Monday, June 24, 2013

Panniers and bags for Cruzbike Quest 26" and 20"

To carry luggage on a Cruzbike, I strongly recommend -- and personally use -- the bags made by Radical Design ("RD") (sold in the USA by me, at New York City Recumbent Supply).  RD bags may be layered for maximum carrying capacity because they're made of flexible Cordura(R) nylon and you don't need a rack for many of the bags which saves weight and cost.  It's a very smart product designed by a very smart Dutch guy.

Radical Design panniers on a Quest 26

I only sell bikes and products that I actually use and I can assure you that the RD side panniers in the medium, small and "banana" sizes will all work on a Quest 26, without requiring a rack.  The Solo Racer seat back bags work perfectly too.

Radical Design Solo Racer on the Quest 26 seat back with a Banana Racer below the seat.  35 liters of luggage capacity without the weight of a rack!

Banana Racer on a Quest 26. Fits great.

View of the rear straps of the Banana Racer on a Quest 26. Fits fine.

Rear straps of the Banana Racer on a Quest 26, rear view.
Rear view of the Radical Design Solo Racer on a Quest 26. Here shown without a rack, but they fit with either the standard or heavy duty racks in place.

Radical Design Side Panniers

Radical Design's large, medium, small and banana side panniers fit your Quest 26 or 20.  Get them in the "hard shell" or "universal" width.  There are several approaches to making them work, depending on whether you have a rack installed or not, but I'm most fond of not using a rack when I mount side panniers on a Cruzbike, whether it's a Quest, Silvio or Vendetta.

Check out the Q 26 with massive panniers

Here is some serious Cruzbike Quest 26 and Radical Design Side Pannier porn. These are size medium panniers.

Thanks to friend/customer, Abram Clark, in San Francisco, for showing how he mounts the RD Medium Side Panniers on a Q 26.  He and I put our heads together to figure this out, but he's the one that made it real.  Very cool.  It also shows the brilliance of the Radical Design philosophy, that by giving riders a wide range of options, we can attach these high quality bags to a wide range of frame shapes.

This is how the bags look when mounted.  Check out where he can have the center of gravity when he loads them.  Yeah.

Abram invented a similar solution for his large RD side panniers on his Cruzbike Sofrider, tying them off to the rack. I saw that and hypothesized that something like this, shown here, would work. Then Abram made it happen. I'd experiment with using bungee cord instead of rope, to allow for the suspension of the rear swing arm, but I think rope is the more durable and longer term solution. Also, bungee cord is impossible to tie in the manner shown here so you'd be forced to use those terrible bungee hooks. Rope is probably best.

I like how he tied it off to the seat support.

Over the seat back.

Over the frame and under the seat, to Grandmother's house we go.


How to attach the Banana Racers on the Quest 26 or 20

The rear strap is attached to the seat brace with a girth hitch. The hitch doesn't need to be directly in the center, but for those who insist on symmetry, you can remove the seat post and place the straps around the post.  I pull the straps connecting the left and right bags tight so as to bring the bags close to the frame.

The front strap can go either on top of the seat or underneath the seat and on top of the frame.  The straps are buckled in the configuration for a "hard shell seat."

The middle strap goes over the seat. Notice I added a horizontal strip of velcro to the bottom of the seat back. This helps secure the seat cushion when hanging the Solo Racer bags because their fabric sling goes between the cushion and the hard seat back.

Choosing and mounting Radical Design bags for a fully-loaded tour, without any racks

In 2012, I was preparing for a 12-day trip through the Adirondacks and Vermont.  I put together this configuration on a Quest 20.  This could work for a Sofrider and a Q 26 although I feel the rear wheel of the Q26 comes too close to the bottom of the Solo Aero.

For this solution on the Q 20, I removed the rack.  I also removed the water bottle cages; I would use a water reservoir instead. (I would do the same for a Q 26.)

I installed:
- Radical Designs (RD) Solo Aero (wide), behind the seat at the top (where the rack would have been).
- RD Solo Racer (wide), behind the seat in the location where the water bottle cages are.
- RD Banana Racer, underneath the seat.

This provided 47 liters carrying capacity, most of it within the slip stream.  That's enough capacity for a tour if you pack moderately light and would ordinarily ride with two rear panniers.

In the above photo, a Banana Racer, Solo Aero, and Solo Racer combine to provide 47 liters of carrying capacity, most of it within the slip stream, on a Cruzbike Quest 20 (451 rims). An RD Universal Racer could have been used instead of the Solo Racer.

How does this compare to traditional panniers?  For context, Ortlieb Back Roller Classic rear panniers -- the gold standard for touring panniers -- provide 40 liters of capacity in the left and right panniers combined.  This Radical Design setup will be lighter than a rear bag Ortlieb setup because the RD bags are lighter and don't require a rear rack AND because the Radical Design panniers do not use heavy waterproof materials  For waterproofing your "dry-or-die" gear, put it into plastic bags or dry bags.  (For the record I like Ortlieb panniers. I simply can't find a good way to mount standard Ortliebs on the Quest. Ortlieb's waterproof "racktop bag/recumbent backpack" mounts fine on a Quest with the heavy duty rack.)

For those who are staying in hotels or B and Bs, you may prefer going with the 37 liters of capacity provided by the Solo Aero and the Banana Racer, as shown here.

These are the bags I was using.

Solo Aero wide (12 liters capacity).
Requires removal of the Quest 20 or 26's rack.

Universal Racer (10 liters capacity).
Solo Racer works too (size wide for bottom of seat, size narrow or wide for top of seat)
Fits Quest, Silvio, Vendetta.

Banana Racer (25 liters capacity).
Quest, Silvio, Vendetta.

If you use the Quest rack to help support the panniers, read this.

If you use a rear rack to help support the panniers, there are a few concerns: (1) making sure the sharp rails of the rack do not cut the nylon webbing on the pannier bags.  (Put a section of inner tube around the sharp rails.) (2) Ensuring the weight on the rack doesn't exceed the Quest's standard rack rating of about 22 lbs.  You can do this with Radical Design panniers by carefully organizing your luggage so the heaviest weight falls to the front, hanging off the seat or frame. If you know you're packing heavy, get the Quest's optional heavy duty rack which has a payload rating of 50 lbs. (3) Keeping the bags from rubbing against the tire.

If you're using a rack, keep them from rubbing against the rear wheel by using elastic cord (like bungee cords) or rope between the rack and the rear swing arm.  Camping rope, like para-cord will work and so will cheap plastic clothesline.  However, I'm comfortable with my knots.  Others may not be.

Another solution is to install side pannier rails on your rack, like those from Topeak (not available from NYC Recumbent Supply or Cruzbike) although I'm less fond of this solution because it adds weight and cost.

RD "Banana" (Side Pannier) size small on the Q 20 heavy duty rack. Sits very close to the wheel.  You can use a bungee cord or rope to keep the bag off the tire.  Or, move the bag forward on the bike, so the front straps hang from the frame, beneath the seat.

RD Banana (Side Pannier) size medium on the Q 20 heavy duty rack.  It can touch the wheel but it also hangs outside of the frame, which helps it stay away from the wheel.  Still, you'll want something to keep the bag off the tire.  Move the front straps under the seat and the bag will hang entirely between the wheels on the Q26.

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

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