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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
7 customer reviews
4 years and counting
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.
Versatility, durability, and amazing
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.
54 stands for 5 stars out of 4
If you want a durable high quality touring pannier set this would most certainly be it.
They seem expensive but if it is an item you will have for 20+ years and has all the features you might want for touring, is it really that expensive? I talked with a lot of folks before I bought mine and some of them had been using them same ones for years and years now and the worst that has happened is...SUN DAMAGE *gasp*. Very few products that take a lot of abuse like they do will hold up like that.
With all the organizational space and pockets and tent sleeves it makes finding and pulling out items you need much easier (though if you forget which pocket you put it into...) Plus I can separate things that I want to keep separate like toiletries or things that might leak and put them on the outside or put stuff I need to access more there as well. The size also adds to the excellence because you can eliminate other bags if you wanted to and just have rear panniers. Plus you can load them like you would standard luggage so you aren't just stuffing into a deep dark chasm that you can only get to through the top.
The mounting is solid, I never worry about them moving or coming off. If some how they did, the outer fabric would handle it just fine. They send a piece of the Cordura fabric they use with a cut half way down the middle just to see if you can rip it further and I have given it to many friends and nobody can seem to make it rip further.
The only two issues one might have with this bag is weight and not being fully waterproof but if you want something lighter weight you are probably willing to give up a lot of features that this bag has or wouldn't need the size anyway and if you wanted fully waterproof you could go with the Dolphin or that Ort based German brand. Aside from that I really cannot find anything wrong with these that is specific to this pannier set. Maybe some pockets I might have done slightly differently to suit my odd tastes or gear choices but that is it.
Full GT-54, XM-28 setup hauls my life!
I have been using these non stop for a year and a half. I live on bike, hauling my two Australian Cattle dogs in trailer. These bags are so well thought out and executed, I can't even give them enough praise. They're one of those timeless bike items that you may wonder whether the price is justified, but when you see them in person and actually use, they do not disappoint! If you're like me, you do your research (lots of it) and finally decide on an item, you want to buy it once and have it LAST! Arkel has an outstanding warranty because they make superior products and stand behind them.
GT-54 Still Going StrongBy
I wrote a review last year, praising the merits of these panniers. I am still using them for commuting and with an occasional wash, they are still as good as new. One feature that I just love is that if you leave the top zipper pocket open by accident, nothing falls out. Just did this today and discovered that my wallet, keys, phone and pocket knife were still safely tucked in. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have forgotten to zip that pocket! But Arkel just about thinks of everything. I almost wish these would wear out so I could buy some more! I will never even think of purchasing another brand of pannier. Thanks Arkel, for a job, not only well done, but better than well done. Bravo!!!
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