My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
pulseezar
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Joined: 14 Jul 2013, 5:00pm

My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby pulseezar » 12 Jul 2016, 9:00pm

This is basically going to be a rant thread, but thought it was worth sharing if anyone was considering buying Ortlieb back-roller classics.

I used to have a pair of Carradice CarraDry rear panniers that I bought second hand but they eventually got so beaten up that they weren't waterproof anymore so I sold them on Ebay and put the money towards a set of the Ortliebs given the numerous recommendations for these panniers on this forum and elsewhere.

Now after about 750 miles mostly on nicely paved European roads they have failed me. Luckily this was on the last day of our most recent ride from Amsterdam to Hamburg so did not ruin the trip as I was able to limp the last few miles with some careful use of bungi cord but if it had happened earlier it would have been a real hassle. Basically after going over a few tree routes pushing up the tarmac on a German cycle path three of the four screws that fix the pannier rail to the bag all popped out leaving the bag hanging by one screw. Given this was only a 9 day tour the bag was only about three quarters full with clothes and was pretty light.

Having gotten home with time to inspect the damage I thought I'd share what I found. Needless to say I'm really disappointed and am hoping for a full refund so I can get a new pair of CarraDrys.

Here is the rail detached from the bag:
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Here you can see where the rail screws into the bag. I was surprised to find just a sheet of plastic here.
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This is the really sucky bit. The screws are fixed into plastic bolts without washers or anything. It also looks like the screws might cut their own thread which seems a bit cheap.
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Here's a close up of one of the screws and bolts.
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I honestly could not believe that these panniers were held on with such crappy fixings given their reputation and cost. I wonder if the design has been changed recently to save money? I'm sure there must be others that have had this problem.

First and last time I buy Ortlieb. Now here's hoping for that refund!

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andrew_s
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby andrew_s » 12 Jul 2016, 9:46pm

The screws are self tapping into the plastic nuts. There should also be a fairly thick plastic washer under the plastic nut.

I've similarly had a rail screw on a new-ish back roller come out. I noticed reasonably promptly, borrowed a screw from the lower anti-sway fitting, and made sure all the other screws were tight.
When I got back, I ordered a pack of spare screws (post below) and replaced the borrowed screw.

I've had no further loosening, but have used 3 of the extra spares to replace popped rivets holding on the hook rail of my old front rollers (screws are a new fangled upgrade, though not as new as inserts in the hooks).

P.S. The back roller that lost the screw pre-dates hook inserts, so it's been quite a long time with no further loosening
Last edited by andrew_s on 13 Jul 2016, 2:42pm, edited 2 times in total.

irc
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Location: glasgow

Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby irc » 12 Jul 2016, 10:14pm

If there was no washers that looks like an assembly fault rather than a design fault. My 2008 model rear rollers use the same screws and have last 12-14k miles loaded touring plus commuting and general use with no screw failures. Perhaps the washers are critcal for the strength of the fastening. THe spare parts set certainly includes washers.

14065.jpg


https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/luggage/ort ... -set-e102/

Psamathe
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby Psamathe » 12 Jul 2016, 10:17pm

Contact the retailer and if you have no joy go direct to the distributor.

I had an issue with the packets inside my back roller (classics) and the retailer said to post them back, they'd send them to the distributor ... (would take ages. So I contacted the distributor directly and they immediately said "those pockets are replaceable. We are out of stock, new stock next week we'll send you some" and a week later they arrives, no problems. I phoned the distributor - no grief like letters/e-mails exchange; one brief phone call and all sorted.

I phoned the distributor and was very happy with their service. For me it's not about things going wrong (things can always go wrong and you can be unlucky). To m it's about how the issue is resolved. Some companies put up barriers, get defensive, require all sorts of paperwork, postage, etc. - not god. Other companies make life easy and resolve with minimum fuss - good. Retailer I purchased from was the "make a mountain out of a mole hill" type but fortunately the distributor more than made up for it - simple resolution, no paperwork, single brief phone call.

Other than the internal pockets I am very happy with the panniers - so don't take my comment as "I've also had problems" - I had a solution.

Ian

gloomyandy
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby gloomyandy » 12 Jul 2016, 10:42pm

I've just checked and my 4 year old Bike Packer Classics don't have any washers, just the nut (that has a sort of built in washer/flange at the base) and the self tapping screw. Have used them many times over that period including a daily commute for a year or so. No signs of them coming loose or anything. Must say I've been very pleased with them and the Sport Packer Classic I use as front bags (though these have had nothing like the use of the rear ones).

