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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 03-09-13, 09:13 PM   #1
mtn.cyclist
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Panniers vs. Trailer

My wife and I are considering gearing up for some loaded touring. We wonder about the advantages and disadvantages of using panniers or a trailer? We have a Cannondale Road Tandem. No specific destination, probably start small and progress to longer more exptic trip. Thanks!!
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Old 03-09-13, 09:25 PM   #2
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My wife and I have toured, on our Co-Motion Speedster, with a BOB trailer. We road around Lake Champlain, Lake Erie, and The Natchez Trace. The last trip we did Minneapolis to Cleveland we did with front and rear panniers. I have to say I much preferred the panniers. I think with the front panniers the bike handled better. Also it was much easier to find a place to lean the bike as it was much shorter!
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Old 03-10-13, 12:36 AM   #3
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My wife and I have toured, on our Co-Motion Speedster, with a BOB trailer. We road around Lake Champlain, Lake Erie, and The Natchez Trace. The last trip we did Minneapolis to Cleveland we did with front and rear panniers. I have to say I much preferred the panniers. I think with the front panniers the bike handled better. Also it was much easier to find a place to lean the bike as it was much shorter!
Thanks for the input. I've been pondering the same question. In spite of having a new trailer, I may take your advice and go with the panniers only as well.
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Old 03-10-13, 01:13 AM   #4
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We used only rear panniers, getting our total carried weight down to 40-43 lbs., counting everything except water bottles, for a full camping load with tent. The bike handled OK, once we got used to it. Probably would handle better splitting up the weight front and rear, but that means more weight. We have a carbon fork, so that was a non-starter anyway. We've been backpacking for many years, so we had most everything except the panniers. We climbed OK with this load, did a lot of 12%.
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Old 03-10-13, 04:45 PM   #5
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We tour smaller (short) tours with a bob, probably 500 miles a season, it works well, tows well, holds more than you should take, etc. The negative in our mind is weight, if you run the numbers, its not a lot compared to four panniers and the necessary hardware, but it is heavier. We started with a bob cause it was a good deal used, never even looked for panniers, (yet). I like CF's idea of all in the rear.
Look up the forum at bikehubshop.com, lots of ideas there, also the touring forum here.
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Old 03-10-13, 07:41 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the input. I have toured on a single with panniers and it worked fine, just left me thinking there might be a better way. I have pulled my son many miles in a trailer and I now pull a disabled friend so I have done that too. Two wheeled trailers, never a Bob type. Does the single wheeled trailer behave significantly different?
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Old 03-10-13, 10:06 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the input. I have toured on a single with panniers and it worked fine, just left me thinking there might be a better way. I have pulled my son many miles in a trailer and I now pull a disabled friend so I have done that too. Two wheeled trailers, never a Bob type. Does the single wheeled trailer behave significantly different?
There is a difference. You will feel the weight of the single wheel trailer leaning one way or another as you start up and stop. Once moving, I can tell little difference. When you park your bike, the single wheel trailer will want to tip your rig over unless you move it off at an angle to the bicycle.
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Old 03-10-13, 10:13 PM   #8
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The only person who has ever told me she preferred a trailer on a tour was my sister-in-law, and that was because she had just taken her Bob on the continental divide tour. Other people she was with had bad experiences with their rack bolts vibrating out; they probably used the wrong loc-tite.

We've toured tens of thousands of miles on and off-road on our tandem with panniers. Weight in the front bags improves handling and the rear bags improve visibility of us by motorists.
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Old 03-11-13, 02:02 AM   #9
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When recently preparing to go on a 5-week long bike tour, we knew we wanted to take a bit more than on our previous one-week long, but didn't have any extra capacity if just limited to panniers and a handlebar bag. We didn't want a trailer, so I went about optimising all of the space available on the tandem, including some very sweet custom-made frame bags, here's a thread about it: Custom frame bags for a touring tandem.
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Old 03-11-13, 09:11 AM   #10
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Chris has some interesting, good ideas. As I said we have a bob because it was a steal, deal. I am not convinced balance or handling is a big actor on a a tour, most of your miles is on the open road. We are convinced, however, total weight is very important, it is so easy to take items we never need or use and easier to do that with a trailer. Here in Colorado, all our rides include hills and passes. A heavy load is very slow up and can be too fast down.
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Old 03-11-13, 11:28 AM   #11
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Another issue hauling a trailer, asides what's already mentioned, is that you'll need to carry another sized spare tube.
Have done touring (Motel/BBs) with rear panniers + trunk rack on our tandem.
By not hauling camp/cook gear we kept the extra weight down to 22 lbs.
Just our input/experience.
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 03-11-13, 01:49 PM   #12
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Thanks again for all the input. Has anyone used this? I found it in another thread.
http://www.extrawheelshop.com/en/bic...iler-solo.html
What kind of racks/panniers are popular amongst this crowd?
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Old 03-11-13, 02:13 PM   #13
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We really like our Tubus SS Cosmo. No paint, no rust is nice. A thing of beauty forever. We have Pacific Outdoor Equipment panniers, but they're out of business, too bad. Very nice, waterproof, about half the weight of Ortliebs. We really like waterproof.
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Old 03-11-13, 04:12 PM   #14
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If I was ever going to use any trailer for touring, then the ExtraWheel is the model that I would go with. This is partly due to the simplicity of having the same size spares as on the bike (spokes, tubes, and tyres), and partly because I've read reports of them working quite well and not being too heavy. However, having never used a trailer then my opinion is probably not worth much.
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Old 03-11-13, 04:31 PM   #15
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We really like our Tubus SS Cosmo. No paint, no rust is nice. A thing of beauty forever. We have Pacific Outdoor Equipment panniers, but they're out of business, too bad. Very nice, waterproof, about half the weight of Ortliebs. We really like waterproof.
We bought a set of Pacific Outdoor rear panniers, thinking that we'd buy the front set if we liked them. Sadly, they were out of business by the time we were ready for the front set. Ended up with a pair of Ortieb's which are fine. Too bad another American company had to give up. They had a good product.
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Old 03-12-13, 07:39 AM   #16
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What kind of racks/panniers are popular amongst this crowd?
We use Tubus racks and Orlieb panniers. No problems with them after using them for a few years. For long unsupported tours, avoid aluminum racks.
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Old 03-12-13, 10:06 AM   #17
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I just bought a Bob for a Pacific Coast tour with my daughter in June. My thinking was that she is 10 and not necessarily the most attentive kid. I figure with her back there shifting her weight around and doing whatever a 10 year old does I don't need another 40 lbs of dead weight on the rear racks to exacerbate things. My thought was that the bike will handle better with most of the weight in a trailer and it will be easier and more comfortable to ride with an inattentive and novice rider in back if the weight isn't on the bike.

