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Old 11-23-09, 03:57 PM   #1
yemma
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bob trailer vs panniers

i am thinking of taking a trip down to central america and wondering the difference in the two as far as traveling goes. the times i have done any kind of touring has been with an xtracycle
which i didnt particularly like.. it would be greatly appreciated..
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Old 11-23-09, 04:07 PM   #2
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I can't speak to the bob or cycling to central america but am curious what you didn't like about the xtracycle.

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Old 11-23-09, 05:07 PM   #3
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Hi Yemma,

I used a Bob trailer on my last two trips. I have to say the quality was amazing. It did 30 000miles without me having to touch it. Even then I only had to change the wheel.

Bob was great on rough roads and off roads bit but was unnecessary for normal road and having another wheel on the road was hell on the hills. In towns Bob's a bit unweildy but I did find that drivers went round you more because you've got a big yellow trailer! Also dogs seem to attack Bob rather than me!

All in all-if you're going off road for considerable amounts of time or carrying lots of weight then I massively recommend Bob trailers.

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Old 11-23-09, 09:07 PM   #4
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Mandatory anti flame disclaimer: This is my opinion and not meant to judge BOB trailers or the people who love them. It's just my experience with them during my limited time here on earth.

I'm not a BOB hater per se and have never owned one (outside a Burly kid trailer once*) myself BUT have had enough experience with them that I probably will never let one touch my bike.

Owning a bike shop and living in a popular cycle touring destination (San Juan Islands) I see a lot of people using both panniers and trailers. I've only once had to repair a pannier (my own) and never had to repair a BOB outside the occasional flat tire, HOWEVER, I have had to repair bikes damaged by BOBs. I have ad a few people come into my shop with tweaked rear stays because of their BOBs jackknifing and/or twisting. Fortunately this USUALLY seems to only happen while the rider is either walking with or parking their bike. That said rear wheel stays on a bike are built to receive downward forces not torque and because of how the BOB attaches to the rear of a bike it's easy to twist the frame when turning. Tweaking the rear end of a bike with a hanging dérailleur close to moving spokes is a bad combination and a recipe for disaster. Last summer a guy came in when his BOB tweaked his rear end (unbeknown to him) just enough that when he started to ride and got up to speed his rear dérailleur went into his spokes. Catastrophe ensued but fortunately he didn't crash. To be fare, in his case he probably had too much weight in his trailer but it was an expensive lesson and not isolated to over weighting the trailer.

That said I have met several people who have both liked their trailers and who've hated them. On the flip side I've never met anyone hating their panniers except one guy who did because everything got wet one rainy weekend (I suggested he use a plastic bag or buy some Ortliebs from me).

Practicality speaking I also am reserved to ride with a trailer as well. I'm not a weight weenie but appreciate the freedom from having a trailer with no other purpose than to tow your stuff and then having to worrying about extra sized tubes and/or wheels to deal with.

*I almost got my kids and myself killed once using that Burly kid trailer. I loved it to tow my kids on trails and such when they were very little but it took some getting use to. Once after a rain I was headed down a local street when the light ahead turned yellow. When I applied my breaks with what normally would have been plenty of distance to stop, I was pushed by the weight of the trailer through the very busy intersection against a red light by the time I got to it. Pretty effin scary and my fault but lesson learned when using a trailer! Have never had that happened to me when using panniers (though never tried to stuff one of my kids in a pannier either)
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Old 11-23-09, 10:21 PM   #5
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On the flip side I've never met anyone hating their panniers except one guy who did because everything got wet one rainy weekend
That line pretty much says it all
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Old 11-23-09, 10:36 PM   #6
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This question has been asked many times in this forum.

