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Old 01-03-09, 09:31 AM   #1
Juan2know
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Load Your Bike vs Pulling a Cart

In a bike shop in Austin yesterday the staff member told me that one of his friends just pulls a cart vs loading your bike.

So my question is since I'm going to the southern Colorado Rockies this summer (first tour) which would be better? I'm thinking about buying a Surly Long Haul Trucker but also looking at a Trek 520 and REI's touring bike...need help?

Thanks,
John Young
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Old 01-03-09, 09:59 AM   #2
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If you use the search function here you can find lots of prior discussions on this, including this thread from last year:

http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in...p/t-25268.html

One of the posters wrote:

Advantages of a Trailer:

1)can carry more stuff
2)Reduces stress on wheels
3)Aerodynamic(I'd like to see more proof of this--noone's done a wind tunnel test)
4)Easier to disconnect load from bike.
5)Bike frame independent(for BOBs. Other trailers, not so much)
6)Great Off-Road Handling(single wheel trailers only)

Disadvantages of a Trailer:

1)Easy to carry too much stuff
2)heavier
3)extra rolling resistance
4)Poor low speed handling under heavy load
5)Instability at high speeds for light riders
6)travel issues(shipping trailer to start/endpoint of tour)
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Old 01-03-09, 10:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
If you use the search function here you can find lots of prior discussions on this, including this thread from last year:

http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in...p/t-25268.html

One of the posters wrote:

Advantages of a Trailer:

1)can carry more stuff
2)Reduces stress on wheels
3)Aerodynamic(I'd like to see more proof of this--noone's done a wind tunnel test)
4)Easier to disconnect load from bike.
5)Bike frame independent(for BOBs. Other trailers, not so much)
6)Great Off-Road Handling(single wheel trailers only)

Disadvantages of a Trailer:

1)Easy to carry too much stuff
2)heavier
3)extra rolling resistance
4)Poor low speed handling under heavy load
5)Instability at high speeds for light riders
6)travel issues(shipping trailer to start/endpoint of tour)
I too question advantage #3. I think it probably has a disadvantage when in side or quartering winds. Additionally if you ride with others, it is impossible to draft a trailer as effectively and a bike with panniers.

I would add advantage #7, you can ride a lighter more sporty bike. I would also add that you probably need to carry another size of tube (disadvantage #7?).
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Old 01-03-09, 04:50 PM   #4
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I have real doubts about using a trailer on anything other than a robust frame that is not going to go all noodly when the trailer is loaded.

The idea that it puts less stress on the bike's rear wheel is doubtful and defies logic. It just trades one set of forces for another set.

The only distinct advantage I can see is if you are using a bike that doesn't have braze-ons, such as an MTB with disc brakes.

There are also issues of having to carry additional spokes (replacement unlikely but it can happen), a spare tube, and perhaps a spare tyre.

I'd also suggest that with a fully-loaded trailer, moving the bike and trailer about by hand can become a significant issue, not just in terms of manoeuvring, but also in terms of balance.
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Old 01-03-09, 05:35 PM   #5
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I'll say going in that these answers refer to my experience with a BOB, so take that into consideration..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I have real doubts about using a trailer on anything other than a robust frame that is not going to go all noodly when the trailer is loaded. .
Since it pulls from the same place as the rear wheel attachment point, it uses the strength of the rear triangle. Pretty much the strongest place on the frame barring the BB. I've had mine attached to several bikes, I'd call this one a non-starter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
The idea that it puts less stress on the bike's rear wheel is doubtful and defies logic. It just trades one set of forces for another set..
This depends on how you load the trailer. 50lbs of downforce in panniers is a lot more load on the rear wheel than 50lbs spread between the rear wheel and an additional wheel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
The only distinct advantage I can see is if you are using a bike that doesn't have braze-ons, such as an MTB with disc brakes..
Actually, disc brakes can be an issue. for instance my Trek 4300 disc can't run a rear rack and the BOB, since the bike requires a disc specific rack and the skewer for the bob won't allow clearance for the BOB to attach. On the other hand my 29'er has the disc caliper between the chain and seat stays and doesn't require a disc specific rack and works just fine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
There are also issues of having to carry additional spokes (replacement unlikely but it can happen), a spare tube, and perhaps a spare tyre..
I'm sorry, but that 16" tire is pretty freaking sturdy. 16" tube yes, and I do carry, but the spokes can't be 6" long on the BOB. I really don't see breaking a spoke

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I'd also suggest that with a fully-loaded trailer, moving the bike and trailer about by hand can become a significant issue, not just in terms of manoeuvring, but also in terms of balance.
Disconnects in under 30 seconds. minor, minor issue. Can be a challenge backing it up. I try not to use reverse on my bike.

