Most soft panniers mount to the bike with straps, so the bags bounce around a lot. Plus the straps are a total pain in the ass to get on/off the bike. I generally take my panniers off at night regardless of whether I’m camping or in a hotel. Last winter in Central America there were a lot of mornings where I found myself fidgeting to get my soft panniers back on the bike, sweating like crazy because it’s HOT and I’m in all my moto gear, and of course surrounded by people on the street who gathered to watch. At those moments I really missed the one-click mounting of hard cases.
Andrew and I want our bags to have an internal hard frame, kind of like a backpacking “frame pack” for your moto. That way the bag/bike connection is between two hard surfaces, which eliminates the bouncing when riding offroad. Another advantage is that we can create an easy on/off mounting system, similar to a hard pannier. Until last week we were picturing something similar to the happy trails or kriega mounting systems, i.e. using 3-4 little metal clips which can be mounted wherever necessary depending on what kind of pannier rack was being used. Here’s what those other systems look like for reference:
We had thrown together this plywood prototype for illustration purposes and it seemed to work OK:
But then last week we met with a local engineer who creates a lot of high tech stuff for aerospace and machinery, plus he’s a plastics expert, and he steered us in a different direction. He pointed out that all those little metal clips are clumsy, expensive, and prone to failure. He suggested going along the lines of something larger and simpler with more contact area. His idea was to make a “wedge,” like a puzzle piece so the bag slides right into place, and gravity does some of the work. We really liked this idea. Today we mocked up a proto in MDF and it works great.
Materials-wise, we ‘re planning to use either high density or low density polyethylene (HDPE or LDPE). I’ve been reading a bunch about this material online. It’s a totally bomber plastic that is fairly common and can withstand a lot of stress before breaking. This is the same stuff Kriega is using on their mounting plates (LDPE). More info on HDPE is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-density_polyethylene.
Excited to see this new mounting system come together.
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