Bicycle panniers that survive the years and dog attacks

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A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a family on bicycles up at Log Boom Park on the Burke-Gilman Trail. What first drew my attention to them were the old blue panniers on the dad’s tandem.

Eclipse panniers

I recognized them immediately as an Eclipse model of panniers. They’re the saddlebags that efficiently lugged my stuff on a cross country bike trip nearly 3 decades ago.

They still see use today for touring, at right, and more frequent trips to the grocery store.

My cross-country bike tour partner also used Eclipse bags, which took the brunt of a feral dog attack on a country road in Virginia. The dog punctured, but couldn’t rip, the fabric.

The dad had similar tales of long-distance touring with the panniers. He said that mounting them on a bike for a three-day trip to Seattle from their home near Puyallup brings back memories of those adventures.

I remembered our conversation when I read a couple of days ago that the Eclipse Bags founder, Leslie Bohm, had died last week at age 59 after battling cancer for several years.

Bohm started making the panniers in the 1970s when he was 20 years old. After expanding into motorcycle panniers, he sold the company in 1984.

The following year he began the life’s work to advocate for bicyclists and those who sell bikes and accessories. He created direct marketing company Bicycle Product Corporation, which later became Catalyst Communication. The company produced Cycling Guides that promoted stores and suppliers. Later, Catalyst created the promotional SuperSale events in bike stores that helped increase traffic.

The Boulder, Colorado, resident also was a founding member of Bikes Belong, a high-profile bicycling advocacy group.

Bohm also was an avid bicycle traveler, writes Adventure Cycling Association’s executive director Jim Sayer. He bicycled in Europe, Asia and through North America, and was one of the first Americans to ride through China when it was reopened to tourists in 1981.

Sayer writes that Bohm was an Adventure Cycling supporter, “But more importantly, through his work, he helped spur the growth of independent bicycle dealerships — those great shops where we buy the best in bikes and gear, and where people who are passionate about cycling tend to gather.”

If you want to learn more about Bohm, check out his bio at Bicycle Retailer, “Catalyst founder Leslie Bohm dies.” It tells about Bohm’s many accomplishments beyond making strong, durable panniers bring back memories of past adventures.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday, Sept. 2, at 4 pm the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 345 Mapleton Ave, in Boulder.

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    • Eric on September 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm
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    I still have my rear Eclipse bags and rear rack. Still going strong after what must be 30 years.

    • dick on June 24, 2016 at 6:37 pm
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    39 years ago for me.
    The only thing is, one of the bags has a broken, now missing tube that inserts into the racks slot. I’d love to be able to buy one

      • Tony on October 28, 2016 at 8:36 am
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      I have an unassembled version of the eclipse panniers I’ll be putting on ebay soon.

  1. I just passed my four Eclipse panniers on to Kirsten, a young woman from Denmark riding from Boston to Miami. We hosted her via the WarmShowers,org website. You can see a photo of them on her blog here:

    Those panniers were with me through France, Belgium, Scotland, across the US and many shorter trips. In later years as the weather resistance decreased I just used trash compactor bags as liners. Never any issues with them, and the positive attachment, ease of use, and the snap-together feature have been great. I hope they give Kirsten many more years of use.

    • James Williams on June 21, 2018 at 8:44 am
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    If anyone is interested, I have a set of unused Eclipse Red Panniers. Bought in East Lansing, MI back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Have the hardware to mount on rear rack. Perfect condition.

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