Biggest issue for me is really the length needed should you stop somewhere. Even if the place has a bike rack, you're like tractor trailer long which creates it's own challenges. Nice part though is that you can be riding an unloaded bike with the removal of two clips if you have a safe/secure place to drop the trailer. Handy if you pitch camp near civilization and want to run to the store.

-R
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Old 01-03-09, 06:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
Since it pulls from the same place as the rear wheel attachment point, it uses the strength of the rear triangle. Pretty much the strongest place on the frame barring the BB. I've had mine attached to several bikes, I'd call this one a non-starter.
The rear triangle strength is almost irrelevant. It's the forces that go through the frame to the head tube that count. I've proven that with my Fuji Touring versus my Avanti MTB. It's like the dog wagging the tail -- that weight out the back is similar to having panniers too far out the back. It can make standing and pedalling a very interesting exercise (in both configurations).

I'd also venture to say that trying to carry a large load in a trailer on, let's say, a light steel frame that is more suited to Auda/randonnee riding, would be as problematic in frame flex as putting the same load on panniers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
This depends on how you load the trailer. 50lbs of downforce in panniers is a lot more load on the rear wheel than 50lbs spread between the rear wheel and an additional wheel.
You're assuming use of only rear panniers. The load can be shared between front and rear panniers without a trailer. In using a heavily laden trailer, the load on the front wheel is less than what it could be. You don't need a third wheel to balance this out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
Actually, disc brakes can be an issue. for instance my Trek 4300 disc can't run a rear rack and the BOB, since the bike requires a disc specific rack and the skewer for the bob won't allow clearance for the BOB to attach. On the other hand my 29'er has the disc caliper between the chain and seat stays and doesn't require a disc specific rack and works just fine
I am using a non-BoB trailer and already it seems to have advantages over the BoB, including the attachment system. Mind you, I haven't tried any other disc-equipped bikes but for my Avanti, but the skewer has quite a bit of outward reach, and the ends are beefy but not awkwardly so for the dropout.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
I'm sorry, but that 16" tire is pretty freaking sturdy. 16" tube yes, and I do carry, but the spokes can't be 6" long on the BOB. I really don't see breaking a spoke
OK. But you will let us know if it ever does happen. The durability of 16" tyres also concerns me -- I've read CGOAB journals of tyres being worn out well before the bike's. Smaller diameter, decent load, greater wear = spare tyre?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
Disconnects in under 30 seconds. minor, minor issue. Can be a challenge backing it up. I try not to use reverse on my bike.
Sorry, but you miss my point (which I probably didn't make too well). With all that weight on the rear wheel, there is a tendency for the front wheel to have almost no traction when the rider is not on board, and more so if the bike is tipped to one side.

In fact, even with the rider on board, and with a near capacity load on the back, that might call into play issues of handling while riding, especially on gravel roads. But even with 22kg of weight (well under the limit for my trailer), it can be a handful to manoeuvre just to get on and ride off.

Among all this is the weight penalty. On a previous discussion, someone tried to make me believe that the BoB trailer weighed about the same as panniers. Not so, as far as I can tell, unless the trailer comes in at under 2.5kg for front and rear pairs together. You stll have another two or three kilograms of weight to drag up hills, and even along the flats... and that speed limit going downhill. I'm all for leisurely pace, but not at the cost of my motive energy, thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
Biggest issue for me is really the length needed should you stop somewhere. Even if the place has a bike rack, you're like tractor trailer long which creates it's own challenges. Nice part though is that you can be riding an unloaded bike with the removal of two clips if you have a safe/secure place to drop the trailer. Handy if you pitch camp near civilization and want to run to the store.
Yes, the length could be an issue.

Something else not mentioned is the recommended maximum speed that BoB imposes on its trailers. Oddly, the alternative brand doesn't have any mention of maximum speed in its literature.

I am not dismissing trailers for touring out of hand, but like most things in cycling, there are no absolutes. I am sure people have made trailers work when patently they shouldn't. But for me, except for the bike with no rack braze-ons (and that is not an unsurmountable issue for panniers), I am not sold on trailers as a useful touring accessory.

As to utility or short-haul cargo work, I love mine.
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Old 01-03-09, 07:00 PM   #7
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My SO and I did a 12 day tour of the SW part of Colorado last summer. We rode over 3 big passes (Red Moutain, Molas and Coal Bank). (If you want, here's an album of photos from the tour: http://sports.webshots.com/album/553273978zbzVVI) We are currently planning next year's tour, a three week ride through the central and southern Rockies of Colorado.

