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Tour Easy: Fitting Novara Transfer Bike Panniers

Mary recently replaced her well-worn REI packs with a pair of Novara Transfer panniers, chosen because they’re just about the biggest packs available without insanely specialized world-touring features. They seem rather less rugged than the older ones, so it’s not clear how long they’ll last.

They fit her Tour Easy recumbent fairly well, but there’s always a bit of adjustment required.

Ramp on front edge of lower clamp rail

Ramp on front edge of lower clamp rail

She hauls tools and clothing and veggies to & from her gardens, food from the grocery store, and the Token Windows Laptop to presentations. She brings the packs inside, rather than leave them on the bike, so they get mounted & dismounted for every ride.

The packs hang from the top bar of the rear rack, with a sliding clamp near the bottom of the pack that engages the rack’s vertical strut. I adjusted the clamp to the proper fore-and-aft position, but we found that the front end of the rail holding the clamp jammed against the seat support strut. That’s not a problem found on a diamond-frame bike.

The top picture shows the solution: Mr Pack, meet Mr Belt Sander. A ramp chewed onto the front end of the rail lets it slide neatly over the strut and all is well. The only trick was to avoid sanding through the pack fabric: the line perpendicular to the rail is sanding dust, not a gouge!

Acorn nut caps inside pack

Acorn nut caps inside pack

Each top rack hanger mounts to the plastic pack frame with three bolts covered by plastic acorn nuts on the inside; the acorns cover actual metal nuts, so it’s a lot more secure than it looks. Three more bolts secure the bottom rail to the frame, with three more acorns poking into the pack, for a total of nine acorn nuts.

Most folks carry clothing and suchlike in their packs, so the 10 mm bump at each acorn presents no problem. Unfortunately, those things look like a nasty bruising hazard for soft veggies and groceries.

Top hanger pad - outside view

Top hanger pad - outside view

I sliced up some closed-cell foam packing material (everybody saves some of that stuff, right?), punched holes at the appropriate locations, and tucked the pads over the acorns. An inner fabric layer covering the frame and nuts should hold the pads in place.

Bottom pads with hole punch

Bottom pads with hole punch

It’s not clear the bottom pads will stay in position, but I wanted to try this without adhesives, mostly because I doubt any adhesive can secure polyethylene foam to whatever plastic the pack frame is made from or coated with. Perhaps double-sided foam tape will work?

Top pad - with tools

Top pad - with tools

So far, the early reviews are good …

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