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Old 03-13-07, 05:28 PM   #1
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Climbing while loaded.

My apologies if this has been discussed already.

When it comes to climbing, is there a difference between having only a fully loaded rear, as opposed to having an equally distributed load between rear and front?
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Old 03-13-07, 05:39 PM   #2
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Same as on the flats, a rear load is less stable than front and rear, but you can feel it a lot more since you aren't going as fast. Another issue could be the front wheel lifting off the ground on very steep climbs.
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Old 03-13-07, 05:47 PM   #3
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I have ridden with the bulk of my luggage weight on the rear rack, and the bulk of my luggage weight on the front rack.

Climbing is easier when the bulk of my luggage weight is on the front rack. However, descending can be a little scarier. I have actually switched my panniers back and forth on a few rides. To the front for the climb and to the rear for the descent.
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Old 03-13-07, 06:45 PM   #4
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Another interesting thread. And sorry for hijacking your thread but I have a related question.

I "credit card" toured last year. It sure is amazing what some clothes, a few tools and a grooming kit can add up to.

I can get pretty much everything in my small panniers plus a small backpack strapped to the top of the rack. Would I be better off going with a front rack too? Would it be the rack be worth the extra weight considering my light load?

I can't see how you folks do it carrying tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and food on top of what you might bring on a "credit card" tour.
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Old 03-13-07, 07:10 PM   #5
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I have similar concerns; I think I might face "diminishing returns" if i mount a front rack w/panniers, since I've got my gear down to sub 20lbs (inspired by the recent thread on that.) does anyone have an idea/experience regarding weight limits for rear-pannier-only touring, eg. at what weight does it become too unwieldly?
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Old 03-13-07, 07:36 PM   #6
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The limit is yours to define. I've toured fully loaded (including a tripod!) with rear panniers only and never had a problem. It's only annoying at slow speed. I'm more concerned about all that dead weight on the rear wheel. For credit-card touring, I wouldn't add a front rack. A bar bag and a single pannier (15L) is enough for me.
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Old 03-13-07, 07:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by blueskytheory
I have similar concerns; I think I might face "diminishing returns" if i mount a front rack w/panniers, since I've got my gear down to sub 20lbs (inspired by the recent thread on that.) does anyone have an idea/experience regarding weight limits for rear-pannier-only touring, eg. at what weight does it become too unwieldly?
There is no way anyone can give you a useful answer. It depends so much on you, your bike and where you'll be riding. If you have a bike with a rear rack and panniers it is fairly easy to run some tests and see what works for you.

One word of caution though - a load that seems unstable the in the first five mins could be fine after an hour or two. I have started tours worried about how unstable my bike was and forgotten about it by the end of day 1. It may take a little time to get used to a particular configuration.
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Old 03-13-07, 07:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
I can't see how you folks do it carrying tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and food on top of what you might bring on a "credit card" tour.
Look at the packing list on this post. Everything went inside those panniers. Personnally, I wonder why I bring 4 panniers sometimes.
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Old 03-13-07, 08:07 PM   #9
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Just looking at it, your front wheel is much stronger than your rear wheel because it isn't dished for all those cogs. Also, most of your person's weight is on your weaker rear wheel, so why not stack up what you can on the stronger front?
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Old 03-13-07, 08:33 PM   #10
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Oh, this isn't about drinking!
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Old 03-13-07, 08:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hocam
Just looking at it, your front wheel is much stronger than your rear wheel because it isn't dished for all those cogs. Also, most of your person's weight is on your weaker rear wheel, so why not stack up what you can on the stronger front?
Exactly!! Precisely why I ride with my panniers on the front most of the time. The only time I ride with them on the back is if I'm just out for a little overnight tour, or if I know I'll be negotiating a lot of steep descents.

And having the panniers on the front seemed to stabilize my bicycle and improve his handling.
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Old 03-13-07, 08:59 PM   #12
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Old 03-14-07, 07:35 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by kdos
My apologies if this has been discussed already.

When it comes to climbing, is there a difference between having only a fully loaded rear, as opposed to having an equally distributed load between rear and front?
It's a personal choice really. I've never liked the 'tail wagging the dog' feel of a heavy rear load (even commuting with a trunk bag I can get this feel) especially on high speed descents or when standing. I have similar problems with a trailer which is just an extreme version of rear mounted bags. Front bags, with 60% of the load, dampen the steering and make descents more controllable in my experience.
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Old 03-14-07, 07:49 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Another interesting thread. And sorry for hijacking your thread but I have a related question.

I "credit card" toured last year. It sure is amazing what some clothes, a few tools and a grooming kit can add up to.

I can get pretty much everything in my small panniers plus a small backpack strapped to the top of the rack. Would I be better off going with a front rack too? Would it be the rack be worth the extra weight considering my light load?

I can't see how you folks do it carrying tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear and food on top of what you might bring on a "credit card" tour.
It depends on how spartan you want to go and where you tour. I've done the two ends of the Lewis and Clark Trail in recent years. There's vast stretches where your credit card won't do anything for you so you need to carry lots of stuff that you might not need to in more civilized areas. (And trust me, the eastern end is less civilized than the western end ) I carry more in the way of clothing than most people would since I don't like doing laundry every night. I don't carry any electronics but I do carry a least one and possibly 3 paper back books as well as paper and writing stuff for letters. Those are heavy.

Lots of people don't mind living in bivy sacks but I couldn't. I need a little space to sit up in when it rains or when I'm chewing through one of those 3 books (I've been know to finish one in a night. I need to start carrying Russian literature ). Lot's of people are satisfied with a tarp and a sleeping bag but I find that I get woozy when I lose that much blood!

