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Question About DIY Panniers

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Question About DIY Panniers

Old 11-21-07, 12:17 PM
  #1  
jonathan180iq
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Question About DIY Panniers

I'm looking for some pointers on making my own panniers. I prefer canvas and leather "vintage" style panniers but I don't want to spend $140 on the stuff from Rivendell. Since this forum is all about utility, I thought someone here might be able to point me in the right direction.

Thanks,
Jonathan
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Old 11-21-07, 12:56 PM
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HandsomeRyan
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Your post does not offer much information about exactly what you hope to build, but I can offer a few very general sugestions and once you get a clear idea of exactly what you hope to build maybe I can be of more assistance.

Do you know how to sew and/or have access to a sewing machine? If yes to both, great, go to step 2. If not, you might be better off just buying panniers. (or get someone knowledgable to teach you to sew then see step 2)

Next- How will the pannier(s) attach to the bike? This is the single most critical design element. Size, shape, # of pockets, closure system, etc. are all worthless if your cargo does not mount securely to the bike. Lots of options out there. A quick Google search will offer a wealth of info.

Draw out a design. Once you have a clear idea of how you want the finished product to look, use scrap wood/cardboard/plastic/whatever to make scale models of some of the components to test for fit and clearance issues.

Once you have designed everything it is a good idea to make patterns for the parts. This is a bike forum so I'm not going to teach you patternmaking but basically it's the same as the scale models you used to verify size/shape/location in the previous step but you need one for every single piece of fabric to be cut.

If the material you plan to use for the finished product is expensive, you might even buy a few yards of $1/yd fabric from the bargain bin @ Wal-Mart to make a prototype to be absolutly certain that your design will live up to how you envisioned it.

Once you are comfortable with the design, build it, mount it, and enjoy it.
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Old 11-21-07, 06:45 PM
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If you know how to sew it is actually pretty easy. As for the attachment, I would suggest making the back of the bags semi-ridged, possibly a hard peace of plastic sandwiched between 2 layers of fabric. The 2 hooks that you will need can either be purchased of easily made. Bolt them on to the bag, through the 2 layers of fabric and the plastic. A lower hook can easily be made as well.
Most cities have an industrial fabric store with all you will need.
The only thing I will say that is negative is that if you are using quality material, this will not be cheap!
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Old 11-22-07, 11:08 AM
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Have you checked out Ken Kifer's page about building your own panniers? Good information there. Also check out Paul Woloshansky's bags (near the bottom of the page), which inspired my US Army ALICE bag panniers (Total cost: $25, and more capacity than I could possibly use).

Converted panniers are awesome, and much easier to make than you think. I used pegboard for stiffeners and bent 2" angle brackets as hangers. A cheap bungie at the bottom, and you're all set.
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Old 11-22-07, 10:24 PM
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The canvas bags on the Woloshanky page is exactly what I am looking for. I found two possible options at the local army navy surplus store but they were super green and I didn't really dig them. We'll see. I'll let you guys know what I come up with.
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Old 11-23-07, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by DevLaVaca View Post
Converted panniers are awesome, and much easier to make than you think. I used pegboard for stiffeners and bent 2" angle brackets as hangers. A cheap bungie at the bottom, and you're all set.
By coincidence, I have just rigged up a similar hook system. 2 inch angle bracket intended to be picture framing brackets.. 5/8 inch by 2 1/4. I used a vise (or you could use a couple of vise grips...) to shape them correctly and I think it would be a severe bump that would knock them off the rack. Still, like you, I added a bungie from the brackets through a twist tie at the bottom of the bag ...and ultimately to something that stick off the bottom of the rack. This holds the bag nicely to the rack just in case I should hit the super bump.

The only difference is that I did not use a stiffener. It seems to work OK w/o it. Do I really need this? If yes, I wonder if coroplast would work better than pegboard (lighter...)

The only thing I would add is that, for the most part, converted panniers are converted from day packs, which are entirely the wrong shape for panniers. Panniers should be tapered at the bottom to avoid heel strike. Ideally, the will have drawstring at the top which should make it easier to compress gear at the top. Day packs usually have zippers at the top and are structured so that it is harder to fit gear at the top of the bag. To partially get around this, you might have to use a belt or something to compress the gear in the bottom of the bag in a bit.
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Old 11-23-07, 12:10 PM
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The best material to use for stiffening is Correx corrugated plastic (For Sale signs and political campaign signs). Ask you local ex-candidate for some left-overs. The material is very lightweight, waterproof and stiff enough for the heaviest load, very tough and hard to break. Use one section for the back and another for the base and radius the corners to prevent wear in the fabric cover. Correx takes rivets quite well.
If you are using square bags such as the ex-army packs, you can mount the bag at a tilt to give a bit extra heel clearance. The rail and hook systems from Arkel/Ortleib/Rixen&Kaul can be applied at any angle and are quicker and safer than hook and elastic.
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Old 11-23-07, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
The best material to use for stiffening is Correx corrugated plastic (For Sale signs and political campaign signs). Ask you local ex-candidate for some left-overs...
Quite right, but the corrogated plastic is better known as Coroplast.
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Old 11-23-07, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathan180iq View Post
The canvas bags on the Woloshanky page is exactly what I am looking for. I found two possible options at the local army navy surplus store but they were super green and I didn't really dig them. We'll see. I'll let you guys know what I come up with.
It's possible that some of the tool bags at your local Home Depot/Lowe's would fit your needs. They've got a pretty impressive selection.
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