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Old 08-15-07, 01:31 PM   #1
Newspaperguy
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The 60-40 split

A number of people around here recommend loading 60 per cent of the weight on the front and 40 per cent on the back. I'd like to understand the reasoning for this. My setup has at least 75 per cent in the rear with just a handlebar bag, my tent and some water in front.

I've seen all sorts of rigs on the road but the majority have most or all of the gear in the rear. I haven't yet seen any with the bulk of the weight in front.
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Old 08-15-07, 01:35 PM   #2
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I believe one of the reasons is that the rear wheel is already under extra stress compared to the front wheel when unloaded, with most of the rider weight on the rear wheel, dishing due to the casette and torque from the drive train.

From that stand point it is logical that it would be better to put the load on the front wheel to equal the loads on them
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Old 08-15-07, 01:36 PM   #3
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Dense, heavy stuff like food, water, and equipment can be up front with cloths and sleeping bags in back. Handlebar bags would also count as up front weight. When grinding up steep grades front weight helps keeping the front wheel from lifting off the ground.

Try Sheldon Brown's web site and ask him the same question.
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Old 08-15-07, 01:39 PM   #4
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The reasonning is that the rear wheel already takes most of the rider's weight and the front wheel is stronger as it's not dished. I doubt many actually take the time to balance their load 60-40. Personnally, I just stuff as much dense object in front and the rest in the back. So my bike may look more loaded in the back but it's all fluff (sleeping bag and mat, clothing, tent) while the front has food, stove, camera and accessories, stove, toileteries, etc.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:20 PM   #5
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ok ,so why then,, is the back panniers ,bigger than the front ones.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:15 PM   #6
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That's a good question. antokelly. I use panniers that are the same size frount and back. It also keeps the trouble with heel strike and pack weight low.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:52 PM   #7
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I ride about a 40/60 or 30/70 (front/back), mostly because I have a really strong rear wheel and great rear rack. On the front, I have a much less robust wheel and an $8 ebay rack clamped on a non braze on fork. If I had a "real" touring bike, I'd put more weight in the front.

I, too, am getting rid of my giant back bags and cutting pack weight so I'm down to 4 small bags or 2 small bags and one dry-bag on the rear rack. I'll work on figuring that out this winter!
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Old 08-16-07, 12:32 PM   #8
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After not knowing what the fuss was all about, and quite happy with my rear sack and back rack only, I thought I should try this new school of thought, 60/40 or front racks as well since I am going to land in Venice, IT and ride back to London going over the Alps. Well I bought front Ortiliebs and loaded it accordingly and what a huge difference it made. Better control on the steering, totally unexpected, climbing was also much easier and it makes me look too loaded as my sleeping bag etc. is in the rear, all fluff as stated earlier. This is also a great way of organising the stuff. All the kitchen is up front, sleeping bag and clothes rear one side and the rest rear other side.
For me now its the only way to go. If it was not for all these post, I think I would have never tried this as I thought I was OK the way I was. So a big thank you to all.
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Old 08-16-07, 04:20 PM   #9
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Just a couple o' answers to the question of why rear panniers are bigger......1) There's "fluffy" stuff that sometimes goes on tour too. Some clothing items or a few bags of Doritos come to mind. It's the stuff that's bulky but not too heavy. Sleeping pad/bag, tarps, etc. 2) Big panniers just fit better on the rear than they do on the front.


I have an Xtracyle and pay no attention to the loading rules.
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Old 08-16-07, 06:15 PM   #10
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For those of you who use front and rear panniers, do you find yourselves packing more gear because of the capacity? The space in two rear panniers limits what a rider can take in terms of weight and bulk.
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Old 08-16-07, 06:25 PM   #11
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For those of you who use front and rear panniers, do you find yourselves packing more gear because of the capacity? The space in two rear panniers limits what a rider can take in terms of weight and bulk.
It is easy to do if you aren't disciplined about it. Over the years I developed a couple of techniques borrowed from backpacking...there is a list of basics that ALWAYS goes every thing else is trip dependent. If I take something on two trips and it doesn't get used, it gets left behind on the next one. I tour two ways, completely self contained, which runs my load into the 75# range. If I am going to be spending nights in frequent hotels, or meeting someone with supplies along the way, traveling in a more populated area I can pare it down to the 60# range. But I have a tendency to pack extra stuff.

What is amazing to me is that I used to ride out to a farm on the edge of town when I was kid with nothing more than a couple of PBJ's an old army blanket, poncho and a canteen of water

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Old 08-16-07, 10:49 PM   #12
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ok ,so why then,, is the back panniers ,bigger than the front ones.

Because people look at a bike and think that the bike should only have bags on the back. Ergo, the back bags are bigger. Honest!

There's no real reason not to carry the same sized bags front and rear. However, I like having slightly larger bags on back (not huge just a little bigger) because that's where bulky, lightweight stuff goes.

As for the exactness of the split, for actual touring, I'm not too exact about it. For training, I am because I can regulate the weight much better. Right now I'm carrying 30 lb of weight in preparation for a tour in September. I have exactly 18 lb in the front and exactly 12 lb in the back. I have 8 two pound bags of rice and 2 one pound bags up front and 6 two pound bags in the back. The bike just handles better that way. The front end is stable and predictable while climbing or descending while the back doesn't want to 'wag the dog'. It's one of those things that you just can't believe it works until you try it.

I purchased a first generation Blackburn lowrider long ago and my touring bike went from a handful to control to a well mannered ride. With a stiffer frame like the bike I have now (a T800), the bike rides like, to use the cliche', it's on rails. Point it down a hill, pedal until you can't spin any faster and enjoy the high speed ride! It's been a long time since I've ridden with a load only on the back but I still remember how scary a fast downhill was. I wouldn't go back

Try it. It really does make a difference.
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Old 08-16-07, 10:53 PM   #13
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For those of you who use front and rear panniers, do you find yourselves packing more gear because of the capacity? The space in two rear panniers limits what a rider can take in terms of weight and bulk.
Use small fronts and some discipline. I carry more than I probably should but I'd rather carry a little extra and only have to do laundry every 3 days. That's where my extra weight comes from. Cook and camp gear is pretty much set and the amount of food I carry is generally about the same from day to day.
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Old 08-17-07, 08:32 AM   #14
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ok ,so why then,, is the back panniers ,bigger than the front ones.
Really wide panniers on the front wheel could cause steering issues in sidewinds- they act like sails, pushing the wheel sideways. Thus the small heavy stuff goes up front, and the big, wind catching, light stuff goes in back.
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