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Time to ditch the trunk bag & bike rack?

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Time to ditch the trunk bag & bike rack?

Old 08-12-19, 07:42 AM
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Time to ditch the trunk bag & bike rack?

Don't get me wrong. I like a bike rack just fine for grocery shopping and touring.

But there has been a big movement away from racks by bikepackers in part to save weight and in part because a lot of modern bikes don't do that well with racks.

Of course that's the way people toured way back in the day as well with a large saddlebag and perhaps some sort of front bag. The weight savings is considerable.

I've been using a rack and an arkel tailrider for longish rides when I need to bring some extra gear. Total weight is right around 1500 grams (app. 3.3 lbs).

The tailrider is a really nice bag and holds between 8 to 11 liters.

A 9 liter Carradice bag (those aren't lightweight) weighs 654 grams. You could save more weight by going with one of those backpacking style saddle bags. The medium ortlieb holds 11 liters and weighs 311 grams. A Jandd mountain wedge 3 weighs 440 grams and carries up to 7.5 liters.

I'm thinking it's time to ditch the rack for most uses.

Last edited by bikemig; 08-12-19 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 08-12-19, 12:30 PM
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I donít have any real experience with bikepacking bags, but it appears to me that the cost of the weight savings would be decreased ease of access compared to your trunk bag. I do see your point though.
We recently shopped for a bag for our new-to-the-stable Cannondale tandem. We are used to a trunk bag and rack; I wanted to go a different route to save weight. The stokerís saddle is low so a bag on the back wonít work. A Carradice on the stokerís upright bars nearly worked, but there was just enough knee strike to kill it. We wound up with a rack and trunk bag after all. We did give serious consideration to an Alpkit Stingray custom frame bag. They looked good to me and well-priced, but maybe a tad small for our use. And of course you lose a bottle cage mount or two.
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Old 08-12-19, 12:39 PM
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I've used both traditional setups and frame bag setups extensively. Here are my thoughts:

1. The cargo capacity of a traditional setup with racks and panniers is pretty much always going to be larger than bikepacking frame bags. However, I would say that this is an invitation for most people to overpack. Then you're stuck with a bike you can barely, if at all, pick up or ride on rough terrain. I see a lot of people fully loading the rear of the bike with stuffed panniers and a stack of stuff on top of the rack and this makes things even worse, handling-wise. So I'd say, if you really need that much stuff, get a bike that can take front panniers as well so you can spread the load.

2. There are a few benefits to frame bags. Easy to get on and off. If you have a bike that you like to commute and tour on, it's nice to just pull the bags off for commuting without needing to get a wrench out to bolt and unbolt racks. It also saves some rack weight, as you mentioned, and keeps the bags centered and away from rocks and trees if riding off road (this is really why these bags have become popular - because mountain bike/gravel touring has seen a resurgence in popularity). The nice thing about a frame bag is you can put a hydration bladder in the bag and have a huge water capacity without needing bottles. You can drink on the bike by just grabbing the hose.

3. In terms of ease of access, there are trade offs. The easiest is a randonneur-style handlebar bag. Frame bags are also easy to access. Next on the hierarchy are panniers, which are easy to open but are packed vertically so a lot of stuff is buried. Last on the list would be a bikepacking-style saddle bag or handlebar bag that are rolled up.
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Old 08-12-19, 12:44 PM
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If the the function of the minimalist bikepacking set up meets the needs of the rider, then that along with weight savings seems to be enough reason warranted to ditch a more traditional set up.

I donít wanna hear it though. Not on the very same day that a pair of Jandd panniers arrived in the mail!
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Old 08-12-19, 12:45 PM
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Interesting stuff.


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Old 08-12-19, 01:50 PM
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Agree. I never liked the look of any trunk bag.

Saddle bags and handlebar bags are hot on old c&v.
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Old 08-12-19, 03:16 PM
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Back in the day, most credit-card tourists (before credit cards existed) used saddlebags as the main way to carry a small enough amount of gear. If more stuff was needed, a handlebar bag was added (or if you were french, reverse the priority of saddlebag/handlebar bag). If even more stuff, then rack and panniers. There is no use for a rack trunk as far as I'm concerned unless you're the type of person who always leaves a rack on your bike. In that case, a rack trunk is a reasonable and more stable substitute for a saddlebag.
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Old 08-12-19, 03:41 PM
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I too, never liked the trunk bag. However, I got one and it stays on the bike because when running errands it is the easiest place to put the lock, gloves, keys and small stuff. I've always like handlebar bags and it could or should replace the trunk bag. Handlebar bags allow access to things without getting off the bike, so you can put snacks, maps or other things you want to get to easily in there.
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Old 08-12-19, 04:00 PM
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FWIW I really dig my Carradice Zipped roll, which despite the name is not a tool roll, but rather a small-medium saddlebag. I find it big enough (3.5l) for the usual stuff (spare tube, minipump, patch kit, tire levers, cellphone, keys, wallet) plus if I want: lunch, camera, minitool thing, swiss army knife, etc. Nothing ever bounces out of it, even on pretty rough off road, thanks to the zipper. Quality and looks are really good too.
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Old 08-12-19, 04:14 PM
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For times when you don't need to carry a lot of stuff, something like a Carradice Barley is a nice option. About the same carrying capacity as a trunk bag, but without the need for a rack.

I've got a Barley that works great for spring or fall rides where the weather might be changing a lot. Plenty of room for a rain jacket, vest, arm warmers, tights, some gloves, etc.

I suppose a disadvantage might be that it's more difficult to use with smaller frames, though..

Steve in Peoria
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