A Radical Design

Radical Design Banana RacerOne of the key questions I faced with using a trike on this South From Alaska self-supported tour was, ‘where am I going to put everything?’ On the Bacchetta Giro 20 I was able to use the Arkel RT40 under seat bags which provided 2,450 in3 of storage. Unfortunately, the TerraTrike Rambler sits too low and the RT40s won’t fit beneath the seat. After considerable research I settled on the Radical Design Banana Racer panniers.

The Banana Racer panniers have 1,525 in3 of storage and weigh 19 ounces. The Racers plus the Arkel TailRider provide close to the RT40 storage capacity: problem solved. Radical Design panniers are made in the Netherlands, and the company has been in business for over 20 years. The bags themselves are made from Cordura Nylon, have heavy duty zippers with cover flap, and use a cinch strap on the outside to relieve zipper stress. A external mesh pocket is located on the lower section of each bag. The outside panel on the bag is available in several different colors; I chose yellow for visibility.

Support StrapThe bags lay across the seat using two 1 1/2″ wide straps and incorporate a 1″ support strap at the top which can be unsnapped and clipped around the seat to hold the bags in place. In my case, the support strap is looped over the head rest support post; I had to fabricate an extension to the support strap because the original strap was too short. Radical Design uses standard plastic buckles which can be found either locally or on the internet: 1″ Duraflex Stealth Plastic Buckles. The 1″ web strap was available locally.

Third StrapThere are only two adjustable width straps which lay across the seat: at the bottom of the pannier and in the middle.This basic design of the Banana Racers allows the top of the panniers to lean back, past the seat frame. In my case, this provided interference with the Arkel RT60 panniers on the rear rack. Sooooo, I added a third strap at the top of the panniers. This strap keeps the panniers more in line with the seat frame. The 1 1/2″ triglide buckles and webbing were available at a local fabric store.

The panniers are essentially long tubes with a full length zipper running down one side. This is quite useful for storing things such as a sleeping bag, tent, or items stored in stuff sacks. In my case, I have my tent stored in one side and my sleeping gear stored in the other. My rational was based on being able to easily get to the tent for quick setup and then quick access to the sleeping bag/mattress/pillow.

Waterproof CoverThe panniers are not waterproof, and Radical Design does not provide an optional accessory cover. After my success with the Lil’ Roy water proof covers I decided to build some for the Banana Racers.

I used yellow rip-stop nylon for the shell, which is basically a ‘boat’ shaped creation comprised of three parts: a front, a back, and a wrap around piece between the two. I sewed a pocket hem around the open top of the ‘boat’; before sewing the pocket I installed 2 metal eylets where the bungee cords would exit. Next, I ran a small bungee cord (replacement cord for jointed tent poles) through one eyelet, around the pocket, out the other eyelet. The bungee cord was terminated with two cylinder cord locks. I added 1″ reflective material down the length of the cover and two Velcro strips between the three Mesh Drainpannier straps to pull the cover closed. Rip-stop nylon is not water resistant so I sprayed a coating of Kiwi Heavy Duty Camp Dry on the inside of the covers. Even with these covers pulled snug around the panniers and  the Velcro fasteners pull tight there will be some water getting in. To solve that problem I installed small mesh screen material in the bottom of the cover for drainage. Cost for the covers, including a can of Camp Dry: $30.

At this point I have not actually used the Radical Design Racer panniers on a tour but have been very happy with how they fit on the trike.They are easy to ‘flop’ on the seat in the morning and remove at the end of the day. I have experimented getting into them and putting things back and everything seems to go as planned. Overall, I think these Racers will do the job quite admirably.

2 thoughts on “A Radical Design

  1. How about selling the designs to Terra Trike. Your creations have so many practical applications for trikes. WTG!

    • Thanks for the nice comments, Jim. I plan on adding a blog post once I get a few things on the trike updated, and then I might just send them a link to my website. Thanks for the idea. . . . Rick

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