Hard Panniers & Broken Legs: Myth or Reality?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by robhar54, Jan 4, 2009.

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Hard Panniers & Broken Legs: What's the deal?

  1. I have personally seen (or had) broken legs due specifically to hard panniers.

  2. I have never seen (or had) this happen.

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  1. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    (Moderators--I wasn't sure where this should go. Feel free to move it!)

    Seems like every thread about aluminum panniers brings out at least one poster who warns us they'll break our legs if a beasty bike so equipped is taken onto any kind of serious off-road situation.

    (Think Transamerica Trail in Colorado, Nevada or Oregon, Continental Divide Ride, Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route, as examples of routes, and Weestrom, F800GS, KTM 640 Adv, KLR650, as examples of beasts/big thumpers.)

    Is this true?

    Discuss.

    Rob in Seattle
    #1
  2. Rucksta

    Rucksta SS Blowhard

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    It didn't take a broken leg to ween me off hard paniers. Falls caused by having my leg trapped under the panier were enough. The usual problem was footing with foward momentum. The panier would hit my leg just behind the knee, bend the leg causing loss of footing and then run over my bent leg trapping my downward pointing toes under the panier whilst bike & I fall to the ground.
    #2
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  3. Cryoheart

    Cryoheart n00b

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    Yep. They break bones. Other hard things can too maybe! Had a very minor diversion from a gravel road, low speed, small embankment. What could have been a simple "off" turned out worse. Right foot caught between the embankment and my metal ammo-can-pannier previous owner had rigged. Ouch. Continued riding for three days, then took x-ray. Fractured middle metatarsal. No simple crack this here; little pointy bone ends with significant separation. Still limping and riding 18 months later. Been riding(lots) since 1962, so can't blame it on lack of experience. Maybe lack of attention! Ammo cans are now in the attic. DirtBagz are on the machine. Occurred on the TAT in TN. Good ride; bad choice in pannier type. My opinion is that soft bags are just a little more forgiving, cheaper to fix/replace, and they reduce risk of injury to some degree. Your mileage may vary. Got an intimate little x-ray but can't seem to figure out how to post it. Guess I'll just go ride.
    #3
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  4. Cryoheart

    Cryoheart n00b

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    ......but them big shanny 'luminim cans is shore purdy.... :D
    #4
  5. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    I have heard of and seen pics of broken legs due to simply footing the bike through mud or trying not to crash,immovable object(pannier)meets human body = broken parts.Soft luggage is way lighter and holds plenty for off road or any type of jaunt.Mounting luggage as high on the bike as possible does get it out of the way much better.Ted Simon describes this quite well in his book,paddling the bike through mud,leg gets caught on pannier,SNAP! He heard it go and was layed up in Africa for 6 weeks or so. Ive seen ADVers camping at DeathValley and camp is all set up so they go out for a ride on the gravel roads and rocky jeep trails,they leave their giganto luggage on cause they like the look I guess? Surely two huge boxes of stuff arent needed for a 4 hour ride.
    #5
  6. sawguard

    sawguard Adventurer

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    I went down recently and my hard can ammo cases saved my leg.
    Hit a dog, careened over onmy left side, ammo can hits the pavement first,
    bike, instead of landing on my leg, lands on the ammo can, and slides away from me.

    with plastic, or soft cases, the bike would have, I think, clunked down onto my left leg and drug me along with it as it slid across two lanes of traffic into a ditch.

    In my experience the ammo cans did a good job.
    #6
  7. ShaftEd

    ShaftEd Long timer

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    It happened to Ted Simon (Jupiters Travels) on his second round the world ride and it happened to adv's own "WorldRider" on his around the world trip. Both times these guys were in extremely muddy conditions and their leg got trapped under the pannier.
    #7
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  8. JimTC

    JimTC dirt convert

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    I did it while dabbing in soft sand, got tangled under gobi bag, went down with minor "avulsion" at the end of the fibula. Although more of a severe sprain, the avulsion was explained to me to be a break at the end of the bone.

    I've also been saved by having the bike land on then bag instead of me and also think the a bag may have saved my other ankle and fibula from a severe spiral fracture if they had been on - who knows . . .

