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Old 10-07-06, 02:28 PM   #1
ronald jenkins
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Going light

I have a touring-type bike with eyelets for a rear and front rack/packs. I want to do some light touring (something above the 'credit card' level) in Europe and South America. Because of dirt roads I might encounter, I need to carry an extra set of 'cross' type tires for the hard-packed dirt. I'll also be away from center centers at times, so I'll need to carry extra provisions, tools, etc. than the usual credit card overnighter. I would like to go with rear panniers only but does anyone out there have experience with front vs. rear panniers and issues with bike handling? And recommendations on a rear rack that combines lightweight with strength (I know - a tough combo); price isn't too much of an issue since the bike is my vehicle most of the time. And finally, any good recommendations on compact rear panniers (or front) that, I assume, would need to be waterproof? Thanks in advance for any suggestions or recommendations.
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Old 10-08-06, 04:55 AM   #2
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The difference in weight between a "light" rack and a "heavy" rack is insignificant. A few ounces is irrelevant when compared to the total weight of a rider plus the bike plus the gear. I highly recommend a good Tubus rack. Will last several lifetimes.
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Old 10-08-06, 08:18 AM   #3
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Tubus has some really cool front racks, but for a rear rack, nothing can beat the Jandd Expedition
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Old 10-08-06, 12:58 PM   #4
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I've toured with front and rear panniers, and with rear panniers only. I don't think my bike handles any worse with just rear panniers. I know a lot of people seem to think that distributing the weight evenly between front and rear panniers is the way to go to improve stability. But I always end up bringing lots of extraneous items when I have front panniers on. So just going with the rears helps me to keep my load relatively light.

If you think you might spend a lot of time on crappy roads, or in off-road conditions you might want to consider a trailer. While I have no off-road touring experience, I've heard that it can be better to keep as much weight off of your tires as possible to minimize digging-in in sandy or muddy conditions.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:13 PM   #5
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Thanks to all for the advice ... I have tried trailers in the past but they're heavy and I tend to fill 'em up with too much crap!
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Old 10-11-06, 11:42 PM   #6
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Oh, ortlieb makes good front and rear panniers that are waterproof.
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Old 10-12-06, 04:17 AM   #7
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You can ride dirt roads on any std 32mm touring tyre such as Conti TT or Scwalbe Marathon.
For hostel touring, rear panniers are fine. You can use abar bag up fron, esp useful for jaunts into town and for holding a map.
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Old 10-12-06, 04:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronald jenkins
Thanks to all for the advice ... I have tried trailers in the past but they're heavy and I tend to fill 'em up with too much crap!
I've toured with both front and back panniers and back alone. Personally I prefer the Ortlieb classic range as they are tough and waterproof.
Regarding the trailer idea, if weight is a factor then "Extrawheel" make one which weighs in at just over 8 lbs.
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Old 10-13-06, 08:09 AM   #9
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Panniers in front

Getting weight off the back wheel can lessen the chances of breaking spokes. Breaking spokes is a royal pain in the wazzoo. I think the handling improves by spreading the weight out, but the big factor for me is the spokes.
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Old 10-13-06, 12:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronald jenkins
I would like to go with rear panniers only but does anyone out there have experience with front vs. rear panniers and issues with bike handling?
It is well worthwhile to distribute the load evenly, and using four panniers is the way to achieve that. In my experience, a bike rolls and handles better with a more or less evenly distributed load. Of course, if you have very little stuff, say, less than 22 lbs./10 kg, it might be ok to skip the front panniers. And if it's less than that, you might be better off with just a saddlebag.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronald jenkins
And recommendations on a rear rack that combines lightweight with strength (I know - a tough combo)
The Tubus Fly might be worth a look. When I want to convert my touring bike into an Audax bike, I remove the Tubus Nova lowrider rack and the Tubus Cosmo rear rack, and replace them with a Tubus Fly in the rear. This switch of racks represents a weight saving of about 2.2 lbs./1 kg, which is not insignificant. The maximum recommended load for the Fly is 40 lbs./18 kg, while it weighs only 12 oz./330 g.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronald jenkins
And finally, any good recommendations on compact rear panniers (or front) that, I assume, would need to be waterproof?
I usually use two pairs of Carradice Kendals, one pair in the front, and one in the rear. These are very nice middle-size panniers. (I also have the Super C's for those occasions when I have to take the kitchen sink.)
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