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Thread: Front panniers

  1. #1
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Front panniers

    On a short overnight trek yesterday and today, I tried adding front panniers to the mix. The bike was fully loaded as I'm testing out how to load everything for a tour this summer where I'll need to carry more gear and food than in the past.

    Usually I've carried most of my load in the rear panniers, with a handlebar bag and sometimes a tent, tarp and spare water bottles on the front rack. This time, the tent was on the rear rack and the food and camp kitchen supplies were in front.

    I've tried to have the load balanced right and left.

    Most of the time, it wasn't bad, but if I picked up speed the front end would start to shimmy a bit.

    Any ideas what would cause this and more importantly how to prevent it? Coming down a hill and wrestling with the front of the bike is a bit unnerving to say the least.
    Life is good.

  2. #2
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    I have ridden with front panniers before and had no issues, even at speeds about 60 kms/hr. What bike are you using? What rack? How heavy our your bags?

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    My bike is a Devinci Destination touring bike. The front rack is from MEC, similar in design to the rear rack. I'm not sure how much weight I had in the panniers, although the weight in front was almost as much as in the back.
    Life is good.

  4. #4
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    Could be too much weight on the front then. But with out knowing how much weight you had up front it is hard to say. I would suggest carrying 70% in the back and 30% up front.

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    How much weight was in the handlebar bag?
    ...

  6. #6
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    "shimmy a bit"

    does that mean the shimmy dissapears with two hands on the bars or do you have to clamp the top tube w. your knees?
    If it's a top mounted front rack switch to low riders and eliminate the handlebar bag.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    The handlebar bag had my wallet, keys, a small camera, my bike lights and a few smaller items such as matches, bandages and a swiss army knife.

    The shimmy was more pronounced the first day and much less pronounced the second day. The weight was also lighter as I had eaten some of the food. To describe it, I still had control of the bike, but I could feel the front end trying to dance.
    Life is good.

  8. #8
    Occasional poster countrydirt's Avatar
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    Sounds like too much weight up front. I have limited experience, but I doubt if I have ever had more that 5-7 pounds in each front pannier (what does a six pack of Samuel Adams weigh?) I can no hand on my fully loaded bike with about 10 pounds up front, 20 in back, down a gravel road (converted MTB with 2" tires). If the shimmy was less after eating some of the weight, that might be it. I think my top speed loaded, however, has been about 30 mph heading downhill.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Bag attachment to the rack have no motion or looseness
    once you have them in-place on the rack?

    you can gain some stability by moving the mass of the bags forward,
    from the steering axis.

    I Beefed up the top tube of my next frame in design,
    prior one, It had a tail wagging the dog feeling .. normal design,
    built with a lighter but oversize round tube set..
    when the rear rack was loaded..

  10. #10
    Senior Member marmot's Avatar
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    NPG, if you have the same MEC front platform rack I have, it might be a little too light-duty and a little too high-riding for heavy loads at high speeds. So far, I've used mine mainly for shopping -- about 10 pounds per side, tops -- and I've never had any tracking or shimmying problems. But I haven't gone screaming down any long, steep hills either. I'd go along with those who suggest shifting more weight to your rear rack. Also, try to pack the heavy stuff as low as possible in your front panniers. You might try low-riders up front, but I like the front platform rack for its convenience and versatility.
    Last edited by marmot; 06-05-11 at 10:16 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    I want to keep the platform rack since the platform is a great place to put a jacket or rainwear on days with intermittent showers. In the past, I had used the companion MEC rack as a rear rack for touring. Not bad, although I have swapped it out for something a little more robust.

    I'll reconfigure my load to put food into one rear pannier and clothing from there into the two front panniers. (The front panniers together have just a little less capacity than either of my rear panniers.)

    It seems some people will talk about the importance of balancing the touring load so more weight is in front, but my experiences this weekend have showed me this isn't necessarily the best approach.
    Life is good.

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You may beef up a wiggly rack , they do with a biplane wing,
    using cables and some way to tension them.

    Triangulate .

  13. #13
    Look Ma, NO hands!
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    I have a Long Haul Trucker with nice racks front and rear with panniers front and rear. This year I have moved my larger panniers to the front along with my heaviest loadings to get some weight off the rear wheel and on to the front. My front panniers ride very low, about 4 or 5 inches off the ground, and I have a handle bar bag that's quite loaded and the only thing I have noticed is that it makes the bike more sluggish to turn. If I understand correctly where the load is in relation to the head tube can have a great effect on the bikes handling? On my front the center of gravity of the load is actually a little rearward of the front axle. I also try and keep all the heaviest items in the very bottom of my bags, both front and rear.

