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Anyone here commute with front panniers?

Old 06-26-15, 08:58 AM
  #1  
aquateen
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Anyone here commute with front panniers?

There seems to be a growing trend at least in the touring community opting out of rear panniers and front loading bikes, specifically with lowrider racks. Anyone do so on their commutes?

Last edited by aquateen; 06-26-15 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 06-26-15, 09:08 AM
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I would posit that if you find yourself needing front panniers on your commute, yer carrying too much stuff.
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Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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Old 06-26-15, 09:08 AM
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I meant front panniers instead of rear panniers
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Old 06-26-15, 11:42 AM
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...i guess not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Old 06-26-15, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
...i guess not ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Give it some time. There are some folks around here who like to bring the kitchen sink whenever they leave the driveway.
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Old 06-26-15, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Give it some time. There are some folks around here who like to bring the kitchen sink whenever they leave the driveway.

i think a pretty standard amount to pack is one 'normal sized' pannier full. but considering front panniers tend to be smaller than rear, it seems like it might make more sense to use two of those rather than one bulky/off balanced pannier in the rear.
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Old 06-26-15, 12:04 PM
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Yes. It is the only way I go. I've been commuting on fix gears for decades. Putting load on a fix gear anywhere but on Lowriders and standing up a steep hill sucks. With rear panniers it feels like you are trying to bend the whole bike with your wrists if you swing it in a natural fashion. Holding the bike upright while standing and going hard is doable and may be the only feasible option, but it is a LOT harder! But with Lowriders, even with 30+ pounds in them, swing the bile to get up hard hills (or start art a light) is no big deal; in fact barely different from an unloaded bike.

I say Lowrider, but I am including the Jandd (sp) racks and other low front racks.

When I commuted a 13 mile commute nearly daily, I would once a week wide in on my touring bike with four panniers and clothes. All my panniers are small Ortliebs. Ortleib because they are seriously waterproof and visible; important in Portland winters and small because it seems to me it is a waste of money to invest in a pannier I would rarely use and curse when I did.

About once a year I use my touring bike to haul something somewhere loaded on the rear rack. That memory refresher is all I need to remind me just how bad rear panniers are for bike handling.

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Old 06-26-15, 12:07 PM
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I commute with front panniers.. on my rear rack.

While I would like to more evenly distribute weight by front-loading, the negative effect on handling keeps me from doing it often.

I do run a Revelate frame bag though, so I'm at least a little strange.
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Old 06-26-15, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
i think a pretty standard amount to pack is one 'normal sized' pannier full. but considering front panniers tend to be smaller than rear, it seems like it might make more sense to use two of those rather than one bulky/off balanced pannier in the rear.
Yeah, use two front panniers unless what you are carrying is really light. Unequal loadings make for a lot "steer' to one side. Forget and try to go no hands or even one-handed without thinking can get VERY interesting! I almost never ride with just one.

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Old 06-26-15, 12:24 PM
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I just remembered that I commuted with front panniers on a tandem for a bit last year while my wife was commuting with me. I had nightmares about catching one on a guard-rail on narrow sections of road where most of the shoulder was rumble-strip but other than that, worked great.

For those that don't know, steering a tandem is a bit fluid anyway. I didn't notice the panniers making it worse.
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Old 06-26-15, 01:18 PM
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I just installed a lowrider rack on my commuter, but haven't found bags I like yet. I often keep my rear bags on, even if empty because I use my commuter for grocery/farmer's market runs unexpectedly.
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Old 06-26-15, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
There seems to be a growing trend at least in the touring community opting out of rear panniers and front loading bikes, specifically with lowrider racks. Anyone do so on their commutes?
I prefer to use a backpack or messenger bag for commuting...However, my shopping bike which I use for getting groceries has a front rack and front panniers. It's not my daily commuter, and when I do use it for commuting I just remove the front panniers and leave the rack on. I am one of those strange people who hates rear racks and rear panniers and I prefer to carry the stuff on the front.
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Old 06-26-15, 02:28 PM
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It seems people think weight in front panniers messes up steering. Not if it is equalized side to side. It stablizes the steering wonderfully. Angled RR tracks, snow and ice are a lot less dangerous with loaded front panniers. In fact, in my Ann Arbor college days, I would carry books into campus I didn't need on bad winter days just for the weight and steering stability. They do slow the steering and are really at their best on quick steering bikes.

