This year, we are proud to celebrate our 35th anniversary. For this occasion, we had the pleasure to look in the past and dig some old memories!
- - Arkel started in a basement in 1988;
- - A lively group of people with disabilities working at eh workshop;
- - The company was originally founded in Montreal;
- - Arkel's community is all over the world;
- - The oldest bag that Arkel still manufactured is the GT-54 since 1993;
- - The name Arkel comes from a comics character;
- - 80% of the products are still manufactured in Quebec, Canada.
What have we done for the last 35 years?
In short, we've made bike bags. Lots of bike bags.
We have crafted and built strong panniers that have navigated around the world once or twice and are still in good shape to continue their journey!
But beyond making bags, Arkel brought together a community and allowed a bunch of bicycle enthusiasts to travel on two wheels, to explore different cultures and to live life-changing experiences.
Arkel’s team has contributed to democratizing bike touring and empowered many people to venture into this lifestyle.
How did everything start?
Arkel was founded in Montreal 35 years ago by two cyclists: Serge Vigeant and Diane Laplante. They were frustrated with the lack of high-quality, durable cycling bags on the market.
They wanted to create panniers that could withstand the rigours of daily commuting and long-distance touring.
They designed and hand-sewed their first prototypes in Serge’s basement. Their bike panniers were soon available at local bike shops, and their reputation quickly grew because of the quality of their products.
Over the years, Arkel has moved to Sherbrooke, grown its team, expanded its distribution network internationally as well as diversified its product line.
You now find highly specialized bags for bikepacking, commuting, e-bikes, recumbent bikes, etc.
Why has Arkel lasted all these years?
Arkel’s team strives to make bags with a lot of attention to details: durability, functionality, comfort, and sustainability.
Products that can handle any adventure whether it be in the Canadian Northern freezing cold weather or the blazing hot temperatures of the African continent.
But beyond making goods, we are committed to having a positive impact on the community and the environment.
Sustainability is a central value at Arkel. It means using the best materials to create bags that are made to last. It also means repairing them as much as possible to extend their lifetime.
Besides, some bags are now available in eco-friendly fabric X-Pac. They are carbon-neutral fabrics either made of post-consumer recycled materials or sustainably grown cotton. Furthermore, the owner is intending to get Carbon Neutral certified as well and being a member of 1% for the Planet in the future.
Since 2003, the lively crew from CRDITED Estrie – a social service program for folks with intellectual disabilities and pervasive developmental disorders have been part of the family. They help assemble the Cam-Lock mounting system, and much more right there with them!
Everyone at Arkel really cares about the clients and their projects. They love helping them organize their trips and hearing about their experience afterwards. Every cyclist reaching out for help is taken care of in the most friendly and rigorous way possible!
But why is Arkel still relevant after all these years?
Because the company was supported by its community since the beginning.
Members often became true ambassadors, they have spread the word from generation to generation and contributed immensely to the success of the company.
What’s coming for the next 35 years?
We are a group of passionate cyclists that are thrilled to find new and innovative ways to improve what is available on the market whether it's through new materials, sleek designs, or ingeanious features.
Dusty Pictures From the Archives
Going through archives of hundreds of pictures and documents was like walking in a museum.
These vintage photos are a tribute to the numerous years that Arkel was involved in the cycling community (and thank God our skills and styles has evolve through time!)
Here is a glimpse of some great specimens we've found: