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Old 08-02-14, 12:15 PM   #1
saddlesores
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front bags only?

i'm sure the question has been asked before, but a search
couldn't find it for me.....

i'm thinking i might like to reduce my load, move most
weight forward. go with maybe 15 pounds in 2 front bags
plus 2-3 pounds in a handlebar bag. do away with rear
bags altogether. maybe even dump the rear rack, or use
it only for strapping on a couple 2L bottles of water for
remote rides.

i plan to give it a try next week, just hoping to get some
advice and hear others's experiences.
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Old 08-02-14, 12:30 PM   #2
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Just make sure the load is balanced. Heavy one one side will will affect your steering.

I could go no handed with front bags on my T-1.

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Old 08-02-14, 12:44 PM   #3
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Works quite well actually. Slows the steering down which means less twitchy but I like that. It takes some of the stress off the rear wheel/tire and finally when you're climbing, you can jump out of the saddle and not worry about the front wheel coming off the ground.

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Old 08-02-14, 12:50 PM   #4
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Good way to balance total load, and enforcing economy of weight/bulk. Keep the rack for 'just in case.'
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Old 08-02-14, 03:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Works quite well actually. Slows the steering down which means less twitchy but I like that. It takes some of the stress off the rear wheel/tire and finally when you're climbing, you can jump out of the saddle and not worry about the front wheel coming off the ground.

That's the same bike you were on when I ran into you, wasn't it? Looks different without those big foot tires on it! Or did they wear down to that size? Sometimes I wish my 2" tires on my ute bike would do that


I agree that putting the load up front has some advantages, though my newest tourer wont pop up in front on the steepest hill even unloaded. Its kind of weird getting used to, I can barely get a wheelie on it at all...
(this is the onliest picture I have of it)
I have been liking this setup, just need to save up for a sturdier front lowrider. Mostly keep food and cooking gear in the rear bag, so weight varies there. The fronts run pretty empty, but lots of room for extra cookies and such. I don't run my bar bag at all anymore unless I am going without panniers at all for that "extra light" thing.
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Old 08-02-14, 03:37 PM   #6
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I did a 25 day tour with small front panniers and a handlebar bag. I did also have a 3 pound tent and my Crocs on the rear rack. I liked the setup pretty well.
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Old 08-02-14, 04:14 PM   #7
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I ride with about 10 lbs per bag, 2 in front and one large saddlebag. I can track a couple hundred yards at least with no hands, so it can be done.


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Old 08-02-14, 05:06 PM   #8
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A couple of years back I did a "fast & light" bike camping trip with only front panniers. I enjoyed the minimalism but I wouldn't want to do an extended tour equipped as I was. It was 15 lbs base weight.

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Old 08-02-14, 06:20 PM   #9
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Try it out, and good luck with it! Lots of cyclists use the front load only. I drove across Oregon's Malheur country high desert just yesterday and met a touring cyclist with a front-only load and he was doing well with it. Be sure to try riding in a stiff crosswind--some notice a difference, some do not.

Try rear only, too. That's what I prefer but only because I like the way my bike handles that way, after trying it both ways. Plus the rear panniers I have are larger and sometimes I like to carry more food than would fit in my front packs with my load. I was also able to ditch the handlebar bag, which in my case had a lousy weight-to-payload ratio.
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Old 08-02-14, 06:25 PM   #10
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I'm leaving at 3 am on this setup's maiden voyage. Everything pictured setup for warm weather self supported travel with 2+ L of water and enough food to eat pretty damn well for 3 days is 67lbs. I'm pretty happy with that.
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Old 08-02-14, 10:59 PM   #11
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thanks for the info and photos. i'll bolt on the lowriders and do a one-week
cruise around the western side of hainan island next week. no camping or
cooking, so can leave out quite a bit.

it's still monsoon season, so probably won't need to carry too much water.
it'll come to me. also expect to experience some stiff cross winds........
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Old 08-03-14, 01:36 AM   #12
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I regularly ride with just front panniers on my Fargo. After much experimenting I found I like it best and have been commuting daily for 2 years this way. It definitely improves handling over just rear panniers on my bike..the disadvantage is its less aerodynamic and headwinds /strong sidewinds are a little tougher to deal with.
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Old 08-03-14, 05:15 AM   #13
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I think front-only works well. I like it better than rear-only. My commuting setup consists of a handlebar bag and a single front panier. I could tell sometimes at first that the steering was a little off with the bike loaded on one side. But then I quickly learned to compensate so I don't even notice it now. On my bike at least (Surly LHDT) concern for balance in the front is not something to worry about.
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Old 08-03-14, 09:44 AM   #14
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My Bike Friday and Brompton handle best, with a front load.... BF its Panniers,
Brommy its a head tube mount on the frame. bag on the QR mounting block .

more than that I'd hitch on the trailer ..

