Touring Panniers



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Grand touring panniers for self contained touring
Position: Rear
Weight: 3kg / 6.6 lbs (pair)
Volume: 54 l. / 3300 cu. in. (pair)
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Roam the world in style with the best cycling bags in the business. Accessibility, flawless design, durability and three layers of waterproof protection! Multifunctional pockets, tearaway tent, toiletry and tool pouches and an integrated drybag liner. It's a roomy, waterproof home away from home. Arkel's flagship GT-Series panniers equals the gold standard of touring bags. An internal aluminum frame supports the load and the full-length heavy duty zippers give you complete access to your gear. At 3300 cubic inches, this bag gives you the freedom to take whatever you want and be ready for anything the road has to offer.

Add another layer of waterproof protection, increase visibility, keep grime off your bags with an Arkel rain cover.


Below images are of Arkel's 2012 GT-54 model.  Cosmetic changes only to the current model. All features are still current.

The GT-54 is our workhorse touring model, with an overabundance of features and amenities born of experience on the road. Arkel went further than the common "bag" in which you cram gear like there's no need to retrieve it. We understand the need for organization when we're on the road for weeks on end, living out of our panniers; the need to find a tool quickly, or to know that the sleeping mattress is well protected from the weather. Every detail comes from on-the-road experience, and the result will enhance your own touring.

Asymmetrical design
Most other panniers on the market are made symmetrical - it's easy, just flip the pattern. At Arkel, we know that some features need to be there only once. As form must follow function, our panniers ended up being slightly different from the right side to the left side. Some features are distinctive, like the tube pocket for a sleeping mattress (no need for two) or the Flip Flop pocket for a toiletry kit (who's carrying two toothbrushes?). The result is a distinctive, well-designed pannier that is made to fit your needs.

100% Waterproof Liner in Main Compartment
As Shakespeare said: “To be waterproof or not to be waterproof, that is the question”! How do you combine the advantages of multiple functional zippered pockets with total waterproofness? We achieved the absolute best of both worlds by adding a 100% waterproof liner inside the whole main compartment of the GT-54’s. The liner is made of a lightweight, fully waterproof, polyurethane coated nylon. The zippers on the liner allow for full frontal access of the main compartment in the same fashion as the front panel of the bag itself. Frontal opening of the main compartment allows for easy access and functional organization of the contents. Still, come the monsoon rains, your belongings will be kept absolutely dry. Moreover, there are essentially no problems of moisture and mildew associated with roll-top type watertight bags. Indeed, the best of both worlds, for you to enjoy!

Dual zipper sliders
Dual zipper sliders provide frontal access to the inside. The liner is bolted through the back plate and can be removed by simply undoing the bolts. The bright yellow color of the liner helps locate things in low light.

No need for the liner while riding across the Gobi Desert?
You can quickly stash the liner away by rolling it up to the ceiling of the main compartment and hooking it up with the elastic loops sewn at the top. The liner takes no space and is completely out of the way.

Separate the clean from the dirty?
You want to separate your clean set of clothes from your dirty socks, shoes even wet towel? Everything can be stowed in the main compartment but the clean stays clean inside the liner while the rest stays outside, awaiting the perfect timing for a stop at a Laundromat along the way!

Tube Pocket
Unique to Arkel, the tube pocket is the feature that is most noticed by our customers. Carrying long items, such as a sleeping pad or tent poles has always been somewhat of a problem. The tube pocket allows you to carry these items securely inside. This makes the whole system easier to use and protects your gear more than just strapping it on top of the rack. It is removable for those days when you don't need it.

Removable Butterfly Pocket
A pocket that opens like butterfly wings, is located on the left hand side pannier. The wings conceal and hold a two-way zippered, removable pouch that is useful for storing necessities like a tool kit, a first aid kit or a toiletry kit. The pouch can be carried on the belt of the Waist Pack pocket - or left at home if not needed. The space behind the butterfly pocket creates a very handy and quick-access compartment to store small items like gloves or a map. The wings can also be used to cinch a rain jacket or the like.

