Ortlieb panniers: shake rattle and roll

If you ride a bike sooner or later you will find carrying everything with you on your back is a poor compromise, getting your gear on the bike and off your sweating body is the only way to go. The trouble is bike bags don’t come cheap and even then it’s a world of compromise to fit stuff on. A bike is excellent transport but loading it with luggage can turn it into a sluggish, rattling pig of a thing. My current panniers have done well, I have been riding with them for seven years now, they were a birthday gift from my brother. Few gifts have been so useful. I thank him every time I head out with a loaded bike.


The reel and ground gear fit on the front and the kites and cameras on the back. I have not found a happy way of shifting the stick kites, strapping stuff to the cross bar didn’t work for me. Eventually I snapped off a clip on the Karrimors and, although workable it was getting difficult to get them on and off the bike and keep my finger nails..and Karrimor panniers are now, despite being the origin of the brand, sadly history.


They do the job but, in preparation for my next big bike ride I forked out and replaced the old front low riders with matching Ortlieb Sport  Roller Classic fronts. For some reason they don’t do the matching orange anymore so I had to hunt down old stock.


After a bit of work with a sharp file I got them to sit nicely on the ’90s model Blackburn low rider rack. Job done?

Not quite, they rattle like dried peas in a tin can. Ortlieb use a rigid fixing system which has a good self locking top fixing. The rear panniers can be strapped up bag to bag over the wheel to pull them tight onto the rack but not the fronts. They provide spacers to get the top clips to fit the rack  but it’s impossible to get the bottom ‘finger’ fitting anything other than loose. And that’s where the rattle is.

The answer is to fit ‘socks’ to the rack:


There turns out to be a critical length to the sock, shorter (5cm) ones slide about, the longer pattern (15cm) don’t and give the bottom clip a tight fit to the rack which kills the noise.


I used braided thermoplastic brake hose but I expect any tubing of the right size would do. A 20 mile ride showed the longer socks worked best, the shorter ones rode up the rack.

A noisy bike might not bother you but I love the silence of a smooth ride.


The panniers still rattle riding over rough ground but ‘off road’ isn’t really my thing. Riding out to clear skies and getting the view from above by wind and pedal power alone is a unique satisfaction. Even with half the load in the air the bike is still heavy enough to anchor a kite…


Some links to other ‘rattling panniers’ ideas




happy trails!



About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
This entry was posted in Bike life, value and society and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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