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Pannier design question

Old 06-05-06, 12:24 PM
  #1  
funbun
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If you could have a perfect set of panniers, what would it they be like? In other words, is there anything you’d like to see in bicycle panniers that isn’t currently offered or could be better designed?

FYI, in addition to riding, I’ve taken up the hobby of sewing outdoor gear. I want to make some panniers for my next project, and sell the patterns or kits or panniers themselves if there is enough demand.

Roadies, bent riders, off roadies I’d like to hear your opinions.

As for me, I'd like to see a true ultralight pannier similar to the ultralight backpacks found in the hiking world. I know that you can't use Silnylon for panniers cause they would never survive a fall on pavement or asphalt But I like the whole Ultralight Philosophy, and I would like to use that in touring.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts on what you would like to see in pannier design.

You can see my latest project on my blog. It’s an Speer style camping hammock:
https://biketour.blogspot.com/

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Old 06-05-06, 01:37 PM
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I am happy with my relatively heavy ortlieb panniers although I am into lightweight backpacking gear and I do carry as little as possible in my panniers. Their durability and having dry gear without having to garbage bag things is well worth the extra weight. I also think there are some places light weight makes sense and others where it doesn't. Touring bike frames and panniers fall into the latter category.
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Old 06-05-06, 01:51 PM
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I'm a big fan of dual purpose on travel. Panniers are no different, I like ones that convert to a backpack - Arkel's bug / GT-18bp's are good examples. I also think there's a company that lets you connect two panniers together and backpack that. Would make it easy carry-on luggage for an airplane.

For me, the big empty space pannier is good for groceries and bulky things like sweaters, but I think I like two divided main pockets and 2-3 small outside packets to segregate gear / wet clothes / shoes. I'm a fan of the Arkel designs obviously - too bad they don't make things in orange
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Old 06-05-06, 02:08 PM
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Panniers I'd like to see:

i. clip securely on rack -none of the elastic kind of fasten on stuff. I want the pannier to stay put.
ii. and I want to be able to remove the pannier very easily and effortlessly
iii. slight angle on pannier design bottom, helping to alleviate heel clip.
vi. separate compartments with things like clips that can hold keys securely
v. able to clip the panniers together rather than have to carry them separately.
vi. able to double up as a back pack
vii. hold form -i.e. they don't sag at the outer sides
viii. double up as a convertable hang glider

Well, maybe I was joking with viii. Other obvious things would be durability, size, water proofness, etc
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Old 06-05-06, 02:30 PM
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A separate pocket or two for small, easy to find (or easy to lose) things.
A mesh pocket for wet things.
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Old 06-05-06, 02:33 PM
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I agree with Nigeyy.

i. & ii. would be nice using the same sort of locking straps as toe clips used to use.
iii. is always a problem with those of us with, uh, proper sized feet.
iv. You can never have too many separate pockets unless they aren't waterproof.
v. My old Nashbar bags are like this and it is handy though the mechanism - snaps - sucks since they're hard to engage and disengage too easily.
vi. I don't need a backpack. I NEVER need a backpack. Even LOOKING like a backpack would piss me off.
vii. The major problem I've had with panniers is that they sag on the ends and start dragging in the spokes.
viii. Size is a real peoblem. Everyone wants to carry everything but the fact is that experienced long term tourists usually take less than weekenders. This implies that moderate size is better than large unless you're carrying food and water into desolate regions.
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Old 06-05-06, 02:36 PM
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I should have also added a clippable strap that can be attached so you can haul them around on your shoulder if need be (thinking about carryiing panniers in an airport or simply wanting to carry them with you if you have to leave your bike).
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Old 06-05-06, 03:56 PM
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Waterproof like my ortlieb s, but with pockets, mest, and accesabilty like my old c-dales.
After the last week I've had I wouldn't give up the water proofn ess for anyuthing, but even an outside pocket that wasn't w/p would me nice.
Right now, I have a backpack strapped to the top of my bedroll to make up for that. Wouldn't mind getting rid of that.
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Old 06-05-06, 08:42 PM
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You could certainly make a nice ultralight panier. It might be difficult since the whole attachment sceme weighs quite a bit these days, and to get a good transfer from that to the bags might require quite a bit engineering, and then the net amount of weight saved might not be that great.