And finally, it's all about training. Six to 8 weeks before a tour, I start to carry loads of rice around everywhere I ride and I increase the weight by 5 lbs (starting from 20) once or twice a week until I'm carrying close to the load that I'm going to carry. When you live in a hilly, mountainous high altitude area, dropping down to lower altitudes gives you a distinct advantage
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Old 03-14-07, 11:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Machka
Exactly!! Precisely why I ride with my panniers on the front most of the time. The only time I ride with them on the back is if I'm just out for a little overnight tour, or if I know I'll be negotiating a lot of steep descents.

And having the panniers on the front seemed to stabilize my bicycle and improve his handling.
Awesome! I'm in the process of building up touring stuff and that's what I'm planning to do. I think it increases handling by lowering and centering your center of gravity, front panniers always look lower than rear ones to me. Also all that weight on the fork probably makes it harder to move off center.
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Old 03-14-07, 02:17 PM   #16
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It's mostly matching the load, the bike and the rider. Some tips that work for me.

1. I never stand to climb. Standing generates lots of torque and racers do it....but for touring, commuting, general rec. rding, why do it? Standing makes the bike sway side to side and on a loaded bike, you could just tip over and crash.

2. Lower gears work the best. If you're not going to stand and mash the petals to climb, you have to down shift and spin lower gears. Sit and spin--- enjoy yourself!
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Old 03-14-07, 05:50 PM   #17
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Just looking at it, your front wheel is much stronger than your rear wheel because it isn't dished for all those cogs. Also, most of your person's weight is on your weaker rear wheel, so why not stack up what you can on the stronger front?
This is true. I've broken a lot of spokes on the rear wheel, never any on the front. I'd try to load up the front first for this reason. However, when the load starts to get pretty heavy, I prefer balance, so I'd go with both rear and front, rather than just front.

One more theoretical thing: As mountain bikers know well, when you're climbing, your center of gravity shifts backwards and you're more likely to wheelie. This also means more weight would be over your rear wheel, and you'd be more likely to break spokes. (Did I mention, I've broken a lot?)
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Old 03-14-07, 06:12 PM   #18
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This is true. I've broken a lot of spokes on the rear wheel, never any on the front. ....[snip]... (Did I mention, I've broken a lot?)
If you are breaking a lot of spokes than:

a) you are overloading your wheels grossly

b) have poorly built wheels

A well built wheel designed for fully loaded touring shouldn't break spokes at all.
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Old 03-14-07, 06:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by tacomee
It's mostly matching the load, the bike and the rider. Some tips that work for me.

1. I never stand to climb. Standing generates lots of torque and racers do it....but for touring, commuting, general rec. rding, why do it? Standing makes the bike sway side to side and on a loaded bike, you could just tip over and crash.
'Cause my butt hurts! It's nice to stretch the legs occasionally, too.
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Old 03-14-07, 06:18 PM   #20
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A well built wheel designed for fully loaded touring shouldn't break spokes at all.
In the real world stuff happens. Even well built wheels will occasionally pop a spoke. Rough roads, hit a pothole, maybe pushing the wheels weight limits some, standing up to try and sprint to the top of a hill etc. It just happens.
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Old 03-14-07, 08:03 PM   #21
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I toured once with 2 60 litre panniers on the front, and none on the rear. It worked OK with a couple of exceptions. The steering mostly felt very stable, except at low speeds and while performing tight manouevers,when it became quite hard to control properly. This tended to make starting on steep grades even more difficult. I also found that if I did stand to get any more power on a very steep grade, the rear tire would lose traction. Mostly it was easy to deal with though.
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Old 03-14-07, 08:21 PM   #22
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I toured once with 2 60 litre panniers on the front, and none on the rear. It worked OK with a couple of exceptions. The steering mostly felt very stable, except at low speeds and while performing tight manouevers,when it became quite hard to control properly. This tended to make starting on steep grades even more difficult. I also found that if I did stand to get any more power on a very steep grade, the rear tire would lose traction. Mostly it was easy to deal with though.
Any idea how much weight was in the panniers?
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Old 03-15-07, 12:31 AM   #23
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Probably about 25-30 lb including the weight of the bag themselves - not overly heavy compared to international tourists, as I was touring in my own country and didn't need quite as much stuff. I also had a handle bar bag which added another few pounds of weight.
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Old 03-15-07, 10:41 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by vik
One word of caution though - a load that seems unstable the in the first five mins could be fine after an hour or two. I have started tours worried about how unstable my bike was and forgotten about it by the end of day 1. It may take a little time to get used to a particular configuration.
Excellent point. The first time I used front panniers was in spring 2005. I was on a backroad in VA next to a ditch. For some reason, I had to turn my wheel just a bit, and the next thing I knew the front-weight seemed to pull me into the ditch (nothing serious). The front load wasn't that heavy; it was just new to me. By the end of the day or before, I had adjusted my body and thinking to the new, front weight, and never had a problem afterward.

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Old 03-15-07, 11:14 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
In the real world stuff happens. Even well built wheels will occasionally pop a spoke. Rough roads, hit a pothole, maybe pushing the wheels weight limits some, standing up to try and sprint to the top of a hill etc. It just happens.
Okay hitting a severe pot hole would be "not normal use" and I could see breaking a spoke. Over loading a wheel is also beyond normal use. But, I submit that a well built wheel loaded appropriately to its design should not break any spokes - especially shouldn't break lots of spokes as was mentioned above. Of course this doesn't include accidents or things getting caught in the spokes, cars running over the wheel, etc..
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