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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 10-05-04, 04:23 PM   #1
operator
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Should I be worried about panniers air resistance?

I'm very very very close to buying a rack and panniers. One of the though that crossed my mind is the wind resistance. They bulge out on both sides and seem like they block a lot of wind. In contrast I wear a backpack right now (which I hate). Is it as bad as I think it is? Will it slow me down considerably?
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Old 10-05-04, 04:38 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by operator
I'm very very very close to buying a rack and panniers. One of the though that crossed my mind is the wind resistance. They bulge out on both sides and seem like they block a lot of wind. In contrast I wear a backpack right now (which I hate). Is it as bad as I think it is? Will it slow me down considerably?
I wondered the same thing when I first got panniers...then I looked in the mirror and saw that my body bulges out on both sides and probably also blocks wind, and I should probably just keep riding to rid myself of that bulging before I worried about my panniers. That's my theory on weight of parts and junk too. If I take a large crap before I ride, I save more weight than if I spend 2X as much on the super lite stuff.

Seriously though, even if they do block some more wind it's worth it when compared to a backpack. I used to ride with a backpack too, and since I've gotten panniers I don't even like to ride with a hydration pack on my back. In addition to panniers I have a rack trunk too. When I carry the same stuff in the trunk as in the panniers, I don't notice a difference in speed. I can't comment on riding without either, since its always one or the other.
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Old 10-05-04, 04:39 PM   #3
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Generally, your legs are in front of your panniers so your panniers are drafting. Seriously, there is certainly no noticable increase in wind resistance.
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Old 10-05-04, 04:45 PM   #4
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penniers add weight and make you less aerodynamic so your speed will sufer. you dont say what kind of riding, how fast and how far you plan on going. its all about the purpose if you want to go fast for short distance, stay with your backpack. if you want to go far and carry a lot of stuff, sacrifice a little speed and be comfortable.
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Old 10-05-04, 04:45 PM   #5
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The beauty of a rack is that, depending on just how much stuff you need to haul, you can opt to go with just a trunk. I have both and try to pack carefully so that I need only the trunk. But it's nice to have those paniers as an option. If you can't afford both set ups go for the paniers. You can always leave one at home. And no, you won't be thrown off balance by doing so - unless you pack a bowling ball in the thing. The nice thing about paniers vs trunk is that paniers have a lower center of gravity. This is palpable if you're in the habit of climbing out of the saddle with vigor... uh yea, that was kind of gay. Anyway, dump the pack. Your back will thank you. DanO
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Old 10-05-04, 04:55 PM   #6
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I do a regular round trip commute of around 60 - 70km (5 days a week). Depending on if I bike around during lunch hour or not (usually I do). Entire round trip usually average 25-26 kph. One downhill section i'm doing about 60kph.

My back aches with the backpack on most of the time if I carry more than 3-4 pounds. Yeah I suck :/
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Old 10-06-04, 06:45 AM   #7
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Panniers bags are great for carrying your gear around .I have a rack on my old 27" with fenders that I use for work when its raining & also for going to the supermarket for extra supply's , the only prob. I seem to have is when the weather is realy wild, strong gusty side winds seem to blow the bike about a bit & can catch you unawares especialy on bridges but tail winds are great ,you feel like one of those old Spanish gallions in full sail.
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Old 10-06-04, 07:03 AM   #8
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Do these panniers make my ass look fat?
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Old 10-06-04, 07:44 AM   #9
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I started commuting with a large hydration backpack combo. Since I switched to a trunk bag I, like Super-douper, have put my hydration bag away. My back and especially my hands have thanked me.

Several companies make a trunk bag that have "hide-away" panniers. So far my trunk bag has been adequate, but I foresee a problem when colder weather hits and I will wan't to take more "just in case" clothing along.
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Old 10-06-04, 08:23 AM   #10
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No. You should not be worried about the wind resistance of panniers. Your not in a RR or TT so no sweat. Bicycle commuting is not generally about speed. Its about the journey.

Enjoy the journey!
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Old 10-06-04, 09:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by N7CZinMT
Bicycle commuting is not generally about speed. Its about the journey.
About the best summation to any commuter question I've ever seen.
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Old 10-06-04, 10:22 AM   #12
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If you are into speed, and you do think panniers create increased wind resistance (which, I contend, they do not unless you have extremely skinny legs or extemely wide panniers) consider this - the increased resistance will just make you stronger.

Personally, I agree with N7CZinMT. It's all about the journey, which I enjoy every day.
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Old 10-06-04, 11:31 AM   #13
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Fast endurance riders (such as in Audax events) need to carry stuff and ride fast. A lot of them still use old-fashioned Carradice saddlebags. These take 10-25l of stuff very close to the centre of gravity, with better aerodynamics than panniers, and no luggage rack needed. Despite being made of canvas, wood, brass and leather they have a better load/weight ratio than any racktop bag.

http://www.carradice.co.uk/originals...gflapsaddlebag
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Old 10-06-04, 11:39 AM   #14
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I agree - it's not about speed, it's about the journey. And panniers will make that journey much, much more enjoyable.
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Old 10-06-04, 12:39 PM   #15
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If you ride fast, then yes, panniers will slow you down somewhat. But I use them because I need to haul stuff to work.

But, as Rainman noted, they will make you stronger...
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Old 10-06-04, 01:28 PM   #16
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If you shave your legs, the reduced drag will offset any increase caused by the panniers
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Old 10-07-04, 10:37 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by N7CZinMT
No. You should not be worried about the wind resistance of panniers. Your not in a RR or TT so no sweat. Bicycle commuting is not generally about speed. Its about the journey.

I agree. What I like about panniers vs backpack, shoulder bag, and rack-top bags/trunks, is that panniers contribute to a lower center of gravity. This means you are more stable. Mass shifts less, and mass shifting can cause trouble around tight turns. You do have some conscious/unconcious control over the location of the mass with a backpack, but panniers are easy to get used to. I'm still looking for a really easy on/off "mini pannier" system, that is, two small panniers, attached in middle with a handle for easy toting, trivially easy to clip on/off.

The issue of wind resistance is not very large when it's a tradeoff with lower center of mass.
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Old 10-08-04, 07:25 AM   #18
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My own "scientific" tests reveal that the additional drag is relatively limited, unless I carry a set of super wide panniers. In that regard, a handlebar bag creates more wind resistance.
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Old 10-08-04, 10:20 AM   #19
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The only things I have found to be a negative to panniers is the amount of weight they can add to your bike. I commute daily and use mine all the time. When they are full it can add around 30lbs+ extra. That can add a lot of resistance when riding, especially if you are a light skinny person to being with. All in all though, I wouldn't trade my panniers for anything. They allow me to do everything I was able to when I had a vehicle.
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Old 10-08-04, 09:57 PM   #20
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Ok I got the panniers/rack today. Only slight problem is the right one kept fallin off, turns out that I didn't thread the bottom hook through the little fabric insert at the bottom of the pannier before attaching them to the frame. Happened 3 times before I realized what was going on.

Now i'm a little big worried that every jolt I hit my panniers will go flying.

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