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Redvee
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby Redvee » 13 Jul 2016, 1:46am

I had one of the mounting hooks come loose and nearly come off the rail but that is the only issue I've had in the four years I've been using my Ortlieb pannier bag on a near daily basis, think I might have checked all the screws etc after that had happened though.

pwa
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby pwa » 13 Jul 2016, 7:28am

My back and front roller classics have lasted a decade and look set to continue for another. No problems at all and still as utterly waterproof as the day they were bought. Your fault is highly unusual. Send them back.

iviehoff
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby iviehoff » 13 Jul 2016, 12:14pm

Before they had this fixing system, they had rivets. Those were much more prone to failure than the modern system. While I was cycling in South America in 1997/8, many of the rivets on my older style Ortlieb panniers failed. I just replaced them with various nuts and bolts I was carrying with me or scavenged from time to time. You can do the same, just get a nut and bolt of suitable dimensions, and put that through instead. May need a washer. The only issue is that they are sharper than the plastic nuts they now use, so you may want to cover them over with something, a couple of layers of duct tape or similar, to protect your belongings.

I am still regularly using some of those 20-yr-old Ortliebs with these nut-and-bolt fixes. However the ones with "classic" fabric eventually ripped, it's the light weight ones that seem to have much more longevity. I have tested newer Ortliebs with very rough tours to Iceland and so forth, and had no problem. I think they are good enough most of the time.

mercalia
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby mercalia » 13 Jul 2016, 12:36pm

iviehoff wrote:Before they had this fixing system, they had rivets. Those were much more prone to failure than the modern system. While I was cycling in South America in 1997/8, many of the rivets on my older style Ortlieb panniers failed. I just replaced them with various nuts and bolts I was carrying with me or scavenged from time to time. You can do the same, just get a nut and bolt of suitable dimensions, and put that through instead. May need a washer. The only issue is that they are sharper than the plastic nuts they now use, so you may want to cover them over with something, a couple of layers of duct tape or similar, to protect your belongings.

I am still regularly using some of those 20-yr-old Ortliebs with these nut-and-bolt fixes. However the ones with "classic" fabric eventually ripped, it's the light weight ones that seem to have much more longevity. I have tested newer Ortliebs with very rough tours to Iceland and so forth, and had no problem. I think they are good enough most of the time.


yes the Karrimor also used rivets & I have had to replace one or two with a proper nut and bolt - The op could do the same use some proper nuts and bolts & washers? atleast should be easy to replace? unlike with rivets that need to be drilled out. If I was the op I wouldnt go for a refund just be grateful the soln is easy. just one of those things - how many panniers use bolts? I bet most still use rivets?

ossie
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby ossie » 13 Jul 2016, 2:03pm

My Alturas have rivets..one failed after 5 years and various tours but that was down to me yanking the pannier off in a hurry during a thunderstorm.

I replaced all 3 rivets on that connector with nuts / bolts / washers and its probably stronger than before.

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foxyrider
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby foxyrider » 14 Jul 2016, 9:42am

My 12 year old Classics don't have washers nor have they had anything break or come loose. The self tapping screw system is one of the joys of Ortlieb - you can disassemble for customization / replacement easily and quickly. The latest bags have low profile 'nuts' so you are less likely to catch stuff on them. I can say with all honesty that i've never had any issue with loose or lost fixings in all my years of using Ortlieb bags - that's best part of 20 years and about 20 assorted panniers, barbags, seatpack and top bags.

I am aware that some people have had issues particularly with the top rail fixings on newer bags - it does seem to be a QC issue in assembly, if you check for tightness as you would other bolts on your bike you can pre empt any loss. Lyon (the UK distributors) are very good if you do have any issues.
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

Nigelrojo
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby Nigelrojo » 17 Jul 2016, 9:54am

I've undone those rail screws a few times to insert or take out the little security cables that you can get for the panniers. I've never had a problem with them coming loose, and I've just done 1000 km (similar route to the OP, Amsterdam - Bremen - Hamburg - Lubeck - Copenhagen). You can actually do those screws up pretty tight without the threads failing.

pulseezar
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby pulseezar » 13 Sep 2016, 10:34pm

Aaaand now my partners have failed. They use the slightly newer rail, there are only three bolts instead of four.

Must be really unlucky!

pwa
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby pwa » 14 Sep 2016, 7:30am

pulseezar wrote:Aaaand now my partners have failed. They use the slightly newer rail, there are only three bolts instead of four.

Must be really unlucky!


Sounds like something has changed with them. Some quality control issue, perhaps. Mine are ancient and still "as new" when I clean them. Ortlieb live off their reputation for reliability and I imagine they would be concerned by your experience. It may be worth chasing up with them.

DMan01
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Re: My Ortlieb Back-roller Classics failed me

Postby DMan01 » 17 Sep 2016, 3:55pm

Interesting. All of my personal experience and what I've read about these panniers points to them being really long lasting and durable. Impressive that you managed to get money from selling the carradice panniers on third hand with no waterproofing though!