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Old 08-03-14, 02:17 PM   #15
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Yes, but keep the rear rack if you plan on descending on gravel. In -nearly- all situation double front gives a better ride then double rear.

My favorite setup is two racks, two bags and one stuff sack on the rear for the mega air pad.
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Old 08-04-14, 02:32 PM   #16
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I like having most of the weight in the front.
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Old 08-04-14, 05:30 PM   #17
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All my tours have been with one set of panniers, with the exception of a few days when I mistakenly thought I needed a second set of panniers because I was travelling for 3 months. I quickly corrected that problem and continued the trip with one set of panniers.

I have ridden with my one set of panniers in front ... and in the back. For me, there wasn't really a huge difference ... the bicycle possibly felt a little bit more stable with the panniers in front.

But keep the rear rack. I used mine for my Carradice, and it was also nice to have the extra room to carry a few groceries between shop and campground.
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Old 08-04-14, 10:22 PM   #18
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...But keep the rear rack....nice to have the extra room to carry a few groceries between shop and campground.
definitely keeping the rear rack! perfect spot to carry a bit of chinese takeaway!!

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Old 08-04-14, 11:58 PM   #19
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? RACE BIKES
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Old 08-05-14, 12:17 AM   #20
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Old 08-05-14, 06:08 AM   #21
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All my tours have been with one set of panniers, with the exception of a few days when I mistakenly thought I needed a second set of panniers because I was travelling for 3 months. I quickly corrected that problem and continued the trip with one set of panniers.

I have ridden with my one set of panniers in front ... and in the back. For me, there wasn't really a huge difference ... the bicycle possibly felt a little bit more stable with the panniers in front.

But keep the rear rack. I used mine for my Carradice, and it was also nice to have the extra room to carry a few groceries between shop and campground.

3 Weeks in Europe



3 months (5000 km) in Australia





1 month in Europe



8 months travelling around the world with our bicycles

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Old 08-05-14, 07:09 AM   #22
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These guys have a lot of stuff and are riding heavy bikes for a race.

Do people stay in hotels and ride race bikes with lighter loads?

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Old 08-21-14, 05:59 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i'm sure the question has been asked before, but a search
couldn't find it for me.....

i'm thinking i might like to reduce my load, move most
weight forward. go with maybe 15 pounds in 2 front bags
plus 2-3 pounds in a handlebar bag. do away with rear
bags altogether. maybe even dump the rear rack, or use
it only for strapping on a couple 2L bottles of water for
remote rides.

i plan to give it a try next week, just hoping to get some
advice and hear others's experiences.
if what you need fits in the front panniers, thats the way to go, without any doubt, the bike handle so much better.
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Old 08-21-14, 07:17 AM   #24
saddlesores
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i done it. cut down the weight a bit, 4k in each pannier, 1.5kg in the h-bar bag.
rode about 500 km up the west side of the island. some rolling hills, nothing
serious. lots of tail wind (that's a first), a few strong cross winds.

took a bit of getting used to at first. not quite as quick-steering as before, but
no real difference in handling. just had to learn some new ways of doing things.

crosswinds had no effect.

saddlebag lower pivoting lock/clip wouldn't work with the lowriders. wound up
using a pair of luggage strap bungees.

not as easy to pick up the bike and carry it up a flight of stairs. no good handholds
on the front. pain in the butt at break time. kickstand was useless, not always
a convenient wall to lean against.

i could get used to it. main thing is that it moves 20 pounds off the rear end.

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Old 08-21-14, 03:22 PM   #25
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I've had moderate success getting all my gear into two Back Roller Classics that I carry on the front. But then I end up sticking unnecessary items on the rear rack. That's okay because most of my trips are short, and I tend to bring items that I probably wouldn't mess with on an extended tour: My cooler, my camp chair, other shoes, enough food to last me more than one day at the same camp site. If I ever headed out for a longer tour, those extras could be ditched. But while I prefer having more weight up front than in the back, I don't know that I prefer having all of it there. I've been considering switching from my two Back Rollers to four Front Rollers, and just putting the heavier stuff in the front.
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