Touring - rear panniers on the front?
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02-23-03, 09:09 PM
Having read through the forum, I have found references that suggest that the arkel T-42, featured on their website as rear panniers, can be used on the front. It seems like a good option for the long tour I am gearing up for, but I am unclear which front rack would be compatible with the T-42 functioning up front. Can I still use a lowrider, or do I need something that will bring them up higher? I will be touring with 700c tires.
02-23-03, 10:18 PM
A front pannier that's too big may contact the downtube during turns. One that's too high and too heavy may adversely affect the handling of the bike.
The mounting systems are the same, so any pannier should "fit" any rack. You should be able to determine how a given pannier will fit your bike by measuring; Arkel provides "blueprints" on their site.
A lowrider centers the pannier vertically on the axle. Using the blueprint you should be able to measure how far back the pannier will extend, and (also taking into account its thickness) determine whether it will provide sufficient toe clearance or cause problems during turns.
If at all possible, I'd recommend staying with lowrider front racks. On a long tour, the reduced stability of too much weight too high in front can be very fatiguing, if not hazardous.
Even with lowriders, you don't want too much weight in front, which is another reason to stay with smaller front panniers.
02-23-03, 11:12 PM
thanks much for the reply. two questions: first, i read somewhere that you shouldn't take lowriders off pavement (i will certainly be travelling on bumpy dirt roads), and second, elsewhere in the forum, hasn't it been suggested that the weight distribution should be about equal front and back?
02-24-03, 04:16 AM
Tests by the Cyclists Touring Club suggest that about 60% of the load should be at the rear. Most people end up putting even more weight in the rear.
The "off-road" for which low-riders are unsuitable is really technical singletrack with low bushes. The low-riders catch on the bushes and can turn the forks. For your average farm-track type off-road, LR systems are fine.
For 'heavy duty' front lowriders check out the
web site, they have a pair designed to take either a pair of large rear or smaller front Ortelieb panniers and can be loaded to something like 25KG. God know what your steering would be like with that weight.
02-24-03, 09:07 AM
There are a lot of opinions about front/rear weight distribution, but they all seem to fall between 60/40 and 40/60. If you're carrying 50 pounds of stuff in your panniers, that's a range of 20 lb to 30lb on the front. Not that big a range.
But more weight in front will affect handling, and you need to assess this effect for yourself. In any case, by simply packing your denser equipment in the front panniers, you can distribute the weight while keeping them small.
As for height, as long as they're not lower than your pedals, you should be fine on roads, dirt or otherwise.
02-24-03, 07:55 PM
I think I am the one who suggested this arrangement. If you look at Arkel's website (http://www.panniers.com), you will notice that the T-42 are about as high as the GT-30 or the TT-38 (i.e. their largest front panniers). The main difference is between Arkel panniers is that hooks for rear panniers are 7" apart, while hooks for front panniers are 5.25" apart.
BTW, although I would not recommend you re-engineer their panniers, if you need to change the spacing between hooks, it is possible with a drill to drill a new hole through the fabric and plate.
What should you check?
1. On my front racks (Blackburn Lowriders), I don't have any problem installing the T-42 panniers. The horizontal "platform" is long enough so I place the hook onto one of the safety tabs of the rack. I don't think Blackburn Lowriders exist anymore, but there are lookalikes in existence (REI probably sells them). If you get another one, such as the excellent Tubus, check the length of the platform (7 - 7.5 inches). The Jandd extreme are very long racks, but some people question their solidity. As I haven't seen them, I can't help you on that subject.
2. Check that any panniers you buy for the front has a locking system. A rear pannier that falls may cause you to skid and fall. But a front pannier that falls will cause you to fly over your handlebars.
Likewise, make sure the hook that goes at the bottom works ok with your front pannier. Some panniers just have a strap that goes around the ear of the rear pannier; as there usually is no ear at the bottom of a front rack, a mere strap isn't secure enough for the front. The T-42 are OK on these aspects, but I have another set of rear panniers (Le Montagnard) that wouldn't fit on the front rack.
3. Some rear panniers have hooks, places to hang things outside them, a platform on top, etc. This is great because it let you hang extra supplies on top of the rear pannier, but loose straps are very dangerous around the front wheel.
Regarding roads vs how low they go
On the lowrider rack, the T-42 go down to about 6" off pavement. That's about as low as would go their GT-30 and TT-38 front panniers. But as they are a bit wider at the base, you have to be careful if you like to hug curbs (panniers will catch). If you ride or stop more than 6-7" away from the curb, you will be OK.
In tight curves, I don't think you can tilt the bike enough to drag.
Finally, rough roads, gravel roads and well-groomed trails are not a problem. If you want to ride through mud, technical terrain, forestry roads with tall hay, deep snow, then the panniers will drag.
02-25-03, 04:27 AM
Does any manufacturer still use the old elasic hook fastening ?
Modern clip-on systems lock on at the top, and have an "anti-sway" plastic tab at the bottom, which slides inside the rack.
They work the same on front and rear racks.
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