When we started this bike shop, we wanted to sell the waterproof and durable Ortlieb gear. We were like just about every other cycle tourist from every part of the globe who (it seemed anyway) knew the brand and either used the products, or wished they could!
We were only a few kilometres along the gravel road on day two of the trip when we noticed that the top corner of our front pannier had become unattached from the mounting bracket! How could this be?!
The screw was missing so we tied some nylon cord around the pannier to keep it on the rack and continued on riding. We were so rattled by this unexpected betrayal of our equipment that we didn’t even think of taking a photo.
That evening we noticed that another pannier had lost a screw from exactly the same position. The luggage situation was not going well. The old cycle touring standard repair item of cable ties came in handy for the rest of the trip (remarkably well actually!).
It wasn’t until we got home and did some internet research that we discovered lots of people complaining about this same issue with Ortlieb panniers. The main piece of advice was to ‘CHECK YOUR SCREWS!’.
We had never paid attention to the Ortlieb screw setup before, but now we know that the newer Ortlieb panniers have self-tapping screws with a plastic washer/nut combination inside the bag. Some reviews comment that this is a cost cutting exercise by Ortlieb, and we are inclined to agree. Why would you tamper with such a fabulous product by using cheap crappy parts to hold it together?
Along with other internet reviews, we agree that the current setup probably works fine for riding on your average tar road without too many lumps and bumps. As soon as you start riding on dirt or rough roads with a fully loaded pannier however, you’re more likely to encounter an issue as the panniers get constantly jostled about and the screws work their way loose or just break off!
We don’t want to be having to check our screws every single day when we’re out touring. We understand that all gear requires regular checking and maintenance, but we paid good money for these panniers and we want them to work well without that much attention.
This was our answer…
M5 nyloc nut, M5 flat washer, 3/16 x 1-1/4 fender washer, M5 x 16 panhead screw
Here is how they went on…
And the internals…
We still think Ortlieb products are very good compared with other cycle touring luggage options. We are always keeping an eye out for other brands that provide an alternative, but other brands are either even more expensive, or just not as good.
It will be interesting to hear from you about other brands you feel can match or better Ortlieb’s performance and price range. There is so much gear out there! Likewise, if you have come up with an Ortlieb ‘hack’ that made an improvement or saved the day, let us know!