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Old 12 Oct 2014
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Folded Or Welded Panniers

So the last couple of days I have been out getting quotes to manufacture the panniers and prices have fallen about where I’d expected them to be…….Now I just have to decide which style to use and that is where the dilemma starts……..

Firstly There is 2 ways of building the panniers 1 is lots of pieces welded together OR Less pieces and many more folds…….

Now I know that a fold is less susceptible to stress fractures than a weld and from what I understand, if you sand of the hard skin from an alloy weld this weakens the joint further…..Now I’m sure it’s not if it’s weaker but more susceptible to stress cracks…..When I have seen welds fail it’s not the actual weld that’s failed but the join between the weld and parent material….

SO I am left with the following dilemma…….

CON…..Have the pannier manufactured in a smaller shop in the piece by piece fashion with lots of welds and increases the possibility of one of the welds failing……
CON…. And the panniers look very boxy!!!
PRO…. The guys manufacturing the panniers are very flexible,
PRO….They have PASSION for the product they are making…. And the panniers can be tacked together and checked for alignment and adjusted as required……
PRO…. Cheaper
CON…. Once the panniers are bent up THAT’S it. shape and dimensions are fixed….
CON…. Large manufactures don’t have a large care factor… they just want to get the job done in the quickest and easiest fashion as possible (The small guys were all over the bike looking at all the bits and asking questions….whereas the larger guys stood back, had a quick look inside and said that will be about £XXX to £XXX)
CON... £200 to £300 more expensive
PRO….Having the panniers manufactured in a large engineering firm capable of making the required bends…So less chance of bends fracturing due to vibration stress……
PRO ……should look less boxy having softer corners…..

Now I’m aware that I won’t be stressing the panniers as much as the full off road guys, as I don’t plan on spending as much time time off road guys and when I will be off road, I’ll be going much slower….And I don’t plan on dropping the bike all the time….

So which would you choose????? Does the advantages of bent corners out weight the negatives of welded corners?????
Attached Thumbnails
Folded Or Welded Panniers-1-640x480-.jpg  

Folded Or Welded Panniers-2-640x480-.jpg  

Folded Or Welded Panniers-3-640x480-.jpg  

Folded Or Welded Panniers-4-640x480-.jpg  

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Old 12 Oct 2014
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You have a pretty comprehensive list there with two points missing IMH ( and allegedly engineering qualified) O.

I assume your fabricators are all following the same spec? Any minor difference between sheet gauge will make your theory meaningless. Left to their own devices sheet metal bashers typically want to build Dreadnoughts or racing spec single use.

Do you trust your fabricators? Muppetry will cause problems in either case. Welding is usually more black art than science until you meet the likes of Toyota.

Personally I think you need to buy a set of soft bags, cut the packing list and just go ride, but if this is your thing try and remember the soft stuff skills as well as the design calcs.

All engineering is compromise, if you give me a lever long enough, sure, i can move the world, but no *****r will want to pay for it or carry it about!


Last edited by Threewheelbonnie; 12 Oct 2014 at 19:15.
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Old 12 Oct 2014
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Go soft, not hard...

Definitely the way to go
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Old 13 Oct 2014
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Thanks guys

I know that the panniers look MASSIVE in the pictures....But they are of a reasonable size on the bike....

I have thought of going soft saddle bags but this is the way I'm going.....

As a personal choice would you choose the welded version from a thinking fabricator OR a folded version for a metal basher???
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Old 13 Oct 2014
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I'd pick the supplier based on who seems interested, has a good feel service wise and let the rest ride on that.

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Old 14 Oct 2014
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I've made a few sets of panniers over the years (although nothing as complicated as your wooden prototypes) and for me simplicity wins out every time. If you're not going to spend much time off road they don't need to be built to nuclear reactor standards and apart from the areas where they're mounted the metal isn't under much stress.

Folds, rivets and some reinforcing brackets on the corners to take the brunt of the occasional fall is simple and if they do get bent out of shape you can drill the rivets out to replace or straighten damaged bits. It depends where you're going but while welders are common in many countries, ally welders are not. Not very high tech but something that works beats something that just looks the part when you're weeks from home.
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Old 14 Oct 2014
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Folds are better then welds, but you will end up with quite a number of welds anyway. I wouldn't worry if it's done correctly.
The folding itself is easy, it's more difficult to plan how to do it so you can reduce the number of welds.

