Monday, April 20, 2009

New Bags

Call me insecure, but I like having STUFF with me while riding. I wasn’t always such a pack rat. I remember the days of riding racing bikes and nothing more than a spare tube, tire lever, and a C02 inflator. Reflecting upon the past, it was likely the freedom and independence of my solo adventure self-contained RAGBRAI in 1994 that changed my perspective.

For at least the last 15 years, I’ve ridden with panniers to carry my goodies along with on my bike. I generally always have an extra layer of clothing, raingear, capacity to carry something extra should I stop to buy food or need to shed clothing. I like to think of it as being flexible.

For all of these years, I’ve owned a number of pair of Lone Peak panniers have served me reliably through countless miles. With the exception of a couple of tears caused by aggressive cornering and dragging the front low-riders, they have been trouble free. One of the clips that held my rear pannier on broke when I was hit back in October. Between that and the desire for something new for my expected new touring bike, I placed an order for two new sets from Arkel. They have an almost dizzying array of bags to choose from, I elected to purchase one pair of the T-42 and one pair of T-28.

I had contacted Arkel inquiring about their willingness to make the bags in a custom color. For a small up-charge and patience, they were happy to oblige. I had to wait until their production had shifted to making the models that I requested. The wait was not very long at all (given the lead times in the bike industry.) I placed my order the beginning of November and they were shipped January 23rd.

There is not much point in me doing injustice to the technical features that are well described by the manufacturer. If anything sparks your interest, take a trip over to their site, or better yet… Go into Hiawatha Cyclery to touch/feel/purchase your own.

When the bags initially arrived, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The stitching and craftsmanship is spectacular. Perhaps I can follow up with an additional post showing describing more details about the bags. For today, a word on capacity and volume.

I’ve never been one to be able to judge or put into perspective cubic inches or liters. Let’s just say these things are HUGE! The T-28 bags are identical. With the exception of hook adjustment or placement, the bags can be used on either side of the bike. I stopped this morning and took a few photos with my iphone (which explains the poor quality) This bag is filled with:
  • 2 tire levers
  • 2 spare tubes
  • Full size set of Bondhus Allen wrenches in 6, 5, 4, and 3mm.
  • Craftsman mini combination wrenches in 10, 9, and 8mm.
  • A Park chain tool, a small chunk of approximately 10 links of chain
  • Mini pump.
  • Saddle bonnet and plastic trash bag
  • Pack of travel handi-wipes
  • Wool balaclava
  • Extra dry socks
  • Disposable heater pack
  • Wind-blocker fleece gloves
  • Wind blocking vest
  • Rain pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Work clothes
  • Phone (except for photos)
  • Wallet

By comparison, the T-42 is much larger and has a symmetrical design. (There is a left and a right hand version.) The photo below shows one packed with all of my food supplies for work. Please, no criticism of my work food choices :)

  • 3 boxes instant oatmeal
  • 1 box crackers
  • 1 loaf of bread
  • 4 Starkist Lunch TO-GO
  • 1 Jar peanut butter
  • 1 jar Raspberry Jam
  • 1 pound container organic raisins
  • 3 1 pound bags of granola
  • 1 package dried raspberries
  • 1 package dried cherries
  • 1 package organic dried cranberries
  • 1 package organic dried goji berries
  • 1 package organic dried apples
  • 1 package organic dried prunes

A few comparison photos:





Jim Thill said...

You are the 2nd person I know who ordered custom Arkel panniers in this color. Perhaps they should make this a stock color.

Jim Thill said...

PS: Arkel is a great company. I have heard several stories about their above-and-beyond customer service.

Anonymous said...

Your post comes a few days after I bought a pair of Jandd Mountain panniers. I am starting to wonder if I made the wrong choice, especially after reading your review.

Harry H said...

Once again thanks for posting useful info. I'm working on getting my commute bike set up along with my roommates. I bought some Basil bags and they work nicely, but are difficult to mount. I need another set for my bike and like what you've had to say about the Arkel's. I like the color too.

bicycletorch said...

I am curious where you purchased your extra dry socks. They sound like they would be just the ticket after riding to work in the rain.

Steve Fuller said...

I have almost nothing but Arkel bags here in my house. Some I've purchased new, some used. All are great products. If you need/want something smaller, I really like the tail rider as a small rear rack top bag. It holds and amazing amount of stuff for its size.

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