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Old 06-22-10, 05:45 PM   #1
ManifestDestiny
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Advise wanted for a touring approach

I just wanted to ask for some advise on how I should approach multi-day loaded touring, as I am just starting to get into it. I have a 2007 Trek 520 that I bought new a couple of years ago. I have used it mainly for commuting and have ridden a century before with it. It is still in stock condition, although I switched out the seat first thing. It still have the Trek Interchange rear rack, which has served well for commuting duty. I have a pair of Deuter Rack Pack Uni's for panniers.
I should also explain that I am a very competent ultralite backpacker. My load out for a week long trip is around 15 lbs in just gear, which includes all the essentials for camping. I never reach 30 lbs of weight with food and water on a backpacking trip.
So my question is how should I best carry a load for a long tour. I definitely want to get a new rack, but I don't know if I need the most bomber rack for the loads I'll be carrying. Also, should I split the weight between front and rear racks, or can I stick with using just a rear or just a front? Maybe getting a nice front rack to hold my panniers and keeping the stock rear for sleeping bag/tent?
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Old 06-22-10, 06:24 PM   #2
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If you can pack as light as you say(Mountaineering background here)... I would just go with two rear panniers and maybe a bar bag and call it good. It's what I do when I want to tour light.

You may not even need the bar bag but.... It sure is nice having a camera, bananas and so forth within reach.
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Old 06-22-10, 06:43 PM   #3
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Check out some packing lists, here or on Crazyguyonabike and you'll get an idea of the range of stuff people bring along. But you essentially need camping supplies, food, water, and a change of clothing. Bike-specific tools and supplies (e.g., spare tubes, a pump and a multitool) are pretty much the only things you'll need to add. Heck, I've heard of people touring with a hiking backpack rig and a full-suspension mountain bike.
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Old 06-22-10, 07:08 PM   #4
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For your "pack weight", I would just stick with your current rear rack for your first tour and give it a spin. I tend toward the heavier end of things, so I like to distribute my weight better. You, however, are going to end up adding more weight than is worthwhile with another set of panniers and a front rack. That's my thought at least. Happy biking!
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Old 06-22-10, 07:18 PM   #5
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I've been using the Bontrager Interchange for a year now. Sometimes I've had up to 47 lbs. I've had no problems with it. You might want to try it and see if it holds up.

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Old 06-22-10, 08:13 PM   #6
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You've not said in what type of terrian you will be going. If you are travelling in remote areas, then naturally you will need more gear, including repair tools, water, food, first aid, and clothing. There are several quite good lists from experienced tourers, read through them and pick out what you think would be necessary, and then determine what you will need to carry it all. As an example, because I travel a lot in remote, unpopulated areas, my tool kit is quite extensive,(and I've had to make some serious repairs) If the stores and bike shops are never very far away, yes, you can get away with very little, and it's a pleasant bonus not to be burdened with too much extra weight.
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Old 06-22-10, 08:29 PM   #7
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Right now I live in Colorado, so the terrain can get pretty mountainous and steep. I don't think I'd ever be to terribly far from civilization, but I suspect I could add roughly 5 lbs of spare parts and tools to put me right around 20 lbs for gear alone. I goal is to not exceed 30 lbs including consumables. One of the reasons I was curious about a front rack is that I've heard that placed the majority of the weight in the front added stability on climbs, which I will encounter frequently.

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Old 06-22-10, 08:46 PM   #8
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Go with what you've got. With your backpacking experience, no point in complicating this tour with more capacity then you'll need. No point in getting another rack unless you're sure the one you've got is too weak to support 20 pounds, which I seriously doubt.
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Old 06-23-10, 03:45 PM   #9
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Are there benefits to having just front panniers?
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Old 06-23-10, 03:51 PM   #10
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I tried it and in made the Cannondale T-1 very stable in crosswinds.
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Old 06-23-10, 03:57 PM   #11
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I've used just a front rack for light touring but it was mostly on the road. The steering will seem a little slower but stable. Front racks (non low rider type) can sometimes put your load a little high. The trip I just finished included a front rack (non low rider type) and indeed sometimes I felt like the bike was a little top heavy. Low rider front racks work great lowering the center of gravity. The only complaint I've heard is with much off road riding and/or crossing creeks and/or streams.

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Old 06-23-10, 04:15 PM   #12
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Great picture 10wheels I really like the set up.

jharte: I plan on staying on roads. Thanks for the advise, if I get a front rack, I'll stick with a lowrider.
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Old 06-23-10, 05:54 PM   #13
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I agree with jharte - low rider front racks are great on pavement. I'd also rather have just front panniers than just rear panniers if I have a choice between the two.
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Old 06-23-10, 11:27 PM   #14
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Balancing the load front and back will benefit you in crosswinds, as has been suggested, and keeps the front down when powering up hill, especially if you're standing up on your pedals. Some of the fun for me, and those that have ridden with me, is racing down the winding mountian roads. With a well-balanced, loaded bike, we have even been able to go faster then cars around the corners (although we do use all of the road), comes down to psi for good friction. Also, take a look at the cannondale picture. You can see that well over half of your weight is over the rear tire. If you only use rear panniers, then your rear tire is taking most of the weight, while the front one has very little.
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Old 06-23-10, 11:50 PM   #15
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@Big Lew - Yeah. I've noticed that I can stand on the pedals much more easily on a loaded bike (at least I can after a few days of touring). It's not very efficient, but it sure is fun!
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