Author Topic: Panniers for recumbent touring.  (Read 12784 times)

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Offline jc2456

Panniers for recumbent touring.
« on: November 16, 2010, 07:34:37 pm »
I am planning a long tour on a swb recumbent (re: can only get panniers for the rear) with a fair amount of gear. I am looking for the largest rear panniers available (I am avoiding the trailer option) and am a bit confused. The specs on the Jandd Expedition panniers mark them as having WAY more volume than any other option (an inconceivable 6800/9950 ci), yet these ridiculously high #s for volume don't seem to correspond well to the bags' actual dimensions. Otherwise, I am also curious about the new Ortlieb recumbent bags and the Arkel RT-60s. Again, according to Jandd's specs, the Expedition panniers ought to be able to swallow nearly THREE TIMES the volume of either the Ortliebs or Arkels, but just looking at the pictures, this doesn't seem possible. In fact, given the bag's dimensions, the Ortlieb ought to hold more than the Jandds. I am fairly isolated and so don't have access to a shop that would carry any of these bags, so cannot easily see them in person. Can anyone give me advise?

Offline Wayne00001

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2010, 12:11:43 am »
Carradice Super C panniers are the biggest rated I found.  Order straigtht from Carradice.  The exchange rate more than makes up for the extra shipping from England. 

What kind of recumbent are you taking?  Terracycle makes underseat racks for alot of different brands and models.  Give you the option of four panniers or the ERRC Looong panniers which are cavernous.


Offline Grumpybear

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2010, 07:44:43 pm »
I've used the Arkel 60's on my trike, and long wheel base bike. I've used the smaller Arkel 40's with an under seat rack as well. If you tell me what kind of recumbent you have, I can focus my comments to better suit needs.


Offline jc2456

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2010, 08:48:09 pm »
I ride a Vision R40 with uss. The steering mechanism is below the frame so no chance of a mid-ship pannier option. The Arkel TT-84 is also on my list now. Seems like the largest bag available this side of what the Jandd claims for the Mountain Expedition.
I've always toured on uprights with panniers front and rear. This time around I will be carrying the usual full-camping gear, plus a small computer and a modest amount of filming equipment, so the larger the better.

Offline Susan

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2010, 03:31:15 am »
What a coincidence!  I was just researching same topic - I ordered a recumbent trike yesterday (ICE Adventure) and am relishing the task of setting things up for touring!  Packweight is an important issue for me - on my Sierra Cascade Tour this past summer, I carried no more than 15kg/33lbs., including camping, cooking and a netbook.  My gear is fairly light because I do semi-light backpacking too.

On my upright I use Ortlieb Back Roller Plus Panniers (1680g/3lbs,11oz) in combination with 3 Ortlieb Packsack XS (each 240g/8oz),  2 strapped onto fork and one on the back rack (as seen on my CGOAB journal, "Bama's Sierra Cascade"). 
Total weight:  2400g/5lbs,3oz
Total volume:  Back Roller Plus Set 40 Liter + Packsack 3 x 8 Liter = 64 Liter. 
These panniers and sacks are all totally waterproof and there is no need for additional rain covers.  I really dislike rain covers and rain gear in general.

Ortlieb Recumbent Panniers: (waterproof!)
Total weight:  3100g/6lbs,8oz
Total volume:  54 Liter

Arkel  RT Series Bags:  (water resistant!)
Total weight:  2800g/6lbs,1oz
Total volume:  60 Liter

For now, I have decided to stick with my Back Roller Plus set in combination with an Ortlieb Rack-Pack Size M (760g/1 lb,7oz, 31 Liter) on top. 
Total weight:  2440g/5lbs,4oz.
Total volume:  71 Liter

I hope this solution works for me since it's also the least expensive.
Have fun planning and keep us posted as to what you decide.
Happy trails,  Susan

Offline bogiesan

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2010, 08:19:43 am »
visit bentrideeronline, this topic comes up often over there. so search the forums patiently.
The Vision is a great old bike and you'll enjoy the USS on those long days in the saddle.
I happen to run Axiom waterproof panniers on my LWB commuter, Rans StratusXP. Huge, secure fastening to the rack, totally weatherproof. Got them from TerraCycle. I run ERRC underseats on my Tour Easy for daytouring and club rides. I do not do self-supported gigs so I cannot tell you how well either of these bags would work on a daily routine.

david boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline jc2456

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2010, 10:37:42 am »
Thanks for the advice.
On my upright tours I've used Madden panniers (no longer in business) front and rear, which as best as I can figure add up to approximately 80 liters. I keep all my camping gear up top in the rear and don't calculate that into the equation. I've never maxed out the Maddens but, since I will be carrying more this time, want at least that much capacity in the bags. So Susan, the Ortliebs wouldn't do.
So far, I have the Arkel TT-84s (seemingly perfect for my needs, but so expensive!--84l), Radical Design large side panniers (if they're even compatible with my bike--70l), and the Jandds (reasonably priced but doubtful they live up to their spec claims of 112-163l!) in the running.
And David, yes, I will hop on over to Bentrider and see what I can find.

Offline Grumpybear

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2010, 07:51:33 pm »
With Arkel TT-84's on the back there would be a lot of weight directly over the rear axle, and maybe a little bit behind the axle as well. That would make the front wheel a little light and you could lose some control. I like the idea of the Radical side bags, but I suggest that you do a combination of rear rack bags and Radical side bags. This will spread out your weight, increase your balance, help with organization, and increase the capacity.

