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  1. #1
    Deluxe Member mattm3's Avatar
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    Put It All Up Front!

    Hey All, question... I saw a pic of someone's rig here and they had larger front panniers and no rear panniers, noting the weight distribution that way was 50/50 front/back. Anyone else try larger panniers in the front and lighter weights on a rear rack?

    I like the look (I'm all about looks so I tried it today. I put my rear panniers (on the small side) up front and loaded them with groceries at the store. The steering seemed a little more solid and I didn't notice any adverse effects. I'm thinking of trying it that way on my upcoming trip. I only ever use these rear panniers so I'm not giving up any space.

    Any thoughts? Comments?
    M3
    97 Specialized Hardrock
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  2. #2
    Senior Member carkmouch's Avatar
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    I always use the smaller panniers for up front and the bigger ones in back, but that doesn't mean I can't still put more weight up front. I usually try to put more weight on the front as to balance out the bike, and put lighter, but bulkier items like sleeping bags and clothes in the rear panniers while putting heavier stuff like tools, water, toiletries-bag up front. If you put too big of panniers up front, I fear it may interfere with steering, like dragging on the ground through sharp turns.

    I did do one overnight tour once where I just used my two front panniers for everything and strapped my sleeping bag on the back rack, and this set-up worked really well.
    Touring is in tents

  3. #3
    Senior Member porter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carkmouch View Post
    I always use the smaller panniers for up front and the bigger ones in back, but that doesn't mean I can't still put more weight up front. I usually try to put more weight on the front as to balance out the bike, and put lighter, but bulkier items like sleeping bags and clothes in the rear panniers while putting heavier stuff like tools, water, toiletries-bag up front. If you put too big of panniers up front, I fear it may interfere with steering, like dragging on the ground through sharp turns.

    I did do one overnight tour once where I just used my two front panniers for everything and strapped my sleeping bag on the back rack, and this set-up worked really well.
    +1 - I think with the tent on the back rack and the dense items in the front panniers I end up with a 50/50 front/rear weight split.

    I've often though larger front panniers would be useful - especially if they were wider (a long the length of the bike), rather than higher. Increasing the size in this dimension shouldn't interfere with bike operations. My Orltieb front panniers are reasonably narrow in this dimension.

  4. #4
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    I put the heavy stuff in back, and the bulky stuff in front. This is by neccessity rather than choice, I use a Topeak MTX bag in the rear which is kind of limited cubic inches-wise, and I use Sunlite's up front. It works really well though.

    The Sunlite Fortress is an AWESOME pannier by the way, great if you want Ortlieb-style bags without shelling out 400 bucks for 'em.

  5. #5
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    I switched from a Tubus Tara low rider front rack to a Surly Nice front rack to gain a platform on the front. My intention was to move some of the weight to the much stronger (non-dished) front wheel.

    After some loaded test rides, I found the heavy stuff on the rack platform made the whole front end steer something like a wet noodle. It wasn't the frame or handlebars flexing. It was the tent and other load strapped to the front rack platform. The front wheel moves back and forth rather quickly in small increments for normal balance while riding normally (especially at slow speeds). No matter how tightly I strapped the load down, there was always a small bit of sway caused by the physics of trying to move a load back and forth.

    I can load the low-rider front panniers with more weight without suffering so much of the wet noodle effect. The low-riders are closer to the steering axis and don't induce as much sway.

    I'm experimenting with strapping a couple of the more bulky, but relatively light weight items like a sleeping bag and pad on top of the front rack. If that doesn't behave especially well, I'll punt the idea of the Nice rack on the front and go back to the Tara, which is solid as a rock. It also weighs quite a bit less than the Nice rack.

  6. #6
    40 yrs bike touring
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    Long ago I settled on using front panniers only with a rear rack dry bag stuffer. This system has worked well for me for over 25 years.

    I find that bike handling and control improves. There is less chance of rear wheel damage from too much weight on the rear wheel if you hit a pothole.

    On the Divide Ride when I needed to push the bike there were no rear panniers hitting my leg as I pushed. Just another unanticipated benefit from this setup.

  7. #7
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    Just a few minutes ago I loaded my NEW bike with my fully loaded front panniers. Flashback to last weekend - I've made one 150 mile trip on this bike with just rear pans and the front end felt a little loose, having all the weight on the back end - the front end was mushy whatever you wanna call it. So I said to myself tonight with the front pans on, merrily riding on the streets - Yahoo the front feels really solid. I was pleased. However, I know the downside to front panniers will be the crosswind pressure that wrecks my wrists. Having the weight on the front end seems to help stabilize the bike, however, in windy areas the crosswind pressure will create other steering problems. Luckily this bike has a low mounting setup on the front end.

  8. #8
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    it's all a compromise, too much weight up front begins to make steering too slow or loads up the forks too much,,too much on the back makes the steering too light and requires substantially stronger rear wheel. That said if I didn't have a very long rear chainstay bike I'd start with putting weight on the front and rear, then panniers on the front and top of the rear rack and then front and rear panniers.
    The LHT is pretty damn good for rear panniers only given the front weight bias. Ironically on my Kona Ute with 24" rear chainstays once the rear load is big enough it really helps to have some weight on the front end.

    It's not so much front/back but also how much total weight is carried.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I agree with others - big, bulky, not-so-heavy items in back, like the sleeping bag, tents, clothes. In front go the small, dense, heavy stuff - stove, pots and pans, fuel bottle, tools, book.

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