The other thing is that bike tourists have it a whole lot easier than hikers, so you won't necesarily get to the point one does with ultralite camping where the bag is such a quantum lighter that it can be a hanky and doesn't require waist belts, internal frames, etc... I mean on could do that and dispense with everything but one Ray Jardine sized backpack, but it wouldn't be a panier any more.

I think when buying paniers ludicrous complexity one could never achieve oneself is the key. If they look simple enough to do oneself, then one doesn't think they are good value. Ortlieb is the big exception, they couldn't be much easier to make, but the welded fabric is a little out of the ordinary.

I like this sceme is might have issues like dirt, theft, and air drag. But it would also allow one to organize bags by their contents, and use canoe dry bags or armoured backs or stuffs depending on the actual contents.

https://www.backpacking.net/makegear/panniers/index.html
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Old 06-06-06, 05:16 AM
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a) Some like lots of pockets, some don't. I like one main big pocket, one flat or expandable or mesh side pocket and one smallish back pocket (eg. Tioga or Como brand panniers) - great compromise between useful size and handy organization. I would HATE large numbers of tiny pockets all over the place.
b) Avoiding spoke interference - a major problem with many panniers. Floppy panniers, and those with a single lower attatchment (ie. most) seem to be worse.
c) Reinforced corners - that's where they wear through, esp. rear inside corner against the spokes and rear outside against the ground.
d) Secure attatchment - nothing worse than going over a bump and having the bungy thingy lodge in your freewheel or cassette.
e) Strong and abrasion resistant straps - it takes a lot of force to lift panniers on and off the rack, esp. with elastic attachments.

My cheapish Como panniers have served me reasonably well commuting, but have failed on (b) to (e) above with heavy loads, especially non-bulky heavy loads for some reason.

I'm thinking of getting a pair of Ron-D-Swan panniers next (https://www.rondswan.com/). Otherwise maybe Crosso panniers. Have a look at both of these for some more ideas.
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Old 06-06-06, 06:10 AM
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My Carradice panniers are failry close to perfect and are a good model for any homebuild. Despite the "retro" canvas material they are lighter than most nylon/corduar models.
Features include:
Stiff, tough canvas cotton material.
Rixen and Kaul Klickfix mounts
Correx stiffening
Heel cutout
I do have some wear at the corners (after a decade of use and several crashes) which could be reinforced. I would round off some of the correx corners to reduce stress raisers.
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Old 06-06-06, 07:27 AM
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Hey funbun,
My perfect pannier is a lightweight pannier, that is easy to take off the bike, expandable, mostly weatherrpoof and solid in construction. My perfect pannier are the panniers on Backpacking.net as mentioned earlier... I posted the directions.
About marketing lightweight panniers. One of the big reason I posted the directions online was to feel how much of a demand that there was for my design. In the year plus since I've posted the directions, I've had only one person email me for help and get a few mentions here and there. Realistically, the demand for lightweight panniers (or just my design) is not high. As noticed in this post, most people want more pockets and an easy to remove, rock solid attachment, which means more weight. If you want to make panniers then you will have to decide between designing a pannier for the masses, which won't be light weight and will have to compete with a saturated market, or make your own perfect lightweight pannier, which won't be that marketable.
I'm glad that you have graduated from making bucket panniers to sewing some. Its a much harder process and much more rewarding in the end.
Just my thoughts from someone who did a similar thing,
scott
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Old 06-06-06, 08:02 AM
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What do people consider to be the weight of a "lightweight" pannier?
Compared to backpacks, panniers have to absorb more impact and friction damage. If your pannier melts at the first crash it is not much good.
I think people should look for weightsaving in the stiffening and mounting and closure systems before sacrificing fabric weight. Many panniers use large plastic mouldings or heavy board.
Zippers or flap closure is one point of debate. A zipper is heavier and more highly stressed than a flap top, esp when overloaded.
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Old 06-07-06, 02:24 AM
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I remember when the standard pack cloth was 6oz "Pack Cloth". Then cordura came out and the fabric weights doubled, then ballistic came out. Heavier weight cloths, about twice the weight, don't really seem to have been any more durable, and were decidedly less water resistant, and less rugged in the seams. Cordura just looks so durable, and is more abrassion resistant for hauling over rocks on big walls, though it's inadequate for that use.

People have vastly different uses in mind for their gear, but average road touring does not strike me as terribly punishing. For instance, consider carrying 40 pounds of gear plus consumables. that would be 10 pounds in each panier. vs. 40 pounds in a pack. And backpacking people carry ridiculous gear, which is part of the reason the ultralite stuff is catching on.

