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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Loading up the rear worth saving 5lbs?

    For my wife, who's smaller than me and doesn't ride as often, is it a good or bad idea to load up the rear panniers to save the weight of the front rack and panniers/covers? If we just pack her gear into the rear pannier set, I come up with just about 25lbs, including the rack and panniers. We can't come close to fitting it into fron panniers, so that's not an option. Thanks for the input.

  2. #2
    George Krpan
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    Yeah, saves weight. 25 lbs. is not excessive for rear panniers only touring. I've done it with much more weight. It feels funny at first but your body quickly adjusts.

  3. #3
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    Or you could consider the Matchka route, among others, and put it all in the front.

  4. #4
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    We do lite touring, and we all use just rear panniers.
    I am a big fan of the 12 ounce Tubus Fly rack. Get
    some lite panniers, make most of your clothing synthetic,
    and you can trim a few more pounds off the load.

  5. #5
    Florida to Oregon in 2007 lighthorse@eart's Avatar
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    Shemp,
    I agree with the other posters so far: rear racks/panniers alone are a reasonable option. I would recommend that you mount them, load them, and let her ride with them several miles (like 100) locally so that she can get used to the new handling characteristics.
    I have never tried the Machka method so can't comment on that idea.
    lighthorse
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  6. #6
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I have done tours with only rear panniers and the bike handled just fine. On my last tour I used a front rack and put most of my heavy stuff in a small pack on top of the rack leaving only my light bulky items for the rear. I liked this set up a lot and will be using it on future tours.

    Bottom line every bike, rack, pannier & rider combo is different and you are going to have to try whatever you want to use out and see how it works for you.
    safe riding - Vik
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    25 lbs including rack and panniers is pretty light, it would be a little silly to install a rack and front panniers weighting several pounds just to redistribute that load.

    Another option would be a big saddlebag like the Rivendell Baggins bags or the Carradice Nelson bags, with a handlebar bag. People who use these claim they the load closer to the center of the bike. Jobst Brandt, author of an excellent text on wheelbuilding called "The Bicycle Wheel", has done many tours through the Alps with this kind of arrangement.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Thanks all, we already own 2 sets of four panniers, so we're not looking to buy more. It's mostly synthetics and light weight anyhow, as part of that weight is due to some cool weather gear we didn't take last trip that we probably need this time (Icefields). That stuff is bulky so it can't fit in smaller front panniers a la Machka. She gets off somewhat easy because I take the tent and the down quilt.

  9. #9
    Bike touring webrarian
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    The one time I use rear racks only was on a tour of England, which has lots of short but steep hills. The first time I stood in the pedals to push up one of these hills, I did a wheelie and fell over. I ended up putting all the heavy items (tools and such) in my handlebar bag to try and offset the weight in the back.

    Ray

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    Thanks all, we already own 2 sets of four panniers, so we're not looking to buy more. It's mostly synthetics and light weight anyhow, as part of that weight is due to some cool weather gear we didn't take last trip that we probably need this time (Icefields). That stuff is bulky so it can't fit in smaller front panniers a la Machka. She gets off somewhat easy because I take the tent and the down quilt.
    You don't have to use small panniers on the front, especially if you have large bulky items. The bags really don't care where you put them. They are mounted far enough forward that you won't hit them with your feet and rear bags really aren't that much wider nor deeper than front ones, they are usually just longer front to back.

    Front bags make much more sense in terms of handling then rear bags...if you only carry one set of bags. My wife has toured with rear only and with front only and she much prefered the front only option. It dampens the steering and make the bike more stable. Putting a big load on the rear wheel moves the load further away from the steering center and tends to 'drive' the bike, i.e. makes it go off line more during cornering.

    Before you dismiss it, load a set of bags with a similar touring weight and take them for a test drive. You'll be suprised.
    Stuart Black
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  11. #11
    40 yrs bike touring
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    When I started touring before the last Ice Age I loaded up my rear rack with everything just like everyone recommended. I did not like the way the bike handled on climbs and descents and in cross winds.
    I experimented with other set ups- added a handle bar bag to the original rear setup; four bags and finally two front panniers only and a dry bag stuffer on the rear top. I first used this last set up on a trip through the Andes in Ecuador and Peru on and off road and loved it.
    I still use it today. It proved very effective on the Divide Ride's varied terrain. Aside from the improved handling the front weight bias has helped preserve my wheels. I the clydesdale have not broken a spoke or trued my wheels in years or even after the Divide Ride on my 36 hole 700C wheels.
    Consider the front panniers only option. I find great benefits there.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    If I were to use the fronts, I'd either lose the deck of the rear rack for storage (which was where the food was going instead of in a pannier for bears sake) or I'd have a front and rear rack and lose some of the weight savings.

    My wife and her gear weigh less than me alone, so I'm not too concerned about her 700c 36 spoke rear wheel. I'll give mounting the rears on the front a try in the spring, but they're the large Jandds, which aren't all that small, so I don't hold much hope for that.

    Thanks again for all the replies!

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