Internal configuration
A bag is a bag, right? At Arkel, we beg to disagree. While the GT-54 is full of outside amenities, the inside isn't neglected either. An aluminum internal frame and a rigid bottom shelf (quite unique!) prevent sagging. It also allows the panniers to fold flat for closet storage. The outside has the looks, but the inside is where the living takes place.

Pockets and lots of details!
There are countless details on an Arkel bag. The pockets feature our unique Smiley Zippers for the widest access ever in the corners. Each YKK zipper has die-cast nickel sliders with full metal tabs, and we added our own pull tabs.

Safety on all fronts
It's easy to skimp on safety. It doesn't add to a bag's sex appeal and is usually not a selling point in stores. But we ride at night or in the rain and fog and we know that being seen is critical. For that reason, the GT-54 has reflective ribbons on all exposed sides so no matter what direction the car (or logging truck) is coming from, your visibility will be enhanced. When riding at night, be sure and use a strong headlight as well as rear and side lights/reflectors.

Removable Waist pack 
While touring, taking a shower is not optional! Strong of that knowledge, we went on to create a pocket that is quick to grab and fun to use. Moreover, it's also a waist pack if you need it!

No hazardous mishaps
A pannier has to be used and mishaps will happen, like forgetting to close a zipper, or to buckle a strap. At Arkel, we go to great lengths to make sure that an unbuckled strap will not fall down into the wheel. It calls for a lot of stabilization, but it's worth it. Here you can clearly see the compression strap totally unclipped. As you can see, it would be impossible for the webbing to get anywhere close to the rear wheel. Simple, but rarely done by anyone else. 

GT-54 tube pocket

Sized for convenience
The pocket measures 24" long and 5.75" in diameter, big enough to accommodate most self-inflating sleeping mattresses, but not all of them. Please take a moment to verify that yours will fit. We also recommend that you roll the tent poles inside the mattress, it will protect the poles against damage and will keep the pocket stiff at all times.

Upper safety strap
The tube pocket is attached with 2 strips of industrial strength Velcro combined with a safety strap at the top to safeguard in case of an accident. Compressing the strap also minimizes sway, which enhances riding enjoyment.

Lower compression strap
A strap, starting right at the back of the tube pocket, wraps around it for optimum compression and stabilization. Note that the Velcro strips go all the way down. It would be difficult to make it more stable than that.

Well stabilized lower strap
The strap is fed through a loop-lock at the front of the pocket, which serves two purposes. Keeping the compression as close to the pocket as possible and in case the strap is left unbuckled it will never fall down into your spokes.

Adjustable height
The tube pocket is mounted on Velcro, so the height is adjustable if you need more ground clearance. This may be of particular interest to recumbent riders or people using their mountain bikes for off-road touring.

Hidden pocket
A hidden pocket is located behind the tube pocket towards the bottom. This is a perfect place to stash tent poles, a pump or even a packable fishing rod!

Removable pocket
The pocket is removable, which allows you to bring it inside the tent for packing / rolling the sleeping mattress, or when stuffing the panniers in a plastic bag for airline transits. Note how the Velcro flaps close and leave a clean looking bag.

Commuting panniers
With the tube pocket removed, the GT-54’s become excellent commuting panniers set for daily use. It is even possible to remove the Butterfly pocket for a more streamlined set up.

GT-54 removable butterfly pocket

Located at the front
A “butterfly pocket” is located on the main panel of the pannier (left-hand side), making it easy to access at all times. It is perfect for a first aid kit, tool kit or toiletry kit, things you may want to have handy at anytime when touring.

Hidden openings
The space behind the butterfly pocket is ideal to stash quick-access items – sun lotion, spare change, you decide.

Good for stuffing gloves
If you're anything like us, gloves are the first things we remove once off the bike. That pocket is our preferred spot to stash them.

Opening a Butterfly
A strap & clip cinch the butterfly pocket closed, and allows adjustment for the volume at the same time, which is great for compression.

