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Old 05-18-10, 07:12 PM   #1
rothenfield1
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Front vs. Rear Panniers.

I'm trying to decide where to put my hard earned money concerning racks and bags. I want to ease my way into touring by taking my first overnighter. I have the bike, & it has a rear rack and trunk bag. My conundrum is that I'm a fairly experienced backpacker, and I've gotten my gear down to 40 lbs or so for a quick night or 2. It appears that I could get my kit in a couple of rear panniers and the trunk bag. However, I've read some negative comments about what the loading of all your gear over the rear wheel does to the handling of the bike. I'm trying to keep from buying more stuff then I would need for an unsure first timer. I've read that for a light load, I might be better off buying a front lowrider rack and front panniers. I hope I'm not being to confusing but I was wondering if you only have a couple panniers and maybe one extra bag worth of stuff, how would you best distribute the weight. Sheesh! That was long
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Old 05-18-10, 07:27 PM   #2
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If you can pack light and compact... Absolutely nothing wrong with using two rear panniers and a trunk or in my case a handle bar bag. You save about 5lbs just not using front panniers and rack and maybe more. When I tour local I never bother running both front and rear. I get along just fine with handle bar bag and Ortlieb Back Roller classics. I came from a mountaineering and backpacking background myself. So all my gear is light weight and compact to begin with.

My plan is to do a multi month tour again this summer..... I'm pretty much focusing on going without the fronts.

One thing that can have a big impact is how big are you? What frame? My Ranodonee frame is 520 double butted tubing. This frame is much stiffer than my old Jamis Aurora. I'm not a heavy weight so even with my panniers loaded I'm still less than some without adding any gear.

All these things have to be considered and weighed based on you, your bike and your needs.

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Old 05-18-10, 08:37 PM   #3
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I had always used 4 panniers (ortliebs) but made a switch this year to 2 large front panniers (arkel gt-18) and a rear trunk bag (arkel tailrider). The weight distribution is not as front loaded as you would think. Front panniers get large light items, i.e. tent, pad, bag, clothes. Trunk bag gets the small heavy items i.e. cookset, food, camera. Tools go in the 3rd bottle cage. Total volume is 2,900 cubic inches which works good as long as you are carrying compact equipment. The handling is nice with the front panniers mounted low.
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Old 05-18-10, 09:00 PM   #4
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I had always used 4 panniers (ortliebs) but made a switch this year to 2 large front panniers (arkel gt-18) and a rear trunk bag (arkel tailrider). The weight distribution is not as front loaded as you would think. Front panniers get large light items, i.e. tent, pad, bag, clothes. Trunk bag gets the small heavy items i.e. cookset, food, camera. Tools go in the 3rd bottle cage. Total volume is 2,900 cubic inches which works good as long as you are carrying compact equipment. The handling is nice with the front panniers mounted low.
This conforms with my current thinking. A lowrider front rack and panniers with trunk bag or some kind of long duffel to stick the tent and sleeping bag in.
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Old 05-18-10, 09:07 PM   #5
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My Cannondale T-1 rides great with the weight in the front.

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Old 05-18-10, 09:18 PM   #6
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What are you using there as a handlebar bag 10wheels? I'm looking for something small. I have interceptor levers so I don't have much space for a handlebar bag but have been wanting something to hold a few small items like sun screen, glasses, snack food. I have been thinking about trying a climber's chalk bag as a handlebar bag.
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Old 05-18-10, 09:27 PM   #7
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I get small bags from thrift stores for $1 and secure them with tye wraps.

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Old 05-19-10, 07:59 AM   #8
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I rode with only rear panniers for years - mostly due to lack of funds. While I now use front and rear and prefer it, there was nothing that bad about only having them in the rear. If it's what you need to do, it'll be fine, especially if you keep the load light.
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Old 05-19-10, 11:40 AM   #9
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If I run one set,I run fronts only.Handles much better for me.

Think of it as shooting a bow and arrow.Where would you put the weight on the arrow,in the front or the back?Arrows get wobbly with weight in the back.

We don't want the tail telling the dog what to do.....

I pack with heavy stuff(sleeping bag/tent/water) low in front.Lightweight stuff(clothes/food/first aid/kitchen) in back/on top of rack if need be.I carry tent poles and sleeping mat on top of the rear rack,the lightest "big" things I carry.

