archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

Radical Alteration

A while back, I acquired a new set of Radical Design side seat pods (25 liter volume total) for the Q, having given my prior set to my sister for her trike, and the set before that to Glen for his trike. This set, with yellow side panels for high visibility, is a keeper! I have however, altered the bags over how they come from Hubert’s factory in Holland, making them lighter and easier to use like the pair I gave Glen. Link to Radical Design: click HERE.

Note the two plastic buckles and the extra strap

My old pair had two straps that fit over the recumbent seat, just as the new pair, but on the old ones, the straps came in a fixed length to fit a standard trike mesh seat (15.75 inches). The new set has the two straps adjustable with two large plastic buckles, which allows them to be used also on seat like a hardshell that are much narrower. I imagine this saves time and money on the production end of things, but from a rider’s viewpoint, it is not a welcomed change.

The reasons are this: First, once the straps are adjusted for my seat, I never have to readjust them again, so why do I need those large plastic buckles to the right of my rib cage? Also, the strap is so long that the extra length must be tucked in somewhere so it doesn’t flap around while riding. This would be no big deal I suppose, but the bags are removed sometimes at night camps, so it’s just easier and quicker to sling them on the seat without dealing with extra strap hanging out there (especially if it’s raining while loading). Third, all that extra strap and the two buckles adds … yep, weight … not much mind you, but every little gram counts if you’re going long distances.

The new bags also included inside inserts of closed cell plastic to help them retain their shape. The inserts also add weight, along with the extra cloth necessary to hold them in place inside the bags, but with them in, I could not zip the bag shut over my sleeping bag.

Here’s what I did: I precisely cut a small slit of about 2 inches, and then manipulated the soft insert into a roll so that I could pull it out and discard it. This left a small slit on the inside of each bag. So, I took the bags to a seamstress who specializes in outdoor gear (found her through REI). She took care of the small slits, and she also removed the two large buckles and extra strap material, and then sewed the ends into the seams of each bag like the other side, so now the bags are the lightest possible weight, hold the greatest amount of gear, and are foolproof to sling over the seat. The cost for all this work was a paltry $20, well worth it for the upsides. I like simplicity and ease of use!

top: straps with buckle – bottom: straps without buckle

4 responses

  1. I really like the visibility of the yellow! Have never understood the black – why do trike & accessory makers often lean AWAY from what could so easily lend a hand toward safety/visibility?

    September 28, 2012 at 7:02 am

  2. Gary W. Bunting

    Hi Steve,

    Denise is absolutely correct about the YELLOW for safety – see my YELLOW BEAST Catrike on the Trike Gypsies pages. I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t give me just a little credit (HA! HA!) for your decision to go with the YELLOW for safety.

    Fantastic job on the mods you did on the new Radical Designs yellow seat pods – very impressive. I also thank you for turning me on to those bags, since I have them now and they provide the pack-room I need on tour and will never ever pull a trailer of any kind on a long haul, again – learned my lesson there – PACK LIGHT, EAT LEAN, and don’t sweat the small stuff on security (I was over-protected on that trip with a stun-zapper-flashlight, survival knife and pepper spray (2 cans and 1 of bear spray), and was carrying a bit too much stand-by parts (which I never had to use, thankfully) for the trike.

    Good to know that REI is a source for pack-gear tailoring and repairs – I’ll be certain to check my local one down here in SoCal (Rancho Cucamonga REI).

    Thanks for the great tips and suggestions, Steve. Looking forward with great enthusiasm to next year’s tour with you and Glen.

    Take care,


    September 28, 2012 at 8:27 am

  3. Gary W. Bunting

    AMEN Denise – I am pro-YELLOW all the way – for trike and rider visibility on the road, that is!

    Is your trike outfitted with lots of YELLOW? How about some pics on this sight?


    September 28, 2012 at 8:33 am

  4. Yellow makes a huge difference in visibility. Living on the Oregon coast bike route, I see many cyclists (mostly two wheelers) ever riding season. Most do not have flagging of any sort, many wear clothing that is not bright, and it is not unusual at all to see the black or red Ortlieb waterproof panniers on the bikes, which offer little to no visibility benefit, especially in the shadows of the coastal forest on the road. Many, actually most, of the bicyclists pretty much blend into the background until the last minute. I used to run my Arkel panniers with no covers, so just the red material was showing. Red is better than black, but still does not pop out to motorists. Now I place yellow rain covers over my panniers, at the suggestion of Gary, and my visibility benefit soared. With my yellow and orange flagging array, I am very visible, even being very low to the ground, much more so than nearly all the bicyclists on this route. My side seat panniers from Radical used to be black (2 prior sets), but now, having learned and evolved, I use the yellow for an added dramatic punch. I now sport 7 high visibility items on the trike, and if I wear my cycling vest (day glow green, shows up pretty much from the moon), that is 8 pieces of flare. The vest works well for oncoming traffic, but once the sun warms up the air, it is too hot, and thus I only wear it on chilly mornings. – Steve

    September 28, 2012 at 9:09 am