While it's no big deal overall, part of the resistance to ultralite in bike touring might be that they don't look like touring bikes. I like touring gear, and how it has involved, and sure, it will continue to change. But look at the popularity of the LHT, the big bike racks and paniers are pretty popular. Follow the Ray Jardine route, and you can just throw a 10 pound pack on the top of your real rack, and hop on that just bought Walmart special. Ray is carrying less gear in total than the weight of some paniers. That's a paradigm shift that could sweep away a lot of stuff. And on a high mountain trek, you are really living out of the 8 pound pack (+consumables). On a bike you can stop at stores, markets, and restaurants. It shouldn't be as hard to cut back on the gear.
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Old 06-07-06, 04:29 AM
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Ultralight is certainly a viable way to travel but panniers are also used for daily commuting and grocery shopping, somewhat outside the brief of Ray Jardines philosophy.
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Old 06-07-06, 06:38 AM
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The make your own idea and light weight designs definately come hand in hand. I made my panniers out of 6oz packcloth as the heavy material and 1.9oz as the light material (partially because they were made out of remnants). I believe they will hold up to just about anything. BUT if I crash, then I can replace the portion of lightweight material real easily myself. You can't market that very well... "if you crash, then replace it yourself". However, if I switch the 1.9 with a 3 oz oxford, I would concider them marketable. So you can market a lighterweight pannier to the market, but you would need to market it towards the right people. I've seen that that kind of person doesn't exist in enough numbers to make much money.
However, I've yet to see many manufacturers try to reduce weight in other areas either. Yet again, the market doesn't seem to care.
So in another parrallel to the backpack scene... the best lightweight panniers right now are home made. If the homemade "market" takes off, then there might be a market for lightweight manufactured products, but it seems not at this moment.
Michael... You bring up a good point of panniers being multipurpose, but the simple solution would to have your lightweight set for touring and a heavy set for grocery getting.
OR I could be completely wrong...
Scott
So Funbun... make you panniers now, when the market become profitable, you will be one step ahead of everyone else. In the mean time, you will have a kick arse pair of panniers you can show off.
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Old 06-07-06, 06:46 AM
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"I think people should look for weightsaving in the stiffening and mounting and closure systems before sacrificing fabric weight. Many panniers use large plastic mouldings or heavy board.
Zippers or flap closure is one point of debate. A zipper is heavier and more highly stressed than a flap top, esp when overloaded."
Another excelent point... You would have to design the pannier from the ground up to be light weight. It can be done.
Off the topic... Since Ray was mentioned... He simply straps dry bags to the rack. Kinda takes away from the fun of designing things.
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Old 06-07-06, 01:49 PM
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"He simply straps dry bags to the rack. Kinda takes away from the fun of designing things."

But it's good news for you, as shown above in the design I posted by that other guy. I thnk a lot of guys want an Ortlieb. Eventually we all ride through a sunami, and even if as with my trip last fall, nothing got wet, one starts to see the alure of a dry bag panier. But how much of ones stuff really needs it? So a modular system that used a dry bag only when, or for what, needed one seems like a better deal than the non-welded paniers that desperately attach internal waterproof liners and rain covers.

Anyway as mentioned I think the key with ultralight is taking note across all the gear, so if one is only carrying 10 pounds just how heavy do the paniers need to be I think it's nuts to have these hard backs on paniers and in addition these bulletproof racks. The two ought to be integrated. It's like an external frame pack with an an extra external frame. I think the fabric model os actually outdated. An integrated hard and smooth rack out of light material, molded poly or carbon fiber, would do a lot of this stuff better.

This isn't the comuting forum, and I thin there is a place for separaqte gear, just as I don't use my backpack at the office.
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Old 06-07-06, 05:30 PM
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Many of the previously listed features desired for panniers were/are incorporated in the NeedleWorks /Robert Beckman Designs (RBD) panniers that I have used on road and offroad tours for twenty years. I have not seen how his designs have evolved since then but I have been extremely happy with their performance on my BG RNR and Fat Chance Mtn Tandem.

The pannier attachment is excellent, incredible etc. No bungee cords! The bags do not move ever. All eight previous panniers I tried had surprised me by falling off unexpectedly at the most dangerous moments possible. The RBD panniers eliminated that worry forever.

