Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review of Arkel Bicycle Panniers

usbackroads product--Arkel Bicycle Panniers

After we purchased the electric bikes the challenge was to find a front pannier rack and panniers to fit the electric bicycles.  The rear rack on the electric bicycles is 10mm in diameter.  REI had only one set of panniers that fit 10mm racks.  The panniers made me long for the panniers of the mid-1970's.  Unfortunately, they also did not fit the electric bikes.

The first priority was to find a front pannier rack that would fit the electric bicycles.  Well, it looks like Susie's FX has standard attachments, while my bike appears to have never been considered for mounting front panniers.  Long, long searches and we finally found the Axiom front pannier rack!!

It missed fitting Susie's bike by about a quarter inch!!  It fit perfectly on my bike, if installed backwards!!.

So there it is installed on my bike and if you notice carefully the rack is angled TOWARDS the bicycle fork rather than away from it.

At least, it fits and is level.

The issue then was to find a pannier that would fit an installed backwards rack.  If you look closely at the picture and the two raise knobs on the top rail you will notice that the right side is flush with the fork.

That makes it tough to fit a pannier.

At this point our priority shifted to making sure a small white dog could ride in the pannier.

So this was Snowpatch's riding position for a couple of trips.

It worked great until at 15 MPH he decided to bail out of the backpack.

I did not get to witness the double flip and head over heels roll down the bicycle trails, but Susie did.  So did some hikers that thought it was cruel and unusual punishment for a small white dog.

So this was the end of Snowpatch's bicycle trips until we could find a more satisfactory arrangement to insure that Snowpatch's days would not end on a bicycle trip.

The hunt was on for a set of front bicycle panniers that would hold Snowpatch and make any crashes more survivable for a small white dog.

I went to bikeforums.net and asked for advice on the best panniers.  The recommendation came to Lone Peak Packs and Arkel Packs from Canada..

The Arkel Packs had a adjustable cam system for holding the panniers to the racks.  Since I still had my "Big Red" Holdsworth bicycle from bicycle touring in Europe in 1976, and my Cannondale mountain bike I needed a set of panniers that would move easily from one bike to another.  Here is a picture of the cam system.  Notice that the hooks are also adjustable.  So they fit on the "short" front pannier rack from Axiom.

Here is a complete picture of the rack mounting system.

Arkel sells many different sizes of panniers.  My criteria was to find a pannier that could function as a front or rear pannier.

Oh yeah, it also had to carry a small white dog!!

I ended up with the Dolphin 32 pannier since it could be used a both a rear or front pannier.

It has more room than my Kirkland panniers from 1976.  I was guessing at sizes when I ordered through the web site.

I does seem like it has a bit more room than Snowpatch needs for comfortable touring.

After the first "nervous" trip in the panniers he has settled down and seems to actually enjoy watching Bugaboo running ahead.

The bicycle actually handles better with Snowpatch in the right front and with the liquid refreshments in the left front pannier.   I did put a small sheet of plywood in the bottom of the pannier so he could ride in a level position.

We did take Snowpatch and Bugaboo on a backcountry bicycle tour in the San Pedro River Riparian National Conservation Area.  Bugaboo and Snowpatch enjoyed romping in the San Pedro River.  They were particularly happy about finding a gut pile complete with small intestines that seemed just yummy to them!!  Bugaboo also found a dead skunk that he tried to roll over so he could be "more attractive" the ladies.

Pictures of that trip coming next.  However, if you want to see pictures of the Arkel panniers as they were meant to be used....here it is.  You can see that the two water bottles and Susie's screaming yellow zonkers bicycle jacket fit perfectly.  Here the jacket is in the outside pocket not in the main pannier.

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