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Old 07-28-09, 10:51 AM   #1
neilfein
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Trailer tips - let's hear them!

I recently toured hauling a trailer for the first time - Up until then, I've had the traditional panniers setup. I was carrying camping gear and supplies for my wife and I.

The trailer is a Burley Nomad 2-wheel cargo trailer I use for groceries, and it handled very well overall. I'll be taking it on tour again. However, I definitely felt the trailer's inertia, particularly when first pulling away. Downhills weren't as much fun as they could have been. Oddly enough, I found climbing to be a bit easier than with a loaded bike. Weird since I was carrying at least 25 pounds more than I normally do (counting the 15 pound trailer).



Those of you that have toured with a trailer, what wisdom can you pass along? Pictures, as aways, are awesome. How much time do you put into packing your trailer? Do you keep the heavy stuff in back, up front, what?
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Old 07-28-09, 11:13 PM   #2
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I recently toured hauling a trailer for the first time - Up until then, I've had the traditional panniers setup. I was carrying camping gear and supplies for my wife and I.

The trailer is a Burley Nomad 2-wheel cargo trailer I use for groceries, and it handled very well overall. I'll be taking it on tour again. However, I definitely felt the trailer's inertia, particularly when first pulling away. Downhills weren't as much fun as they could have been. Oddly enough, I found climbing to be a bit easier than with a loaded bike. Weird since I was carrying at least 25 pounds more than I normally do (counting the 15 pound trailer).



Those of you that have toured with a trailer, what wisdom can you pass along? Pictures, as aways, are awesome. How much time do you put into packing your trailer? Do you keep the heavy stuff in back, up front, what?
Neil, you may find that your bike feels more agile with a trailer than with panniers, since the weight is behind the bike and not on the front and back wheel. The drawback is that you are generally pulling more weight, and inertia hits you both starting and stopping. Trailers on a fast and steep downhill can try to take over the bike, as I discovered on Rt. 837 in Pittsburgh last June. I'm always VERY careful going down hills with the trailer.
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Old 07-28-09, 11:25 PM   #3
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Having used both, it's easy to overload the trailer vs. panniers. I'd be curious to hear observations between the two wheeled Burly vs. the one wheeled BOB. Either one, the heavy items seem to travel better in the front.
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Old 07-28-09, 11:27 PM   #4
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very often, dual wheeled trailers, have their wheels out of alignment.
I've seen more of these types of trailers with tyres wearing in strange ways, than I have seen trailers that are aligned.

just an FYI.
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Old 07-28-09, 11:33 PM   #5
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Having used both, it's easy to overload the trailer vs. panniers. I'd be curious to hear observations between the two wheeled Burly vs. the one wheeled BOB. Either one, the heavy items seem to travel better in the front.
I thought so too. On my last tour the 'wardrobe' and 'kitchen' went in the front, on top of the tent and sleeping pad.
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Old 07-29-09, 07:48 AM   #6
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Trailers on a fast and steep downhill can try to take over the bike, as I discovered on Rt. 837 in Pittsburgh last June. I'm always VERY careful going down hills with the trailer.
I was thinking of you on the final approach to Ithaca, a 700' descent in two miles. Yikes!

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very often, dual wheeled trailers, have their wheels out of alignment.
I've seen more of these types of trailers with tyres wearing in strange ways, than I have seen trailers that are aligned.

just an FYI.
Interesting, Does anyone have any idea how to align a Burley Nomad?
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Old 07-29-09, 07:50 AM   #7
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I was thinking of you on the final approach to Ithaca, a 700' descent in two miles. Yikes!
How did you handle braking during that decline? What was your average speed?
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Old 07-29-09, 08:11 AM   #8
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How did you handle braking during that decline? What was your average speed?
Average speed - no clue. I tried to keep it under 20, but but I'm pretty sure I hit 25 a few times.

I would brake for a while as gently as I could, then coast for a while. I repeated this until my hands started falling off; I then pulled over for a bit.
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Old 07-29-09, 08:27 AM   #9
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I had no adverse handling issues with my BOB. For out of seat climbing, the trailer likes to resist the bike's side-to-side motion. Once I realized what was going on, this was a non-issue. I must say it felt kind of weird and squirrely to go back to a bike with no trailer. I see no need for a two-wheeled trailer since the BOB is rated for 70 lbs. I only haul about 40-50.

I never felt like the BOB was overtaking me on fast downhills. Oh, and a bike's forward inertia wouldn't be any different with panniers vs a properly loaded trailer, all else being equal. If you disagree, please explain. Think of a trailer like a canoe when loading. That is, the heaviest/densest items in the centermost point of control. With the BOB that's bottom center forward. I use a couple dry bags in addition to the large BOB dry bag with a couple bungees.

