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Old 01-24-09, 09:01 PM   #1
steingang2
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Facinating!

I just read my first issue of adventure cycling magazine and I love the idea of touring on a bike. I have a Cannondale 613 (road bike) and would love to do some weekend trips (due to lack of time and money for longer trips). A few questions for those more experienced: Why not use a backpack in stead of panniers? Why do the frames cost as much as the panniers? What type of rear frame should I put on a road bike like mine? Where do I learn more about this ? I especially loved the article on weeekend camping trips!
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Old 01-24-09, 09:07 PM   #2
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1) Backpacks are uncomfortable and annoying and make your back all sweaty! You'll probably feel much better taking that weight off your back and putting it over your rear (or front) wheel.
2) Hefty engineering comes with a hefty cost. Racks that fail can pose a serious safety hazard, and this is something you aren't going to want to skimp on if you really are going fully loaded.
3) The rack you use depends how much you plan to carry. Folks around here tend to swear by Tubus racks.
4) www.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 01-24-09, 09:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steingang2 View Post
Why not use a backpack in stead of panniers?
Have you ever worn a loaded backpack on a ride of any distance? Try it some time.


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Originally Posted by steingang2 View Post
Why do the frames cost as much as the panniers?
Frames generally cost more than the panniers. They are one of the most expensive parts of a bicycle. Or do you mean rack? And if you mean rack ... racks are quite inexpensive. Here's mine:
http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1232853142878
I've done thousands of kilometers of loaded touring with it over the past 5 years, and have used it for commuting and randonneuring loads as well


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What type of rear frame should I put on a road bike like mine?
If you already have a road bicycle, why do you need a different frame? Or maybe you mean rack ... if so, do you have eyelettes?


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Where do I learn more about this ?
Try the Tips thread which is "Stickied" here: Tips and Tricks

Actually, if you read all the "Sticky" threads here you'll be flooded with information: http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/
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Old 01-24-09, 09:46 PM   #4
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There is no problem touring with a backpack as long as your backpack stay under..lets say 10kg weight.
Those who deny it have newer tried it, they just have read on this forum and other forums that its a bad idea uhhh uhh bad idea, crazy. But it has to be a quality backpack.
I have toured most of England with a Love Alpine (think it was 45 liters) backpack. Most of England is not the longest tour but the backpack thing went extremely well. Would newer choose anything else, perfect when you are 2 people, but works even if you are 1, if you pack good and light.
Try it if you want to go light and want your values to go with you were ever you are, and want logistics and things easy.

You can tour on any bike you want. Best choice is a old dirty mountain with 26" wheels bike that is ugly, but have good Mavic wheels and Shimano parts.
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Old 01-24-09, 11:07 PM   #5
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Under no circumstances should you ever ride distance with a backpack! This is one of the most uncomfortable, annoying and dangerous things you can do to destroy the enjoyment of a tour. You will have plenty of other challenges to adapt to as a new cycle tourist, without the discomfort of a backpack.

Get proper racks and panniers.

Nothing more than a Camelback with a couple litres of liquid is comfortable over the long haul. Some cyclists even eschew that much extra weight on the back/shoulders/arms. 10 kilos would be murder!

I make this judgement as a long-distance cyclist of more than 40 years. Ignore me and Machka (another experienced cyclotourist) at your own peril.

Check out my touring pages at VeloWeb, particularly the bags and racks page for more tips.

Last edited by Randochap; 01-24-09 at 11:19 PM.
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Old 01-24-09, 11:15 PM   #6
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There is no problem touring with a backpack as long as your backpack stay under..lets say 10kg weight.
Those who deny it have newer tried it, they just have read on this forum and other forums that its a bad idea uhhh uhh bad idea, crazy. But it has to be a quality backpack.
To each his own but I can't imagine carrying anything on my back while riding. It would be uncomfortable and more importantly throw of your balance due to the high center of gravity. There is a reason why panniers are mounted so low. For the metricly challenged, 10kg = 22 lbs. That is a lot of weight to carry so high and does not really equate to all that much gear if you want to be comfortable while on tour.


To the OP,

You don't need to spend a ton of money right off. My first couple of tours I used a $15 rack from Nashbar, $40 Sunlite panniers and a $10 daypack that I strapped to the top of the rack. The $15 rack was bomb proof. After a couple of trips the panniers did not hold up as well but are still very usable though I have upgraded to Ortlieb panniers just for more volume and ease of use. I did have one expensive item on my first couple of tours a Ortlieb handlebar bag.

The one advantage of buying quality equipment right off is that if you decide to stick with it, the equipment will pretty much last forever. If you decide it is not for you then you should be able to sell it at a fairly decent price.
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Old 01-25-09, 12:24 AM   #7
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Have a look at the Newbies Guide:
The Newbie's Guide To Touring Bikes

Have a look at the Tips and Tricks:
Tips and Tricks

Have a look at PermanentJuan's and Flic's threads if you have time:
bike for Africa - please help me!
Can my MTB make it from the Pacific to the Atlantic?
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Old 01-25-09, 12:33 AM   #8
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Road bike problems:
- Usually difficult to fit racks and panniers to, so load-carrying ability is limited (But: you can travel ultralight, or use a trailer)
- Aggressive riding position - faster but potentially less comfortable over long distances (But: if you're comfortable doing 50-100 milers several days in a row, you should be fine), potentially less stable
- More fragile components - more likely to break spokes or even the frame. This gets worse as you add weight. Don't tour on racing wheels; you'd be better off with conventionally-spoked wheels, minimum 32 or 36 spokes, more if you're not light.
- Gearing usually designed for racing - difficult to climb with a load, or when tired/headwind/bad weather etc.
- Thin tyres only. Can be a problem when road conditions or weather deteriorate, or if you're carrying a lot. Also if you have strong wheels, they will often be less comfortable with a given tyre width (eg. my velocity aerohead rims with a 25mm tyre are fine, but on my touring wheels 32mm is more comfortable than 28mm).

There are some threads on touring on performance road bikes, do a forum search. Basically, if you want to tour on a racing-style bike, try to have a relaxed riding position and travel as light as possible (definitely less than 10kg/20Lb total weight carried).

-- Edit: looked up your bike online
I think your bike is not suited to carrying any sort of a load, and would do poorly with a rack and panniers. Chainstay length is less than 41cm. The wheels are reduced-spoke lightweight wheels. The frame is very stiff and has aggressive geometry. It looks very much performance-oriented.
If you want to tour on that bike, maybe try credit-card touring (stay in hotels, buy your meals, travel light and fast and preferably in a small group to keep the pace up!)

Last edited by Cave; 01-25-09 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 01-25-09, 12:37 AM   #9
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Backpack pros:
- Light
- Can carry a hydration bladder

Backpack cons:
- Any significant weight causes a lot of shoulder and neck pain (for me anyway) and arms also get sore.
- Hot, less comfortable

If you want to try it, do so on a long day ride. Try to keep the weight below 5kg or so and get a pack that sits as low on your back as possible. The crappy light ripstop nylon fold-away packs actually aren't too bad, as you can get them to hang right back over your hips. Use the waist strap to keep it stable. You don't want a big hiking pack, it will end up to heavy and will push up against your helmet, and the waist strap will be too bulky.

You can add a saddle bag and a handlebar bag for more space - but the more separate places you have to keep things, the more the weight adds up.

Last edited by Cave; 01-25-09 at 12:45 AM.
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Old 01-25-09, 02:49 AM   #10
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I would also advice against backpacks for all the reasons mentioned above. I recomend you do some more research on bikes, penniers, gears, equipment, etc... by visiting these sites.
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
http://bicycletouring101.com/index.html
And our page, link below.
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Old 01-25-09, 02:42 PM   #11
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Backpacks are an option when weight is the number one concern. Also for the real technical riding backpacks have a pretty solid following. People sticking to generally off road and very hilly terrain in mountain biking really fit both these requirements. The great divide race and bikepacking are where you see soft frame mounted bags and backpacks as very common choices. I did a three day tour using an Osprey Talon 22 pack on rail trails that were overall in very poor condition. With how flat and relatively easy the conditions were I would have been happier with panniers, but the backpack really wasn't a bad choice. Removing it to get to what's in it was annoying, but having the hydration pack on was a big plus for me. It did tire out my shoulders at the end of the second day some.

At 1 pound the pack weighs in at about the same as a rack would. Adding panniers to a racks and you get another few pounds and that adds up fast. The bike mounted racks don't allow the shifting of weight between the front and back wheel that is important to mountain biking. To sum things up, a good backpack has it's place, but for paved surfaces it's hard to make a good argument for one.
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Old 01-26-09, 11:28 AM   #12
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I`m staying out of the backpack thing, but I want to suggest you consider a trailer for your bike issues. Again, there will be a flood of posts explaining how they aren`t as good as racks and panniers, but they have the advantage of being adaptable to your present bike and letting you get out and try some touring without a big investment and without adding a whole lot of additional stress to your bike. If you don`t like it, you should have no problem selling it later. BOB, Nashbar, Extra-wheel, Burley, Yakima... any of them will get you on the road.
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Old 01-26-09, 03:31 PM   #13
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Backpacks are an option when weight is the number one concern.
??? If weight is a concern -- and it is when its crippling your back -- why would a backpack be an option?

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Also for the real technical riding backpacks have a pretty solid following.
The OP is talking about touring, not offroad racing.

Quote:
It did tire out my shoulders at the end of the second day some.
That's why backpacks are a very bad choice ... for most any kind of cycling, IMHO. Even a trip to the shops is more enjoyable with the proper rack/bag. Use your touring and utilitarian bike like a good, trusty mule. That's what they were invented for.

Quote:
At 1 pound the pack weighs in at about the same as a rack would. Adding panniers to a racks and you get another few pounds and that adds up fast. The bike mounted racks don't allow the shifting of weight between the front and back wheel that is important to mountain biking.
Again, the OP didn't say he wanted to go mountain biking. What forum is this again? If we are talking about general weight distribution on a touring bike (and we are), the best way to accomplish that laudable goal is with front (lowrider) and rear racks and panniers. I have toured the back roads of the north w/ such a set up and that is ultimately the best approach for bumpy wilderness roads -- much better than a trailer, which has a mind of its own on bumpy tracks, BTW -- though I'm not dismissing trailers as a general option, but budget wouldn't be an argument in favour. Ounce-splitting here is meaningless. Let's try not to confuse neophytes with patently bad advice.

Quote:
To sum things up, a good backpack has it's place, but for paved surfaces it's hard to make a good argument for one.
So why did you try?

Last edited by Randochap; 01-26-09 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 01-26-09, 05:15 PM   #14
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What forum is this again?
This forum is for people who ride bikes places. And if you are gonna ride places where going over foot high logs or steep twisty downhills offroad, then my advice is quite good. Exactly how my post explains it. If you want to limit touring to roads, than feel free to. My post was to make the point that backpacks have their place, and where they shine is technical offroad riding. So you agree with me which is good.
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Old 01-26-09, 06:04 PM   #15
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This forum is for people who ride bikes places. And if you are gonna ride places where going over foot high logs or steep twisty downhills offroad, then my advice is quite good. Exactly how my post explains it. If you want to limit touring to roads, than feel free to. My post was to make the point that backpacks have their place, and where they shine is technical offroad riding. So you agree with me which is good.
All these BF are for "people who ride bikes places." I post on the other forums if i have something to say pertinant to randonneuring or road riding. I post here on touring topics.

If you ride a bike on "steep twisty downhills offroad" with a big pack on your back, your centre of gravity is going to be too high and you have something on your back that can snag on trees. One usually isn't doing "technical offroad riding" on a tour. So, no, I don't agree with you at all.

But go ahead and do whatever you want.
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Old 01-26-09, 07:28 PM   #16
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I just read my first issue of adventure cycling magazine and I love the idea of touring on a bike. I have a Cannondale 613 (road bike) and would love to do some weekend trips (due to lack of time and money for longer trips). A few questions for those more experienced: Why not use a backpack in stead of panniers? Why do the frames cost as much as the panniers? What type of rear frame should I put on a road bike like mine? Where do I learn more about this ? I especially loved the article on weeekend camping trips!
Be careful! I tried some weekend bike camping trips 35 years ago and the hook was set. I love it! I can't wait to retire. Working definitely gets in the way of bike touring!

I agree with those who say touring with a backpack is unacceptable. I did it once with a frame backpack from my scouting days. I managed to ride about 12 miles to a campground, and back the next day. It wasn't a happy experience.

I think you mean "rack" instead of "frame". The frame is the foundation of the bike that all the pieces, including the wheels, are attached to. Racks are either the things you bolt on the bike to carry stuff with, or the things you bolt onto your car to carry your bike. I think you're talking about the former.

Racks don't have to be expensive. The rack I used on my first tours was a Pletscher I bought at Fred Meyer (kind of a Northwest Wal-mart). It worked fine. They still sell them (though I'm not recommending them.) Nashbar usually has racks that are pretty cheap and will probably work fine. If you want high-quality racks that will last a lifetime you can spend quite a bit (talk to Wayne at TheTouringStore.com). You might want to make sure touring will become part of your lifestyle before you spend the big bucks. (Tip: use Loctite when you bolt on the rack. I've had far more problems with rack bolts vibrating loose than any other bolts on my bikes.)

Does your bike have eyelets for a rack? If so, buy a rack you can afford and some panniers you can afford and give it a go. Try and use as lightweight camping stuff as possible - think backpacking camping gear.

I think it's best to have racks and panniers both front and back to spread out the load, but you can certainly tour with just a rear rack. I've done it and I see others doing it all the time - especially if you're only going for a weekend. Riding a bike with a rack on the front wheel isn't a big deal. You can get used to it in about 5 minutes. But attaching the rack to the front might be problematic, especially if you have a carbon fork. And buying a front rack and front panniers adds to the expense. If you want to try out touring without spending too much money, I suggest trying it with just rear panniers first.

Of course, you can always eschew the panniers and racks and get a Bob trailer. But that's a whole other thread.

Try it, you'll like it!
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Old 01-26-09, 07:37 PM   #17
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I just read some of the other posts and it's getting a bit chippy. I know what setup works for me in which situation (although I'm always open to suggestions for improvement.) However, I also know that others with as much experience as I or more often advocate a very different rig. To each their own. I applaud those who state their preferences and why they feel the way they do, even if they're 180 degrees different from my preferences.

My advice for a newby would be to go with the conventional wisdom at first, then vary things and make your own choices based on your discoveries.
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Old 01-26-09, 08:28 PM   #18
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If I may put in my worth-slightly-less-than-most $.02 - I haven't yet gone on a proper tour, but I do attend a college where the campus is fairly large and so I do quite a bit of riding with a fairly heavy (lots of textbooks) load. Even riding around campus a few miles a day with a heavy backpack of textbooks became obnoxious and tiring very quickly, so I decided to convert my backpack to a makeshift pannier, just to see if I like it better and if it worked. NOTE: I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR REAL TOURING UNLESS YOU REALLY TRUST YOUR OWN HANDIWORK. I used this instructable and sewed the webbing on using dental floss. You could try it with a light-ish load just to see if you like it better, and if you don't, well then you're only out about $5 in supplies - less if you have this stuff lying around, which you might. So far, this has worked very well, and my backpack does get pretty darn heavy - but please please please PLEASE test it extensively (ride around the block and on bumpy roads, for instance) before you load it down and get onto more dangerous roads. Again, I DON'T recommend this as a day-before-a-long-tour-I'm-too-cheap-for-proper-panniers type of solution - if you find it works that well, that's excellent, but pleeeeeeeease test it extensively and make sure it will hold up.
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Old 01-27-09, 03:59 AM   #19
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Randochap,

Not everyone has the same body shape, type, and strengths as you. Backpacks are fine for some people. I rode for a week with a guy who used a backpack and rear panniers for over 4000km and had no problems whatsoever. It depends on each individual, don't generalise.
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Old 01-27-09, 05:36 AM   #20
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No, man, he's right - if you put on a backpack you will die INSTANTLY.
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Old 01-27-09, 08:55 AM   #21
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No backpack for me. I want maximum comfort on tour and a fairly low center of gravity - even tho I use converted old school MTB's with high BB's. To me, a backpack would be like carrying a sack of potatoes around.

I go with cheap racks like what Machka uses. Never had a problem yet. As a trucker, I'm in the habit of doing equipment checks every day, so I can usually spot trouble. No loose bolts or signs of fatigue. All rack struts are nice and stiff. Just pull 'em like you would when checkin your spokes. If they aren't stiff, look closer.

One thing I do is use fairly large zip-ties to re-inforce the rack stays to my fender stays. I believe this reduces vibrations from the road, which may contribute to eventual failure of the stays. There is almost no movement when I pull the rack stays now. I know it doaesn't sound logical, but the whole fender/rack assembly really stiffens up.
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Old 01-27-09, 09:34 AM   #22
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No, man, he's right - if you put on a backpack you will die INSTANTLY.
Unless you have a B-17 or you buy the backpack from Wayne.
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Old 01-27-09, 02:22 PM   #23
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Randochap, It depends on each individual, don't generalise.
Let me preface this by saying I don't intend to turn this into a flame war, but this is one debate that really needs to be put to rest. Telling a beginner that it's OK to tour with a backpack is very bad advice. If you like this particular form of self-mortification ... good for you.

I'm not generalizing. I can say with specific certainty that trying to tour with a backpack is a bad idea for the vast majority of cyclists ... particularly for ones with already limited bike-handling skills. That's not generalizing; it's good advice, based on more than 40 years of touring experience.

If you personally like cycling with a pig strapped to your back, go right ahead and enjoy yourself.
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Old 01-27-09, 08:07 PM   #24
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WOW, did not know my inquiry would get such a reaction.* My bike is a touring road bike, not a tri bike nor a mountain bike.* Having backpacked many miles in the military (Semper Fi!) and having ridden many miles on a bike I now understand the balance issue with a backpack.* Since I plan to travel paved roads with my bike (Cannondaly 613) would I be better buying a rear rack and penniers or a trailer?
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Old 01-27-09, 08:22 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by steingang2 View Post
WOW, did not know my inquiry would get such a reaction.* My bike is a touring road bike, not a tri bike nor a mountain bike.* Having backpacked many miles in the military (Semper Fi!) and having ridden many miles on a bike I now understand the balance issue with a backpack.* Since I plan to travel paved roads with my bike (Cannondaly 613) would I be better buying a rear rack and penniers or a trailer?
lol... You think the backpack issue was trouble?
Now look what you've started - the "pannier vs. trailer" debate.

Seriously, having used both, trailers are wonderful for turning virtually any bike into a tour-able venue, but my preference is a touring bike and 4 panniers.
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