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Thread: MEC Panniers

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    MEC Panniers

    I did a search and found a couple reviews of them, and I could find nothing but good things about them. I was talking to a friend though (a bit of a bike snob, I'll admit, but working at a high end bike shop will do that to you) and he didn't seem too impressed with them. Has anyone had any problems with any Mountain Equipment Co Op panniers, and if so which ones were they, and what was the problem?

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    LMLN Turd Ferguson's Avatar
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    I purchased MEC panniers for a tour this year. I had looked at Ortieb, Arkel and a few others. For $$ you can't go wrong with MEC. My suggestion would be you make or purchase raincovers or do what I did - line the pannier with a plastic bag.

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1168402554697

    I found them very durable ( I beat the crap out of my gear ), at first glance, more durable than Ortlieb and other more expensive brands. I get the impression that the Ortliebs ( or MEC Aquanots) may rip or tear if snagged on branch etc.. My buddy has had his for about 6 years, through Mexico, the US and Canada, never any issues. I would stay away from the Vaude brand they carry..seemed rather flimsy and may be prone to breakage.

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    I've been commuting with MEC Panniers for almost a year now. No problems so far.
    I'll second the idea of putting a plastic bag inside. They are not water proof.

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    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    I have bought a bunch of stuff from MEC over the years and I have never had any complaints with their MEC branded equi[ment, I was in the Montreal store not long ago . I saw the"Aqua Not" panniers and they looked very good though expensive. They also have a PF series...? that looked similar but wasn't waterproofed for about 1/2 as much. I agree with using trash bags for liners

    The Vaude Roadmaster Panniers is not the high quality waterproof panniers Vaude used to make, Stay away. ( I have a 24 year old set of Vaude world tramps that are indestructible).

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    jon bon stovie
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    over the summer i purchased a set of front and rear panniers on ebay that bore the serratus label. although, looking at the MEC website, they appear to be identical to the MEC PF series panniers. (did MEC buy out serratus? i've had trouble learning more about this company.) although they are not technically waterproof, they are very durable.

    mine has a urethane coating on the inside, which makes them "mostly" waterproof. i have sprayed them with a backpacker waterproofing spray to help out, but will probably line them as well.

    not sure whether or not i have the larger or smaller versions, but they are definitly not king-sized. which for me is perfect. helps to avoid packing too much stuff. from camping experiences, i know that i can live comfortably with few luxuries. in fact all the clothes i plan to bring on tour fit into one of the front panniers, which is mot much larger than a large shoe box.

    bottom line- very durable, but i wouldn't use them in monsoon season. but if you line them or get (make?) some covers, you will find yourself with a very good set of panniers for a reasonable price. are they really impressive? no, not really. however, until panniers can aid in pedalling up long steep hills, all brands have a long way to go to be impressive.

  6. #6
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    I love MEC in general, but everytime I look at their pannier attachment system I cringe. I only use Ortlieb panniers because they have such an easy and secure attachment system. If MEC had equally good panniers I'd be using them. Last time I checked they were not even very cheap. For the money buy some Ortliebs from Wayne at the touring shop and don't worry about panniers for another 10 years +. Just MHO.
    safe riding - Vik
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    A pair of 40L paniers goes for about 80 bucks at mec. The ortliebs start at 200 a pair.

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    MEC tried to keep Serratus afloat, but they couldn't do it financially. I recall reading that offshore competitors were producing finished products cheaper than Serratus could buy fabrics...

    I have a pair of Serratus panniers from the mid 80s (purchased at MEC) that have seen lots of tours and commuting use since then. They've served me very well indeed.
    Cheers,

    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by ernok1923
    over the summer i purchased a set of front and rear panniers on ebay that bore the serratus label. although, looking at the MEC website, they appear to be identical to the MEC PF series panniers. (did MEC buy out serratus? i've had trouble learning more about this company.) although they are not technically waterproof, they are very durable.
    Serratus was a subsidiary of MEC, that produced panniers and backpacks in BC. MEC closed down the plant, and now they outsource to factories in Asia, producing the same packs under the MEC label.

