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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    double pannier vs. single pannier vs. trunk

    I would like to start commuting to work and have finally got my route sorted out. A last question is just how am I going to carry my lock, lights, tools and a change of clothes (sans shoes) because I sure don't want it in a backpack (ouch). I haven't weighed all that stuff but I conjecture it'll all weigh more than ten pounds.

    My options as I see them prior to having tried them:
    (1) single pannier
    pros: simple, would probably hold everything, would be only one thing to take off the bike and carry around upon stopping
    cons: would concentrate all the weight on one side of the bike and probably adversely affect sprinting and handling in general

    (2) double panniers
    prods: would carry everything
    cons: would have to akwardly carry two panniers when I reach a destination

    (3) Topeak trunk w/ fold-down panniers
    pros: would hold everything
    cons: would raise my bike's center of gravity, fold-down panniers don't look like they hold much

    (4) large trunk w/out fold-down panniers
    pros: would hold everything
    cons: would concentrate all weight fairly high on the bike, would almost certainly detrimentally affect handling

    Am I right in what I wrote above? I'm soliciting you guys for input because I wanted to make an informed desicion on what to try first, esp. given that panniers can be fairly expensive.

  2. #2
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I would start with a single pannier. The whole "adversely affect handling" thing is a common concern, but I doubt you'll find anyone here who has actually had a problem. I've ridden many a mile with a heavily loaded single pannier, and just not been aware of any balance issue. Plus, if you buy one pannier, and find it's a problem, you can always buy a second one.

    I have no experience of rack trunks, however.

  3. #3
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    One pannier is no problem... It doesn't affect the handling very much... after about a week you won't notice it at all. (I carried 15 lbs of gear in one pannier for quite a while)

    10 lbs in a rack trunk isn't that much, either. I carry more than that in mine all the time. Again... it'll change the handling a little bit, but after a few days you won't notice it anymore.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  4. #4
    `````````````` CaptainCool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    I've ridden many a mile with a heavily loaded single pannier, and just not been aware of any balance issue.
    Same here. Just make sure you have a rack with swayback support and you're fine. Balance is only really an issue if you're at a stop and the bike starts to tip.

    Over the summer, I moved my u-lock from the pannier to a frame mount, because it's easier to get to and balances the bike out when I carry it up and down stairs.

  5. #5
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The only balance issue I've had with my single pannier is when I walk the bike. Then it feels a bit lopsided. It balances fine when I am in the saddle.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  6. #6
    Mirror slap survivor
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    You have another option. You can use a large Carradice saddlebag. Like this:

    http://www.wallbike.com/carradice/camper.html

    And a quick release Bagman support:

    http://www.wallbike.com/racks/bagman.html

    Quite a bit pricier, but should be lighter----and it's pretty classy.

  7. #7
    Mmmmm potatoes idcruiserman's Avatar
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    I bought 2 rear panniers with a rack, but I mostly just use one (driver's side). No issues with weight distribution.
    Idaho

  8. #8
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Just wanted to add this observation to OP: what you describe is not a lot of stuff. In my case, the lock goes in its bracket on the bike (and generally you can do this even if you don't have a bracket), the lights and multitool and spare tube and tire levers go in a small under-seat bag, and a change of clothes plus laptop go into the backpack (which I guess you find unacceptable).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    Just wanted to add this observation to OP: what you describe is not a lot of stuff. In my case, the lock goes in its bracket on the bike (and generally you can do this even if you don't have a bracket), the lights and multitool and spare tube and tire levers go in a small under-seat bag, and a change of clothes plus laptop go into the backpack (which I guess you find unacceptable).
    Ditto. Change of clothes, laptop if needed, and cell all go in a backpack. The rest in an under-seat bag. I also carry a few extra bits and bobbles in the bag: compass/mirror, whistle, and knife. The bag doubles as a camp bag, and mostly I'm too lazy to remove them.

    ~fatBoy
    http://trifatboy.com

  10. #10
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    I use a single pannier. The only handling issue for me is when I get up out of the saddle--but that may just because I'm a bit spastic and have more side-to-side movement than I should.