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Old 05-19-10, 01:00 PM   #10
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As with others I have used front pannies only and a dry bag stuffer on top of the rear rack for over 25 years. Good balance and handling on and off pavement. Forces me to keep the total gear weight down too.
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Old 05-19-10, 01:33 PM   #11
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If I run one set,I run fronts only.Handles much better for me.

Think of it as shooting a bow and arrow.Where would you put the weight on the arrow,in the front or the back?Arrows get wobbly with weight in the back.
This is an apt analogy, thanks.

I too prefer two fronts and a large saddlebag for fast and light touring, in my case a carradice superC saddlebag works well and allows me not to have a rear rack.

For longer-term, winter (more bulky clothing), and offroad or dirtroad riding I actually really like all four front and rear pans.

If I had to buy one set of bags only, I would probably get the Ortlieb packer FRONT bags. I like their size and square shape- I think they are a nice compromise between front and rear... I sold mine a while back, and sort of regret it. That said, I really love my super C panniers too, I just wish the front bags were a bit more square shaped.
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Old 05-19-10, 01:51 PM   #12
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If I had to buy one set of bags only, I would probably get the Ortlieb packer FRONT bags. I like their size and square shape- I think they are a nice compromise between front and rear... I sold mine a while back, and sort of regret it. That said, I really love my super C panniers too, I just wish the front bags were a bit more square shaped.
Unless you're going somewhere there won't be any water. I did my first overnighter recently, with Ortlieb Backroller Classics, and had to stuff 6 liters into them, in addition to mostly unnecessary things (My first time camping, might have over packed...) If you think it'll fit, those Packer bags look nice, I might have to get them myself...oh decisions.
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Old 05-19-10, 02:28 PM   #13
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40 lbs for a night or two?
For a 3 day ride I am packing less than 25. Full tour a little over 30.
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Old 05-19-10, 03:15 PM   #14
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You're very smart to test the touring waters before diving in too deep. No point in wasting a lot of money on gear before you know that touring will be a major thing in your life.

Rear panniers and a large rack sack should carry plenty of gear and food for an overnighter or two. Weight distribution is nice, but certainly not required. If you find that cycle touring is going to be a big part of your life, spend all the bucks needed to equip yourself properly. That would include front panniers.
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Old 05-19-10, 04:55 PM   #15
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My Cannondale T-1 rides great with the weight in the front.

That's a beautiful site, and pretty much what I'm becoming convinced to do. It will cost a little more having to buy the front rack & panniers vs. just 2 rear bags, but from what I've been reading, it will be worth it.
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Old 05-19-10, 04:58 PM   #16
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If I run one set,I run fronts only.Handles much better for me.

Think of it as shooting a bow and arrow.Where would you put the weight on the arrow,in the front or the back?Arrows get wobbly with weight in the back.

We don't want the tail telling the dog what to do.....

I pack with heavy stuff(sleeping bag/tent/water) low in front.Lightweight stuff(clothes/food/first aid/kitchen) in back/on top of rack if need be.I carry tent poles and sleeping mat on top of the rear rack,the lightest "big" things I carry.
That just makes so much sense. thank You!
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Old 05-19-10, 05:00 PM   #17
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This is an apt analogy, thanks.

I too prefer two fronts and a large saddlebag for fast and light touring, in my case a carradice superC saddlebag works well and allows me not to have a rear rack.

For longer-term, winter (more bulky clothing), and offroad or dirtroad riding I actually really like all four front and rear pans.

If I had to buy one set of bags only, I would probably get the Ortlieb packer FRONT bags. I like their size and square shape- I think they are a nice compromise between front and rear... I sold mine a while back, and sort of regret it. That said, I really love my super C panniers too, I just wish the front bags were a bit more square shaped.
Squared fronts, great suggestion. It's all coming together!
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Old 05-19-10, 05:06 PM   #18
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40 lbs for a night or two?
For a 3 day ride I am packing less than 25. Full tour a little over 30.
I know people like you! The kind that could hike the PCT in winter wearing a thong and carrying nothing but a toothbrush with the handle cut-off. I could get the weight down with a bivy and some other ultalight replacement gear, but that is going to have to wait.
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Old 05-19-10, 05:15 PM   #19
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You're very smart to test the touring waters before diving in too deep. No point in wasting a lot of money on gear before you know that touring will be a major thing in your life.

