i have suspension forks so dont know how good that would be) or just get gt-54 for rear..but i've read on some posts that having just rear panniers can make the control of the bike more difficult when riding and that its better to have front panniers to balance the weight..which do you think would be better? t42-t22 combo or gt-54 and a handle bar bag?
    I am not sure about front rack vs suspension fork. In some cases it work, in others it doesn't. Another point to consider is where you will be riding.

    You definitely get better handling by splitting weight fore/aft than by putting everything in the back. With rear-only loading, the bicycle tends to be squirrelly, especially with older frames that had thinner tubes. If I compare my older bike (swayed somewhat when fully loaded in the back only - 30-40 kg) to my newer one (sways only a little bit), I assume there won't be any sway or any vibrations from the load on a mountain bike. Still, if you climb very steep hills, steering will be harder to control, and don't even think of riding no-hands!

    Adding panniers on a low-rider rack in the front tends to stabilise the steering a lot. With 50-50% weight, the bike handles almost as if unloaded. One of the features of a low-rider rack is that it puts panniers in line with the steering axis. That isn't so with top-of-the-wheel ("high rider") racks nor with handlebar bags. So a handlebar bag affects steering (when the wheel starts to turn, you need someforce to steer it back), but since it has a limited capacity, it also has a limited effect. My only experience with a traditional "high rider" rack was a disaster, but I have to say it was with a flimsy 1st generation (1980) front rack.

    So is the lowrider rack is the way to go? Yes if you ride on good roads (asphalt, tar, stone dust, well packed earth). But you'll find that your panniers are too low if you ride in mud, nasty trails, offroad places, etc. And if you ride in soft terrain, you'll prefer not to have too much stuff over the front wheel because it will dig in the sand like crazy. And if you ride in mud or snow, your lowrider panniers will be caked very quickly.

    There are other solutions that could work to a point and save you money. Tools and water are by far the heaviest item you have to carry around. Water is typically carried in 3-4 frame-mounted water bottles. As for tools, why not carry them on a frame-mounted pouch?
    Most of my tools are in a strong pencil pouch that I carry in my front panniers, but it could be attached to the frame, either in the front end of the triangle or in front of the head tube. I think some kind of decent attachment could be made with large zip ties, compression straps and the like. And if you want to remove the tools easily, just put them in a bag in that pouch.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    I also commented on the GT 54 having too many pockets to my own taste. I probably got pocket-phobia when I was touring with an old set of cannondale panniers (open any books about cycle touring from the 80s and you'll find a picture of those terrible panniers). The GT 54 have a very similar structure to these cannondale panniers (inside and outside) and reminds me too much of all the trouble I had with them... But then, no one seems to have had the same type of problems with the Arkel (loosing a detachable pocket, inability to place bulky objects properly inside...)

    I always liked the idea to have one large simple bag with an efficent compression system for when it is not full... This is why I like the XM 45...

  15. #15
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    I am not sure about front rack vs suspension fork. In some cases it work, in others it doesn't. Another point to consider is where you will be riding.

    You definitely get better handling by splitting weight fore/aft than by putting everything in the back. With rear-only loading, the bicycle tends to be squirrelly, especially with older frames that had thinner tubes. If I compare my older bike (swayed somewhat when fully loaded in the back only - 30-40 kg) to my newer one (sways only a little bit), I assume there won't be any sway or any vibrations from the load on a mountain bike. Still, if you climb very steep hills, steering will be harder to control, and don't even think of riding no-hands!
    ...

    I'm looking at a set of touring panniers. I travel light so I'm thinking I'd get away with a pair of rear panniers and a handlebar bag - maybe a seat-back bag too. (a la Baggins) It's a toss-up between the Arkel T-42's and the GT-54s.

    GREAT discussion here already but I wanted to asked a couple of questions and throw in an idea.

    I'm a big guy: 6'0" 240lbs. I won't be touring until the spring when I'll be down to less than 190lbs.

    If I'm carrying 40lbs of gear on the rear rack but I'm 50lbs lighter than I am now, basically the bike should handle the same, yes? It handles wonderfully now. I understand the advantage of front/rear racks or front only even but perhaps I'd get away with rear only.

