Thursday, May 21, 2015

Are these exhaust pipes? No, they are DIY pannier guards!

These "exhaust pipes" will hold your panniers back AND give you 5 extra horsepower! 
As many others seem to have (according to posts I've read in forums), I've been plagued by the issue of my pannier bags curling inward and getting hung up in the spokes.  This seriously almost drove me insane, slowly over the course of two seasons.  It would be fine until I hit a bump, and then it would be mayhem.  Eventually I followed the popular advice and got myself a different rack with a "dogleg", or put more simply, a sweeping member that extends far enough back and down that it holds the panniers away from the wheel.

Well I was back to square one earlier this year when I installed the Blackburn EX-1 rear rack.  This is a very popular rear rack, but unfortunately is not compatible with my panniers.  The reason I am using this rack is that it is the only one compatible with the Copilot Limo child bike seat.

Copilot Limo Child seat, and test child
Incidentally, it is a great system.  The seat sits very low maintaining a stable feel, while being comfortable and protective - both behind and to the sides.  The seat is installed and removed very quickly, which makes impromptu bike rides possible.

Unfortunately, since the bike seat was one of three total rear attachments (panniers and milk crate being the others), I now had to figure out what to do about my panniers, and getting a different rack was not an option.  Some people suggested lining the inside of the panniers with something hard, but I already tried that and it made no difference (in fact it probably just made it worse).  Here's what I finally came up with:
It's just 1/2" pvc pipe and zip ties. I used an elbow piece to keep them from sliding out of the zip ties. Each pipe is attached in two places: a leg of the bike rack, and the seat stay.  This prevents it from moving up or down, backwards or forwards.  They stay put, out of the way of everything, and can even be slid out easily if you don't need them.  They work VERY effectively, cheap, and easy to do.  Hit all the points on my checklist.  If appearance is an issue, they could be painted to match the rack (or hey, put "chrome tips" on them if you want to go full hot rod!)

Hopefully this will help someone who is going through what I did.
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