Rear panniers and a large rack sack should carry plenty of gear and food for an overnighter or two. Weight distribution is nice, but certainly not required. If you find that cycle touring is going to be a big part of your life, spend all the bucks needed to equip yourself properly. That would include front panniers.
Thank You! I've just finished restoring a 60cm 89 Miyata 1000LT and am particularly concerned about the weight distribution on such a long flexy well-base. I don't want to have any negative experiences on my first tour and am willing to spend a little more if it will make the experience more enjoyable. So, I'm pretty convinced to go with the front rack system. I'm looking at the Tubus Tara. I'm planning on riding from Castroville to Big Sur for my first mini-tour.
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Old 05-19-10, 08:06 PM   #20
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Hey I am just reconfiguring my touring set-up AND I ride a Miyata 1000. I believe mine is an 86. That bike can easily handle a lot of weight spread all across the frame. Even though my bike can handle a lot of weight I too am looking to go lighter. I am thinking like you, small front bags and a dry bag on the rear rack. I think might have the best volume weight.
I also am looking into Epicdesign bags
http://www.epicdesignsalaska.com/
Uses no racks, bags on the frame triangle, large rear saddlebag and interesting handle bar bag. They tend to design with the mnt bikers in mind. I emailed them(Eric???) about touring bike bags. He said they had built some frame bags for touring bikes. He recommended some of the saddlebags that would fit a touring bike. Seems interesting but haven't explore totally yet. Let us know how the system works.
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Old 05-19-10, 08:28 PM   #21
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The frame triangle bag makes sense to me, except maybe in a strong crosswind. The other stuff seems to high up. Especially the one wearing a backpack. I can only image, but I don't think that I would like going fast down hill and running across some loose gravel or a wet surface with it. I'm assuming the idea is to get the load as close to the center of the axles as possible were the centrifugal force of the spinning wheels will counter the extra weight and make for a more natural handling ride. 10 Wheels' photo is the blueprint for me. I'm looking at a low rider front rack and possibly the Ortlieb Front Rollers. I'm a little concerned about the low volume of these bags however. So, I'm thinking 0f a 30L or so dry bag strapped to the rear for light but bulky stuff.
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Old 05-20-10, 05:41 AM   #22
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Crosswinds might be an issue. I agree no backpack. The rear saddlebag should hold a few heavy items near the seat then should be filled with clothes, sleeping bag, lighter weight gear further away from the seat. I guess the advantage of using the saddlebag over a dry bag is eliminating the rack, ~1 lb. BUT if you get the really lite weight Tubus Fly and an ultra-lite dry bag you might break even. If you want to decrease the weight a little more try Lone Peak bag as opposed to Ortlieb. They are really light. Also I'm thinking of getting the Tubus Duo for the front, again less weight. I think it will fit my Miyata. Might fit yours as well. Charlie
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Old 05-20-10, 09:56 AM   #23
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40lbs? I'd go with two sets of panniers but 30lbs would start to make a fore/aft split with one set of panniers doable.
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Old 05-20-10, 09:59 AM   #24
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Depending on your weight load, 2 rear panniers is fine. If you are doing a lot of climbing and you pack like 20-30 lbs or so behind you and nothing up front you will notice the bike doing "wheelies" or about to anyways. Can be pretty scary on awkward terrain where you might not be able to control or catch your bike properly.
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Old 05-20-10, 10:48 AM   #25
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Depending on your weight load, 2 rear panniers is fine. If you are doing a lot of climbing and you pack like 20-30 lbs or so behind you and nothing up front you will notice the bike doing "wheelies" or about to anyways. Can be pretty scary on awkward terrain where you might not be able to control or catch your bike properly.
Yeah, I was riding my commuter up a bridge some time ago and had maybe 15lbs or more loaded in my rear panniers only. The front wheel was slightly lifting which resulted in partial loss of traction and just felt weird. Ever since then I put some stuff to my front panniers. Yeah, I have front and rear panniers on a commuter bike But it's also becoming mu utility bike. So those who followed my "First overnight trip" thread know that I tend to carry a lot of crap
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