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Old 05-27-08, 06:59 AM   #1
Neil_B
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Accident caused by pannier?

I posted this to the Commuting forum, but you folks might be able to help too.

Yesterday morning I had a little accident on the mile ride to the train station from Neil F.'s house. I was in a hurry and apparently didn't fasten a pannier strap securely, or I struck it so hard with my heel that it came loose, or the load - cable and U locks for a lunch stop in downtown Manhattan - swayed too much. Regardless of why, the left pannier came undone at 18 MPH and was sucked into the rear wheel. I skidded to a stop. I remained upright, leaving a long skinny skid mark on Central Avenue. A preliminary account of the damage included nine spokes knocked out or broken, I don't know how many others loosened or otherwise damaged, the rear wheel seriously out of true, the rear tire shredded, holes in the left pannier, bent derailuer hanger, and the rear brakes knocked out of alignment. Other than the shock and some upper body weakness caused by my having to carry the bike a mile, I was OK.

The total cost to get me on the road again was 183 dollars: - new 32 spoke rear wheel, new tire, new derailuer hanger, and labor. The only part of the two month old hand-built wheel that could be saved was the hub, which they gave me to sell on Ebay. I was lucky Highland Park Cyclery was open, and my thanks to them for doing emergency work to fix the bike. Since I'd traveled 100 miles by bike and train, I would have been stranded otherwise.

My question is, how can I avoid such a problem happening in the future? I don't want to have to replace rear wheels regularly. The bike is a Trek 7.5 fx, with a Blackburne rack and Trek 'grocery sack' panniers. I'm 6'1", 265 pounds and falling, with size 13 feet. I don't use clipless pedals or straps, but platform pedals.
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Old 05-27-08, 07:21 AM   #2
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It's a little tough to say, since you don't know for sure what caused the accident. It's even possible that some other object knocked your bags. My best guess is:

1) Get really good panniers, ones that are not likely to either fly off at a moment's notice or have straps that could get sucked into the rear wheel. E.g. if an Ortlieb falls off, I don't see how it would get sucked into the wheel.

2) Make absolutely sure you have proper heel clearance. Since the 7.5 already has a decent chainstay length, you might either need smaller bags or to set the bags as far back as possible.
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Old 05-27-08, 07:25 AM   #3
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It's a little tough to say, since you don't know for sure what caused the accident. It's even possible that some other object knocked your bags. My best guess is:

1) Get really good panniers, ones that are not likely to either fly off at a moment's notice or have straps that could get sucked into the rear wheel. E.g. if an Ortlieb falls off, I don't see how it would get sucked into the wheel.

2) Make absolutely sure you have proper heel clearance. Since the 7.5 already has a decent chainstay length, you might either need smaller bags or to set the bags as far back as possible.
Central Avenue is decently paved where the accident took place, so I can't imagine anything struck the bags or the bike.
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Old 05-27-08, 07:35 AM   #4
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Wow that sucks, glad you are OK. That is certainly not something you should expect to happen on a regular basis - or ever.

I don't know how that pannier attaches, but if it's just hooks on top & a bungee below, you might need to shorten the bungee so there is plenty of tension in the system vertically. And you do have to make a practice of paying attention to your load to make sure everything is secure and there are no flapping straps before you set off. I ususally load it all up then do a double check right before I roll - pannier straps, tire pressure, look around for stuff i left lying around. If you were in a train or something before, you have to re-check to make sure nothing got knocked out of whack.

Panniers with really good mounting systems include ortlieb, arkel and lone peak.
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Old 05-27-08, 07:41 AM   #5
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Wow that sucks, glad you are OK. That is certainly not something you should expect to happen on a regular basis - or ever.

I don't know how that pannier attaches, but if it's just hooks on top & a bungee below, you might need to shorten the bungee so there is plenty of tension in the system vertically. And you do have to make a practice of paying attention to your load to make sure everything is secure and there are no flapping straps before you set off. I ususally load it all up then do a double check right before I roll - pannier straps, tire pressure, look around for stuff i left lying around. If you were in a train or something before, you have to re-check to make sure nothing got knocked out of whack.

Panniers with really good mounting systems include ortlieb, arkel and lone peak.
Yes, that's just how it attaches - hooks on top and bungee cord/metal ring below. I try to keep the panniers pushed back so my heels don't strike them - I'm knock-kneed, and extremely 'toe out' on the right. In fact, even with extenders on the pedals I still occasionally have my right heel strike the frame when pedaling.
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Old 05-27-08, 07:55 AM   #6
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I don't have great panniers myself -just cheap ones that seem to do the job ("Giant" brand ones I bought many many years ago). I keep intending to get some new ones that are better -primarily because I don't like the attachments -simple open ended hooks that go on the top rack rail, and a bungee cord like elastic with a small hook that fastens to the bottom of the drop out.