"Mr Bent", a fourm contributor, used that method on his Short Wheel Base (SWB) Underseat Steering (USS) recumbent when he did his trans-am. I thought he said the combo worked real well. 

Offline yumtov

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2010, 11:15:22 pm »
I've used both the Arkel TT-84 and Ortlieb 'Bent panniers on my trikes (Greenspeed GTT tandem & ICE XL NT single.)

The TT-84's were purchased for the Greenspeed, and managed to hold everything the 2 of us needed for extended tours (with the excess laid out on the rack). One necessary change was to move the mounting hooks down in order to raise the panniers for more ground clearance given their height & the fact they were being used with a 20" rear wheel. I used them on the ICE for several years and had ground clearance problems on uneven roads; the rear rack on this trike is mounted lower than that on the Greenspeed. Other than this issue, they were typical Arkel - bombproof, lots of pockets, and despite the tours/miles put on them looked almost the same when I sold them as they did the day they were purchased. As for waterproofness, technically they're not, but there were several times we were caught in downpours without the rain covers on & nothing ever got wet. No problems with weight over the rear wheel - remember that a 20" wheel is inherently stronger than a larger one.

I decided to replace them solely because they had too much capacity for me when touring alone - it became one of those "Gee, I've got some empty room so I might as well carry some more equipment" :-} scenarios.

Checked out both the Arkel RT-60's & Ortliebs - I too had no dealer even remotely close and decided to order both - they're so different I saw no other choice (the Arkel vs. Ortlieb design differences have been discussed/debated ad nauseum). In the end I decided on the Ortliebs because MY gear fit the one compartment design the best. I have not considered Ortlieb's in the past because I don't care for a tall, single compartment design that I have to dig down into; their 'bent panniers offer the option of one relatively shallow compartment.

The positive - they're huge, seemingly much larger than their capacity might indicate. I'm able to get all my gear in the 2 panniers - nothing on the rear rack - and I'm what I would probably consider a middle-of-the-road load carrier.

The negatives to me are numerous, 'tho I hasten to add they are not deal-breakers so much as design features that could have easily been dealt with. The panniers were designed, according to Ortlieb, to fit "the 5 most popular recumbents sold in Europe" meaning 'bents with racks that tend to be longer than those commonly found here (such as the modified Tubus Cargo on my ICE). In addition, the bar that mounts the hooks is one piece but divided into 2 sections. If Murphy treats you as s/he does me, the perfect spot for the rear hook will fall in the unusable space between the 2 sections (an Ortlieb rep told me to not even bother trying them as they wouldn't fit my rack). If the rack were 1/2" shorter, or my seat reclined an additional degree, he'd be right - it took a bit of playing to get them set-up. One effect is the panniers noticeably bend outwards when looked at from the rear. This does not appear to affect their attachment, but I'm considering mounting a bar inside to relieve any stress.

Other issues - the top mesh pockets have zippers & no pleat, thus lying almost completely flat & having little room for anything. Putting a set of keys in them is a struggle, and a 2-pack of Fig Newtons gets totally crushed. A velcro closure & pleat would make them much more functional. I've ridden off a few times with one of the straps unbuckled, which then drags on the ground. A simple piece of material 1/3 of the way up holding the strap to the bag would prevent this. Given the size of the interior, an interior (divided) pocket would be helpful. There's a strap that needs to be threaded thru the front of the 2 panniers; Ortlieb shows this strap going across the front of a narrow Zox seat. If your seat is a typical mesh one, this won't work unless you make a new, longer strap. Otherwise you thread them together behind the seat, which on the ICE is a pain given the low seat height & rack attachment. One advantage is that if someone tries to make off with them they'll never get them off. Reflective material placement is largely ineffective with a full load. There are additional small buckle closures at the front & rear of the top flap; when mounted the front one is almost impossible to get to. Finally, the material is wearing where it contacts the rack & there've been a number of times when I've removed the panniers and the rack inserts have remained on the rack (& yes, they've been put in correctly). I don't have as good a feeling about the longevity of these panniers as I did with the Arkels.

My perfect 'bent pannier - the basic Ortlieb design (long single compartment) made by Arkel (ie. their materials, construction, quality, etc). And there's always Arkel as a company - I'll put them up against anybody in terms of product quality, and their customer service is as good as it gets. Why do I feel like I'm talking myself into getting the RT-60's after all???

Offline tmp

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2010, 03:52:04 pm »
I just got an ICE Sprint 2 and I use a Quick Pak trailer.  I have only had time to do one overnight but it worked great.   It has plenty of room and does not put much extra weight on the rear wheel. 

Offline jc2456

Re: Panniers for recumbent touring.
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2010, 10:22:10 am »
Thanks for all the advice, folks. I actually managed to catch a ride to Calhoun Cycle in Minneapolis recently and so got to try out some of the bags in question. The Ortliebs, as attractive as they are, are only compatible with European-style racks. The Radical bags were less attractive, and weren't compatible with the wide Vision mesh seat anyway. I fell in love with the Arkel RT 60s, agonized over whether I should purchase them, but in the end chose not to because the capacity seemed to come up just short of my needs. The TT 84s weren't on display but seemed the likely choice. However, I balked at the price (nearly $600 with rain covers and taxes) and so found a good deal on a pair of Jandd Mountain Expedition panniers with rain covers on ebay and went for it sight unseen. They should arrive in a few days. Let's hope I made a wise choice!