    I have front and rear Serratus panniers that I bought in 1995, and they're still in great shape. They're light weight, very durable, and very simple, so there aren't a lot of pieces that can break. I line mine with garbage bags, and I've never had my stuff get wet, even when I cycled through a cyclone in New Zealand.

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    I bought a set of front and rear panniers from them a year ago. These were just the normal ones, not their newer waterproof ones. They are excellent panniers for the money. Durability is great, I use one of them every day for commuting and all of them on tour. The only problem I had was that the hooks were too small for my rack. I ended up getting a hook kit from Arkel. I think MEC now offers oversized hook replacecment kits so this isn't really an issue. I'd go for them! If you live in the US you do have to pay customs fees those, so take that into account.

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    I like the MEC website. Ive purchased some of their little stuff before but have been hesitant to buy something big. I like the world tour rear panniers, even though I think that 56L is pretty large, but I could make due with 56L on a xcounty.

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1168443976503

    Question, has anybody bought a front or rear rack from MEC and put a decent amount of weight on it? The racks look sort of weak and are definatly made out of some sort of alloy.

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    I have a MEC rear rack that I use on my commuter. I certainly don't load this as heavy as one might on tour . The product page for the rack indicates it is made of "solid 6061 aircraft aluminum ." http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1168445961764

    FWIW, I would not hesitate to strap a case of beer to it, along with the normal commuting stuff that I carry
    Last edited by AJRoberts; 01-10-07 at 09:28 AM.
    Cheers,

    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by sccr2337
    Question, has anybody bought a front or rear rack from MEC and put a decent amount of weight on it? The racks look sort of weak and are definatly made out of some sort of alloy.
    I bought one of their front lowrider racks. It does seem a little weak, but I didn't have any problems on a 1 1/2 week Pacific Coast Tour.

  14. #14
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    I have Aquanots both front and back and would have to say they are just OK for the money. The attachment system leaves a lot to be desired especially when compared to Ortlieb. My big gripe is you have to replace the hooks if you are using oversized tubing like Tubus etc... whereas Ortlieb provides spacers. Hence, they aren't that interchangeable if you have bikess with different types of racks or even the same bike w/ a Blackburn lowrider in front or a Tubus in the rear which I had. Having said that, once the panniers are mounted, they are solid and the material is durable. But for the same price, you can get Ortilebs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dbuzi123
    I think MEC now offers oversized hook replacecment kits so this isn't really an issue. I'd go for them!
    When I bought my recumbent last year, the tubes of the racks were too thick for the hooks on my Serratus panniers. I got the oversized hook replacement kit from MEC. $6. So I can continue to use my panniers for many more years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aroundoz
    I have Aquanots both front and back and would have to say they are just OK for the money. The attachment system leaves a lot to be desired especially when compared to Ortlieb. My big gripe is you have to replace the hooks if you are using oversized tubing like Tubus etc... whereas Ortlieb provides spacers. Hence, they aren't that interchangeable if you have bikess with different types of racks or even the same bike w/ a Blackburn lowrider in front or a Tubus in the rear which I had. Having said that, once the panniers are mounted, they are solid and the material is durable. But for the same price, you can get Ortilebs.
    Thanks for the review. I think I'm going to end up just getting the cheaper cordura ones from MEC now. They will be coming with me on my Highway 1/trans canada highway trip from LA to Toronto this summer. I'm hoping I won't get too much rain but I'll be garbage bagging the panniers just in case.

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    "I have a pair of Serratus panniers from the mid 80s (purchased at MEC) that have seen lots of tours and commuting use since then. They've served me very well indeed."

    Same here. One of the front paniers was in constant use as my comute or short trip bag, and I can't tell which one it is. At the time seratus was making them, there were two attachment systems. One used the standard hooks and bungies, the other used two straps and D rings, buckles and velcro. That's the one I bought, and while it can be awkward at times, it is bomber solid, stable, and it will never fall off a rack that like the Blackburn (back then about the only one people used) has ears to hang the d rings over. I think the system is not as nicely engineered as the Otlieb, but certainly more secure. Otlieb's mounting system is only middle of the pack.

