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  1. #1
    DisMember YokeyDokey's Avatar
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    What about trailers?

    Instead of hanging things all over the bike, why not tow a trailer? Experiences?
    The Internet: Bringing the world's bathroom wall to your computer since 1995.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    they work well.. there was a Swede, rode his bike across Europe, and to Nepal ,
    climbed Everest, repacked his bike trailer , and panniers and rode Home.

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    Good thing you brought this subject up, cause theres only about 200 threads in Touring alone on trailers...

    http://www.bikeforums.net/search.php?searchid=3006155

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    DisMember YokeyDokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Good thing you brought this subject up, cause theres only about 200 threads in Touring alone on trailers...

    http://www.bikeforums.net/search.php?searchid=3006155
    well... there's one cranky old person I wouldn't want to tour with. Oh, and the BF Search "feature"? Yeah, it's pinpoint accurate *cough*

    p.s... welll, by-jiminy, you're right, there ARE a lot of posts already on the topic. Never mind folks, I'll do my own due diligence.
    Last edited by YokeyDokey; 07-21-11 at 01:43 PM. Reason: meh
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    i haven't try my look alike bob as yet but to be honest i think i would rather have my panniers.

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YokeyDokey View Post
    Instead of hanging things all over the bike, why not tow a trailer? Experiences?
    They do the job but they have their issues. First there's transportation. Getting a loaded trailer on to a plane, train or bus can be problematic. The trailer is larger than bags and more bulky to deal with. Then there's the cost which is about the same as a set of 4 panniers and racks.

    The trailer has an effect on the bike handling too. They tend to 'wag the dog'. Single wheel trailers like the BOB tend to push the bike off-line in corners. Two wheel trailers have two wheels to deal with and they are wider.

    On the plus side, they do carry lots of stuff and most are very rugged.

    All in all, panniers are a better way to go...if your bike will handle panniers. In your case a trailer may be the way to go.

    And the name is Goran Kropp. Rode a bike from Sweden to Nepal to climb Everest in the disastrous 1996 season. Rode to Nepal, climbed to the top of Everest without supplemental oxygen, didn't have yaks carry his gear to base camp, didn't have Shepas carry his gear, and then rode home afterward. Here's a review of his book on the adventure
    Stuart Black
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  7. #7
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    I'm no expert, but I've now put over 1500 miles on my trailer/bike combo in preparation for next month's xcountry tour. You're going to find those who like panniers will swear up and down that they're the only way to go. Those of us who like trailers will swear up and down that...well, you get the picture.

    I use a Mayacycle trailer (single wheel). I go out every day with it fully loaded and ride up and down the local hills/mountains. I wouldn't trade it for anything. For one, I'm a klutz and couldn't balance a fully loaded bike (I have the scars to prove it) and for another, I like the quick freedom that unhitching a trailer gives-it's a small detail, but it's important to me. If I have a flat tire on the bike, I just need to unhitch (3-5 seconds). If the wheel on the tire goes flat, I move the arms on the trailer (1-2 seconds), pull out the bag, and just flip the trailer over and repair the flat. Seconds again.

    I haven't had any "push" from my trailer, nor do I find it to be a problem cornering, parking, etc. I have to remember that I have something behind me, but since I like to keep an eye on what's behind me anyway, it's not a problem. Just like a loaded bike, you have to be aware of your extra weight and to make the appropriate adjustments for it. There's a slight drag going uphill, but it doesn't slow you down much more than panniers would...either way, you still have to get the weight up the hill. Once you get moving on flat roads, you won't even know it's there. I tear around the corners and zip down hills here and it's not a problem. Just be aware that you can't stop quite as quickly as an unloaded bike (panniers or trailer) and you'll be fine.

    You do need to try to distribute the weight, but it's not as critical as it is with panniers. The downside is that it's too easy to find room to put in "one more thing".

    I love when folks talk about having to lug a trailer up stairs or in an airport, because they still have to lug their panniers...and just how many times will you be lugging things up and down or in an airport on a trip? It sounds like a pain either way, however, mine converts to a wheelbarrow, so it's a little easier. Mine breaks down so it can fit in a large (checked) bag.

