Thursday, December 26, 2019

DIY Inexpensive Mini Panniers for my Dahon

After successfully commuting on the Dahon, using a small duffel bag on the rack, the last item on my to-do list in 2019 to finish focusing on the folder was to fashion small panniers for added capacity. My preferred prerequisites: a lightweight, removable, and inexpensive system to use on existing rack that also avoided heal strike - easier said than done!

I've admired trunk bags with fold-out panniers, like Downtube Nova's, and though good bang for the buck, this system meant I couldn't stack my small duffel on top. Then I stumbled on dog panniers, which provided the narrow fit and low cost I was searching for. In the end, the best option was a pair of Eddie Bauer sling bags on sale for 30.00 total, in a myriad of colors.

Lightweight means stowable into a built-in pocket - a feature I wouldn't need for the project.
I chose dark grey with red accents. The beauty of this particular style? It has a wide shoulder strap, exterior zippered additional pocket, plus bonus carry handle and reflective bits. All these features would adapt nicely to Dutch style panniers - my intention from the outset - and be stylish too.

Original condition: dual buckle system at bottom.

As with all my projects, I store the bike near my basement sewing corner to adapt and fine-tune fit.

The Process

1. Removed stowable pocket and key clip (not pictured above, inside exterior zip pocket). The idea being to get rid of anything extraneous. Set aside for possible re-use.

2. Cut off sling straps, leaving a few inches to cinch together as Dutch pannier. Set aside to re-use buckles.

3. Stuff panniers to simulate actual use.

Bags are not mirror image, which means one unzips in rear, one in front,.To me this is not a big deal.
4. Double or triple stitch bags together at top. Fit on rack to (figure out the next step!) to see how and where to further secure the bags. Doubly important at every step -I checked for heal-strike.

I always liked the dotted strap on an old helmet. Looks nice here. (Semi-hidden beneath carry handles).
5. Sew a buckle and clip from my stash to cover seam which secures pannier to rack top. (I used a buckle and strap from an old helmet.)

Because of lightweight "pannier" I was able to wrestle and sew all buckles and straps in my sewing machine.
6. Re-use sling strap buckle and secure to bottom middle of pannier. With cinch tightening, the idea is to clip into either buckle, though I intend to primarily use one to keep pannier from sliding forward on rack.

7. Cut 4 Velcro-type strips and place where needed to prevent sway. My plan is to connect one to frame and the other to fender stay.

8. There is a panel conveniently located inside each bag where I placed a bubble wrapped, package piece for stiffness (thank you Amazon).

Voila! The panniers are easy to mount, remove, and coincidentally have built-in handles for carrying. Of course, practical use may require further adjustment, but for now I have two extremely lightweight panniers for additional storage.


  1. Genius! Thanks for describing the steps and your thought process.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. With your skills, have you ever done something like this?

  3. A great job Annie, they look really good. Now where can you go touring with the Dahon? I have used my Dahon in conjunction with a train journey and its been great. When getting it on the train I found that its less hassle when folding if you leave the seat and handlebars in place and just bungee or strap them together as you can then wheel the bike rather than carrying it. Your panniers would be ideal for this type of trip as they are easily taken off.

    1. I have used my Dahon once on Amtrak, so yes, I agree that's where a folding bike really shines. I have a couple more train trips in mind though not sure they'll happen this year. I'm excited to put them them to use locally first to fine tune the fit.


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