    I'm a bit lost on the "tube" on the GT-54's. I have a Pro-Lite ThermaRest that packs to a TINY little sausage sized roll. The tube on the GT's looks like it would fit a bazooka. Is it designed for huge rolled up mattresses? I don't have a sleeping bag yet but I'm looking at ones that squish down really tight (no winter camping)

    Wondering if the large tube would fit both a compressed sleeping bag and the ThermaRest or if it's not big enough for that.

    I really wish there were a place I could look at the T42's and GT54's in the Ottawa area... I'd like to "test fit" all my gear and see what worked best.

    Is that how you guys made your decision? Layed out all your gear and figured what space you'd need or did you start with a pair of panniers that looked about right and "made do with available volume?"

    Awesome discussion - thanks guys.

    Chris

  16. #16
    Macaws Rock! michaelnel's Avatar
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    I owned GT54s and currently own Ortlieb Back Roller and Front Roller Plus panniers. If you are going to be in Southeast Asia, doesn't it rain there a LOT and really hard? If so, you might want to consider that the Ortliebs are *far* more waterproof than the Arkels. You lose all the nice Arkel organizational / compartmentalization stuff, but your stuff would stay DRY, and I think that's pretty important.

    Of course you can use dry bags in the Arkels, but everything starts to get pretty complex when you have all those compartments you have to waterproof with dry bags.
    ---

    San Francisco, California

  17. #17
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I doubt you could fit both matress and sleeping bag in the tube. Perhaps only the smallest summer down bag. I did fit an older 1 inch ultralight Thermarest (ancestor of prolite, packs similarly) with the tent poles. I didn't fold it before rolling it and it wouldn't fit folded. The prolite may be even smaller when folded and rolled. I wouldn't want to put anything bigger than a 1½ inch Thermarest. But, if you do fit both pad and bag in the tube, what will you put in the main compartment?

    If I put the tent on top of the rack, I could easily use the GT-34 as rear panniers.

    How I decided... I had found an older black GT-54 set with non-removable tube pocket for good price. Didn't take long to realize they were too big/clunky/not practical for me (see above post). Sold them and bought red T-42 and I'm very happy. If I had paid full price for a newer GT-54 with removable pocket, I think I would've kept it and just remove most pockets for touring.

    I'm surprised there are no Arkel dealers in Gatineau.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  18. #18
    Senior Member af895's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erick L
    I doubt you could fit both matress and sleeping bag in the tube. Perhaps only the smallest summer down bag. I did fit an older 1 inch ultralight Thermarest (ancestor of prolite, packs similarly) with the tent poles. I didn't fold it before rolling it and it wouldn't fit folded. The prolite may be even smaller when folded and rolled. I wouldn't want to put anything bigger than a 1½ inch Thermarest. But, if you do fit both pad and bag in the tube, what will you put in the main compartment?

    If I put the tent on top of the rack, I could easily use the GT-34 as rear panniers.

    How I decided... I had found an older black GT-54 set with non-removable tube pocket for good price. Didn't take long to realize they were too big/clunky/not practical for me (see above post). Sold them and bought red T-42 and I'm very happy. If I had paid full price for a newer GT-54 with removable pocket, I think I would've kept it and just remove most pockets for touring.

    I'm surprised there are no Arkel dealers in Gatineau.

    Thanks very much for the detailed info Erick.

    I'm waffling between the T42's and GT54's now. I only want one set of panniers and I'll be putting the tent on top of the rear rack so I should have space for other gear in the bags themselves. (I didn't know people packed their tents IN the panniers - I figured everyone put them on top of the rack)

    The idea that I can use the T42's on front racks if I decide to is a big bonus as I'd like to experiment with shifting the weight. If they're big enough, I'd probably go with the '42's for that reason.

    FWIW, the ThermaRest Pro-lite 3 short rolls up to something 5 inches wide and about 12 inches long... a bit smaller than a common loaf of bread. I'm definately looking at summer weight sleeping bags.

    If I could actually see an Arkel bag up close I'd know which would fit my needs.

    Alas, the Ottawa region bike shops may be "dealers" for a lot of stuff but they don't actually keep much in stock. I had to order a Brooks saddle from Toronto and the only shop I saw with an actual Arkel in stock only kept a smaller model. (grumble grumble - personal pet peev: dealers that don't have anything on hand "but we can order it for you! With a deposit..." Get bent...)

    Oh well! I've been coresponding with another biker in Ottawa. Maybe he's got a pair of of Arkels I can check out.

    Thanks again,
    Chris

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