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Old 06-26-15, 02:35 PM
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For me the supposed balance problem using one front pannier is a myth. Can I tell the weight is on one side? Yes. Is it hard to control the bike? No. I don't think about it at all.
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Old 06-26-15, 02:36 PM
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trail/fork rake influence how well a bike will handle a front load
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Old 06-26-15, 03:08 PM
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Frame geometry also influence handling. One of my MTB's has a rigid fork and a very relaxed upright geometry, very slanted top tube. It handles extremely well even with a heavily loaded front rack. I don't have any problem riding aggressively, hopping curbs, and riding off road on that bike when fully loaded.
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Old 06-26-15, 03:44 PM
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I prefer a front load if it's low enough. I like my bike with the little front rack the best for carrying stuff.
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Old 06-26-15, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
There seems to be a growing trend at least in the touring community opting out of rear panniers and front loading bikes, specifically with lowrider racks. Anyone do so on their commutes?
I commuted with panniers on a Blackburn lowrider rack in the late '80s. Worked fine. What goes around comes around. (Wouldn't work on current recumbent commuter bike.)
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Old 06-28-15, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
I meant front panniers instead of rear panniers

Yes, I do. I dont have to haul my work laptop back and forth any longer since I got a desktop for the office, so I can leave my laptop at home. So...I dont need the larger space and just run the smaller bag on my rear rack. I ride the Ortlieb Front Roller Classic
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Old 06-28-15, 12:51 PM
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I use Blackburn lowriders to carry things exclusively, usually with just one old faded, ratty front pannier I bought in the 1980's. I leave it on the bike when I go to the store to make it look undesirable. I also use that pannier to take things in to work. When I tour, I load the front first, then the back. Front wheels are lighter loaded by one's body than rear wheels, and front wheels are built symmetric. Front loaded weight on lowriders is stabilizing, in my experience.
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Old 06-28-15, 02:49 PM
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I find that two front Ortlieb front rollers can carry more than I ever need for my commute. I carry them on my rear rack. It works great with the CF road racing bike with an Airy Tubus rack mounted on the axel quick release bolts, giving plenty of clearance on the heels.
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Old 06-28-15, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
For me the supposed balance problem using one front pannier is a myth. Can I tell the weight is on one side? Yes. Is it hard to control the bike? No. I don't think about it at all.
I concur. It's been my experience that riding with front panniers, or a single pannier, doesn't significantly impair control.

Many touring cyclists attempt to distribute front/rear bicycle loading 60%/40%. I commute exclusively with front panniers, usually a single pannier, in an attempt to better balance the load of my 245 lb body and pannier(s) on my front/rear tires. I'm hoping every little bit of weight I move off the rear wheel helps. But who knows?

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Old 06-28-15, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by aquateen View Post
There seems to be a growing trend at least in the touring community opting out of rear panniers and front loading bikes, specifically with lowrider racks. Anyone do so on their commutes?
Only when I have a lot to bring with me *Rare*. I don't like the added inertia that front panniers adds to steering..
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Old 06-29-15, 08:35 AM
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My Bike Friday Pocket Llama actually handles better with a load balanced in 2 front panniers..


I also go on grocery runs with 4 panniers full on the return trip,

1 pannier heavier than the other matters less on the rear than the Front.


I'm used to multi month tours with 4 panniers, so the mass over the front wheel is Fine by Me ..

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Old 06-30-15, 03:36 PM
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I used one or two front panniers on my commute last summer. Why do you ask?
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