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  1. #1
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    1 or 2 trailers for 2 people?

    I'm planning a cross country trip next summer with my good buddy. My question is this: Is one BOB Yak sufficient to lug 2 people's stuff across the country? We're doing it for a cause so we don't want to be dumping money on an extra trailer if we don't have to.

    Or would you maybe even discourage trailers in favor of panniers? A trailer sounds somewhat easier to use and quite a bit less cumbersome to me. Also it seems to me that if I have another frame and wheel (those of the trailer) to absorb the weight, I could go with a more nimble, "flimsy" bike, also making the ride a little less cumbersome. Thoughts?

    Thanks alot.

  2. #2
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I'd say one trailer and one set of panniers should be enough. That is really a lot of stuff. Of course, maybe you both prefer the feeling of trailers. Seems the weight could be evenly distriubed between panniers/trailer since bulky items aren't necessarily heavy.

  3. #3
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    I'd almost rather avoid panniers altogether though... is that a possibility?

  4. #4
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I share you dislike of panniers. I did not like the heavy load, made the bike feel top heavy. Of course, others report trailers push way hard on down hills. Some don't cope well with this push. Are you familiar with both. I have completed short tourns with a trailer, but the terrain was flat, so I am not familiar with that 'push.'

  5. #5
    duh-river foe
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    If you ride with one trailer, I assume you're probably going to be trading it off daily. I would also assume that it's going to make it difficult for the two of you to pace together because trailers may take the load off your bike, but they're damn heavy and clunky to haul up hills. If you take two, you won't be able to draft behind each other because the trailers will push you back from the slipstream. I don't mean to sound anti-trailer because I have one for around-town hauling, but they're really not my first choice for touring. See if you can take a few rides (hills included, even better if it's a little wet) with a trailer.

    Riding with panniers feels downright weird for the first 30 miles or so. See if you can try out both systems loaded for a few good rides and then decide. I do think that both of you should be carrying similar loads just because it makes pacing together easier and nobody will be getting grouchy when they're struggling up a hill with a double load.

    Whatever you choose, it's important to lighten up your load as much as possible before setting out. Check out sites like backpackinglight.com and the ultralightbiking group on Yahoo to get tips. One of the dangerous things about the BOB trailer is that it's enormous and it's really tempting to fill it, and since it's all one bag then you get the impulse to put little easily accessible bags up on your bike for day-use stuff. Either way, you're going to be carrying something on your bike because it's just easier to have some stuff close at hand.

  6. #6
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    One trailer should be more than enough. The person not pulling the trailer has to ride in front to fight through the wind.

  7. #7
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    "Or would you maybe even discourage trailers in favor of panniers? A trailer sounds somewhat easier to use and quite a bit less cumbersome to me. Also it seems to me that if I have another frame and wheel (those of the trailer) to absorb the weight, I could go with a more nimble, "flimsy" bike, also making the ride a little less cumbersome. Thoughts?"

    Trailers have added a really important alternative to tourists, particularly expedition tourists requiring massive amounts of gear where re-supply is difficult. That said, I think paniers are far superior as the initial base platform. If I got to a certain weight or bulk point I would add a trailer.

    I think a trailer is more difficult at everything except the single packed bag part, that's good but parking, locking, backing is all worse. If one had the option of going to a place and leaving the trailer it is easier to separate all one's gear at once with a trailer. But storing a bike and trailer is more difficult. At the very least I see no decisive advantage in ease, and for me it's mostly negative.

    Some trailers claim lower wind resistance due to streamlining, which would be good, but the need for a separate frame and wheel ads a lot of drag to your bike and that alone is a reason not to go for it. You can use a nimbler bike, which might be good if you already own it, but you can buy a frame for what some of the trailers cost so if you are already buying a bike for the trip the no-trailer option can be cheaper. Also the nimbler bike would have to be up to the rest of the stuff you need it for like it would need to have really bombproof brakes and comfortable ride geometry.

    I prefer how a bike handles with paniers, it ads weight that holds down road vibration and makes for a more comfortable ride. The weight is a negative, but you are stuck with it, so the fact of the better ride is a big positive.

    There is more load on a touring bike with paniers, but the components are out there to make it work if you want to.

  8. #8
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    Unless I tour with the children and therefore have lots of gear to carry, I prefer panniers to the trailer.

    One aspect to check with a single-wheel trailer is that it is wobbly if you have a bike with a slender rear triangle. IOW, as far as I know, it works well with a hybrid or moutain bike but not that well with a 1980-style touring bike (look at those slender stays and you'll see why).