    I'm not knocking panniers at all, far from it. They just wouldn't work for me, And I really, really love my trailer.
    Last edited by dengidog; 07-21-11 at 04:15 PM.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My 2nd Trailer Purchase , A Carry-freedom city, it folds flat,
    a sling bag hangs inside the frame on the road ,
    and the handle/towbar folds down, the wheels fold into that frame in transport.

    a very clever thing..
    It stows inside the cargo area of my Burly Flatbed in the closet,
    when not needed.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YokeyDokey View Post
    Instead of hanging things all over the bike, why not tow a trailer? Experiences?
    Why ask why? Drink...Bud dry.

    A trailer.....a trailer? My goodness, what an absolutely smashing idea!

    If I didn't know this was Hossenfeffer, I'd swear it was carrots!

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    As in the Kroop case trailers make sense when the mass of gear exceeds what one can carry in panniers. Some say in order: Pannniers front and back, then panniers front and trailer, then panniers front and back, and trailer.

    Trailers also get the nod from various folk who prefer to use non-touring bikes and can carry the gear in a trailer without having to change their ride.

  11. #11
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    If my 5' tall, petite girlfriend can handle a trailer on steep roads like this, anyone can. This was actually one of the nicer sections of a 20 mile unpaved road we recently took.

    COW.jpg

    On the steep switchbacks of the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, she left my pannier-carrying butt in the dust. The only problem she has with it is parking. She's never been able to get the knack of it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    "The trailer has an effect on the bike handling too. They tend to 'wag the dog'. Single wheel trailers like the BOB tend to push the bike off-line in corners. Two wheel trailers have two wheels to deal with and they are wider. "


    This is only true if the trailer is not packed properly. I've done 42 mph with my loaded BOB and it trailed perfectly. If I pack it top heavy or the heaviest stuff too close to the front, it wobbles above 20mph. Just like panniers, it's all about weight distribution. One of the other posters mentioned using the trailer with a bike not made as a touring bike. Yep, that's me and I'm too tight to get an additional bike. Besides I LOVE my bike and it will go the distance. For me, that was the motivation for the BOB over panniers. I'd actually like to try the right bike with the panniers, but until I come into more money, I'm content if not outright happy.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member one_beatnik's Avatar
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    The biggest issue I have with the trailer is that nothing is compartmentalized without using additional bags inside of the dry sack. I can see where the panniers have a distinct advantage in that area.
    Dan in SW Iowa...
    life is lethal; none of us gets out alive!

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
    "The trailer has an effect on the bike handling too. They tend to 'wag the dog'. Single wheel trailers like the BOB tend to push the bike off-line in corners. Two wheel trailers have two wheels to deal with and they are wider. "


    This is only true if the trailer is not packed properly. I've done 42 mph with my loaded BOB and it trailed perfectly. If I pack it top heavy or the heaviest stuff too close to the front, it wobbles above 20mph. Just like panniers, it's all about weight distribution. One of the other posters mentioned using the trailer with a bike not made as a touring bike. Yep, that's me and I'm too tight to get an additional bike. Besides I LOVE my bike and it will go the distance. For me, that was the motivation for the BOB over panniers. I'd actually like to try the right bike with the panniers, but until I come into more money, I'm content if not outright happy.
    It isn't a wobble. It is a push and that push occurs on every single trailer used whether the trailer is connected to a bicycle or a motorized vehicle. It's basic Newtonian physics. The pulling vehicle is going in one direction and the trailing vehicle wants to continue in the direction it was going. It lags behind the centripetal force placed on the pulling vehicle and works to 'push' on the back of the pulling vehicle. The magnitude of that push is dependent on the weight ratio of the pulling vehicle and the trailing vehicle. The wheel base of the leading vehicle has an effect on the handling too. A short wheelbase vehicle which already has quick steering will exacerbate the push from the trailing vehicle. That's why you don't see too many sports cars pulling trailers.