I've never been entirely comfortable with the attachments -I always thought the possibility of the pannier jumping off the rack was just too much, particularly since the elastic cord with the small hook to the drop out isn't very strong. I did have some Performance panniers that I used to tour Europe that had a locking mechanism on the top rack rails -but (in retrospect somewhat regrettably) sent them back when the stitching started to come apart on one of the panniers. Of course, now I wish I'd just spent the time to re-stitch them up. But I digress:

The way I make my current panniers more stable is to take the two handles (assuming you have carry handles) and wrapping each one around the top rail until they are tight -this really ties the panniers down to the rack. I then use a very small bungee cord to maintain the tight tension and keep them from unwrapping from around the rail. I reckon it would take the rack coming off before the panniers do. I've used a small bungee cord, but next time I tour, I think I'll use a small compression strap for the extra stay in place security and the fact that a small bungee cord could conceivably break -though this means a little more messing around when I need to remove the panniers.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:14 AM   #7
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I've had more bad experiences with trek grocery panniers than I can count. I used to use them for carrying small loads like spare clothes and shoes to work. They'd fall off going over speed bumps, curbs, potholes, manholes, whatever.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:19 AM   #8
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Neil, I have that same pair of Trek Panniers and they sit in my closet. I got tired of their junk mounting system. We'll throw them in my wife's rack on her trike, where heel strike will never be an issue, though. The way you're set up though for touring, I'd just throw a trunk bag on your rack for small easy access items and pull your trailer for the rest of your gear. I know this isn't practical for this particular ride though. .
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Old 05-27-08, 08:24 AM   #9
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Neil, I have that same pair of Trek Panniers and they sit in my closet. I got tired of their junk mounting system. We'll throw them in my wife's rack on her trike, where heel strike will never be an issue, though. The way you're set up though for touring, I'd just throw a trunk bag on your rack for small easy access items and pull your trailer for the rest of your gear. I know this isn't practical for this particular ride though. .
Nor for days I commute, either. OK, after the Pittsburgh/DC tour it's time for a real rack and panniers.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:42 AM   #10
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Glad to hear you are OK!

I have never had an accident caused by a pannier, but have had close calls. I have Cannondale panniers, which lock in place securely. On a few occasions, I failed to check before setting off and discovered that the one of the panniers was not clipped properly, and that the corner of the pannier was on its way into the spokes or drive train.

I generally make sure the tires are fully inflated and test the brakes before riding. Checking pannier attachments is also a good practice.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:56 AM   #11
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Heel strike on panniers can be an issue; I've faced it before.

I would replace that rear rack with a one that places the panniers further rear. The Tubus Logo does that and helped me prevent heel strike. I think the Jandd expedition rear rack is also longer and may work as well.

Also, Nigeyy suggested a way to ensure panniers with hook-and-loop type attachment systems don't come off. I have a similar approach with my panniers -- I cinch the handles together using old toe-clip straps so if I hit a bump, the panniers will still hang on the rack.

If interested in replacing panniers, Valgrl suggested three pannier brands that have locking mechanisms. Other panniers with locking mechanisms include Axiom, REI brands, MEC, Tiogas, and a host of others.


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The way I make my current panniers more stable is to take the two handles (assuming you have carry handles) and wrapping each one around the top rail until they are tight -this really ties the panniers down to the rack. I then use a very small bungee cord to maintain the tight tension and keep them from unwrapping from around the rail.
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Old 05-27-08, 12:16 PM   #12
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I am glad you survived this incident unharmed.

I had a similar unscheduled emergency stop with a locked up back wheel some years ago. Over the following year the handlebars, stem and a pedal spindle broke whilst commuting. I put this down to the extreme stresses encountered during the emergency stop causing unseen fractures in these components.
Take great care to check your bike over and replace other components showing any cracks or giving creaking noises in use.

I have recently upgraded my panniers to use the Arkel mounting system which you can buy from their website. I found them easy to retrofit and excellent in use, the panniers are now most unlikely to come loose in use.
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Old 05-27-08, 12:32 PM   #13
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Glad to hear you're ok. I really enjoy hearing about you and the Historian's adventures and was reading with a wide open mouth.

New panniers may be in order but in the meantime try some zip ties. A pile of them won't weigh much and you can cut them off when you need to remove the bags.

I use Arkels and their mounting system is wonderful. Costly but highly recommended.
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Old 05-27-08, 01:16 PM   #14
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Here's my solution for Trek bags, which I posted over in Commuting - retrofit with Ortlieb mounts for $50.

