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Improvised or homemade panniers?

Old 08-09-20, 11:52 PM
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mnmkpedals 
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Improvised or homemade panniers?

I've been using Lone Peak panniers for years, but with a new bike, looking for new bags.

There's a ton of small makers out there now but havent yet found a good set of what I am looking for.

Question--- anyone out there ever make their own or adapt others for use? To be specific, I've got a ratted out Lone Peak bag and broke it down. Seems pretty easy that I could take the backing plate/stiffener and reuse it by bolting it, along with the mounting clips and elastic hook into the back of a different bag of comparable size. And to be clear, I am planning to use these for a mixed bikepacking/touring use.

Any experience, caveats? Thoughts appreciated!
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Old 08-10-20, 03:38 AM
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With a decent sewing machine, making a set of panniers isn't all that hard.Years ago I made one out of cardboard to get the shape and size i wanted. then I took the cardboard apart and used it as the templates for the pieces for the panniers. I made those panniers out of 15 ounces to the square foot Naugahyde. I used alloy hooks I had bought at a bicycle shop. they were sold as replacement hooks for other panniers.

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Old 08-10-20, 04:09 AM
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I've never made panniers but I have made stuff sacks out of silnylon. It was pretty easy with a sewing machine, then I turned inside out and used regular silicone caulk on the seems to make water proof. I ordered stuff from ripstop by the roll. I made them maybe 5 years ago and I still use them.
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Old 08-10-20, 05:30 AM
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I have used stuff sacks strapped on instead of panniers, but that was because I was packing really light and thought the panniers were overkill for what I was carrying or because I wasn't using racks that supported using panniers.

I met a guy on the pacific coast who was using really inexpensive backpacks bolted permanently to his rack using salvaged plywood. The plywood he used was kind of overkill, but it worked and he seemed happy with it. He had set an arbitrary cost limit for the whole trip and was doing the whole trip as an exercise in staying below that limit. I forget what that cost limit was, but it was quite low and included tent, sleeping bag, and all of his other gear too. It was mostly all from walmart as I recall and was some of their lowest priced stuff. I camped with him a lot of the way. He seemed to be doing fine and was having a great trip.

All that said, when I wanted regular panniers, I have been pretty happy using inexpensive panniers from Nashbar or Performance that when on sale were sometimes cheaper than I could probably buy materials to make something and weren't much more expensive than the improvised stuff..
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Old 08-10-20, 06:19 AM
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and don't forget, simply buying some used panniers is always a good option too. It seems there are always folks who go through their closets and find common panniers that they bought ten years ago and never really used, and put them up on used items sites.
Guess it depends on how much you want to experiment and deal with learning what sewing etc techniques don't hold up that well, not to mention of course your time and perhaps being hard on your sewing machine (depending on fabric)
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Old 08-10-20, 09:30 AM
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I got a set of Axiom panniers, about 30 liter for the pair at a garage sale for less than $10 USD. I used them for five weeks last summer and may use them in the future. They leaked, but coated nylon always does so they met my expectations. And a year ago at a swap meet picked up an old pair of Cannondale Overland rear panniers for $15 USD, before I even left the swap meet I had several offers to resell them but decided to keep them. I still have a pair of Nashbar ones lying around somewhere that I have not used for over a decade.

If you have some really great ideas on how to make a good set of panniers that are better than anything out there, go for it. But, keep in mind that when you put them on a different bike in a few years with a different chainstay length and maybe a different rack, you might want to move the hooks that hold it on the rack.

Over the years, I have made lots of stuff, rain gear, a tent fly, a down vest, a kayak spay skirt, kayak cockpit cover, etc. But, I could never make a better pannier than I can buy, so I am not going to try.

If you are good at sewing and have a good source for materials, go for it. And good luck.
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Old 08-10-20, 09:41 AM
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Think this was a bowling ball bag. $2 at Goodwill. Zip tied it to the rack. Straps enabled me to keep it from flapping too much. After about a year the rack wore a hole in it. Still usable but I went to the LBS and bought some Axiom panniers. $40 or 50! But they are durable.

Crossing I17 by res1due, on Flickr
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Old 08-10-20, 12:22 PM
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Long ago I sewed My own but were on my commuting bike when it was stolen circa 89..
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Old 08-10-20, 03:57 PM
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I made both sets of panniers in the photo. I used a set of old panniers as a guide, but did some modification, including tapering the bags to work on road bikes' short chainstays. I have a lot of experience sewing parachuting and mountaineering gear. I also have a heavy duty machine. I used .040 sheet aluminum for stiffeners. The gold and yellow bags are haul bags used in rock climbing. They worked OK for carrying camping gear. We wanted something light, but durable. Our daughters used the panniers until they eventually switched over to Orlieb gear. Both pairs were prototypes, and I would make some modifications if I made some more today. I never liked the way my top fit on mine. The tops fits OK but they looked sloppy.






