I've put this up on the Chain Gang and ADVrider sites as well, but thought it to be relevant here as well.
On our last trip we used the Metal Mule panniers. They only came in 2 sizes back than. Large and Xtra large. We actually bought 2 TT and 2 MM panniers to try and see which one was better. We preferred the MM pannier because of it’s locking system. In the end we found them both crap because they are just too wide. This is mainly a safety issue for us as you don’t really anticipate the rear width if it’s not in your view. So last minute manoeuvring (very common when riding in poor countries) becomes a hazard. It also doesn’t help the stability of the bike or the ease of packing.
So I packed up all the crap I wanted to take on the next trip and bought some cardboard to build a prototype.
For the packing I actually based it on Eagle Creek pack-cubes to stay organised on the road. I hate having all my crap flung around. In the end I actually ended up with another brand, but it’s really only to set dimensions anyway. So the width became 135mm. The length is based on 2 pack-cubes pack side by side which turned out to be 520mm. The depth is the lengths of these pack cubes which is 355mm.
On the outside I wanted the angle of the areas to impact the ground or a leg to be 45 degrees, but the inside angle needed to be 90 degrees. So I came up with a double bottom design which I turned into a tank for water.
This is the CAD drawing.
I CADed it all up in 2D for the sheet metal folders to get it all cut and folded. A mate of mine welded it all up because there was going to be a bit of fiddling with the taps and filler and breather fittings.
We ended up welding a bit of 5mm square aluminium plate to the boxes and drilled and tapped them out.
This is the tap I used.
The most tricky thing actually became the mounting brackets. The compromised between ease of construction, strength, ease of removal and it not rattling too much became a headache. I tried a few things, but because I modified the luggage rack (of our old XT’s) to be as close to the bike as possible I didn’t have much room to play with. This is the result, but doesn’t show the U-bolt which really secures it to the rack. I don’t really plan on taking it off at a hotel stop anyway.
I used some galvanised RHS and steel strip
Again, getting the alignment equal on both sides was a big challenge, but I came away good overall.
Below shows the setup I had in mind with a securing pin through the rack and the brackets at the top and a rotating bit of plate half way down. Unfortunately the tolerances of the used materials and the slight buckling of the sheet metal after welding it meant that it rattled too much.
So I ended up with a U-bolt as well to tighten it all up better.
This is them with the fittings and tape. I used rope for handles.
Quick access pouch and bottle holder
Filler tube at the rear
All up each pannier holds about 2.5l of liquid. I could put fuel in it, but having water conveniently available is more important to us. Hate having water bottles and other crap strapped on. We have liquid containment fuel
bladders with us for extra range, but will probably not need it.
The stability of this setup is amazing. Because the centre of gravity is really low and close to the axis of the bike you hardly notice the weight until you come to a halt.
Now I’ve got to get the bikes to a weigh bridge and see how much weight I’ll be battling with.