Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ortlieb Pannier Review Update and a Super Hack - That Pesky Strap

I love my Ortlieb panniers. I've got a pair of front roller classics that I use on my rear rack. They're great, as I've noted a couple of times in a review post. I have discovered, however, that I am not alone in having a bit of a peeve with the shoulder/"pull down" strap.

I found out that it wasn't just me when I revisited the cycling forum thread that was the basis for one of my earliest and longest blog posts ever, "Ortlieb's Inferno - A Descent Into Cycling Forum Hell". Here's the deal on the strap:

After using the pannier for a couple of months, I removed the plastic/rubber shoulder pad thing because it got in the way of adjusting the strap length sometimes. In addition, I seemed to always be in danger of losing the strap, so I took to leaving one end of it connected at all times, including when I was rolling and unrolling the top. It wasn't a big deal, but it was just slightly annoying, as was adjusting the strap length depending on how full the pannier was.

After months of operating that way, I managed to lose one of the straps anyway. That wasn't a big deal, really, because I never used them as shoulder straps and I could just join the corners over the top instead:

This totally works and I've read of other people who do it this way, but I am an uptight (watertight?) freak:

What bugs me about the above pictures is that the rolled top leaves a crease/seam for rainwater to fall into (eek and ack) and looping over the top like that creates depressions in the top of the bag (ook) where water could collect. It probably would never make it into the bag, but I am a freak. Clicking over the top works against the excellent design of the bag. When using the strap, the roll top got pulled down in a better way and the top was smooth:

So there I was. Great panniers, niggling annoyance. Since I had zero interest in maintaining or using a shoulder strap anyway, I figured I should come up with something that suited my uses best. Here is what I did:

First, I assembled some aluminum sleeves (crimps), shock cord and pull-adjuster things. This assembly would replace the strap with something I could stretch and/or adjust the length of very quickly and easily.

Second, I looped the shock cord through the roll-top ends and pounded the aluminum sleeves flat. Done! Third, I tried it out. Fourth, I cut my contraption off the pannier because it was hopeless.

I knew the cord might get in the way somewhat while rolling the top, but not as badly as it did. My hack attempt was ill-conceived and totally sucked. That's OK though, because it will inform any further attempts I make. Please note that I would have tidied up those frayed ends if it had worked.

I'm cooking something up in my brainpan right now, so please refrain from advising me. I'm stupid, but I am also determined. Overcoming stupidity without help from smart people is just so much more satisfying, don't you think? Only answer that if you are stupid too... I guess you did just spend a few minutes reading this... Yep, you can answer.

Did I just call my readers stupid for reading my blog? Wow. Smooth, Rantwick. Real Smooth. Um, hey... I Love You.*


* please note that said love is of the variety with which you are most comfortable and may include "like a brother", "in a non-creepy way" or "you know, as a friend" types. Especially if you are a dude.

PS - I revisited this "problem" with better results later on. Click here for that post.


Apertome said...

I have a set of back roller plusses. I don't use the shoulder strap, and I click the short pieces on top. I never considered that that might cause a problem, and for me, it never has. However, we had a huge drought start ... hmm, now that I think of it, probably right around when I got new waterproof panniers. *gasp* Am I responsible??

RANTWICK said...

Apertome - I don't think it will cause a problem either. I'm just finicky. If you did cause the drought by getting waterproof panniers, might I suggest throwing away your wallet?

Apertome said...

I busted out laughing as soon as I read your response. Thanks, I needed it today!

Steve A said...

Cook whatever you want in your brainpan, just don't start any fires! The Rantwick hairstyle is bizarre enough already...

Kokorozashi said...

...And here I thought *I* started the drought by getting a proper rainjacket ;)

Looking forward to your next hack. I imagine that it will be an epic work of staggering genius (or, at least, 'purty good').

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