I made my first panniers in the 70s using a pattern from a company called Green Pepper. I used them for a number of years, but I would have made some modifications if I knew more about panniers when I was making them. The company is still in business, and the pattern is still available.
https://www.thegreenpepper.com/produ...e-bag-pattern/



The yellow duffle bag on top of my rear rack was made to haul our camping gear 13 years ago when we rode across the country. I also made the orange bar bag rain covers. We've now switched to Orlieb gear. If you are interested in sewing your own, let me know and I'll be able give some details about thread, fabric, hardware, seam sealers, ravelling prevention. . . . . . . .

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Old 08-10-20, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I made both sets of panniers in the photo. I used a set of old panniers as a guide, but did some modification, including tapering the bags to work on road bikes' short chainstays. I have a lot of experience sewing parachuting and mountaineering gear. I also have a heavy duty machine. I used .040 sheet aluminum for stiffeners. The gold and yellow bags are haul bags used in rock climbing. They worked OK for carrying camping gear. We wanted something light, but durable. Our daughters used the panniers until they eventually switched over to Orlieb gear. Both pairs were prototypes, and I would make some modifications if I made some more today. I never like the way my top fit on mine. The tops fits OK but they looked sloppy.

I made my first panniers in the 70s using a pattern from a company called Green Pepper. I used them for a number of years, but I would have made some modifications if I knew more about panniers when I was making them. The company is still in business, and the pattern is still available.
https://www.thegreenpepper.com/produ...e-bag-pattern/

The yellow duffle bag on top of my rear rack was made to haul our camping gear 13 years ago when we rode across the country. I also made the orange bar bag rain covers. We've now switched to Orlieb gear. If you are interested in sewing your own, let me know and I'll be able give some details about thread, fabric, hardware, seam sealers, ravelling prevention. . . . . . . .

Those are impressive! Nice job!
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Old 08-13-20, 11:00 AM
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And the every popular kitty litter panniers. They do work well, and are waterproof. https://www.adventurecycling.org/blo...-own-panniers/

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Old 08-14-20, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
And the every popular kitty litter panniers. They do work well, and are waterproof. https://www.adventurecycling.org/blo...-own-panniers/
I have not used them as panniers, but I have used those buckets for other stuff around home. I will suggest the following based on that experience:
1. Don't count on an absolutely waterproof seal. I have found that if left out in the weather full time some water gets in. I was surprised just how much water got in to a pair that sat out for a month during our summer of daily thunderstorms despite having no obvious damage to the lids. I think since it gets really hot here in Tallahassee the sudden cooling during a t-storm sucks the water in. Maybe in your usage it will be less of an issue though.
2. The hinge portion of the lids wears out and cracks with use. I didn't find that to take super long with frequent usage. Some high quality duct tape fixes the hinge, but the watertight nature will still be compromised at the edge of the hinge. Just considering it a two piece lid is fine if you don't worry about a fully waterproof lid.

You might consider a "shower cap" style addition to make it fully splash proof. I'd think between that and the relative water-proofness of the lid you'd be golden. You'd only need to use the "shower cap" when it rained hard or maybe when it rained at all after the hinge was cracked.

Just replacing the lids as needed may be all you need to do, but if heading out on a multi-month tour you might want to give a bit of thought to what you will do when the hinges crack or at the very least start out with new lids.
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Old 08-15-20, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mnmkpedals View Post
I've been using Lone Peak panniers for years, but with a new bike, looking for new bags.

There's a ton of small makers out there now but havent yet found a good set of what I am looking for.
I'm a bit late to the party, but what specific features or attributes were you looking for that you couldn't find anywhere?

I'm sure many of the small makers are willing to do custom work if you ask them. Of course it would cost more than DIY, but might be higher quality. They often have access to materials and hardware that might be harder for normal consumers to find, and they have some of the better or more specialized tools: heavy duty sewing machine, serger, seam tape iron, snap and grommet presses, etc. And of course, they have the experience, so may spot a mistake a new person might make.

Originally Posted by phughes View Post
And the every popular kitty litter panniers. They do work well, and are waterproof. https://www.adventurecycling.org/blo...-own-panniers/
I know it's more expensive than just using hardware store hooks, but Lone Peak sells a kit for kitty litter panniers- and they come with a fabric cover. I just like the idea of using their locking hooks so there's no way the panniers could bounce off, though there might be a weight limit when using them.

I've used their smaller pannier for twenty five years now, and only had to replace the hooks when I bought a rack with larger diameter tubing. I didn't like the lower bungee, so replaced it with a Rixen & Kaul lower catch slider and track to prevent sway, since that worked well on my larger panniers.
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Old 08-15-20, 06:03 PM
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I am not allowed to post a picture, but here's what I wrote up before having the picture rejected.

They were not quite done when I took this picture. I will only use them locally until I figure out how they hold up. My sewing machine was out of whack. I figured out how to fix it after these were sewn.

I measured a cheapo Huffy set that I really liked, adjusted that a bit and made a pattern using brown wrapping paper. I will hook it to the bike with those plastic wire things.
I have hauled my instruments in it and nothing fell apart. The fabric was from the local Walmart and the hardware from bits and pieces I had or got from the local feed/outdoor stuff store.
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