Cutout for the exhaust (more complicated then it looks here) and a lot of folds and welds:
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Old 17 Oct 2014
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I prefer folded to welded. You can fix folded with pop-rivets or bolts and glue, but a bit hard to find an allu-welder in the sticks.

Not sure if this is a concern to you, but with all those bits 'fitting in nicely' in all the nooks and crannies of the bike. What happens if you drop it and things distort? How easy will it be to put it back together again?

Also- a simpler straighter pannier might loose you a few cubic centimeters, but generic is easier to replace and transfer to your next bike/project.

But my hat off to you taking the time and working things out. Top notch
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Old 18 Oct 2014
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My 2p for what it's worth:

Solid panniers definitely have advantages over soft panniers but yours are much too big and complicated. Yes keep the weight low and as far forward as possible but there are still some things that you will be carrying which are much better suited to waterproof roll bags strapped across the bike rather than fitting them into awkwardly shaped panniers. In general terms you should collect everything you think you need for your trip and try to determine how much volume you need. If it works out as much as the size of those boxes then I suggest you cut back on what you pack!

The attached picture dates back to the days when I thought that you should take everything you want rather than need. The homemade panniers are side opening and 60 litres each.

If I was to do it again I'd still go for the side opening option but a capacity of 35 litres each would suffice. I would make accurate drawings and get the 2mm aluminium bent up by a local sheet metal outfit then assemble the panniers myself using using modern ms polymer mastic (used in vehicle construction) secured with stainless steel pop rivets. I'd probably get the whole thing powder coated and then fit aluminium angle for extra protection.
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Old 18 Oct 2014
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If I'm not mistaken that's a Deauville in the photo? If your trying to avoid using the built in panniers in favour of something else I would go with soft option. Something easy to remove. The Deauville is already a heavy bike and quite top heavy. Adding those planned panniers won't help in my opinion. If you were to drop your bike, I bet hard boxes would take quite a hit with all that weight, plus luggage.....could end a trip?

I have hard and/or soft bags to use on both my bikes, both of which were cheap and easy to replace in the event of a complete fail. I don't live in fear of breaking my luggage. If it happens so be it, it was cheap. They have both taken hits, drops etc and still work well.

My hard luggage are "rolled" and riveted Aluminium sheet with a frame around top and bottom for strength. Rather like the square tins ham comes in, that sort of shape :confused1: So far they have been dropped / crashed/ reversed into by the wife / hit by rocks / blasted by gravel and sand / had mice living in them and they are still good to go.

I'll post a pic later as its dark now

found a pic >
Folded Or Welded Panniers-tins.jpg
Regards Tim

Learning my craft for the big stuff, it won't be long now and it's not that far anyway

Last edited by g6snl; 18 Oct 2014 at 19:22. Reason: add pic
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Old 19 Oct 2014
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Thanks everybody for your input....

Yes it is a Deauville....it can be a bit top heavy, but no worse that my 250 KLR...that was a super top heavy bike for its size......

finding a fabricator that I feel really gets what I'm trying to achieve is not going well.. Or at least they are wanting to charge excessive amounts of £££.....

I understand simplicity is the key.... So I guess I should have bought another bike and just bolted off the shelf panniers on and road off into the sunset.. But where is the fun in that.....

So its starting to dawn on me that the pannier route that I'm going down is not as easy or practical as I had hoped

So what to do????? I'm no sure I want to give up on this bike just yet and purchase something else.

So I think I'll get it welded up as cheaply as possible but welded well, and see how it handles the weight and maybe a couple of spills and see how it will distort...

Or I could be braver and take a grinder to the sub frame so the panniers can be pulled closer in to the frame, thus avoiding the complicated panniers that I'm building at the moment????

the worst case is, that this is not going to work then I might need to rethink the bike.....
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Old 19 Oct 2014
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I don't know much about the Honda Deauville and looking around on the internet there doesn't seem to be much info on fitting alternative panniers in place of the original integral ones. But I now see why you are trying to get the boxes so close to the bike is so you can pick up the original mounting points.

I would suggest that you'd be better off designing a frame that would pick up the original fixing points and effectively move them outwards from the side of the bike so you can either fit off the peg panniers or something of your own but a much simpler shape. I know this will increase the leverage on the sub-frame and probably mean that you would have to carry less weight. The frames may also be a bit complicated but it much easier to cut and weld a bit of steel tubing than it is to make a complex box in aluminium. Adding a bracing bar across the back of the bike (as you see on Alibaba's bike) does a lot to reduce the twisting force on the rear sub-frame.
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