What are the alternatives?
A recumbent tadpole trike is still a cycle, the most obvious choice are bags constructed for bicycles but they might not be the perfect choice.
There are a lot of bicycle panniers out there at every price point. You get them in every bicycle shop and they fit every bicycle rack.
Ortlieb makes great widely known waterproof panniers in different flavors.
All bicycle panniers out there are wider at the top and slimmer at the bottom to provide space for your heels. You don’t need this design on a recumbent and it shifts the weight to the back where you don’t want it for handling reasons.
The only exception I’m avare of are the Lightning Low-Drag Panniers but at $300 they look slightly overpriced in my book. Ugly too.
Arkel offers some bags and panniers designed for recumbent bikes. Catrike owners should take a very close look at Arkels specially designed frame bags for the Catrike 700, Trail and Expedition models. BentRider Online has a review of the Catrike 700 frame bag.
Radical Design makes several really interesting bags and panniers specially designed for recumbents in sizes from the tiny 10 liter Solo Racer seat bags to the huge 70 liter volume Pannier L.
Ortlieb offers its 54 liter volume waterproof Recumbent Bag panniers and also a clever waterproof backpack that doubles as a top rack bag. Not cheap but definitely worth a look.
Ortlieb waterproof backpack:
Whats with the bloody Givi cases then?
Ok, looks like there are several high quality bag choices from several different manufacturers. The only simple thing that’s missing with all these bags is a lock.
Little fiddly padlocks in the zipper aside, you can’t lock them. Here comes the motocycle case. With the same lock to secure the lid you also lock the cases to the three-point-mount. Turn the key half way, press a button and the cases unmount. They are not huge (425x348mm, 196mm deep, 21 liter volume) but you can fit a 13″ MacBook Pro with some padding inside.
The lids fold out providing a shallow bowl that can hold things while you dig for something in them and are very convenient to place tools or parts like little screws if repairing something while on tour. Mounting the cases to the trike is done with some aftermarket SW Motech mounting kit and some pieces of 5x20mm aluminium extrusion from the local building supply store.
While I still use the Givi cases on the black Sprint for commuting, the new blue Sprint needed bigger panniers for touring. I got an old Ortlieb X-Press messenger bag that had the perfect size and could be ‘upgraded’ with the Ortlieb QL-1 mounting system.
The blue Sprint with a pair of 35 liter Ortlieb X-Press
The new trike with hard shell seat, got a pair of fairly small and light bags just big enough to carry spare tubes, tools and perhaps a rain jacket. They are LoweAlpine backpack side pockets, simply attached to the seat with zip-ties.