Wide access
The Butterfly pouch pocket is easily accessible, and it has wrap-around zippers for the ultimate ease in opening and organizing. Bandages or tools can be neatly stored.

Removing the Butterfly Pouch
The Butterfly pouch is held in place on the shell with a wide Velcro strip. That strip actually doesn't hold the load - it simply keeps the inner pocket from sliding sideways. When the Butterfly is open, just pull on the pouch to remove it.

Pocket on its own
Removing the pocket allows you to take it where you need it for a bike repair or to put some ointment on a rash. The back of the pocket has a loop that allows it to be carried on a belt for trips away from the bike.

Stash a jacket there!
Here's a great idea: use the wings of the butterfly pocket to hold a wet jacket, to carry a drawing tube to school, or any other items that you may not want to put inside the panniers. Use your imagination!

GT-54 internal configuration

TFL zippers (Total Front Loading)
Not a company to cut corners, we designed the zippers (the strongest industrial zippers on the market with die-cast nickel sliders) to zip/unzip all the way to the bottom. The access is wide open for easy loading.

Internal aluminium frame
To support the shape of the panniers there is an internal aluminium frame. It is so simple yet so strong that we guarantee it for life. The frame folds flat when you want to store the panniers for the winter.

View of the system
Here's a nice view of how the whole system interacts. Even when the main panel is open, the pannier retains its full integrity. The solid shelf at the bottom of the panniers is also noteworthy. No matter the load in the bag, the bottom will never sag.

GT-54 pockets and lots of details

Smiley Zippers!
Many of our pockets have a peculiar zipper path that curves like a smile. Our unique Smiley Zippers offer not only the largest access you can get, from one corner to the other, but they also keep a wall of fabric all around so even if someone forgets to close the zipper, the content will not spill out! Very nifty!

Road map pocket
Would you have thought that even the upper pocket of the GT-54 was designed with a purpose? The dimensions are perfectly sized to make it a bed for road maps. Thanks to the frame of the panniers, it keeps them flat and readily accessible.

Rear pocket
It is important in a rear pocket not to spill the contents when it is open. Our Smiley Zipper and compression strap makes it handy and secure, as the content will never fall off even when left open!

Fuel bottle pocket
The rear pocket of the right side pannier is designed around a large fuel bottle for a camping stove. Of course, you can always use it for something else - we particularly like stuffing a spare pair of shoes in there.

Chunky zipper sliders
Look at those sliders - the strongest available. They're made of die-cast nickel (not painted, which is less durable) and they sport a full metal pull tab. It is much easier to grab than a piece of string, is less prone to wear and tear and, it works more easily in the corners for a longer overall life.

Pull tabs even on the smaller zippers
Those sliders are the smallest we use. Notice that they're still dual opposable heads (to cut wear in half) and have our full dual grosgrain pull tabs which help locate the zippers and are easy to grab with gloves.

GT-54 safety on all fronts

On rear pocket
The beauty of the reflective band on the rear pocket is that it follows the curve of the pocket, meaning that it will show reflectivity in a multitude of angles - even through the wheel's spokes.

On the front of the panniers
Reflectors on the front of the panniers work great when you are turning a corner and a car is coming towards you.

On the side of the panniers
Side visibility is the most important. We install a wide band on the lower pocket, where it can be wide and continuous. Notice on the preceding pictures how that band wraps on the sides, adding more to the overall visibility.

Reflective bands at night.
You will not go unnoticed at night.

GT-54 removable flip flop fanny pack

Right there in front of you
The Waist Pack pocket is always right there in front of you attached to the front of the right side pannier. It is distinguished by its the flap that wraps around the body of the pocket.

Removing the pocket
While the Waist Pack can be used and accessed like any other pocket while on the pannier, it's also easy to remove as you need. It is held by an upper and lower strip of Velcro rated at nearly 500 pounds of shear strength - but easy to tear off when you get the hang of the motion. The pannier can be used without the pocket if it suits you.

