Discovery Models

This model has been one of the two most popular RBD panniers (front or rear) of a conventional design for more than 25 years.  The Paradigm Hybrid is a very narrow-profile, ultra-stable pannier that is currently being built in a 500-denier Cordura or a 200-denier Oxford nylon (the primary exterior fabrics) version for extreme expedition use, or with very lightweight fabrics and webbing for general- and high-performance touring.

This heavyweight version of the Paradigm, with 500-denier Cordura as the primary exterior fabric, is one of many versions of this pannier model. It is mounted to an ATS RD/EX Front Mid/High rack.
The Paradigm includes all RBD Discovery Hybrid features like the most advanced four-point mounting systems, an extremely effective triple compression/stabilizing system and rigid HDPE parametric stiffeners to greatly increase load support and stability.  These on-the-bike-performance features are combined with a very highly tune design, relative to precise gear loading and distribution, that includes eight pockets and compartments with zip-out dividers to very conveniently divide and locate gear within the panniers.  Like all RBD panniers the Paradigm is built in 14.5", 16.25" and 18.25"-long versions.  The 14.25 in. version is used on low-mount racks, when proper ground clearance for the panniers is optimized.  The 18.25 in. version is used to create a pannier that is as narrow as possible (front the rack outward) and generally is the primary configuration for rear panniers and tandem panniers mounted to ATS high-mount racks.  The pannier width of the Paradigm may range from a very narrow 2.5" wide to 6.5" wide.  In the 18.25 x 12.5 x 5.5 version of the Paradigm, there is a capacity of about 1800 cubic inches per pair.  In the extremely wide range of sizes and fabrics that this model is currently being built, and when relieved-plate stiffeners are used in its design, the Paradigm may range in weight from an ultra-lightweight two pounds per pair to a bit more than four pounds in the expedition version of the panniers.

I would encourage you to refer to the lists of features, options and innovations of Discovery models to gain a full awareness of the designs of the Paradigm Hybrid model.

Base price in a system with ATS racks: $1095


The Tandem / Expedition Hybrid model is a pannier that has a triple lateral- compartmental design (TLC).  Since it was first introduced in 1986 this pannier has been an extremely popular RBD Discovery Series pannier model.  It has been sold commonly as a rear pannier but has also been used widely as a front pannier for expedition-oriented touring.  It is currently being made in the normal wide range of RBD options in pannier length and depth, and with a wide variety of choices in fabrics, zippers, zipper flap designs and pocket configurations.

This is a 16" version of the Tandem / Expedition mounted to a rear ATS RD / EX Hybrid rack. It is one of a wide range of versions of the pannier, which may vary in fabric choices, types of zippers and zipper-flap designs, types of stiffening plates, mounting systems, pannier length (14", 16", 18"), compartmental depths and many other custom options.
As its size and weight can be greatly modified in its highly variable custom-built versions, it is an extremely versatile pannier and may be made to represent the absolute pinnacle of design for expedition-oriented touring, or in ultra-lightweight versions that will greatly out-perform any other panniers on the market (other than ATS panniers) as a design for ultralight touring.  The Expedition Hybrid is an extremely stable pannier that features 11 pockets  and compartments for the ultimate in gear segregation and precise gear loading.  The outside-facing pockets on the Expedition have a 12 in. vertical zippered entry and all other zippers into compartments and pockets feature extreme front-loading designs with 34” to 38”  zippers.  As it has been for a quarter century, the Tandem / Expedition remains as the most advanced and detailed design, which also reflects vastly superior on-the-bike performance compared to any other panniers.  It has the best of everything: construction quality, reinforcement detailing, five-fabric construction, advanced four-point mounting systems, triple compression/stabilizing systems, overall stability, an extreme front-loading design and an advanced gear-loading and precise gear-segregation design.  Its overall design is completely unrivaled in any way.

Base price per pair in a system with ATS racks: $1195

I chose this picture of a 16" Modular Tandem / Expedition mounted to an RD/EX Hybrid Mid/High rack as it is one of dozens of different modular designs that I've used since 1989 but one that is atypical of what I'm generally building today. In my mind it is an overly durable pannier with 500-denier Cordura as the primary exterior fabric. It has 3/4" webbing in the compression system, which I rarely use these days. It does have an exterior mesh pocket, which is still common, but not standard. I see the execution of this pannier as something that is dated, and which I'd like to see fade away.
I have built modular tandem panniers in many, many different configurations since I first introduced them in 1989.  The current modular version of the Tandem / Expedition is commonly built in an 18.25”-long version that has three lateral compartments, with each compartment being accessed by a very long 40” entry zipper.  Generally, the inner compartment, which has a vertical zip-out divider forming a fore/aft, dual-compartment design, is the widest compartment.  In the widest version of this model built for the greatest tandem gear-carrying capacity, which has a capacity of 3600 cubic inches per pair, the inner compartment is 5.5” wide (from the rack outward) and the two outer pockets (compartments) are each 2” wide.  But, as in all RBD Discovery Series models, the design of pockets and compartments, including the pannier in the photo to the right, is variable and is adjusted to the specific needs of each individual customer. 

A very lightweight version of the Modular 18 Tandem / Expedition model with its two outside pockets removed. Long, narrow tandem- and expedition-oriented panniers at their very finest.
The Modular Tandem / Expedition panniers are available with all RBD options in design and execution.  They are the most fundamentally advanced, and versatile panniers available for tandem touring.  Combining the most advanced four-point mounting systems, triple compression systems and HDPE perimetric stiffeners, this Discovery Series model is dramatically more stable and has a much more advanced gear-loading design than any other tandem or expedition-oriented pannier on the market.   And, as with other RBD panniers, they are far more detailed in their execution and built to a higher standard than any other panniers.
Today, as the Modular Tandem / Expedition models is built in many hybridized forms it can be built in extremely tough, durable versions for expedition use, or in configurations using every design possibility and advantage to reduce its weight by half.  In lightweight hybridized forms it will weigh less than 60 ounces per pair: extraordinary design and performance at an extraordinarily low weight.