A search should bring up those examples.
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Old 11-23-09, 10:46 PM   #7
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I've had an Xtracycle
now i have a Big Dummy
I've had 2 BOB's... now i have a Big Dummy
but i still have the BOB dry saks... for the big dummy

panniers don't have a 3rd wheel

a bike with panniers packs easier into a box
i.e. train, bus, etc...

trailers and cargo bikes, are better at carrying LARGE items, that don't fit into panniers

recently I've put it like this
one way is to pick out your gear, and figure out how to pack it.
the other way
is to pick your bags, and figure what gear will fit into them

so I've gone from BOB trailer, Xtracycle, panniers, Big Dummy, and the most recent tour, simply a small frame bag, handle bar bag, and seatpost bag. no racks, no panniers.

i suppose its a matter of scope.

that is... exactly what you intend to haul.
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Old 11-23-09, 11:51 PM   #8
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That line pretty much says it all
Only if you leave out the part where he wasn't using water proof/resistant panniers or at least liners. I personally have never had an experience where my gear got wet while in my panniers and I've had several different brands of panniers with varying degrees of water "proofness."

There was a guy however, on a trip I did last summer with who's gear got wet AND muddy... he was using a BOB (not to say having a BOB had anything to do with it getting wet but muddy was because it was so close to the ground).
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Old 11-24-09, 12:07 AM   #9
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Dude I know snapped a chainstay, he has a Bob. And he still does. But that guy can break most things, so... ? His first Bob was a rigid one, broke it. Since then he has one with suspension, going fine still last I heard.
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Old 11-24-09, 12:52 AM   #10
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We can pack enough into a set of Ortleib panniers for the two of us on a tandem.
Ortleib panniers are waterproof.
Bikes with panniers don't jack-knife.
bikes with panniers are easier to pack
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Old 11-24-09, 09:05 AM   #11
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Besides, a bike fully loaded with panniers looks a lot cooler than one pulling a trailer. Hence why you don't see a site like this one devoted only to bikes pulling trailers.

http://www.pbase.com/canyonlands/fullyloaded
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Old 11-24-09, 09:13 AM   #12
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I've used both, and had a very bad experience with the BOB - it flipped me at high speed. It was probably overloaded & I was probably speeding, but I can go 40+ mph with the panniers and have the bike be rock solid. I've heard of this kind of accident a few times - I think it's more common when the rider/bike are light and the trailer is heavy. I would never ride on roads (paved or dirt) with a BOB again - I would use one if I was to do a trail tour.

MOre to the point for you, if you ever have to put the bike on a bus or train, the panniers are a lot easier to deal with. Also easier manoevering around town, parking, and taking it into buildings (hotel elevator, for example).
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Old 11-24-09, 09:16 AM   #13
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I've used both, and had a very bad experience with the BOB - it flipped me at high speed. It was probably overloaded & I was probably speeding, but I can go 40+ mph with the panniers and have the bike be rock solid. I've heard of this kind of accident a few times - I think it's more common when the rider/bike are light and the trailer is heavy. I would never ride on roads (paved or dirt) with a BOB again - I would use one if I was to do a trail tour.

MOre to the point for you, if you ever have to put the bike on a bus or train, the panniers are a lot easier to deal with. Also easier manoevering around town, parking, and taking it into buildings (hotel elevator, for example).
You are fast. You should start a Pannier Race Club.
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Old 11-24-09, 06:28 PM   #14
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i am thinking of taking a trip down to central america and wondering the difference in the two as far as traveling goes. the times i have done any kind of touring has been with an xtracycle
which i didnt particularly like.. it would be greatly appreciated..
I have heard of one issue with trailers. Because you have so much space in the trailer, you tend to take more stuff with you. Also, 4 panniers weigh about 5lbs, a trailer will be at least 20. Remember that Central America is not flat, so there should be a fair amount of climbing involved. A general rule, the amount of climbing is equal to the amount of brutality applied to trimming the amount of gear you want to take.
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Old 11-24-09, 07:39 PM   #15
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Also, 4 panniers weigh about 5lbs, a trailer will be at least 20. .
FWIW, my 4 panniers presently weigh 9 lbs and I've seen several waterproof ones that weigh much more. A Bob Yak supposedly weighs in at 13.5 lbs. Probably not a 15 lb difference between the two different modes.