    I remember a time before cordura was popular. Unfortunately people will almost always sellect cordura when given a choice. The much lighter Pack coth is actually waterproof as a fabric, while cordura rarely is after much wear. If the MEC bags were made of packcloth, I think they would be pretty waterproof. In cordura thay are more water resistant. However I just bag my stuff, and then they are truly waterproof.

    As others have mentioned the MEC are on the small size. They are big enough to do a trans am if you packed light. They are not freighter packs. I have done 2 week trips, unsuported, and I get by, so it's possible to just keep running them out for longer periods, but you would probably be hard put to carry a lot of other stuff at the same time. Like if you wanted to carry a range of clothing or more than a few days food at a time. In particular I think the front bags are too small if you want to run with a significant weight forward bias.

    My ark, I think your pal is correct about the MEC cordura relative to some other designs. It's not as waterproof as the Otlied or a frikin complicated as the Arkel. There is a level where it just keeps getting more and more complex and expensive, say Beckmann stuff. But for simple bags they do a quality job.

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    "Question, has anybody bought a front or rear rack from MEC and put a decent amount of weight on it? The racks look sort of weak and are definatly made out of some sort of alloy."

    It's no better than a Blackburn, it's just a copy. the welds look good, and the cost of Al being what it is, there isn't any reason why they would go with cheaper alloy. However, somewhere on their site, a while back, there was a profile of a couple that was more or less permanently bike touring, sorta a pro staff. One of their major points was, no alloy racks!!

    Here it is:

    http://www.mec.ca/Main/content_text....=1168459625144

    I don't blame MEC, I don't think the market for better racks that are almost as complicated as frames to build, more parts, bending as well as joining, and that really need a custom fit, is sufficient to justify their carrying them. I wish they sold racks as nice as the surley, as a bottom rung on the ladder, but I don't think the market for 250 worth of racks is there.

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    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    Slightly off topic, but does anyone know a retailer of Tubus racks in Canada? I have heard they are distributed by Ortleib USA, but they would need to be special ordered and the shops around me aren't putting in any orders for ages, plus I would feel bad if I didn't end up buying the racks.

    I'll end up ordering from Wayne at the touring store if I don't find any alternatives, but I'd prefer to buy Canadian just to avoid possible taxes and duties (I still owe fedex 90 bucks worth!)

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    OK, I don't know anyone who stocks them. Urbane has Otlieb in stock, And they might have the odd tubus. They don't stock the range. There aren't any surly racks either. Part of the reason why I am making my own.

    If you do bring them in, make sure they are sent USPS (Post Office). That way you pay only the 5 dollar clearing fee, and the taxes. Which means on small orders you sometimes don't even get charged taxes, which is cheaper on every basis than buying Canadian, except postage.

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    Anybody tour with the 56L rear or front panniers for a longer tour (2+ months)? Those just seem big to me and I was wondering if there is anybody out there that uses all of the room in those huge things?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shiznaz
    Slightly off topic, but does anyone know a retailer of Tubus racks in Canada? I have heard they are distributed by Ortleib USA, but they would need to be special ordered and the shops around me aren't putting in any orders for ages, plus I would feel bad if I didn't end up buying the racks.
    I think MBS Tandems in Mississaugua may carry Tubus. Give them a call, see http://www3.sympatico.ca/vandevelde/index2.htm
    Cheers,

    Andrew

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    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Otlieb's mounting system is only middle of the pack.
    That's like saying Mercedes is only middle of the pack. So what's top of the pack?

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    I could be wrong, and I don't know about Otlieb's mounting system, but to me it looked like he was saying that it attaches near the geometric center of the pack, instead of the edges.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AJRoberts
    I think MBS Tandems in Mississaugua may carry Tubus. Give them a call, see http://www3.sympatico.ca/vandevelde/index2.htm
    Gave them a call; seems promising. $150CAD for the logo and $125 for the duo ($313.50 total with taxes).

    I'm trying to figure out if thats cheaper than from the touring store ($189USD for the set) factoring in tax, duties, shipping and currency conversion.. Even if I get dinged with $20USD in shipping, plus $50CAD in duties and brokerage, I will still come in cheaper (around $295 total with taxes). But then I have to wait for it to arrive, and don't get to support a local business.

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