People have asking us for bicycle panniers for as long as we have been making bags. I have avoided them for just as long. After relying on 4 incredible Overland panniers for nine months in 1997, I have felt like making panniers was a lot like making a backpack that someone might use to hike the PCT – a lot goes into a good pack, and people put an enormous amount of trust into this kind of gear.
So I have been prototyping. Michelle Wurlitzer asked for a pair of bags for her grand bike adventure, and we made her a pair. They were really hard to make, and I wasn’t thrilled with how they turned out, nor excited about her taking them on a huge tour. She has a credit for a new and improved pair when she comes back to town – she is our first team rider.
Having an event to prepare for - Wheeled Migration’s Bicycle Harvest – is motivating me to get going to produce enough bike-related bags to do a show. Ryan Laine called last night to see if we needed help sewing. I told him “I don’t know what I am making, or how to make it yet, so probably not”.
After 4 prototypes, I have something that we can produce and improve upon.
Here is the main panel of our new hemp pannier – it is basically a scaled up version of the toolbelts that we have been making.
A friend at the county fire department was glad to hear that we could recycle their old hose. They had been dumpstering it, and were glad to see it re-used. This is a piece of ‘LDH’ – large diameter hose. It connects a fire truck to a hydrant, or stiffens a pannier so the bag won’t sway and hit your spokes.
Finding off-the-shelf hooks to attach the bag to the rack has been hard, and it isn’t really our style to buy hardware off the shelf. I got some scrap metal plate cut, and am bending them by hand. I was using brass, which looked beautiful, but it doesn’t seem worthy.
We love rivets, all kinds of them.
Collage. Zipper scraps from one of Erika’s projects, Carhartt pantlegs, army shirt camo, and a little fire hose. I have a lot of these pieces from fiddling around over the last few months, so this project should use some of them up.
These bags are meant to get a little shaggy.
Zipper to nowhere. The brass grommets are leftovers from the hemp’s previous life as a mondo German Army Duffel Bag.
The lid is a challenge- it feels like the culmination of everything we have learned in the last few years. Want something big enough to cover a bulging load, but not sloppy when the bag is closed. It still needs some work. Have been studying the construction on my old Overland bags – they really are works of art. I feel humbled by all of the amazing Butte County bagmakers that have come before.
The hemp is fairly water resistant.
Took many hours. Planning to make as many as I can by next weekend – they are a lot of work!