For this year's tour, my SO pulled a BOB trailer with a Surly Crosscheck. I had 4 panniers on a LHT. I decided to go with panniers instead of getting a BOB after I tried his and found that I was too light (I'm 105 pounds) to control the loaded trailer on even flat ground. So if you're a light rider, I'd think twice about a BOB for touring regardless of the route.

My SO decided to use the BOB after a couple of tours using front and rear panniers. Since he's over 200 pounds he figured he would have no problem controlling the trailer so the bike would be easier to handle; however, he discovered otherwise. On flat and rolling terrain it was fine, and while climbing it didn't handle poorly, but the extra weight of the trailer was noticeable. However, coming off of Red Mountain Pass, the first big pass of the tour, he found that even a modest cross wind would start pushing the trailer side to side, whipping the bike around. The bike handled worse than it had with front and rear panniers. My LHT, on the other hand, went downhill like it was on a rail even when coming off of Coal Bank Pass in a thunderstorm with heavy rain (he said that his BOB trailer gave him a white knuckle ride on the same descent). He ended up naming the BOB "The Boss" because it kept telling him where to go and what to do. Bottom line, the BOB seems well suited to flat or rolling terrain but poorly suited for big mountain passes and the cross winds that are inevitable on winding mountain descents. Given the 14 pounds of extra weight of the BOB and the handling issues, he's going back to panniers for next year's tour. (For comparison, the BOB carried a 31 pound load, with the heaviest items toward the rear of the trailer as best we could.)

My suggestion for you: If you had an old bike and you were trying to get away without buying another bike, then the trailer might be a good, affordable option. However, for the mountainous route you're planning, and since you're at the point where you're shopping for a bike, I'd strongly recommend going with a LHT and panniers front and rear.

Like the post above, we still love our BOB for running errands around town, including grocery shopping. My SO even used it for commuting. But it does look like our BOB has done its last tour.
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Old 01-03-09, 09:02 PM   #8
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Pulling vs Carrying

Thank you for your answers and I will research prior postings...since I'm new I
keep forgetting how vast this forumn is...your help is much appreciated though.

Regards,
john young
aka Juan2know
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Old 01-04-09, 04:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I have real doubts about using a trailer on anything other than a robust frame that is not going to go all noodly when the trailer is loaded.
Based on my limited experience pulling a BOB Ibex behind a 2008 Giant XTC 2 mountain bike on the Munda Biddi Trail, I had no such issues. In fact the person who came with me had far more stability issues riding a 2007 XTC 2 with panniers than I did and he has now gone a brought a BOB as well.

There are times when I will take the trailer (e.g., loop rides) and time when I will go with panniers (need to catch buses/fly etc). Each has their merits but I prefer the trailer option.

One thing I noticed yesterday coming back from Kalbarri (in the car) was a couple of riders pulling trailers. One was pulling a two wheeled kids trailer into a very strong head wind. He wasn't having fun for sure. I would agree, based on what I observed that these wider trailers could be an issue into headwinds.

On the positive side, I wondered what the advantage if any could come from towing a trailer in the unfortunate occurance of being hit from behind. A few instances of this lately has got me thinking about this.

Andrew

Last edited by Aushiker; 01-04-09 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 01-04-09, 05:55 AM   #10
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I tour with both. I use a Burly trailer which I haul my 65 lb. dog in and I have front and rear bags. The only difference that I've noticed is going downhill. There's a significant reduction in control, and I'm usually braking downhill, which pretty much sucks. I haven't noticed any differences on flatlands, uphill, nor tail or headwinds. The downhill scarey factor increases with a wet road surface.
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Old 01-04-09, 08:35 AM   #11
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What I know

I've been pulling a bob for about 9 months in the Texas panhandle behind a jamis coda elite. I also have a surly LHT which I use only with panniers and chose it this last summer to ride from amarillo to estes park colorado. As well, I will take the LHT on tour this next summer to ride vancouver to calgary.

Very briefly here's what I find to be worth noting:

I had to re-learn how to ride my bike when I bought a trailer. No doubt to me that a loaded trailer is less stable when riding.

The trailer seems to have less wind drag in strong crosswinds - maybe delusive thinking, but that's what my legs believe, so I'm going with it!

I have the LHT and I would not pull a trailer with that tank - that bike is designed to haul a load on the frame - I pull the trailer with a much lighter carbon forked cross bike and I love the way I can unhook the trailer at camp and ride like the wind - free of my burdensome gear.

I like the way cars "seem" to give me a larger piece of the road when they see the trailer.

I do a lot of weekend bike camping trips to stay in shape - I like the trailer because I get tired of packing the individual panniers - I like the ONE big bag/throw it in approach of the trailer. Just a personal thing I've developed over the years.

Those are my observations.
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