EL Hybrid Pannier Models

The design of the EL Europa goes back a long way, all the way to 1976 when it was first designed as a narrow front pannier to compliment the rear World Tour model.  Already in 1976 it had several design features that contribute to much higher levels of on-the-bike performance, and that ultimately have a very positive impact on touring-bicycle riding qualities.  No other panniers had any of these design features (four-point mounting systems, perimetric stiffeners, precise gear-loading designs) then and all panniers sold through retailers now still lack these essential elements of design.  In 1976 the Europa was built to a much higher standard of craftsmanship than other panniers, in 2014 the same can be said.  They are completely in their own realm of craftsmanship and detailing.

A heavyweight pair of Europa 1700 panniers built in a 14.25" version with 500-denier Cordura used as the primary exterior fabric. Currently, the 14.25" version of this model is used almost exclusively as a front pannier mounted to low-mount racks. It is built in versions that may weigh as little as 27 or 28 ounces per pair.
Through the years the performance of the Europa has been refined and upgraded as my own knowledge and ideas of design have evolved.  There was a time when the Europa was almost always sold as a narrow, 14" front-pannier model to fit low-mount racks.  Today, in its current hybridized form, I see it more as a narrow, 18" rear pannier designed for any touring phase in my Advanced Touring Method or as a very narrow, 18" front pannier for tandem and expedition oriented touring in Phase Three Touring (see Advanced Touring Method) when it is mounted to high-mount racks.  In the 14" version (with the rear stiffening plate bent, and the mounting system moved downward to provide better ground clearance) it is made to fit low-mount racks in Phase Three touring on single bicycles and predominantly paved-road conditions.  However it is custom-made, it is designed to be a narrow, ultra-stable pannier with an uncomplicated, single-lateral compartmental design (or a dual-lateral design when an outside pocket is added) that incorporates an extreme front gear-loading design.

The EL Europa 1700 is available with all RBD pannier custom options and a range of sizes.  In the 18" version with a compartmental depth of 5" it has a total carrying-capacity of about 1900 cubic inches per pair.  When it is built in a 14" version that is 2" in depth it will have less than 700 cubic inches of capacity.  Whatever size, configuration or version in which it is custom-built, whether it is designed for the most extreme expedition use or for ultralight touring, it will be in a completely different realm of performance than any other pannier: remarkable performance at a remarkable price.

Base price: $275 per pair.

Through the years, the World Tour has been built primarily in a design to fit rear racks, and currently I prefer to build it in a narrow, 18" high-performance version for rear racks.  When I began building this model in 1976 it was already very clear to me that loading touring gear within panniers could be executed in such a way to precisely locate gear in optimum positions to improve the handling quality of any touring bicycle.  It was then that I created a design in which the innermost, primary compartment of the World Tour had a vertical divider to locate gear in the forward half of the rear panniers.  The forward half of the primary compartment was loaded first.  The rear half second, always with heavier gear at the bottom.  A second lateral compartment, or pocket, was added to the primary one to increase gear-carrying capacity and this compartment was loaded in the same manner.  This advanced loading design became one of the foundations of design in all of my panniers, and within a short time a third lateral compartment (flat, or narrow in depth) was added to accommodate small, lightweight gear on the outer face of the panniers.  A front-to-back and inside-to-outside loading design was established that, when thoughtfully used, has always improved touring bicycle handling quality.  What was also established way back then is that I would build panniers to greatly improve performance, opposed to building panniers of common, recognizable designs to maximize sales and profit at the expense of quality and performance.

The World Tour 2400 in a heavyweight version. This particular version was built with dual compression straps, but an optional third set is available. Although this particular version has 3/4 webbing straps, it is also available with mounting and compression straps that weigh half as much and with dual-relieved aluminum rear stiffening plates to significantly reduce weight as well. Commonly, a rear pair of the World Tour 2400 will now have an overall height of 18.25" and will be considerably more narrow.
The World Tour has evolved and improved considerably over the years, in both its quality and detail in craftsmanship and in its performance, and as it is now available in very narrow and lightweight custom versions it is an extraordinary, high-performance pannier.  It's combination of advanced four-point mounting systems, dual- and triple-strap compression systems, perimetric gear supports, precise loading designs and a variety of other design features that no other panniers have develop a very remarkable level of performance.

The World Tour is built in various combinations of height and depth up to the size of 2400 cubic inches of carrying capacity, and is available in dual- or triple-lateral compartmental designs.  It is available with all EL custom choices in fabric types and colors, zipper designs and compression/stabilizing system options as well as a number of other design details, to fit a wide variety of racks.  The World Tour reflects an unparalleled arrangement of design elements in a highly affordable pannier for a wide range of touring racks.