Waist Pack in its grandeur
The Waist Pack pocket is simple and elegant. Nothing fancy nor frivolous, just good sense.

Ready as a waist pack
The Waist Pack also makes a great travel wallet, as long as you don't forget it and leave it on the top of a pay phone!

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10 customer reviews

GT-54 Classic Cycling Bags (pair) reviews

Average rating
(based on 10 reviews)
  1. Made the buying decision easy...

    By kildrum shankbridge

    My GT-45 pair await delivery till around the time my custom build Firefly Carbon-Ti All Road tourer gets fabricated this summer. That means effectively I haven't got my hands on them the bags yet!

    After prodigious hours of detailed research it was amazing to find a pannier that brought some real functional finesse to bicycle packing sensibilities. Kevin at Arkel's been there done that on prolonged tandem tours and it was easy to tell the difference and experience that showed through. !

    We have a fetish about STAYING organized and dumping it all in the top of a plastic bag doesn't fit.

    We have every reason to feel very comfortable about our buying decision and shall get back after we put them through some sun and rain and who knows what.

  2. none can compare to the 54!

    By the Bike Guru

    I have been using my GT- 54's for years now, and all I can say is WOW. With over 25M miles logged in the last 10 years, these panniers have out lasted my trunk bags x 3 times. Not a bad investment compared to replacing others at around 100+ bux each time. I once lost the tent tube on a roadie. To my surprise a fellow called after finding my info inside and sent it back UPS. A few scratches was the only damage..( this is really tough material!) One of the great features is the zippers of all things , one can lock the two pulls together with a small padlock to keep curious people from getting in your goodies.. I can honestly say only positive things about this product! Thanks Arkel for making an awesome product!!

  3. Improvement isn't even possible!

    By jpooch00

    As a longtime bike tourist - 38 years & counting - who has tried many different brands of panniers etc, I can say that these are the most perfect, well-thought-out, ruggedly built, righteously-priced bags on the planet. And not just this model, but ALL Arkel products fit this description (do a Google search - nothing negative to be found - and that's pretty unusual!).

    If you want to get the absolute best product for your money and be done with it, then buy Arkel. If you want to buy something inferior, there are plenty of other brands out there to choose from, and good luck with that.

    I would never buy from another company.

  4. 4 years and counting

    By Sebastian

    I have had these for four years now; they have been on annual bike trips on rough roads, transported on the airlines, and served as my daily commute and shopping bags. Everything advertised has come true and then some—these are sturdy, top-quality and extremely practical. I love the red, the color has not faded. I use them on both a HP Scorpion recumbent, and a Trident Transport; the ground-clearance is fine for both, and the way that they are constructed does not interfere with the gearing (I don't have a rear-brake, so don't know about that). The recumbent version used to come in yellow, but is now only available in black. So if you're looking for something very visible, look no further. These are the thing.

  5. Versatility, durability, and amazing

    By Vintage Cyclist

    I bought these bags, and the big handlebar bag, three years ago. I have been on several trips over the years (2+ months), camping as I go. As I got out the bags for the next trip, I continue to be amazed at how well they have held up. They get hammered. I stuff them to their maximum limits, toss them on the ground, use them as backrests, and at one point dragged them down the street when my back rack came unattached, but you would think the bags were almost new. The bag hardware has performed flawlessly, both handlebar bag and panniers. I also wondered initially about the pocket arrangement, including the really odd long tube bag. I am now a believer. The versatility of these has really made packing (and retrieving) equipment so easy. Last year I was in Scotland where it rained for every day but five for two months. I used the inside waterproof liners as well as the rain covers. Never a drop got through. And the rain covers have held up as well as the bags. Lastly, the customer service has been terrific. I misplaced the map holder on the handlebar bag and emailed Arkel. I got a one day response and an offer to make shipping arrangements to get the replacement to the start of my trip. I can't say enough about the bags, the service, and the Arkel people.

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Arkel Panniers - designed for cyclists, by cyclists