The pic is looking back on my BOB and my friend Pete who uses traditional panniers...NW Wisconsin in June
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Old 07-29-09, 08:32 AM   #10
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Trailer Tips:

- Keep weight low
- Bring tubes for the trailer tire
- Front panniers help cancel instability (AKA agility) from the trailer
- Don't over inflate the trailer tire - you don't want it to bounce too much
- Watch your speed on downhills. If a pothole throws the trailer off track, it may discover a resonance independent of one that will be best for the bike too. (IOW, you crash)
- Get a kickstand (I made one)
- Don't lose the clips
- Upgrade the trailer wheels
- Learn to disassemble it so it will fit in a <62 linear inch box for airline travel
- Practice witty rejoinders to various comments shouted out to you like "Moving?". No suggestions.
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Old 07-30-09, 10:35 AM   #11
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I never worried about packing when I toured with my Bob. I just tossed everything in the big yellow bag. There was plenty of room! That was one advantage over panniers, where I'm always very careful to put the front items in front, rear items in the back, and balance them side to side.

I brought the same stuff I would have brought if I had my panniers. Overloading wasn't any more of an issue.

The yellow bag never leaked, even in an all-day deluge.

Going uphill I felt like I was pulling an anchor. I needed at least one lower gear that I didn't have. That was the tipping point that made me go back to panniers for subsequent tours.

Going downhill wasn't a problem, except I was more paranoid about my rims getting too hot from braking and causing a flat. I stopped a lot going down the east side of Washington Pass to let my rims cool off.

I put two water bottle cages on the trailer. Added to the 3 on my bike, I never ran out of water.

It was a hassle having to carry a different size tube with Schrader valves. A small tube doesn't weigh much, but every ounce adds up, ya know?
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Old 07-30-09, 01:08 PM   #12
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Trailer Tips:

- Don't lose the clips
2nd that one, and make sure you bring any/all spare parts needed to make repairs. Had a travelling partner not bring those with him last year and we spent an evening having to rig something up after he lost a clip on a less than outstanding road.
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Old 07-30-09, 01:53 PM   #13
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I never felt like the BOB was overtaking me on fast downhills. Oh, and a bike's forward inertia wouldn't be any different with panniers vs a properly loaded trailer, all else being equal. If you disagree, please explain.
My disagreement:
Panniers and anything else tied securely to your bike don`t hinge (articulate?) in the middle. When you brake your bike, the weight stays in line. With a trailer, it stays in line with the wheels for the most part, but if it starts to wobble, if you don`t make a nice smooth curve (like a sudden swerve for a pothole or other minor road hazzard), or even if you hit a bump staright on and the trailer bounces a little, the momentum of the trailer (with no brakes of its own) can and will try to carry the trailer`s weight past the bike (whose speed IS being held in check by the brakes). If the trailer itself is like a canoe, remember that the bike is a separate canoe and only the one in front has brakes.

For the most part, it isn`t a big deal- just keep it in mind and watch your speed. If you get carried away, you`ll definitely know it. I`ve never crashed do to that, but I`ve sure felt the effects ofmy Bob trying to pass my bike and always straightened things out by letting off the brakes until all was smoothed out again. For this reason, I`d also add "keep your line smooth" to the list of handling tips.
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Old 07-31-09, 10:52 AM   #14
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My disagreement:
Panniers and anything else tied securely to your bike don`t hinge (articulate?) in the middle. When you brake your bike, the weight stays in line. With a trailer, it stays in line with the wheels for the most part, but if it starts to wobble, if you don`t make a nice smooth curve (like a sudden swerve for a pothole or other minor road hazzard), or even if you hit a bump staright on and the trailer bounces a little, the momentum of the trailer (with no brakes of its own) can and will try to carry the trailer`s weight past the bike (whose speed IS being held in check by the brakes). If the trailer itself is like a canoe, remember that the bike is a separate canoe and only the one in front has brakes.

For the most part, it isn`t a big deal- just keep it in mind and watch your speed. If you get carried away, you`ll definitely know it. I`ve never crashed do to that, but I`ve sure felt the effects ofmy Bob trying to pass my bike and always straightened things out by letting off the brakes until all was smoothed out again. For this reason, I`d also add "keep your line smooth" to the list of handling tips.
I agree that if the trailer bounces to the point of loosing road contact then sure, I can see where that'd compromise handling. I have definitely encountered that. Usually I am all for bouncing

And yes, keeping the speed in check is also wise. I just don't see how a short one-wheeled trailer could overtake. If the trailer were longer and/or had two wheels then I could see potential for more handling issues. Drastic turns could introduce greater fishtailing(overtaking, to use your term). Apparently I haven't made sufficiently drastic moves to introduce the wobble to which you refer. Thanks for the input
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Old 07-31-09, 10:53 AM   #15
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Has anyone here done a trip with a home made (DIY) trailler like the "Bamboo trailer"? I really like my BOB Ibex, but the airlines take the biggest height of the triangular shaped "side".
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