Touring - Tandeming from Miami to Maine, is Arkel a good call?
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04-27-08, 02:25 PM
My girlfriend and I are tandem-ing from Miami FL, to (an as yet to be determined location in) Maine. We are “credit card” touring and do not plan on camping during our trip. Camping is something we plan on doing in the future but for this trip we plan on indulging ourselves with small bed and breakfasts as our lodging.
We are traveling light (no camping gear… helps that out a bunch) but we will need to fit everything else on our tandem bike. We like the simplicity of the Arkel Tandem Touring (http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/tt84/overview.asp?fl=1&site=) bags and think we could fit everything we need in just two rear bags (they are huge from what I read about them). This set up is particularly interesting to us because we only have a rear pannier rack currently and we could avoid purchasing a front low rider if these bags fit everything.
Would a rear only pannier setup be a bad call? And does anyone have any experience with these bags?
I would suggest that you pick front panniers to use on the rear for this trip and add a front rack and the larger rear Arkels for future camping adventures. You do not want all of the gear weight on the rear wheel when fully loaded for camping.
Calculate the weight of the two riders plus full gear and the weight of the bike to get an idea as to the stress on the rear wheel and tire. How many spokes per wheel?
Our first tandem was a 1978 Santana with 48 spoke wheels and 35mm tires. It held up quite well to heavy touring loads and even some lengthy gravel and dirt stretches.
Have a great trip! And congratulations on graduation!
04-27-08, 07:21 PM
What is your relative weight? Assuming you (male) ride in front, if your weight is 2 or 2.5 times hers, then packing all gear on the rear wheel makes sense. But if, say, you are 180 lb and your girlfriend is 130, then you will be much more stable with decent fore/aft weight distribution.
04-27-08, 07:58 PM
We are close in size and weight. I'm about 135 and she is less than 120. Our bike isn't a pig either at about 33 pounds. So we aren't pushing the envelope on wheel strength or anything. I was more concerned with handling.
I figured that the extra weight on the back wheel would be counteracted by the length (and leverage) of the tandem making for an even balance.... but I should mention that I am no good at physics and know noting about touring panniers.
04-27-08, 09:01 PM
The Nunes family rode a triple across the USA and they used Arkel panniers - loved them! You can read their journal at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=1218&v=um
04-27-08, 11:38 PM
(...) you will be much more stable with decent fore/aft weight distribution.
I agree with the concept of the weight distribution, and if you buy regular front and rear panniers, you'll be able to use them on a regular non-tandem bike as well. I'm not sure if 84L panniers fit on a regular pannier, but it seems huge!
As for Arkel, they make great products. All my panniers are Arkel: T28 in front, Dolphin 48 in the back, and a large handlebar bag. I also have their tail rider (the Pelican I believe) and they all perform flawlessly.
If you want a truely waterproof bag, I'd suggest the Dolphin bags. They're Cordura on the outside, and the inside is covered with some sort of rubberish material that's quite similar to the material used outside of Ortlieb bags. I really like them because they are truely waterproof and, unlike the Ortliebs, have an outside pocket and a couple of mesh pockets.
As an added bonus, they're made in Quebec. You might not care though, but I do as I live here :)
If you go for the simpler (and cheaper) models, the T48 (is it 48?) in the back and the T28 in front, I'd strongly recommend the raincovers, which are really nice to have when it's pouring. Although after a full day of heavy rain some water will seep in (especially if you don't have fenders).
Ultimately, I find the Dolphin like of bags to be the sweet spot in term of price/performance. One caveat, they're only available in blue, not that I care, but you might.
One last thing about Arkel bags is that they have a lifetime warranty. You don't even need to have the sales slip. They'll fix them as long as the Arkel label is still attached!
Have a nice trip!
04-28-08, 09:03 AM
Thanks for the input everyone, I just placed my order with Arkel for a set of front (T28) and rear (GT 18 BackPack version) bags. I also took your advice and picked up a set of rain covers. When it all comes in I will be sure to post pictures of our "loaded" rig.
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