my recumbent's bags and their replication

a proposal for duplication and improvement of bags for a Lightning Stealth recumbent

summary

I have two bike bags which I seek to replicate, i.e. duplicate with improvements:

  • an upper bag. This is a very large version of the traditional recumbent seatback bag, which attaches to the back of my Stealth's seat by means of a pocket that slides over the top of the seat frame.
  • a pair of panniers. These hang over a rear rack, attaching to the back of the Stealth's seat along the seat's sides and lower rail.

If you're interested in doing the work, and have experience working with outdoor-quality materials, please get in touch.

For both bags, the qualities in which I'm most interested are, in approximately descending order of importance:

  1. durability. Both fabric and zippers must sustain long-term daily use. Note that the current bags have been in near-daily use for nearly a decade.
  2. easy opening/closure. The bags should be relatively easy to open, and (more importantly) stay closed.
  3. water resistance. While I try not to ride in rain, my transportational needs and the weather in NC often thwarts that intention. The bags should keep their contents dry.
  4. weight. The bags should not be unduly heavy.
  5. aerodynamics. The bags should not significantly increase the drag of the recumbent, e.g. by occupying space outside the slipstream of the Stealth's seat.
  6. visibility. The bags should increase the visibility of the recumbent, e.g. via use of reflective tape.

upper bag

current status

The upper bag is (approximately) a canvas cube with

  • a zipper running along 3 edges of the "top face" of the cube
  • a pocket or sleeve on the outer front side that fits over the top of the Stealth's seat frame
  • a pocket on the inner front side (for holding small, flat items, e.g. papers)
  • a Scotchlite ribbon along the outer 3 sides (left, rear, and right) of the cube, at the level of the bottom of the seat pocket

The material is (IIRC) a heavy canvas, and the zippers are similarly heavy-duty (and plastic--Delrin?) Its dimensions are approximately

dimensiondescriptionincm
widthwidth of Stealth seat1743
heightfrom top of seat to deck of rear rack1026
lengthlength of rear rack 1538

giving a volume of ~2550 in3 or 41.8 l. You can see pictures of the upper bag on Picasa. Note that, though the tape measure in the pictures appears to curve, it is in fact straight.

The upper bag is in pretty good shape, except for 3 problems:

  1. The "grip hole." One often moves the recumbent by gripping the top of the seat frame and lifting. When the upper bag is attached, as it usually is, a hole gets torn at this spot. This hole can be easily seen in this photo. I usually cover it with ducttape, but a {more robust, better looking} solution is desired.
  2. Water. A hard or extended rain will cause water to accumulate inside the bag.
  3. Zipper wear. One of the pulls is shot, and the zipper itself is getting worn (e.g. it has lost one tooth).

desired improvements

The areas where I'd like to see the upper bag's design improved are:

  1. top grab: prevent tearing
  2. seat attachment: prevent ripping
  3. bottom stiffener/anti-rain panel: prevent splash, flop over rear light
  4. zipper flap: prevent rain-in
  5. top stiffener/anti-rain panel? Removable for when I need to bungie stuff on top, and needs to allow seat grip.

panniers

current status

The panniers are two bags connected by a "saddle" strip. The saddle rests on the rear rack, and each bag attaches to the seat frame on its side. Each bag is a trapezoidal prism, with zipper closures on its outer vertical edges and a velcro closure on its outer upper edge. Like the upper bag, the panniers are constructed from (IIRC) a heavy canvas, and the zippers are similarly heavy-duty. (and plastic--Delrin?) Unlike the upper bag,

  • each pannier has a Coroplast panel inside a pocket inside the pannier on the side closest to the rear wheel. This stiffens the bag, preventing it from swinging into the spokes.
  • each pannier velcros onto one side of the seat frame at 2 places: at the front of the bottom edge (which attaches near the underseat crossbar), and at the front of the top edge (which attaches near the midseat crossbar). Each velcro . The latter connection is ma

Its dimensions are approximately (and apologies for the not-to-scale ASCII art :-)


right side view (forward ->)
A B
+------------+
| \
| \
| \
| \
| \
| \
| \
+------------+-------+
C D E

AB == length of rack deck == CD == 13"
BE == back of seat (E is hip angle "point," or rear of seat bottom)
AC == BD == drop from rack deck to bottom of seat (14")
DE == 12"

rear view
G F A
+-------+-------+--------+
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
+-------+ +--------+C

FG == width of rack deck (6")
AF == 7"

top view
I H B
+-------+-------+--------+
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
+-------+-------+--------+
G F A

FGIH == rack deck
AFHB == top of right pannier

 

giving a volume of ~3720 in3 or 61.0 l. You can see pictures of the panniers on Picasa. Note that, though the tape measure in the pictures appears to curve, it is in fact straight.

The panniers have had their problems over the years, most of which I've fixed, some which remain:

  1. Zipper wear. One of the zippers is no longer functional.
  2. Seat attachments.
  3. Saddle tears.
  4. Water. A hard or extended rain will cause water to accumulate inside the bag.
  5. Abrasion. Many small holes have developed in the panniers over the years.
  6. Hub contacts.

desired improvements

The areas where I'd like to see the upper bag's design improved are:

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