Base price per pair in a rack/pannier system with ATS racks: $1350

The Horizon is a high-performance Discovery Series model that has a DLC (dual-lateral compartmental) design which includes very uniquely designed outer pockets.  It is commonly custom-designed to fit both front and rear ATS racks for all types of touring conditions.  Originally I created the Horizon panniers to have a slightly larger capacity, in a very narrow-profile design (as narrow as 4” or as wide as 6.5”), than the Paradigm and with a little more advanced outer pocket design. 

The top-of-the-line Discovery Horizon Hybrid pannier. This is a mid-weight version of the panniers which were custom-built with dual-relieved aluminum plate stiffeners and lightweight webbing in the compression system, but with heavy 500-denier Cordura as a primary exterior fabric and 9mm zippers.
In the ten or so years that I've been making this model its design has been consistent, but the ways that I have custom-built the Horizon has changed dramatically as it has been hybridized with many details taken from the Hummingbird panniers.  It is now available in a broader range of fabrics, a selection of zipper types (5mm, 7mm and 9mm) and the inclusion of relieved-plate stiffeners of new designs.  I have also added to their design new choices among webbing and fastener types, plus more advanced versions of mounting systems and other detail upgrades.  All of the modifications have ultimately led to a very different execution of the panniers.  Like all of my other pannier models, the Horizon's highly customized forms allow the panniers to be extraordinarily versatile and variable in weight, and in the range of touring conditions for which they may be built, from ultralight touring to the most extreme expedition conditions.

Their dual outer-pocket design, which features an upper pocket with a 27”entry zipper and lower pocket with two 12” entry zippers are what distinguish it most clearly from the Paradigm model, which has a single outer pocket configuration accessed by a single, vertical entry zipper.   As with all Discovery Series models the Horizon is built in 14.25”, 16.25” and 18.25” versions.  My preference, except when ground clearance is an issue, is to always build the panniers in an 18.25" version to keep them as narrow as possible.  The Horizon is the top-of-the-line Discovery Series model that has the most complex dual-lateral compartmental design.  It is a great front or rear pannier that reflects the highest quality and performance levels.

Base price of the Horizon in a rack/pannier system with ATS touring racks: $1250

The Northern Lights model is a companion pannier, construction-wise and design-wise in every detail, to the Horizon with the exception that in its design it is a TLC (triple-lateral compartmental) design opposed to a dual-lateral design.  It has a middle pocket/compartment added to give it a larger size and carrying capacity.  The Northern Lights is the top-of-the-line Discovery Series design of a larger capacity for expedition-oriented touring, and in its largest dimensions, tandem touring.  I like to build this model in an 18.25” long version, while keeping it as narrow as possible.  Its triple-lateral compartmental design can be built as narrow as 5” or as wide as 9” overall in its tandem-touring configuration.

The Northern Lights Hybrid panniers: the highest levels of performance, design and craftsmanship in panniers with a triple-lateral compartmental design.
The Northern Lights Hybrid panniers are among the most complex panniers that I have ever built, and in their various tandem-touring versions, they are the largest, but they are still very, very lightweight.  When I custom-build them, including a full range of Hummingbird details, they only weigh a little under three pounds per pair.  At the same time, they are dramatically more stable than any other panniers.  Among large panniers for tandem- and expedition-oriented touring they are completely in their own dimension of craftsmanship and performance.

Base price of Northern Lights panniers in a rack/pannier system with ATS racks: $1350 per pair

The Modular Northern Lights with two lateral compartments removed.
Versatility and flexibility are the foundation of design in the modular version of the Discovery Northern Lights model.  Back in 1989, when I first began making modular versions of panniers, I wanted to optimize the design of a single model of panniers so that they would perform extremely well for tandem touring and also for traveling on a touring single.  Originally, the key to designing one pair of panniers to perform at an exceptional level on two different types of touring bicycles was to design unique, removable pockets that could be zipped on and off the panniers.  The pockets, when zipped in place, provide generous capacity for tandem touring and when unzipped and removed, create very narrow-profile panniers for travel on a touring single.  As these panniers have evolved through a quarter century of innovation they have been built in many different forms.  As the Modular Northern Lights panniers are of a triple-lateral compartmental design, I now generally build the front panniers with two lateral zip-on, zip-off compartments and the rear panniers with a single zip-on, zip-off pocket to provide a larger-capacity pannier on the rear of a bike.  This design configuration is used to develop adequate combined-front/rear capacity for even expedition-oriented touring when the pockets are removed from the panniers.

A full-on, size-wise, tandem-touring version of the Modular Northern Lights. Both outer lateral compartments (pockets) are zipped in place: very large panniers at under three pounds per pair.
The challenge to me as a designer, especially as these are often very large panniers and are dramatically more complicated than any other panniers that I build, design-wise, is to make them in versions that are very lightweight while at the same time maintain their extreme stability.  Through careful choices among fabrics, webbing, fasteners, relieved plate stiffeners of new designs, new configurations of perimetric stiffeners and careful attention to other details I have been able to make versions of these panniers, even in their largest forms, that cut the weight of their original design in half.  The Modular Northern Lights model is available with all of the wide custom options of Discovery Series Hybrid panniers.

Base price of the Modular Northern Lights panniers in a rack/pannier system with ATS racks: $1450