Base price of the World Tour: $325 per pair     

I've been building EL Tandem panniers for nearly 25 years now, and in that time I've had the opportunity to design them in many different ways, always working toward a very good balance of complex detailing and design, superb performance, the finest craftsmanship, low weight and a narrow design profile.  Custom-building the panniers allows me to accomplish these things as I can develop a good mix of features for each of my customers to meet their specific demands that are relative to the amount of gear that they will be carrying, the conditions in which they'll be touring and with regard to the types of racks that will be used.

To keep the profile of the panniers narrow I now always build them in an 18" version, in either a dual-lateral or triple-lateral compartmental design in which I always design the inner, primary compartment as narrow as is functionally possible relative to the volume of gear that will be carried.  For example: I've designed front tandem panniers in a dual-lateral design with an inner, primary compartment (which has a zip-in / zip-out vertical divider to bisect the panniers into forward and rear halves) that is 2.5" deep and an outer compartment which is 2" deep.  In an 18" pannier this compartmental combination creates a mid-sized front pannier in tandem touring.  Such a pannier may be matched with a rear EL Tandem that has a primary compartment 4" deep and an out compartment (which is also vertically bisected) that is 2" deep.  The combination of compartmental depths is always relative to the amount of gear that must be carried.  If a greater carrying capacity is required, I either add a third lateral compartment or I increase the depth of the two compartments in a dual-lateral design.  The end designs are always a response to the specific gear-carrying requirements of each of my customers, and are also a reflection of design that is centered on great access to gear (through 38" compartmental entry zippers), precise gear distribution from the rack outward and a high level of pannier stability, through advanced mounting and compression systems (I always build the EL Tandem with triple compression straps) that are combined with HDPE perimetric load-support stiffeners.

In the way that I'm designing and building the EL Tandem panniers today, there is a tremendous amount of design overlap with the various configurations of Discovery Hybrid tandem-oriented panniers that I'm building.  The inner compartments are often virtually indistinguishable from the outside (detailing within the panniers is quite different).  Also, as in the Discovery panniers, the EL Tandem panniers are highly customized in a multitude of ways to meet the quite variable design demands of tandem touring, and expedition-oriented touring as well, as the EL Tandem Hybrid panniers are also commonly used by serious, long-distance bicycle tourist that ride extensively on dirt and demand the highest levels of performance.  Whatever design version of the Tandem Hybrid I build, it will always be in a completely different dimension of performance compared with any other pannier.

Base price of the EL Hybrid Tandem in a dual-lateral design: $335
Base price in a triple-lateral design: $385

My design focus in building the EL Modular Tandem Hybrid pannier models is exactly the same as in the EL Tandem, the only difference, although it is significant in terms of versatility, is that the modular version of the panniers has zip-on, zip-off outer pockets.  The Modular Tandem is just as highly customized to individual gear-carrying requirements and it also reflects the same superb standards of craftsmanship and performance.

When the outer pockets of the EL Modular Tandem panniers are removed, the remaining pannier of a single-lateral compartmental design is often quite narrow. But its width is not fixed. It is a custom-design decision made by individual customers, but it is usually 3", 4" or 5" in depth. I actually built these panniers quite narrow in a dual-lateral design with only one removable pocket, which is a custom option.
In the past I have built this model in both 16" and 18" versions, but I prefer to build it in the 18" form to keep it as narrow as possible.  It typically has been designed with the highest level of versatility in mind for both tandems touring, with all pockets zipped in place to provide the greatest carrying capacity, and with its pockets zipped off for either touring on a single bike in a highly efficient way, or for tandem the type of short tandem trips that require less than a full compliment of touring gear.  Has been common to build the front panniers with two removable pockets to provide the narrowest front panniers on a single bike when the pockets are removed.  I also often build the rear panniers in a triple-lateral compartmental design so that one of outside pockets may be removed leaving a larger set of rear panniers, but I also build the rear panniers so that both outer pockets may be removed leaving very narrow rear panniers.  In short, the removable compartmental configurations are built to individual choices and gear-volume requirements.

The EL Modular Tandem Hybrid panniers are one of my favorite models, especially in lightweight versions.  I really like their versatility and the fact that they provide so much design at such a low weight in the most advanced hybridized version of the panniers.

Base price per pair: $475 in a triple-lateral design