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Old 07-25-08, 03:32 PM   #1
MTBMaven
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Wind Resistance of Different Carrying Systems

I am now torn to some degree between two small panniers on low ride front rack and a Carousel Designs saddlebag versus the nun-like set up of Carradice/trunk bag and small randonner front shelf rack (see image below of nun's set up).


The low ride front panniers keeps the weight lower but would seem to create far more drag. The saddle bag/trunk and small randonner front shelf rack would seem to have a much lower front profile to the wind. What is a larger factor, wind resistance or weight distribution?

Sure I could buy both set ups and figure out by trial and error but if there is a strong consensus one way or the other I am interested in others thoughts. My pack list will be on the lightweight to ultra lightweight end of the spectrum for 3-4 day tours (aiming towards nun's pack list).

Last edited by MTBMaven; 07-26-08 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 07-26-08, 09:21 AM   #2
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Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
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Old 07-26-08, 10:11 AM   #3
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I use a set up similar to nun's only even lighter. I use it on my Gunnar Sport for ultra-light tours where I can churn out 140-mile days. The setup consists of a Carradice Pendle (11 liters) on the seat supported by a Bagman Sport seat rack and a medium handlebar bag (Lone Peak, H-100) on the front. No camping gear as I stay in hotels for this.

The next step up in capacity from this is a Tubus Vega rear rack with Ortlieb Front Roller Plus panniers (25 liters) on the rack instead of the Pendle on the seat. Could use the Pendle as well with this combination but I never have.

After that, it's over to the LHT for fully loaded touring.

I think that the first setup is way more streamlined than the latter based on subjective experience drafting other bikes. I have read that a handlebar bag actually increases aerodynamic efficiency for solo bikers although I cannot objectively confirm this. The center-of-gravity factor seems mostly important when you are stopped or going way slow or carrying a seriously heavy load. Low-slung panners would seem noticeably better as the weight of the load increases and will protect the bike a bit when it inevitably falls over.

Actually, based on my motorcycling experience, an upside to a high center of gravity (relative to your profile) is that it can actually help stabilize a bike in gusty side winds. On the downside, if the bike starts to slip out from underneath you then a lower c of g is better.
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Old 07-26-08, 11:51 AM   #4
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The Smokester, thanks for the great response. Given the low weight (<20#) I am wondering if it makes any difference where the weight is distributed?

I might try each set up with the same gear and ride my normal training loop a few times with each set up to see if I can tell the difference.
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