Touring - Cargo Trailer Questions
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I did the searches and read the back posts concerning panniers versus trailers and the excellent review of the Burley Nomad, and I still have questions.
The tour I intend to do includes almost five miles of climbing on the bike in four days, and then backpacking four days with another few thousand vertical feet (I'm hoping to make it from Vegas, across Death Valley and to the summit of Mount Whitney under human power). Money matters some. Weight matters a lot. Carrying capacity matters very little.
So many of the previous posts are about using trailers as utility vehicles and loading them with far more than I ever would. What would you recommend for light-weight touring?
Panniers are out. I don't want to swap my entry-level racer for a ten-pounds-heavier touring bike, and I don't want to abandon a set of panniers at the trailhead or to bungee an internal-frame pack on top of them.
I'm considering the TW-Trailer (16 lbs, similar to Bob, but folds and costs $195), the Nashbar SWT (12 lbs, on sale now for $99), or trying to find a Bob on ebay (14 lbs.). Hopefully, I'll be carrying a pack weighing less than 30 lbs, some spares and tools for the bike, a pair of hiking boots and a pair of trekking poles - the 45# load rating of the Nashbar shouldn't be an issue.
I notice that others here have the Nashbar cargo trailer. Is the Nashbar good for 250 miles with 40 lbs on it? What would you do to beef it up to make such a trip? Carefully loaded, what is the top safe speed? I saw someone say in another post that his Bob can go 40 mph if it is loaded correctly.
Anybody using the TW? It looks like it would be beefier out-of-the-box than the Nashbar and costs significantly less than the Bob.
Thanks in advance,
Can you use some combination of a handlebar bag, a seatbag like the Carradice or a Carousel Design Works, and a backpack? I assume you're going to have a backpack with you anyway for Mt. Whitney, so you could load that with your light, bulky stuff and have the dense stuff on the bike. It sounds like it's going to be hot, so you don't even need stuff like a stove. A trailer is a lot of weight and they do suck on climbs - especially if you have a fancy light bike with a limited gear range. We have a BOB that we pull behind the tandem for grocery runs and it's incredible how much it alters the feel of the bike even when empty.
I wouldn't call pulling a trailer lightweight touring.
How about Old Man Mountain Racks and Panniers?
You could easily stuff 2 panniers in a backpack. Or leave them on the bike. Ortlieb has some security cables that allow you to hook them to the rack.
From the site:
Our rear racks offer something for everyone.
The Cold Springs and Sherpa mount to your brake bosses and axle. This design allows them to fit nearly any type of frame including frames: without rack eyelets, with small rear triangles, with disc-brakes, and even with rear suspension.
The Red Rock and White Rock mount to lower eyelets and brake bosses and are the best choice when eyelets are available.
05-21-08, 11:12 PM
You seem to be hung up on the notion that your bike can't handle a rack and panniers, but any bike that can't handle that is going to also be less than ideal with a trailer torquing on the chainstay. If you're going to keep packweight under 30lbs, you should seriously consider going with a frameless backpack for the hike, which you could just stuff in one of your panniers. Check out this website for a comprehensive list of pack reviews, all by one smart dude who provides good detail on frameless systems:
This topeak trunk bag has fold out panniers, can mount on a seatpost rack and holds 20l
You can bolt on a giant handlebar bag for another 10 liters, giving you a total of 30l. That should be enough capacity for your trip, especially if you strap bag and pad in sacks on top of rear rack or carry some things in the backpack on your body (not the most pleasant idea for death valley).
The bike is not what I would call fancy - a 1997-model Cannondale R300. It has a 52-42-30 triple chainring; I think the rear cassette maxes at 26. The wheelset is Spinergy circa 2000.
And yes, I was assuming that it could not carry panniers. daveIT's suggestion of the oldmanmountain rack is great.
I'm still curious about the performance of the Nashbar since it would be cheaper than the Sherpa rack - before any panniers. And aren't panniers, rack, handlebar bag, etc, going to approach 12 pounds at some point?
People: Zuman is biking four days, then backpacking four days. (And presumably biking four days back.) Zero bike-mounted bags and a trailer carrying a big backpack actually makes sense here. Hooray, a trailer on a bike tour is vindicated!