Who knows if I'm right or not. I just had to make a guess. But the Bob trailer (at $330) was quite a bit cheaper than buying front and rear Tubus Racks and a set of 4 Ortlieb panniers (About $500-550) and I will now have a nice cargo trailer for tooling around the neighborhood. I live about 1/2 mile from a big local grocery and will be able to use the Bob and my mountain bike for grocery shopping and the like. And for hauling big things back and forth to work. I have about a 2 mile bike commute to work. So I kind of wanted the trailer anyway.
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Old 03-12-13, 02:57 PM   #18
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Tubus has extremely good robustness, a variety of racks, solid mounting hardware, good design, etc., etc. It's hard to choose anything else, even if other options are cheaper.
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Old 03-12-13, 04:49 PM   #19
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Tubus has extremely good robustness, a variety of racks, solid mounting hardware, good design, etc., etc. It's hard to choose anything else, even if other options are cheaper.
We have a tubus on the front and Old Man Mountain on the back. Both are "robust" for anything we'll be carrying.
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Old 03-12-13, 05:01 PM   #20
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Just sayin, if you come across an obstacle you cannot ride over , its more managable for the hoisting an empty bike
over then passing the trailer over with your stuff in it, say over a wall, across a washout, or Up Stairs ,
than deal with a bike with all the stuff aboard, in 5 0r 6 separate bags, when they are Not on the Bike, stripped..
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Old 03-13-13, 08:47 AM   #21
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If you are planning to ride with a group and take turns with "pulls" at the front, my suggestion would be to leave the low profile Bob type trailer at home as there is almost no benefit to trying to draft behind it.
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Old 03-13-13, 09:11 AM   #22
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When recently preparing to go on a 5-week long bike tour, we knew we wanted to take a bit more than on our previous one-week long, but didn't have any extra capacity if just limited to panniers and a handlebar bag. We didn't want a trailer, so I went about optimising all of the space available on the tandem, including some very sweet custom-made frame bags, here's a thread about it: Custom frame bags for a touring tandem.
Chris_W - Looks like the pic is no longer included with this post. Would you mind posting it again here? Would like to have a look at these frame bags you're talking about.
Thanks!
Kevin near Rochester, MN
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Old 03-13-13, 11:03 AM   #23
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We bought a set of Pacific Outdoor rear panniers, thinking that we'd buy the front set if we liked them. Sadly, they were out of business by the time we were ready for the front set. Ended up with a pair of Ortieb's which are fine. Too bad another American company had to give up. They had a good product.
It evidently was a management problem. The employees tried to restart the firm, but the original owners kept all the rights, so they couldn't make any of the original, well-designed stuff. I guess starting from scratch was too big a hurdle.
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Old 03-13-13, 02:59 PM   #24
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Chris_W - Looks like the pic is no longer included with this post. Would you mind posting it again here? Would like to have a look at these frame bags you're talking about.
I also noticed the missing image. I don't know what happened there. Here is a direct link to an external page. And I'll try to include as an attachment.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg NZ_Tandem.jpg (71.3 KB, 38 views)
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Old 03-17-13, 06:45 PM   #25
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I realize I'm slightly late coming to this party, but that never stopped me from saying something moderately dumb.

We did our first tour this past year, a single night to a state forest campground 40 miles from the house, straight out the front door. The bike is (ahem) vintage, 1982 Peugeot. Our gear weighed about 50lbs, the bare bike weighs about 40. Our team weight is only about 275lbs. In the old days when we were backpacking, a total of 50lbs of gear for the two of us would have been considered pretty light. Here's the bike just before departure:



The bike handled quite well. I did have to take note of the extra weight, especially when stopping, but it wasn't too difficult. Once I got used to it the bike felt surprisingly agile when we took the weight off.

The real problem we had was space, not weight capacity. There isn't much room for bulky items. We left a few items at home that we later wished we'd been able to take. A friend had warned us that space on a tandem was the limiting factor. He was right.

We want to do more short tours this summer. We haven't decided how though.

YMMV, of course.
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