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Old 05-11-08, 10:56 PM   #1
ShadowGray
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How do panniers/racks/trunks work?

Ok, so I currently just bike with a backpack on my back... but of course it can be a little annoying. How can I use it with a rack/rack with panniers? Is there a way I can just hook my bag up to a rack? Do I need a special mount? What about trunks/panniers? How exactly do they work?
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Old 05-11-08, 11:33 PM   #2
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Panniers hook onto the sides of the rack, with specially designed hooks. Trunk bags sit on top of the rack, and are held into place with velcro or leather straps built into the bag.

You might be able to lie your backpack on top of your rack (like a trunk bag) and hold it on with bungie cords.
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Old 05-11-08, 11:39 PM   #3
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Check out MEC's website for some helpful info on bike bags.
(click on 'cycling bags')
MEC also carries a pannier that is also a backpack which is kinda cool. MEC Cycling Pannier/Daypack
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Old 05-11-08, 11:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
Ok, so I currently just bike with a backpack on my back... but of course it can be a little annoying. How can I use it with a rack/rack with panniers? Is there a way I can just hook my bag up to a rack? Do I need a special mount? What about trunks/panniers? How exactly do they work?
Here is how you can modify your backpack for use with a bicycle rack. http://www.instructables.com/id/Back...ill-backpacks/

As mentioned elsewhere you can also lash your backpack to the top of the rack; however, depending on how much you are carrying, the bike will tend to be rather top-heavy in this configuration. If you do the aforementioned modification to your pack, the weight rides down lower and the bike balances better.

Of course, you could also buy proper panniers and a rack trunk which is more expensive, but like anything else is something that you will be using for years to come.

Last edited by Sirrus Rider; 05-12-08 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:12 AM   #5
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There is an ongoing debate on whether it makes a difference if the weight is on the bike or the rider. I am a backpack guy who recently tried a rear rack and trunk. After a week of huffing and puffing up hills on which I was previously comfortable, I am convinced (at least for me) that when I weigh my bike down, I have a harder time moving it. I hate that I must drive the car on my Monday in order to get appropriate clothes and food to work for the remainder of my week so I don't have to weigh myself down on the trip each day.
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Old 05-12-08, 04:58 AM   #6
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Wald folding rear basket attached to the rack works nicely for a backpack.
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Old 05-12-08, 05:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Toddorado View Post
There is an ongoing debate on whether it makes a difference if the weight is on the bike or the rider. I am a backpack guy who recently tried a rear rack and trunk. After a week of huffing and puffing up hills on which I was previously comfortable, I am convinced (at least for me) that when I weigh my bike down, I have a harder time moving it. I hate that I must drive the car on my Monday in order to get appropriate clothes and food to work for the remainder of my week so I don't have to weigh myself down on the trip each day.
I'm not trying to be a smart arse here, but what does it matter if the weight is on your back or off your back on the rack? Either way you have to exert the same amount of energy.
I myself, have used both methods and I prefer to use the rack and panniers. The backpack to me doesn't allow my back to breathe and traps an unbelievable amount of sweat. Just my opinion.
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Old 05-12-08, 05:35 AM   #8
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I'm not trying to be a smart arse here, but what does it matter if the weight is on your back or off your back on the rack? Either way you have to exert the same amount of energy.
I myself, have used both methods and I prefer to use the rack and panniers. The backpack to me doesn't allow my back to breathe and traps an unbelievable amount of sweat. Just my opinion.
I completely agree, it should not make a difference as the combined weight is the same. I'm saying that in my personal experience, having the weight on me makes my ride easier. It may all be in my head, but it is a noticeable difference.

I sort of equate it to wearing ten pounds on your back while running a mile, or wearing shoes that weigh 5 pounds each for a mile. Same weight, applied differently
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Old 05-12-08, 06:35 AM   #9
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I completely agree, it should not make a difference as the combined weight is the same. I'm saying that in my personal experience, having the weight on me makes my ride easier. It may all be in my head, but it is a noticeable difference.

I sort of equate it to wearing ten pounds on your back while running a mile, or wearing shoes that weigh 5 pounds each for a mile. Same weight, applied differently
That makes sense, good point.
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Old 05-12-08, 06:52 AM   #10
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some people swear by messenger bags. They keep the load off your back.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Toddorado View Post
There is an ongoing debate on whether it makes a difference if the weight is on the bike or the rider. I am a backpack guy who recently tried a rear rack and trunk. After a week of huffing and puffing up hills on which I was previously comfortable, I am convinced (at least for me) that when I weigh my bike down, I have a harder time moving it. I hate that I must drive the car on my Monday in order to get appropriate clothes and food to work for the remainder of my week so I don't have to weigh myself down on the trip each day.
Why not try out your theory with a timed commute, one with backpack and the other using the rack/trunk? Fill the thing up, so you can better check the time differential.

I don't think there is a difference between a rack mounted bag or a backpack, both filled with the same weight, on the speed of a cyclist.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:27 AM   #12
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You might try a single grocery pannier, just throw your backpack in it when you get on the bike. BTW, how much do you carry in your 'pack? If only a couple of pounds, you'll be fine w/side loading the weight. Otherwise, get some panniers to distribute the weight.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:31 AM   #13
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Here is how you can modify your backpack for use with a bicycle rack. http://www.instructables.com/id/Back...ill-backpacks/
I was going to post that link as well. The bungee cord method will work fine for small backpacks but larger backpacks need support. Cheap PVC plumbing pipe works fine. Just cut the pipe sizing the double square frame to the backpack you'll be using it with. Use Velcro tie straps to attach the backpack to the frame making sure to secure all loose straps so they don't get tangled in the wheel. I use my setup for touring so I put a removable cap in the top rear corner of the frame so I could carry extra water in it.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:48 AM   #14
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Zip-tie a milk crate to the your rack:

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Old 05-12-08, 09:08 AM   #15
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Milk crate would get kind of big... especially when parking.

