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Old 05-15-10, 08:26 PM   #1
rothenfield1
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Load Distribution Question

Im not even a newbie, more like a wannabe. Ive ridden road & MTB bikes for years, and I backpack. So, it makes sense to combine the two. Where have I been; right? I bought an old lugged tourer with a rear rack and would like to ease my way into it by trying an overnighter. I can fit enough gear for a 3-4 night backpack into my 65 liter pack. It seems like I could get everything Id need for a night or 2 in a couple panniers and maybe a trunk bag. But, putting all that load over the rear axle seems like it would throw the bikes riding characteristics off. How important is it where and how the weight is distributed over the frame of the bike?
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Old 05-15-10, 08:41 PM   #2
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Depends on the bike. Some do quite well with weight only in the rear.

It's been my experience, however, that putting as much weight forward (and as low) as possible greatly adds to ride stability, plus reduces the stress on your most vulnerable bike part - your rear wheel. The relative weight forward is limited by the size of your front panniers and the fact that (unless you have a shelf on your front rack) your tent will be on the shelf of your rear rack.
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Old 05-15-10, 08:48 PM   #3
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Just finished a 11 day, 578 miles camping tour.
Was able to stuff my tent in a front pannier.
Tent poles on the rear rack.

The front wheel was most stable.
Bike 33 lbs, gear 56 lbs.

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Old 05-15-10, 10:31 PM   #4
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I'll try to reply to both of your kind responses. Wow, 1 from Cal, & 1 from Tex. How bizarre. I live in Cal & am presently working in Beaumont! 10 Wheels, that is a beautiful touring set-up. However, I can't afford to buy all of that right now. I don't think that I need a full set of both front and rear rack and panniers for a 1-2 nighter. The bike I have has a rear rack and a trunk bag. So, I have to decide what next purchase would be the best use of my limited funds to get this show on the road. The easy, and logical conclusion would be to buy a set of panniers. But, that would mean that my entire load would be on the rear of the bike. I'm starting to agree more and more with what Cyclesafe refers to and wondering if I might be better off buying a front low-rider rack and panniers in combination with my trunk rack and maybe a handle bar bag.
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Old 05-16-10, 01:20 AM   #5
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I
I toured for 2 months with 30lbs in a hiking backpack. I zip-tied a wire kitchen shelf to a normal rack to give a bit more stability for the pack. I loved being able to lock up my bike, shoulder the pack, and climb a mountian.

I'm currently 2.5 months in on a 5 month tour with this setup:

I have a small front porteur style rack supporting a bear canister and a custom made rack carrying my pack. I will admit the bike doesn't handle quite as well as it would if the weight was lower, but I got used to it quickly and now don't mind it. Sometimes I will even stick the bear canister on the back rack with the pack so all 40 some lbs are back there. Again, the bike handles "differently" but you'll adapt to it after a few days.
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Old 05-16-10, 06:57 AM   #6
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Last summer I went on a tour with a friend, he had all of his gear in two very large panniers on the back rack. To get heel clearance, he had to move the mounts on his panniers further back. To give you an idea of how badly balanced his bike was, in the camp site I tried to move his bike and lifted on the rear of his seat to pick up the back of his bike and instead the front wheel came off the ground instead of the back. But, he still did ok with a bike that far out of balance and his bike handled good enough. You won't know what is acceptable or unacceptable until you try it. Get some cheap panniers and load them up and try it in town before you plan a trip. Since you are testing weight distribution you can skip the trunk bag and strap a small duffle or daypack on the top of the rack if you have one. But, keep in mind that with distribution like that you are putting a lot of stress on the back wheel and should avoid bumpy roads. You should know in the first few miles if it is a bad idea or not.
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