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Old 2 May 2010
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Leather panniers

I would love to find out what everybody thinks about having leather panniers made > My idea ( good or bad not sure ) would be to have leather bags made up about 30ltr each and use these as panniers , the reason for leather would be its strength and flexibility , I think good strong leather bags would be more ' safe ' than fabric bags from slashing and theft - I am thinking of a ali plate sown into the back of the bags to be able to be bolted onto my rack to prevent the bags being stolen Also a thin metal strip sewn into the straps that could end in a ring of sorts that could be locked with a pad lock - again ?? another reason for thinking about leather is that it will be able to withstand damage quite well if I fall over - been reading about the dangers of hard panniers so leather would be also friendlier on the legs in such an event . Waterproof bags like those found at outdoor shops could be inside the panniers .If anyone has had leather panniers made I would love to hear how they made them and perhaps a picture , thanks all and thanks for a great site and resource
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Old 2 May 2010
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I had leather bags on a R75/5 in 1972. (That was all that was available at the time as I recall.) They had a steel piece to bolt on to the frame. You're right about them being crashworthy, secure and plenty big enough.

But........they were impossible to waterproof. A full days rain and the bag itself would start to get soggy, and leather takes a long time to dry out and needs care or it will start to deform, and crack and harden when it's dried.

They worked ok but I wouldn't go back to them if I had a choice. Cordura or rubberized Dry Bag fabric is a better choice, I think.

I think JCWhitney still carries a selection of leather bags if you still want to go that way. ( I haven't actually checked their site, but that's where i'd start looking.)

Just my opinion, of course.................shu
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Old 2 May 2010
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They are available for Enfields.
Try Royal Enfield Motorcycles - PricePart Motorcycles - Tel: 01454261941 - Email: henry@pricepartmotorcycles.co.uk ( email him for details) or
Hitchcocks Motorcycles -- Royal Enfield and Amal Parts and Kits
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Old 2 May 2010
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I agree with Shu. I've had a few pairs of leather panniers incuding the Royal Enfield ones mentioned above. They are not really the best choice for travelling in all weathers given the alternatives now widely available,
If you think you are too small to make a difference you have never spent the night with a mosquito.
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Old 2 May 2010
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I like the idea and am looking into the same thing. I have leather tank bags and like their durability and look. If you are concerned about waterproof issues, you can always use a trash bag or dry bag (depending on your budget) for packing.
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Old 2 May 2010
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Thanks for the replies , still on the plot with leather panniers , I guess one could have a rain cover similar to what is used on backpacks , some tank bags and textile bags made for the panniers and for a serious off in a stream just deal with wet things and laugh because you are probably in a very beautiful or at least interesting place out of your comfort zone . I have seen quite good things made for river rafting in terms of waterproof bags , there is a good company here in Cape Town that makes quite good quality waterproof bags but the problem with these bags is that they dont like falls too much , are prone to be cut open and generally come in crap colours and look shiny and plastic . I am thinking leather would be a good protection for these bags and with some care - dubbin etc could be made to last ( thinking of my leather jacket that has seen all sorts of water , mud , heat etc ) , come to think of it my boots also lurk quite a bit in the wet and seem ok . Where are you based cactus central ?
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Old 3 May 2010
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I think Leather panniers are a great idea. Plenty of ready made ones for the Cruiser market here in the US, some quite nice. I would go with throw overs and would not attach to permanently to bike. Be nice not to unpack every night. Some don't close well, using just a flap over, so that part needs work if you go with ready made ones. Custom ones can be anyway you want.

Remember Jupiter's Travels? Hand made Leather panniers custom made in Argentina (or Colombia?) I believe. Ted used them for years.

Most soft bags and tank bags come with rain covers. So Have some made to fit your leather panniers. Or ... use Sno-Seal. A US product for waterproofing leather. I've used it on motocross boots for years. Works well. Apply and bake in low oven. Re-apply about once a month (if in constant wet). In an Enduro we cross about 50 streams/rivers in 90 miles, boots don't leak.
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Old 4 May 2010
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Thanks for input , had a look at the enfield site , some lovely stuff there , been trying to find a pattern at the moment , saw a good one of a fabric pannier ( from truck canvas I think ) on this site but try as I might I cannot locate it again ,,
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