Basil Kavan II Natural Panniers

I’m a big fan of traditional English and Dutch utility bikes. They’re durable, practical, comfortable, and stylish, but they do have a few quirks that make them a bit more difficult to outfit and maintain than your garden variety comfort bike or commuter built for the U.S. market. Many have 700B (635mm) wheels (unusual in the U.S. but standard on Dutch/Chinese/Indian/British roadsters) and non-standard racks that may, or may not, accept panniers from mainstream manufacturers such as Arkel and Ortleib.

My Pashley Roadster Sovereign came outfitted with a non-standard rear rack as mentioned above. Fortunately, Basil Design of the Netherlands manufactures adjustable, strap-on panniers that, unlike most modern panniers, will fit nearly any rack, regardless of tubing diameter or fittings. I recently obtained a set of their Kavan II Natural panniers.


Kavan II Naturals come packaged folded flat. Each bag has 3 stiffeners: one is cloth covered and lays in the bottom of the pannier, and two slide into slots with velcro closures on the front and back (see photos below). The stiffeners are fairly difficult to insert, so I’m assuming the panniers are not designed to be collapsible. Once they’re in place, the bags hold their shape very well, even when fully loaded with groceries or everything needed for a day at the office. The lids are foam filled to give them structure and keep them from sagging as well.

Mounting the Kavan II Naturals is straightforward. The 4 straps at the top of the panniers use a simple sliding loop style fastener, and the single connectors at the base of each pannier use a belt-loop style fastener. The mounting system couldn’t be simpler or more effective, and it’s flexible enough to use on practically any rack made.


With a capacity of 45 liters, these are big bags. They’ll easily haul 4-5 days worth of groceries for 2 people. Some might complain that they’re a little heavy, but if you’re riding a roadster, weight should be the least of your concerns. Personally, I appreciate the fact that they’re overbuilt and should stand up to considerable abuse.

Basil Kavan II Naturals are beautifully constructed. They’re made from heavy weight, water-repellent canvas, with wide straps and brass hardware. They have a substantial feel and I suspect they’ll just improve over time as they take on a nice patina from regular use. They’re tough, yet stylish, with a look that’s fitting for classic euro-style utility bikes. The only drawback I can see is that they require more effort to remove from the bike than “quick-release” type panniers, so they’re not necessarily ideal for commuting if you need to take the bags inside with you. Even so, they’re attractive enough that I suspect many will choose to use them anyway, even on bikes with standard racks that don’t require a strap-on design. Highly recommended.

Available at Velo Orange

21 Responses to “Basil Kavan II Natural Panniers”

  • Thomas Barone says:

    Alan,

    Very nice painners. I just knew you would be all over somthing like these. They’re really cool looking and very functional.

    Two thumbs up!!

    Tom

  • Bryan Ball says:

    Nice panniers! If the leather were a bit lighter to match the wood grain on my Catrike Civil Service Expedition I’d be all over them!

  • Roland Smith says:

    The trick to getting your stuff out of the panniers quickly is to put your office stuff in the panniers inside a bag. That way you can take them out easily without having to remove the panniers.

    The canvas panniers that I use on my bike for groceries always contain a couple of plastic bags, so I can bag the groceries and drop the bags right in.

  • Steve Fuller says:

    Love the looks of those panniers. I need to find a nice English 3 speed to tool around on now. Velo-Orange carries some really nice stuff.

  • Alan says:

    @Roland

    The canvas panniers that I use on my bike for groceries always contain a couple of plastic bags, so I can bag the groceries and drop the bags right in.

    Great tip – thanks!

    Alan

  • Roland Smith says:

    Before I switched to a recumbent, I always had a plastic bag and a rubber band stashed under the seat to cover the seat whenever I had to park the bike in the rain.

  • Mthylynn says:

    Have you considered saddle bags (yes, saddle bags) made for horses? I got some from an outfitter, they work great!

  • Rex says:

    Very nice pannier bags. I have jut bought them for my Velorbis Churchill Classic http://www.velorbis.com/velorbis-classic-bicycles/classic-bicycles/churchill-classic and they fit just perfectly….

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Inertia Designs Metro Basket says:

    […] have all the bases covered for my weekday commuting and errand running. We’ll use our larger Basil panniers (mounted on our Pashleys) for our big weekend restocking excursions to the grocery store, hardware […]

  • Alan Wright says:

    I am very interested in these bags. Your artical helpful and the pics were great. Right now I’m commuting with the foldable bags from REI which are pretty big. Do you have the measurement of the opening at the mouth of the bags?

  • Alan says:

    Hi Alan W.,

    I just measured the opening at 7″x14″.

    Hope that helps..

    Alan B.

  • Advice Sought: A Shopping Bike for Carolyn « Let’s Go Ride a Bike says:

    […] seen one bike blog where they are using something like this one for panniers. [Dottie’s note: EcoVelo uses the similar brown canvas Basil bag for his Pashley; Righteous Velo-Metal Broad just bought the […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Queen Bee Panniers says:

    […] These aren’t cargo bags for hauling a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four (Basils are better for that), but they’re perfect for carrying a change of clothes and lunch, or a […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Form and Function says:

    […] are not mutually exclusive. Basil Kavan II panniers + Rivendell Nigel Smythe Country Bag = 100 liters of stylish cargo hauling […]

  • trustynick says:

    great blog!
    do you think that there’d a clean way to mod these for single side use? it’d be nice to have the option to only use one. or alternatively, are there any similar single panniers out there?

  • Michael says:

    I just got mine today and put them on my 70s model Nishiki citisport. The color of the leather is almost exactly the color of the frame… beautiful. I’m worried that it’s not the most practical bag for me, though, as they are so pretty they beg to be stolen. And, getting them on and off is not a two-minute affair.

    Question… when you strapped the top straps to the rack, were you left with gobs of extra strap like I was? Where did you put it? It looks like it could find its way to the spokes.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » House Cleaning: Basil Kavan II Panniers says:

    […] Now and again you’ll see a few things come up for sale here as we clean out our overflowing bike closet. This time it’s a pair of Basil Kavan II Natural panniers. These are super nice canvas and leather shopping/commuting panniers manufactured in the Netherlands. We purchased two pair of these about 18 months ago. They’re in great shape, no tears or stains, and they haven’t been used in the rain. We’re keeping one pair to share between us and we’re selling the second. Retail was $175, we’re selling these for $100, buyer pays shipping (continental U.S. only please). Read more about them here. […]

  • Audra says:

    I have been looking at these panniers for a while now. I have my globe coming in tomorrow:) and was curious if there was a way to lock them to the frame- possibly by looping a lockable chain inbetween the leather and the frame. any ideas?

  • Alan says:

    @Audra

    “possibly by looping a lockable chain inbetween the leather and the frame. any ideas?”

    That would certainly work. There are numerous small “accessory cables” on the market designed just for that purpose.

    Alan

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Another Year Gone By says:

    […] Basil Kavan II Natural Panniers […]

  • Audra says:

    Does anyone know where i can order these bad boys?

 
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