Accident caused by pannier
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Old 05-27-08, 01:18 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Panniers with really good mounting systems include ortlieb, arkel and lone peak.
And Deuter - uses the same fastening hardware as Ortlieb. I got 2 pairs of 42l Deuter panniers from Sierra Trading Post a few years ago for 115 USD shipped. They're not waterproof pvc coated, but for less than half the price of classic rollers I can afford a few trash bags. They're a real good value if you can get them on closeout sale.

http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/...st.asp?scat=21

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/1...k-Pack-I-.html
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Old 05-27-08, 01:33 PM   #16
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Glad to hear you're ok. I really enjoy hearing about you and the Historian's adventures and was reading with a wide open mouth.
Actually, the Neil who had a pannier sucked into his wheel is The Historian. Thanks for the compliment!
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Old 05-27-08, 01:52 PM   #17
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I'll play my old record, but one solution would be a saddlebag....no way for stuff from that to get caught in the spokes.
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Old 05-27-08, 02:40 PM   #18
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Actually, the Neil who had a pannier sucked into his wheel is The Historian. Thanks for the compliment!
Ooops! Two Neils? Impossible!
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Old 05-27-08, 02:52 PM   #19
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Glad to know it was only a broken wheel but no broken bones.

I've had a pannier fall of with the same bungee cord/hook set up. Only thing that saved me and my wheel was slow speed, it also got sucked in. I think it is only a matter of time before those sort of panniers fall off, I am surprised they have not been phased out. Put enough weight in it, hit a bump just right, maybe two bumps in a row and you can be out of luck, particulary if with a bouncing heavy weight that is loose inside the bag, like a U-lock.

I now have Novara (REI brand) panniers with a locking mechanism which I don't think will fail. I also had older REI panniers that had no locking mechanism and did not seem very secure. When REI came out with their new locking system I traded my two year old used panniers for full value credit (without a receipt, they looked up the history of my account) and got the new ones. My compliments to REI for their customer service.
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Old 05-27-08, 03:37 PM   #20
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The learning curve is steep, painful and expensive sometimes but invaluable over time.

As part of your equipment experimentation for longer tours I would suggest mounting a high front rack and a better quality pannier up front as well. You can then see how your bike handles with different load configurations front or rear or both F&R.

After lengthy trials I settled on two front panniers and no rear ones with a rear rack top dry bag stuffer for all of my touring. This has worked well for this fellow clydesdale by placing less stress on my rear wheel on pot holed or offroad touring.

I also would have advised that you replace the 32 hole broken wheel with a 36 or 40 hole one for touring durability for folks our size. Surprised that the bike shop did not make that suggestion.
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Old 05-27-08, 03:45 PM   #21
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If your considering a retrofit mount, consider an Arkel one also. Nifty simple "locking" mechanism.
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Old 05-27-08, 04:49 PM   #22
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Quote:
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And Deuter - uses the same fastening hardware as Ortlieb. I got 2 pairs of 42l Deuter panniers from Sierra Trading Post a few years ago for 115 USD shipped. They're not waterproof pvc coated, but for less than half the price of classic rollers I can afford a few trash bags. They're a real good value if you can get them on closeout sale.

http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/...st.asp?scat=21

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/1...k-Pack-I-.html
+1 on the deuter rack pack panniers. Solid mounting system, and often available through sierra trading post, although not in stock at the moment. But they do show up there often.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:56 PM   #23
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The learning curve is steep, painful and expensive sometimes but invaluable over time.

As part of your equipment experimentation for longer tours I would suggest mounting a high front rack and a better quality pannier up front as well. You can then see how your bike handles with different load configurations front or rear or both F&R.

After lengthy trials I settled on two front panniers and no rear ones with a rear rack top dry bag stuffer for all of my touring. This has worked well for this fellow clydesdale by placing less stress on my rear wheel on pot holed or offroad touring.

I also would have advised that you replace the 32 hole broken wheel with a 36 or 40 hole one for touring durability for folks our size. Surprised that the bike shop did not make that suggestion.
If I didn't need to ride home to PA, 100 miles away, perhaps I would have had another rear wheel built up. One does what one can......
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Old 05-27-08, 09:40 PM   #24
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Can you post a picture of your rack so we know what you're talking about?
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Old 05-28-08, 12:02 AM   #25
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This happened to me in the past. It is not the mounting system, but a combination of a floppy pannier and a rack that does not support the rear of the pannier. I bent some 1/4" aluminum rod from the hardware store, in a shape similar to an Axiom Journey rack, and attached it with some stainless wire and that solved the problem when using those bags. Since then I have only bought bags with stiff backing and only racks with rods that extend back enough to prevent the corner of the bag from flopping into the spokes.
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