    Many folks say that a cargo trailer is more streamlined than 4 panniers; however, if you add some small panniers to that, then your trailer + panniers combo are less streamlined. And when I have the trailer, I still prefer to keep the tent fabric on top of my rear rack and my rain gear in a different pannier: that way, wet stuff doesn't humidify the rest of my gear. And if you want to camp in one place and visit the town, it is nice to be able to do so with only 1 or 2 light panniers rather than the full trailer. Especially if the city is hilly!

    And another factor to consider: will you be riding together or not? If so, the no-trailer scenario has the advantage of allowing you to ride closer to eachother, something really useful in a headwind.

    Pricewise, if you don't have anything, I'd say that buying 2 racks and 4 panniers is slightly more expensive than buying a BOB Yak. However, since you'll probably need at least 1 rack and 2 panniers, either for touring or other cycling opportunities (i.e. commuting), it is a moot point.

    Now let me throw another consideration: cargo size and weight.
    If my calculations are OK, the Yak has a 120-L bag and the 2-wheeled Burley Nomad has a 160-L capacity. Large panniers like Arkels touring series offer 54-L rear and 38-L front (GT series). for a total of 92 L... plus whatever you want to put on top of the rear rack. If one of you prefers to ride with panniers and the other one with a trailer, one solution might be to have one person carry the heavy and dense stuff in panniers (i.e. repair gear, food...) and the other one carry the light and blky stuff like clothing in a trailer.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  9. #9
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    I pulled mine and my wife's gear across the U.K., Holland and Germany using the Burley Nomad. My MILs hubby used panniers to haul his and his wife's stuff. I was definitely at an advantage. We could quickly detach the trailer and I was back in ass hauling mode looking for accomodation. He had to switch bikes and ride his wife's too small bike. We also rolled the Nomad into our room every night. We also helped haul 'their' stuff in.

    Bike path gates....neither of us could get through them. I detached and rolled under. He went around - off his bike.

    Aerodynamic drag - who races on a tour? Everyone was puttering along, I was still the fastest (I have 20 years on them )

    Packing - we packed three bags and threw them in the trailer. They packed panniers no advantage either way.

    Airport - the Burley fits in a box that just comes in at the size limit - no charge.


    I wouldn't hesitate to use it again.

    P.S. His bike is off to the side (and not in the pic) because his bike can't use the bike racks with front and rear panniers

    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  10. #10
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    ow let me throw another consideration: cargo size and weight.
    If my calculations are OK, the Yak has a 120-L bag and the 2-wheeled Burley Nomad has a 160-L capacity. Large panniers like Arkels touring series offer 54-L rear and 38-L front (GT series). for a total of 92 L... plus whatever you want to put on top of the rear rack. If one of you prefers to ride with panniers and the other one with a trailer, one solution might be to have one person carry the heavy and dense stuff in panniers (i.e. repair gear, food...) and the other one carry the light and blky stuff like clothing in a trailer.
    How much volume in liters is a good, safe amount for TWO people crossing the country?

  11. #11
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    bump?

  12. #12
    Year-round cyclist
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyboyx
    How much volume in liters is a good, safe amount for TWO people crossing the country?

    It has been a long time since I toured without the children, but if my memory is correct, I have travelled solo with 60 L bags (total) plus tent and sleeping bag on top of the rear rack. I would ideally use the GT-54 and two GT-18 panniers to carry all my stuff, except maybe the canvas of my tent which I would pack on top of the rear rack. I know there would still be some empty space in the panniers, which is good to pack some souvenirs or extra food; however, I don't like to pack a wet tent between dry clothes.

    That would make a total volume of 90 L per person, of which 75-80 L would be used. But I tend to tour with clothes for all weather conditions, I pack tools like crazy... but I haven't brought a bona fide kitchen sink... yet.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    Now let me throw another consideration: cargo size and weight.
    If my calculations are OK, the Yak has a 120-L bag and the 2-wheeled Burley Nomad has a 160-L capacity. Large panniers like Arkels touring series offer 54-L rear and 38-L front (GT series). for a total of 92 L... plus whatever you want to put on top of the rear rack. If one of you prefers to ride with panniers and the other one with a trailer, one solution might be to have one person carry the heavy and dense stuff in panniers (i.e. repair gear, food...) and the other one carry the light and blky stuff like clothing in a trailer.
    FYI - I have carefully weighed and measured the latest black "anniversary edition" yak trailer. Although the yak sak's stated volume is sometimes listed as 7200 cubic inches, this is simply not possible (the same folks claim a weight of 13 lbs, HA!). I think someone took the sak's dimensions and calculated a volume (like a big, open bag), without considering that the rolltop closure design greatly reduces the bag volume as it is closed. I estimate the maximum volume of the yak sak to be ~ 4800 cubic inches, or ~80 liters. Which is slightly less than my 2 pairs of 42 liter panniers. Of course, you can stack stuff on top of panniers/rack or the yak sack. They provide about equal "stacking areas", but the yak would carry this weight about 1 foot lower.

