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I have a set of canvas panniers that I love, but they have the habit of falling of my front rack when I hit an especially bad bump in the road. Their hardware is pretty simple: two metal J hooks and a bungee hook. I am considering removing the existing hardware and retrofitting it with something more secure like the hardware from Ortlieb (which can be purchased separately from the bags).

Am I crazy? Has anyone else ever tried to change out pannier hardware like this before and can share their experience?

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What about a stronger bungee?  I have Jandd panniers that mount the same way and I've never had any trouble with them coming off even when empty.

I've thought about doing the same sort of thing but haven't yet tried it. You've inspired me to order the parts to give it a go. 

Considering the hardpoints you'll need to inside and outside your bag to get the Ortleib system to work I'll bet new bungies would be infinitely easier.

I added Ortlieb QL2 hardware to an Axiom waterproof pannier years ago.  It worked great, but I'm not remembering all the details at the moment.  I recall struggling to punch holes through the rubberized material for the top bar where it hit the folded seam between the body and cover of the pannier.  I think I used large washers and acorn nuts on the inside to secure the mount to the bag.  And the plastic back panel that came originally with the pannier provided plenty of rigidity for the system to work.

I've converted my work bag to pannier using the Ortleib system. Aside from punching holes thru the thick material and a lightweight stabilizing panel, it wasn't a big deal. The clips have been going strong for hundreds of miles with an average bag weight of 40lbs. It has never fallen off the rack.
Thanks for the responses everyone. The bag has a solid plastic back which should make the hardware install not too hard. Glad to hear others have done this before.

I used Arkel's conversion kit ($25 each) for my old Nashbar backpack pannier.  It's incredibly solid, but the problem is that the bungee causes the bag to "toe in" or move towards my heels, causing heel strike.  So I began to think that my old Topeak rack is not appropriate for my panniers, since the set-up isn't appropriate for my Ortleib bags either.  When using Ortleib bags on a Topeak rack, the position I need (far back on the rack) doesn't allow for the bottom hook or flange to fit into the inside triangle of the rack.

Tricolor might tell you about the goofy system of plates I had on my Topeak rack to accomodate the Arkel bungee in order to stop heel strike.

The solution was to buy a new rack.  The Axiom Journey is rated for 110 pounds capacity, weighs under 2 pounds, and will handle either rack mount system.  At $45 purchased from my local bike shop, this was a deal compared to much more expensive racks from Nitto and Tubus which have lower weight capacity.

Good luck, whatever your choice is.  Personally I'm glad that Arkel helped me to realize I needed a better rack.

That too....!  The problem with steel metal hooks is that they are harder than an aluminum rack (unless your rack is steel) and gradually eat through the rails.  That's what made me pull the trigger on Ortleib and Arkel, along with needing to reduce the weight of my gear.

Tricolor said:

Considering the hardpoints you'll need to inside and outside your bag to get the Ortleib system to work I'll bet new bungies would be infinitely easier.

My plastic Ortleib clips are slowly eating through my aluminum rack, too.

Yes, that is happening to me on the rack's vertical stays. (Planet Bike eco rack and Ortleib Top Roller ) I'm guessing there is some dirt involved? I thought aluminum was harder than plastic, but perhaps not?

Tricolor said:

My plastic Ortleib clips are slowly eating through my aluminum rack, too.

While I have never used real front panniers it would seem that a 'stop' to prevenjt the bag from rising is all ya need. I had an old set of bags that actually had a swing arm that trapped the rack into the hooks preventing loss.

My current bags  have a hook'n'loop tab that wraps the rack also preventing clearing the hooks. These tabs  were terribly inconveinent on rear rack due to proximity to all the 'stuff' at the rear mounting but I believe a front rack might offer easier access to attachj and release the, aw heck- VELCRO - tabs. stitching such tabs might be a bit of bother but a 'pop rivet' gun and pre-drilling the hole would knock that right out.

Jeff

Oh and should be minimal 'eating' tho finish might rub off

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