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Old 11-24-09, 07:59 PM   #16
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FWIW, my 4 panniers presently weigh 9 lbs and I've seen several waterproof ones that weigh much more. A Bob Yak supposedly weighs in at 13.5 lbs. Probably not a 15 lb difference between the two different modes.
Also, don't forget the weight of the racks. There's 3 or 4 lbs there.
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Old 11-24-09, 08:13 PM   #17
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Also, don't forget the weight of the racks. There's 3 or 4 lbs there.
dont forget the 3rd wheel
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Old 11-24-09, 09:43 PM   #18
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Hate to muddy the thread, but I looked into trailers a while back and went with the Burley Nomad. Weights in at 14.5 lbs, (with the wheels), and does not have the connection issues the Bob had. I have used it primarily for grocery store runs, and live in a very hilly neighborhood. Have a semi-short 20% grade up to my house. Again have not take any sustained climbs with it, but I do like the way it feels when out of the saddleI

like the idea of being able to drop the trailer and ride free from constraint. But again haven't done any serious touring with it, but was my thinking upon purchasing.
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Old 11-24-09, 10:26 PM   #19
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You are fast. You should start a Pannier Race Club.
Heh. Downhill of course. After climbing at 3 1/2 mph for 5 hours, you gotta be able to enjoy the descents.
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Old 11-24-09, 10:52 PM   #20
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whats better than a trailer?
no trailer

whats better than panniers?
no panniers

the trick is figuring out how to minimize
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Old 11-24-09, 11:01 PM   #21
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dont forget the 3rd wheel
I think the stated weights of the Bob Yak and Ibex include the weight of the wheel and tire, but maybe that's not what you intended?
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Old 11-24-09, 11:04 PM   #22
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whats better than a trailer?
no trailer

whats better than panniers?
no panniers

the trick is figuring out how to minimize
perfect
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Old 11-25-09, 07:57 PM   #23
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I think the stated weights of the Bob Yak and Ibex include the weight of the wheel and tire, but maybe that's not what you intended?
Bob's weight spec is for the complete trailer. BUT, they don't include the Yak Sak, which weighs over 4 lbs. With the Yak Sak, a Bob weighs between 17.5-18 lbs (i weighed mine). A Burley Nomad is lighter by 3 lbs, plus has about twice the volume under the cover that a Yak Sak will contain.

Panniers weigh between 1600-2100g per pair. Racks weigh 1300-2400g for f+r. So, total weight of 4500-6600g / 10-15 lbs. With about 80L volume (a lttle more than yak sak, a lot less than nomad).

Carefully selected panniers/rack will give you more load capacity per pound of equipment than a trailer. However, the decent ones cost more than a trailer, are not as universally adaptable to any bike, and harder to sell. Trailers are a snap to attach/detach to a bike, and extend the life of your wheels (especially the rear) over comparably loaded P&R system. If you get a trailer, it's fairly easy to sell on ebay when your're done with it and recover 50% or more of your cost.

Trailers are a better choice for off-road / rough road conditions, since the constant, high shock from these surfaces can break a loaded rack or frame braze-on rack fitting. The only Yaks I know of that broke were overloaded AND used off-road.

The biggest cost of a P&R system is having a proper touring frameset to mount them.

Last edited by seeker333; 11-25-09 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 11-25-09, 09:10 PM   #24
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Trailers are a better choice for off-road / rough road conditions, since the constant, high shock from these surfaces can break a loaded rack or frame braze-on rack fitting. The only Yaks I know of that broke were overloaded AND used off-road.

The biggest cost of a P&R system is having a proper touring frameset to mount them.
Well, not necessarily. My Yak frame broke after only about 6k miles, half on surfaces no worse than degraded chip seal, carrying less than 50 lbs. As you allude in your last sentence, the choice between trailer and rack / pannier first depends on what bike is used. Most would agree that a carbon frame and / or a short chain stay would dictate a trailer.
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Old 11-25-09, 10:16 PM   #25
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I personally like to use a trailer (aluminum frame bike/26 inch) and my preferred method to travel to a cycling location is by train. Amtrak just takes my bike with no hassles. I probably will not cycle internationally unless I go to Canada. Basically I don't worry about all the issues concerning a trailer. I just get on the bike and ride both on and off road. BTW a super good deal on the train (Empire Builder) is the fare RT from Portland, Oregon to Whitefish, Montana - $83.00. You leave PDX at 4:45 PM get off the train at 7:30 AM in Whitefish and can be on the Great Divide Mt Bike Route in well under a hour.
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