    Also, the yak trailer complete weighs 18 lbs (8 kg). My 2 panniers and 2 racks combined weigh 12 lbs (5.5 kg). Add a big handlebar bag (2.2 lbs/1 kg, 800 in3/13 L) and you still have a volume:weight advantage over the yak.

  14. #14
    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    I prefer using my BOB for fully loaded touring. I like the way that I can easily remove it and return to "normal" bike in seconds. I like the way that the bike handles with it better than being weighted down by loaded panniers, IMO. This includes climbing and descending mountains, and the downhill push people talk about seems to give me more speed (which I like), but is easily controlled by braking. I can organize my gear better in one large bag, and it is nice to carry everything lower to the road. That said, I am taking only a rear rack and panniers to eastern Europe for my next trip just to keep things lighter, smaller, and easier to get around using some public transportation, so I guess it just depends on what you need at the time.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333
    FYI - I have carefully weighed and measured the latest black "anniversary edition" yak trailer. Although the yak sak's stated volume is sometimes listed as 7200 cubic inches, this is simply not possible (the same folks claim a weight of 13 lbs, HA!). I think someone took the sak's dimensions and calculated a volume (like a big, open bag), without considering that the rolltop closure design greatly reduces the bag volume as it is closed. ...
    Thanks for the correction. As I stated, I have panniers and a 2-wheel Nomad trailer. I don't have a BOB. I simply took the "cargo space dimensions" off this page. I thought the numbers were large compared to my recollections of the few BOB trailers I have seen on the road. But then this summer I met a couple of cyclists who seemed to have a larger bag. Did they increase the size or was is simply inadequately rolled? Or is it a case of failing memories? But even the larger bag is quite smaller than the cargo space of the Nomad.

    Measurements of the Nomad were done by myself. There are rounding off errors because of rounded corners and such, but I'm fairly much in the ballpark.

    As for pannier sizes, those are simply lifted off Arkel's website.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  16. #16
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    Thanks for the correction. As I stated, I have panniers and a 2-wheel Nomad trailer. I don't have a BOB. I simply took the "cargo space dimensions" off this page. I thought the numbers were large compared to my recollections of the few BOB trailers I have seen on the road. But then this summer I met a couple of cyclists who seemed to have a larger bag. Did they increase the size or was is simply inadequately rolled? Or is it a case of failing memories? But even the larger bag is quite smaller than the cargo space of the Nomad.

    Measurements of the Nomad were done by myself. There are rounding off errors because of rounded corners and such, but I'm fairly much in the ballpark.

    As for pannier sizes, those are simply lifted off Arkel's website.
    Not intended as a correction, simply want to let others know that the bob yak is not as big and light as sellers would have you believe. I posted these specs a few months ago with "yak " in the title as a search keyword.

    That yellow yak bag does look big. I was surprised that my panniers actually measure out larger (volume), but they do. In fact i must have measured and recalculated 3x to convince myself.

    I believe the yak has always been the same dimensions, and so the bag is probably unchanged as well. The black model i have incorporates some cosmetic changes. They did add water bottle bosses on the back (2 mounts), so thats a nice touch.

    I think i'd like to have a nomad. Never found one at a good price, though. I own a bob yak only because an impulsive ebay auction bid was successful at less than half the msrp. I guess the shillers were away on an emergency.

  17. #17
    Year-round cyclist
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    I got a fairly decent price on a Nomad that a local bike shop has ordered for a guy a year ago. It seems the guy went away... Anyway, I essentially got the top rack included with the trailer.

    In my case, I needed a two-wheel trailer rather than a single-wheel trailer because I often use it behind the Piccolo trailercycle. As for the rack, I never thought it would be too useful, but one never knows. This Summer I toured with the tandem + trailercycle + trailer. I did 1/3 of my tour (6 days) with both children, then continued on my own. I found it was actually better to attach the trailer to the tandem and have the trailerbike on top of it.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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