    You might be able to lose a little weight by keeping your lock on the rack at work.

  11. #11
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    I can't see much difference among the use of a single pannier, two panniers, and a rack trunk in the handling of the bike. The handlebar bag, I find, makes the biggest difference in handling, even when lightly loaded.

  12. #12
    King of the Plukers Spreggy's Avatar
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    I think everybody has underscored the handling issue quite well. In short, you get used to it in no time.

    So when you take handling out of the equation, the single pannier with an easy clip on & off system would be ideal.

  13. #13
    Trans-Urban Velocommando ax0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thirdin77 View Post
    My options as I see them prior to having tried them:
    (1) single pannier
    pros: simple, would probably hold everything, would be only one thing to take off the bike and carry around upon stopping
    cons: would concentrate all the weight on one side of the bike and probably adversely affect sprinting and handling in general
    Wouldn't affect your balance at all. I know tons of people who ride single-pannier.
    (2) double panniers
    prods: would carry everything
    cons: would have to akwardly carry two panniers when I reach a destination
    Banjo Brother's Saddlebags are two panniers held together with canvas. It's one item that drapes over your rack, and works well. This is what I use. If a single pannier will carry your stuff, though, don't bother. One con you didn't think of is that having more space leads to the tendency to carry more stuff because you can.
    (3) Topeak trunk w/ fold-down panniers
    pros: would hold everything
    cons: would raise my bike's center of gravity, fold-down panniers don't look like they hold much
    A raised center of gravity that's still basically below your butt won't adversely affect anything. Also, I've carried 60 pounds on my bike before. a 15 pound box of cat litter bungeed to the top of my rack, and a bunch of groceries in a backpack. I was JUST. FINE. If a 400 pound man can stay upright while walking (I've seen it!) then a top-heavy bicyclist can stay upright regardless of weight being a little off center.
    (4) large trunk w/out fold-down panniers
    pros: would hold everything
    cons: would concentrate all weight fairly high on the bike, would almost certainly detrimentally affect handling
    It still wouldn't hurt your handling all that much. Are you going to be racing in a crit with all this stuff on your bike?
    Am I right in what I wrote above? I'm soliciting you guys for input because I wanted to make an informed desicion on what to try first, esp. given that panniers can be fairly expensive.
    Honestly, your perception of how bad the handling would be affected is skewed. IF you're that worried about handling, go with double panniers and balance the weight you put in them. 10 pounds total even inf a (REALLY HIGH UP!) backpack won't really cause any problems, though. If you're even more concerned about the balance and efficiency, just drive one day per week and use that day to take all your fresh clothes to work and bring your dirty stuff home, and leave a lock at work for your bicycle. Then, you don't need anything on your bike at all.
    ax0n: Geeky and bikey
    My latest tip: Carrying your laptop
    My latest geeky project: Ethernet-testing cuff links

  14. #14
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    I use one pannier, about 10 lbs, and don't find any problem with handling. Spare tube, patch kit, levers, and multitool go in a seat wedge. In the winter I carry extra batteries and a headlamp in the pannier. I leave my lock at the rack at work, then if I need it on the way home I just hang it from my rack. I curious, for others who use one pannier, which side do you hang it from? I put in on the right, finding it easier to mount and dismount my bike. Also, if I have lean or lay my bike down, it gives it something to rest on.

  15. #15
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    I just switched from a trunk bag to single a single pannier. No handling problems at all. I noticed absolutely no difference while riding.

  16. #16
    impressive member badhat's Avatar
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    i use the topeak mtx rack with the fold out panniers.

    the biggest size topeak is really good sized. i got an entire thanksgiving dinner for like 8 people in there last year, inclusding like 2 pounds of carrots, 5 pounds of potatos, and agood sized turkey.