    However, the push experienced while pulling a trailer is very different from the way that panniers interact with the bicycle. There the weight is part of the bike and there is no 'push' on the back of the bike. Essentially, there's little or no tail on the dog. Mount most of the weight over the front wheel and there's absolutely not tail to wag the dog.

    I pull trailers - with my truck and my mountain bike - when I have to but overall, it's best to carry the load inside the vehicle whether that is carrying panniers or a load in my truck. Sometimes that's not possible and I recognize that. But it's best to be informed about possible problems beforehand. Surprises of the handling kind are seldom welcome.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    It isn't a wobble. It is a push and that push occurs on every single trailer used whether the trailer is connected to a bicycle or a motorized vehicle. It's basic Newtonian physics. The pulling vehicle is going in one direction and the trailing vehicle wants to continue in the direction it was going. It lags behind the centripetal force placed on the pulling vehicle and works to 'push' on the back of the pulling vehicle. The magnitude of that push is dependent on the weight ratio of the pulling vehicle and the trailing vehicle. The wheel base of the leading vehicle has an effect on the handling too. A short wheelbase vehicle which already has quick steering will exacerbate the push from the trailing vehicle. That's why you don't see too many sports cars pulling trailers.

    However, the push experienced while pulling a trailer is very different from the way that panniers interact with the bicycle. There the weight is part of the bike and there is no 'push' on the back of the bike. Essentially, there's little or no tail on the dog. Mount most of the weight over the front wheel and there's absolutely not tail to wag the dog.

    I pull trailers - with my truck and my mountain bike - when I have to but overall, it's best to carry the load inside the vehicle whether that is carrying panniers or a load in my truck. Sometimes that's not possible and I recognize that. But it's best to be informed about possible problems beforehand. Surprises of the handling kind are seldom welcome.
    Good thinking. But I'm thinking maybe a little bit of over-thinking.

    I've towed a lot of trailers, with lots of vehicles. I would say that the vehicle that I feel the phenomena you're referring to the least, would be a bicycle. Slower speeds and more control are probably the reasons.

    I think that a bike towing a trailer handles infinitely better than a bike loaded down with a full set of panniers, with the same basic load.

  16. #16
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    If my 5' tall, petite girlfriend can handle a trailer on steep roads like this, anyone can. This was actually one of the nicer sections of a 20 mile unpaved road we recently took.

    COW.jpg

    On the steep switchbacks of the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, she left my pannier-carrying butt in the dust. The only problem she has with it is parking. She's never been able to get the knack of it.
    Which one is your girlfriend?
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  17. #17
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    I recently gave a couple of touring cyclists a lift past a treacherous stretch of road near where I live. Both were outfitted with BOBs. I had never seen one up close before. Nice little contraptions. If I didn't already own a full set of Ortlieb panniers I would give serious consideration to a BOB. Like with everything, there are trade-offs, but the idea of getting that weight off the bike is attractive.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    Like with everything, there are trade-offs, but the idea of getting that weight off the bike is attractive.
    One tradeoff no one has mentioned is the weight of the trailer itself? Surely this must come into consideration? A trailer and sack must weigh more than a few panniers

  19. #19
    DisMember YokeyDokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    They do the job but they have their issues. First there's transportation. Getting a loaded trailer on to a plane, train or bus can be problematic. The trailer is larger than bags and more bulky to deal with. Then there's the cost which is about the same as a set of 4 panniers and racks.

    The trailer has an effect on the bike handling too. They tend to 'wag the dog'. Single wheel trailers like the BOB tend to push the bike off-line in corners. Two wheel trailers have two wheels to deal with and they are wider.

    On the plus side, they do carry lots of stuff and most are very rugged.

    All in all, panniers are a better way to go...if your bike will handle panniers. In your case a trailer may be the way to go.