    What I do knoiw is that for me to use my KTM 990 aa a dual sporting adventure touring bike I need and like to bags and the protection they provide the contents.
    #8
  9. hiflynbrd

    hiflynbrd I know that shortcut

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    I was hit by a guy taking the inside of the turn on a remote road in ID. When I realised he wasn't giving me any room I got out of the way of everything but his dually fender. Not a bad impact but it put me down immediately with my leg under a soft bag. The bike was an ST1100 so plenty heavy. Had this been a hard bag on a heavy bike like this one the leg would have been broken for sure. As it was, I got of with a few bruises. I'll stick with soft bags unless I specifically need the security of the hard ones. Then I'll be even more cautious.
    #9
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  10. robhar54

    robhar54 Been here awhile

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    Thanks heaps for the feedback everyone! :clap

    Perhaps the poll should have asked about "injury" rather than "broken leg."

    My thought (based on heresay prior to this poll) has been to either a) get some Ortleib panniers to throw over the back of my bike or b) use the Wolfman Ridgeline I had on my Xchallenge for more challenging rides, but stick with the Metal Mules for the more road-oriented trips. (I frackin' paid enough for 'em, better get some use!) Trying to figure out where to draw the line.

    I had a set of Touratech Zega bags on my R80G/S PD for six years (including a trip to Alaska) without incident, but I was pretty timid about where I went and how I rode.

    Keep it comin'! Not so much "I heard about a guy once who..." but "on [insert terrain or ride] on my [insert bike model] I...."

    Thanks!

    Rob in Seattle
    #10
  11. Hayduke

    Hayduke ///SAFETY THIRD/// Supporter

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    It definitely happens. A friend of mine missed most of last summers riding because of an accident that would have been nothing if he had left the hard bags at home. :baldy
    #11
  12. mikerd400

    mikerd400 Long timer

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    Yes panniers break legs. When I was in motor school, for law enforcement, they would yell at us for putting a foot down. Basically, if the bike is going down, keep your feet on the foot pegs and let it go down. Trying to put a foot down and saving it, may cause your leg to get sucked back under the pannier.
    #12
  13. Robert_C

    Robert_C Long timer

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    On the other side, when I got hit by a lady blowing a stop sign she hit my hard cases and engine bars. There were marks on her bumper from both.

    It is not possible to say, with a high degree of certainty, what didn't happen; however, I suspect that if I had not had hard things (cases and engine guard) on my bike she would have hit my leg instead.
    #13
  14. Snr Moment

    Snr Moment Unafarkler

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    This is a subject that I've been giving a lot of thought to while debating about pulling the stock Hepco-Becker Journey bags off my Uly XT and replacing them with either Gobi's or aluminum panniers. They sit fairly high on the bike and really don't affect my lower legs. While the XT is not an "off road" bike, I will be riding dirt, gravel and double track and you never know what's around the next bend. Removing the bags prior to setting on these roads will not be an option as they are the routes to where I'll be going for the day/night/week.
    I recently "test dropped" the bike parking it in the dealer's lot and the only damage to anything was a small scar on the right front bag and the bike stayed off my foot. Maybe I'll just keep things this way. Thanks for the info.
    #14
  15. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    I asked about this in a pannier thing in another posting - got no answer. I wasn't a smart ass either. I wondered and figured I'd ask.
    #15
  16. Dorian

    Dorian huge carbon footprint

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    Nice theory. Try telling that to your reflexes :kurt
    #16
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  17. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Broke it/Bought it Supporter

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    That sounds right to me. Dabbing breaks legs. I have HT aluminum panniers and haven't had any issues, but I think the next bike might get the Ortliebs if for no other reason than just to try something different. The bike is significantly less likely to go down if your feet are on the pegs.

    John
    #17
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  18. TonyA

    TonyA beta tester

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    When I brushed up against an embankment, I broke my leg on the mount for the BMW system case (at the passenger footpeg), so yeah, if the case was mounted at the time the outcome would have been the same. My foot got swept off the 1150 OEM peg, the bike was still moving, the foot snagged on the terrain, then the bike won the argument. The foot got bent down and back and snapped the fibula. You probly thought a GS was hard to pick up when both feet are working.
    #18
  19. wibby

    wibby BrotherFromAnotherMother

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    Dabbing a foot down while getting loose I've been bit a few times

    But in a lowside, (I've had two on pavement) the bags kept the bike off of me
    #19
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  20. mikerd400

    mikerd400 Long timer

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    When we practice, we start on stripped down bikes. It the beginning, riders will always dab their foot. However, the more you think about it, and remember not to put your foot down, the easier it becomes. Everyday, whether it is riding my GS ot my RT-P, I remind myself to not put my foot down.
    #20