Zuman, Bob trailers are the gold standard for what you're contemplating. I have one, bought used off Craigslist, and think it's an engineering marvel compared to other bike trailer designs. Highly recommended. I don't use it for bike touring because it's too heavy and I don't need that kind of capacity for the normalweight touring I do -- but if I were doing your trip, that's what I'd use.
The Nashbar Bob Ripoff Trailer looks very tempting. If I didn't already have a Bob I'd be very, very interested. It looks like a very good ripoff, and it's certainly a lot cheaper. I don't know a thing about the folding trailer you mention.
Bottom line: I think a backpacker's backpack in a Bob or Boblike trailer is a really compelling combination for folks who want to bike there and walk in. You can't go wrong with a Bob, and I'd love to hear whether the alternatives are competitive. Someday I want to do a tour like yours. Have fun!
daveIT, by "light" I meant that I am only going a week and 240 miles. Poor choice of words on my part.
All of the guide books I have read about Whitney say to plan on a 45 to 60 litre pack weighing between 30 and 50 pounds (I know, that's quite a range). Trying to carry stuff in panniers then transfer it doesn't make sense to me. Takara's idea of a naked bike (and back) with a trailer for a good backpack is what I was thinking from the start.
Nashbar knocked another $15 off the price of their trailer, so I decided that I would give it a try. $85 and 12 pounds. Even shipped, it's less than $100. The oldmanmountain rack was $107 and I would have had to buy panniers to go with it (and after all that money, the weight savings would only be a couple or four pounds).
I'm planning a shake-down trip in a month or so; I will write a review of the trailer then.
05-23-08, 05:34 PM
I climbed Whitney as a daytrip off-shoot for my PCT thru-hike in '06. This was a high snow year so I took an ultralight ice axe and cramp-ons which was definetly handy. A fifty pound backpack?! No. Unless you plan on spending the night on Whitney Portal (not fun) this is a day hike. Aside from a good stomach/ cranium for altitude change you wont need much more than extra layers if you time it right. You won't even need an ice axe or cramp-ons if you know the conditions...though I really liked having the ice axe for glisading.
One thing that is enforced (though not strictly) is the need to register to enter the John Muir Wilderness. This requires a nominal fee and the mandatory use of a bear canister (lame). You can rent these unwieldy tupperware containers at the Whitney Portal store (which also makes the biggest damn pancakes on Earth). Or you can get an ultralite URsack kevlar bear bag (online) that I'm pretty sure still passes the local ranger's test. I spent six months in the wilderness and never even saw evidence of a bear. I did run into a ranger who wanted to fine me for not having a wilderness pass, though.
Hope this further helps in planning your tour, sounds like a noble one.
11-24-08, 08:41 AM
Bump. Looking for the review! How about it? :)
In planning the tour to Mount Whitney, I had always included a weekend test run as part of my preparation. The one-day trip from Summerlin to Mount Charleston went so poorly that I postponed the trip to California until next year. Things I learned in nearly seven hours of riding 35 miles and 4000 vertical feet were:
1. 28 gear inches is not a low enough gear for these mountain passes when I'm hauling an extra fifty pounds.
2. An iPod becomes critically important to morale when you are only going four mph (or less).
3. Loading a Nashbar trailer with its 45 lb rated capacity doesn't work well. It might have been better if I had more carefully packed the trailer and then packed moved everything to the backpack at the trailhead. Instead, I packed the backpack and then strapped it in. The weight wasn't really that high, but the Nashbar trailer has soooooo much flex - especially at the connection to the bike. The rig became dangerous if I tried to stand and pump. Honestly, it was scary to push the rig out of the garage. Why I left the driveway, I cannot say. I will not try to carry a significant load in the Nashbar trailer again - especially if there is climbing involved.
4. Perhaps my biggest mistake was that my synthetic Giordana jersey was left in the washer too long before being dried - it was soured. And a soured synthetic jersey is miserable when you spend hours with just enough tailwind to make your own stink linger in the air around you.
You can look forward to more stupid questions as I try to figure out a Plan B. Since the wife doesn't want to see me add to the stable of bicycles, I may work toward using my 2001 Trek 4900 (MTB) as a tourer.
I also carried the loaded pack on a four-mile hike with substantial elevation gain, and my hiking gear was fantastic. The Six Moon Designs Starlight fit perfectly, and weighs next to nothing. I would like to cut some weight from my tent, but setting up camp and cooking didn't reveal any backpacking surprises.
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