  17. #17
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    If you use panniers you can chose one or 2 depending how much shopping you want to haul. It is the most flexable option.
    Make sure you get a pannier with a heel cutout profile to avoid heel clipping and permit mounting further forward. Modern quick-release fittings are far superior to hook and elastic, they are totally secure over bumps and fix and release instantaneously. I prefer flaptop to rolltop or zippered closures: they can be overloaded and they provide very quick access to stow and retrieve waterproofs.

  18. #18
    Senior Member pluc's Avatar
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    Top heavy is not really a problem most of the time. The only thing it changes is when turning at a higher speed, especially doing down a hill. The bag wants to go its own way... there's a trick to prevent that, it's called braking.

    I have no idea if it would change sprinting though, I never leave the saddle.

  19. #19
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    IF you buy a trunk get the TREK brand.

    They are the only one I know of with panniers large enough to allow a pair of shoes in each side.

    There are cheaper ones (nashbar brands etc.) but the sides are ridiculously small.

  20. #20
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pluc View Post
    Top heavy is not really a problem most of the time. The only thing it changes is when turning at a higher speed, especially doing down a hill. The bag wants to go its own way... there's a trick to prevent that, it's called braking.

    I have no idea if it would change sprinting though, I never leave the saddle.
    If you tend to throw the bike from side to side when sprinting, then you will feel the mass of the bags as extra mass on the bike... the real issue though is if the bags are not rigidly mounted, but are spring mounted (or bungie mounted) as my old bags are... the bag is held in place by a spring that connects to the bottom of the rack; this spring allows the bags to move laterally such that if you throw the bike from side to side, the bags swing out and then back in, somewhat after the fact... the latency of the returning bag can cause a sudden later jolt that can be an issue. Of course you can match your cadence to the swing... which becomes interesting.

    Many systems today use rigid mounts for the entire bag, so you have no latency effect as a bag moves and returns (as I describe above).

    Just something to think about as you look at different systems. BTW the spring mount system is fast on and fast off... which is why I chose it. (it is very old... the company is long gone). The bags did combine in the handle to make one easy to carry bag... nice feature.

  21. #21
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    I use small Delta panniers to commute; it is no problem carrying both in one hand.
    The problem with using a single pannier is that it LOOKS UNBALANCED. And, it is truly unbalanced, visually. If I had only enough stuff that would fit in a single pannier, I would use a rack-top bag, which I have done in the past. Unfortunately, my Arkel racktop bag does not fit on my 'bent's rack because of seat strut interference.

  22. #22
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    Make sure to try on the pannier(s) if you can. I had heel strike issues on a cheapo pannier and I was always knocking it off. I switched to the type that are two shorter ones stitched together (like the ones described above) and I have no problem. I keep them on the bike all the time. (I figure wind resistance will only help me burn more calories). When I save up some more $ I'll probably get the Arkel bug, since it pops right on and off. BTW I fit shoes + lunch + files + clothes in the current setup.

  23. #23
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    I use a large trunk without fold out panniers daily. Love it. Mount it on top of my rack.

    When I go grocery shopping, I use a pannier. Love it. Also, use it when I go on travel and bike to the airport, and when I need to carry my laptop.

    There aren't handling issues with either one, as others have said. I prefer my trunk when possible, since it holds plenty for me and is blocked from the wind (by me).

    My trunk bag is like this one:

    http://www.lickbike.com/productpage.aspx?PART_NUM_SUB='3648-01'

    In it, I pack my pump, my lunch, silverware, dress shirt, rain poncho, wallet, cell phone, badge, change, and an extra layer top, sometimes.
    Cleveland, OH
    Breezer fan

  24. #24
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    Keeping panniers tight

    I just got double panniers for my new bike, and they don't fit well. Fell off when I jumped a curb. Any advice? Mine attach with small hooks over the rack at top and bungeed hook on the rack at bottom.

  25. #25
    circus bear ban guzzi's Avatar
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    no lopsided issues for me. I'm running one pannier and I hang my u-lock off the other side. I carry my bike up and down stairs with no balance issues.
    Car Free Life.
    Riding without a brake is like saying that you trust traffic. ~ jonestr

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