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November 26, 2013
This year I am thankful for our latest round of prototypes.
The prototypes have reached a complexity level where each new round is a significant undertaking. It takes three people (Andrew, Chip, and me) working simultaneously for an entire day to adjust the patterns, cut the fabrics, and assemble the parts. Then it takes Chip another 8-10 hours of sewing on his own to finish them up. That’s for just one piece each of the duffle and pannier.
With updated bag prototypes and the “wedge” system prototype in hand, this week we finally had an opportunity to assemble and test the entire system on a bike.
Marking mounting holes on the wedge:
Routing the wedge:
Mounting frame on the pannier:
Hein finished the CAD model of our mounting bracket. These are off to a machine shop for quotes. In the meantime we used a set of steel brackets that we found at Ace.
Mounting the wedge:
We packed-out the bags with moto camping gear. We specifically used items that are oddly shaped, bulky, or heavy. For example a tool roll, spare tubes, stove, tent, thermarest, sleeping bag, etc.
We added two fuel bottles filled with unleaded gas in the exterior pocket:
You can fit a lot in these panniers. Almost too much, confirming that we need to design a smaller version too.
This was as heavy as I would ever pack a pannier. The bags held their shape well due to the built-in taper and interior stiffeners.
Took them out for a spin:
Checked the contact points in a slide:
Excess strap lengths are still an open issue. We got some great ideas from advrider.com, which will be incorporated into the factory sample.
Tested on a bigger bike as well:
Another option for fuel storage using molle:
While we could continue tweaking and improving these designs on our own, we expect a lot of things to change in a manufacturing environment. We’d prefer to develop future prototypes together with a factory. To accomplish that, we need to build a duplicate set of prototypes to send overseas, transfer our paper patterns onto mylar film, and formalize the part lists and spec sheets. That should keep us busy for a few weeks, after which we’ll regroup on the smaller-size and rackless bags.
In the meantime, Galen (apparel designer) has been working behind the scenes to get some outerwear concepts for 2015 on the table for discussion. Hopefully we’ll have something to look at in the next few weeks.