Thing is, I have a laptop in there as well as notebooks/textbooks. So it's a little bit of load... around 15lbs? Are trunk bags designed to be detached easily and then carried or are they meant to stay on the bike? If I use trankbags/pannier bags, am I suppose to store my stuff in there when I'm riding, and then move it back to another bag when I get off?
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Old 05-12-08, 09:20 AM   #16
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Trunk bags are easy to take off and usually have a shoudler strap so you can use them as regular bag. However, most are too small for a laptop + big college textbooks. There are specialied "professional" bags to carry laptops, etc but I have not used any. I would not recommend leaving bags on bikes when parked in public.

I have this guy's bag:

My new trunk... finally!

its very nice but too small for your needs.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:08 PM   #17
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I'm not trying to be a smart arse here, but what does it matter if the weight is on your back or off your back on the rack?
I can carry a heavy backpack on my rides for a very short distance ... once the distance starts to get a bit long, my back aches, my chest aches, and my arms ache then fall asleep. It's not a good situation at all. I'd rather have my bicycle carry the weight.
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Old 05-12-08, 07:10 PM   #18
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Thing is, I have a laptop in there as well as notebooks/textbooks. So it's a little bit of load... around 15lbs? Are trunk bags designed to be detached easily and then carried or are they meant to stay on the bike? If I use trankbags/pannier bags, am I suppose to store my stuff in there when I'm riding, and then move it back to another bag when I get off?
Trunk bags can be removed fairly easily.

And no, you shouldn't need another bag when you get off the bicycle ... why would you?
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Old 05-12-08, 08:57 PM   #19
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With the weight on or hanging from a rack, the center of gravity is lower. That can make a difference in handling. Total weight will still be the same, of course.
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Old 05-12-08, 09:04 PM   #20
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Why not try out your theory with a timed commute, one with backpack and the other using the rack/trunk? Fill the thing up, so you can better check the time differential.

I don't think there is a difference between a rack mounted bag or a backpack, both filled with the same weight, on the speed of a cyclist.
I have already done this. I'm not saying it works for everyone, but a backpack's toll on my back is almost nonexistent. When the weight is on my bike, I am a sluggard I can tell especially on hills...
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Old 05-12-08, 09:39 PM   #21
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Check out MEC's website for some helpful info on bike bags.
(click on 'cycling bags')
MEC also carries a pannier that is also a backpack which is kinda cool. MEC Cycling Pannier/Daypack
I just picked up this bag but haven't had a chance to use it. It seems very rugged. It seems big enough to hold a laptop and other stuff.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:58 PM   #22
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I completely agree, it should not make a difference as the combined weight is the same. I'm saying that in my personal experience, having the weight on me makes my ride easier. It may all be in my head, but it is a noticeable difference.

I sort of equate it to wearing ten pounds on your back while running a mile, or wearing shoes that weigh 5 pounds each for a mile. Same weight, applied differently
Perhaps with the weight on the rider's body, the rider can (or maybe the body does it instinctively) position himself (and the weight) in the most efficient manner, especially when going up a hill. Shifting the weight by leaning forward, etc. When the weight is on a fixed portion of the bike, however, the rider doesn't have that option and must use more energy to overcome a less than optimal weight distribution, like when climbing whilst all your luggage is sitting over the back tire.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:32 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
Thing is, I have a laptop in there as well as notebooks/textbooks. So it's a little bit of load... around 15lbs? Are trunk bags designed to be detached easily and then carried or are they meant to stay on the bike? If I use trankbags/pannier bags, am I suppose to store my stuff in there when I'm riding, and then move it back to another bag when I get off?
I don't think you're going to get a laptop in a trunk bag. You might even want to check sizes before you get a pannier. As wide screen laptops become more common, more and more things designed for laptops don't always work. What has worked for me is the REI Commuter pannier.

http://www.rei.com/product/748088

It's very roomy, has a built-in shoulder strap, and works nicely with this sleeve:

http://www.rei.com/product/763394

I got the sleeve because I wanted extra protection after my old pannier bounced off the rack and the trim of the laptop got busted.

Last edited by Andy_K; 05-12-08 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:36 PM   #24
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On the topic of weight distribution, I've noticed that one leg gets sore when I have my (single) pannier fully loaded with laptop, lunch, shoes, etc, weighing in at about 20 pounds. This should be less of an issue if you use a pair of panniers and split the weight, but I'm guessing a lot of people comparing it to a backpack go with a single bag. It could be that the weight imbalance, and the accompanying compensation in opposite side peddling, causes a gross inefficiency that wouldn't be there with the weight centered on the back.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:44 PM   #25
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Perhaps with the weight on the rider's body, the rider can (or maybe the body does it instinctively) position himself (and the weight) in the most efficient manner, especially when going up a hill. Shifting the weight by leaning forward, etc. When the weight is on a fixed portion of the bike, however, the rider doesn't have that option and must use more energy to overcome a less than optimal weight distribution, like when climbing whilst all your luggage is sitting over the back tire.
I just went running yesterday in a downpour with my camelbak on. I normally run with it on and it is never a problem for me. I was running along just fine....until my shoes became soaked. Running with 10 pounds on my back was nothing. Running with 5 pounds of water in each shoe was painful. My ankles hurt so much from lifting those heavy things around for an 90 minutes!

I totally agree about the weight distribution idea. I have to think about it a little more, but for the hills, it does seem like it may make a difference.
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