  14. #14
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    I've used a lot of combinations over the past 40 years, here's what I use now:



    http://simplecycle-marc.blogspot.com...cking-101.html

    Marc
    Read Simply Cycle

    "I can still do everything I used to, but now I'm mature enough to take a nap without being told." - Me

    "You don't deteriorate from age,you age from deterioration" --Joe Weider

  15. #15
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Experiment with the pannier placement. For me, moving the panniers, the rack actually, more forward improved the handling. Like on the above irwin7638's picture, my front panniers are now in the middle of the front wheel.

    Also consider air drag at higher speeds: if your panniers have compression straps, use them. This will also ensure the contents of the panniers won't move around which would definitely cause poor handling.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    The handlebar bag had my wallet, keys, a small camera, my bike lights and a few smaller items such as matches, bandages and a swiss army knife.

    The shimmy was more pronounced the first day and much less pronounced the second day. The weight was also lighter as I had eaten some of the food. To describe it, I still had control of the bike, but I could feel the front end trying to dance.
    I'm guessing the handlebar bag is irrelevant but the degree of shimmy isn't clear. That it was reduced over time suggests you're getting accustomed to the nature of the loaded bike. Btw, what kind of bike is it?

    I have a Surly Cross-Check that WILL shimmy with only a rear pannier load and one hand on the bars. It's not unacceptable with two hands on the bars or front weight on the mini rack. I had a custom touring bike that had an unacceptable shimmy WITH hands on the bars while riding at high speed and light rear load, it required clamping the top tube with knees. For comparision I"ve got a 26" wheeled LHT that is absolutely solid with solo rear loads.

    As much as you like the MEC front rack it is possible to have low riders and a small mini front rack for holding the items you suggest. Putting the panniers on low riders will go a LONG way to balancing the load by moving heavy loads cantilevered over the rear wheel forward and move those high mounted front panniers back so they're in line with the fork.

  17. #17
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Have you checked your headset lately?

    I had a hell of a shimmy on my touring bike (was actually better with more weight in front), and it was completely cured with a headset replacement. Before replacement there was a noticeable knock in the headset that would not go away after servicing and adjusting.

    Another thing could be stem length....is your stem really short?
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

  18. #18
    Fraser Valley Dave
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    shimmy

    My guess would be too light-built a front rack, not the weight itself. Most of my tours have been through remote mountainous or hilly terrain, meaning I carry a lot of weight, both front and back, and hit very high speeds downhill. My front rack is a converted rear rack mounted above the front wheel, and my panniers are mounted high, similar to the rear panniers. It is a well-secured, rigid rack. I've never experienced any shimmy or wobble. I am a heavy person, so I have to place a great deal of the total pannier weight in the front panniers in order not to over-load the rear axle and tire.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Here's the bike as I loaded it a couple of years ago. The tent on the front rack now sits on top of the rear panniers and the two small front panniers, not shown in this picture, are on the front.

    Life is good.

  20. #20
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    I have my bike fairly loaded with front,rear,handle bar bag plus the back rack loaded. When I did my first Oregan Coast tour I had lots of shmmying problems until I got the wieght distribution issue settled. I try and do about 35% in the front panniers and 65% in the back ones plus rack. It is also important to keep the wieght balanced in each of the panniers ecspecially the front ones. Nothing worse than flying down a hill with a cliff on your right and the the bike feeling like it`s about to come a part. Also, make sure all scews ect.. are tight. If you are experiencing some shimmying then they have probably looosened up.

  21. #21
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    I run Blackburn racks front and rear.70% of the weight in front.That's on my 1978 Shogun touring bike,never shimmies.You can ride with no hands screaming down a mountain if you want.

    Try to center the front pannier on the axle,neutral balance.If it still shimmies,move the panniers BACK.As you move the weight BACK,it will help hold the front wheel straight.The farther BACK you have the front panniers,the more weight you have to lift when you turn.The more weight you have to lift,the more the wheel wants to stay centered.

    Think how much fun a bike would be to ride with a 10ft pole out in front of the front wheel that had a 10# weight on it.Think it will shimmy?Same thing with panniers,just not so extreme.

    That's worked for me the last 30 some odd years,for every bike I have setup or helped my friends setup.
    Last edited by Booger1; 06-07-11 at 03:17 PM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  22. #22
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    I run Blackburn racks front and rear.70% of the weight in front.
    I've come to like this also, my three bags are equally packed putting about 2/3 of the weight on the front. It makes for a very stable ride.

    Marc
    Read Simply Cycle

    "I can still do everything I used to, but now I'm mature enough to take a nap without being told." - Me

    "You don't deteriorate from age,you age from deterioration" --Joe Weider

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