They can be used as an open big bag or divided up with built in zippered dividers. Outside mesh pockets are standard. Multiple compression straps hold any load in place. An aluminum stiffener is padded to protect gear. And a pair weighs four (4) pounds.

They were designed in conjunction with the BG racks that I still use as well. Robert Beckman makes his own racks now I understand that include improvements in length and support over the BG racks.

The cost per pair was considered high back in 1986 but seems cheap now at $10/pair per year over these twenty years and counting.They will last my lifetime easily. Consider supporting a bike related cottage industry even if the up front cost is higher than more mass produced products.

Many people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. These panniers have value over the long run if touring is more than just a one-off event for you.
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Old 06-24-06, 01:11 PM
  #20  
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These are by no means designer panniers. But they do what I need. Waterproof, snug, spacious. I use them on my front rack:

https://cybrmarc.tripod.com/twodollar/
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Old 01-31-10, 11:39 PM
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Im reviving an old post here...but I wonder if the poster "FUNBUN" has created the templates he spoke of:

For me, I am examining the possibility right now of designing and building my own pannier, that can hold a 17" laptop AND have a vintage look to it. There really are no bags out there that provide that function. Very few bags at all even offer a vintage look.


Originally Posted by funbun View Post
If you could have a perfect set of panniers, what would it they be like? In other words, is there anything youíd like to see in bicycle panniers that isnít currently offered or could be better designed?

FYI, in addition to riding, Iíve taken up the hobby of sewing outdoor gear. I want to make some panniers for my next project, and sell the patterns or kits or panniers themselves if there is enough demand.

Roadies, bent riders, off roadies Iíd like to hear your opinions.

As for me, I'd like to see a true ultralight pannier similar to the ultralight backpacks found in the hiking world. I know that you can't use Silnylon for panniers cause they would never survive a fall on pavement or asphalt But I like the whole Ultralight Philosophy, and I would like to use that in touring.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts on what you would like to see in pannier design.

You can see my latest project on my blog. Itís an Speer style camping hammock:
https://biketour.blogspot.com/
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Old 02-01-10, 07:16 AM
  #22  
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No, I haven't. In fact I haven't ridden my bicycle in a couple years now. I'm building boats and concentrating on other pursuits.

The problem with an "ultralight" pannier design is fragility. Ultralight backpackers have these super light, almost sailboat-like fabrics that aren't durable. Since a hiker will only travel at two miles per hour or so, fragility is not a concern. Averaging 10, 12 or 15 mph, even one fall and your pack will be torn asunder, spilling all your gear across the streets and highways.

So, it's best to build panniers out of strong canvas, leather, packcloth, heavy nylon or other "bombshell-like" fabric. It's easier to save weight on the amount and type of gear, loose 30 lbs of fat, or buying a lighter frame is a more effective way to lighten your load.
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Old 02-01-10, 08:59 AM
  #23  
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in no particular order

- durability
- easy on/off
- large main compartment
- 1 or 2 smaller compartment/pocket
- mesh pocket
- floating adjustable lid
- secure, accesible, zippered compartment for small valuables (keys, ipod, digital camera, etc.)

i've sewn up a couple of sets of panniers in the past. the advantages to making your own are that you can build in the exact features you want, have fun doing it, & and save money in the process.

however, to be honest, it's nearly impossible to beat the quality of the better, mass produced panniers. how are you going to radio weld fabric at home? and if you were to pay yourself only minmum wage for all the hours involved, you'd have to charge as much or more as the most expensive bags on the market. my advice would be to avoid purchasing a lock-stitch machine (assuming you don't own one already) until you've made a couple of sets yourself. and as far as the patterns or kits go, probably anyone who is able to sew their own gear also has the inclination & the ability look around at what's available and then make their own design, as you yourself are about to do yourself.

but best of luck on your own project. when you get them finished, post a pic for us


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Old 02-01-10, 03:36 PM
  #24  
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How about machine washable? Imagine your a couple of weeks into your tour, you pull off into a motel, dump your gear on the bed, and toss your clothes in a washer at the laundry, would be nice to be able to toss the bags in too..... Who really wants to put clean gear into a putrid fetid dirty pannier.
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Old 02-01-10, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
For me, I am examining the possibility right now of designing and building my own pannier, that can hold a 17" laptop AND have a vintage look to it. There really are no bags out there that provide that function. Very few bags at all even offer a vintage look.
Except for this one.
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