    And the name is Goran Kropp. Rode a bike from Sweden to Nepal to climb Everest in the disastrous 1996 season. Rode to Nepal, climbed to the top of Everest without supplemental oxygen, didn't have yaks carry his gear to base camp, didn't have Shepas carry his gear, and then rode home afterward. Here's a review of his book on the adventure
    Okay, I just ordered the book... this is great, thanks for the tip. Sadly, Goran Kropp died in a climbing accident in Washington in '02.
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  20. #20
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    I've owned a Bob Yak for years, and have a proper tourer with racks/panniers. Either work fine. I prefer the Yak for off-road conditions, gets the load off the bike. Jarring, heavy loads on a rough road or trail can wreck a rack/frame bosses/rear wheels.

    Best thing about trailers is they allow one to tour with a std bike for relatively low cost. You can easily sell a Yak or a Nomad on eBay after completing the tour and recover half your cost. Rack/panniers cost more, and to fit them properly you really need a touring bike with long chainstays and special fork. P&Rs can weigh less than most trailers if you've made the right choices, so they are better in mountainous areas.

    The worst thing about trailers is you tend to carry too much crap, taking advantage of the volume/weight capacity. Panniers are more limiting, thus saving you from yourself. Panniers lead you to think about weight/volume reduction, trailers seem to do the opposite.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9x1J..._order&list=UL
    Last edited by seeker333; 07-22-11 at 03:28 PM.

  21. #21
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    i recently did up my old Raleigh specifiably to pull a trailer a look alike bob.
    i packed the bag of the trailer with dust sheets ( i'm a painter)
    and just rode up and down the street, to be honest i just didn't like the feel of it at all .
    felt like somebody was holding me back ,but my thorn with loaded rear panniers is fantastic i keep having to look behind to see if the panniers are still attached, the bike is that well built , loaded panniers don't faze it at all.
    and before someone asked well why the hell did you go to all the expensive of doing up an old bike and buying a new trailer,well you don't know until you try these things.
    verdict panniers over a trailer.

  22. #22
    nashcommguy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thulsadoom View Post
    Good thinking. But I'm thinking maybe a little bit of over-thinking.

    I've towed a lot of trailers, with lots of vehicles. I would say that the vehicle that I feel the phenomena you're referring to the least, would be a bicycle. Slower speeds and more control are probably the reasons.

    I think that a bike towing a trailer handles infinitely better than a bike loaded down with a full set of panniers, with the same basic load.
    Having just taken my first shopping trip last week w/a trailer I would venture that this simply isn't true. No disrespect intended. The particular Newtonian law that applys here is one of inertia, regardless of the speed involved. Having grown up in the country where towing a disabled vehicle by chain is standard practice it's always the car being towed that stops both vehicles.

    Would think that using a combination of a brake on the trailer as well as the bike would make for much safer decends, yes? Putting most of the braking force on the trailer would create the same dynamic as the aforementioned vehicle towing. Brake the trailer hard w/o locking the wheel(s) up and pulse the front caliper on the bike.

    These type of questions are of great interest to me as I'm planning a transamerica trip within 2 years using a Bushtrekker tent/trailer combo. I want to take my mandolin and be able to sleep anywhere.

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    surge linkage to trailer brakes has been done.. Greenspeed has single sided hubs, or one can use
    a front drum hub brake ..

    A trailer like Burly's use 2 front hubs , until recently.. now the use a single sided mount.

  24. #24
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jezza323 View Post
    One tradeoff no one has mentioned is the weight of the trailer itself? Surely this must come into consideration? A trailer and sack must weigh more than a few panniers
    Good point. According to REI, the BOB Yak Plus weighs in at 13.8 pounds. My Ortliebs (Frontroller and Backroller Classics) weigh in at just about 7 pounds, plus another 3 for the racks. Difference of about 4 pounds. That's a pretty good reason (for me anyway) to stick with the panniers.

    Edit: Oops, forgot the dry bag I carry my tent in. That's another pound. Still a 3 pound difference.
    Last edited by simplygib; 07-22-11 at 07:24 PM.

  25. #25
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    why would you need to carry your tent in a dry bag.i'm not be a smart ass but the bag your tent come in is as good as any dry bag.saving you a pound and a few bucks.

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