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self contained touring on a tandem

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self contained touring on a tandem

Old 05-06-19, 08:34 PM
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self contained touring on a tandem

Just wondered if anyone can say whether a trailer is better than panniers.
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Old 05-06-19, 09:50 PM
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Self contained touring on a tandem may require both panniers and a trailer. Room for necessary gear in panniers could be lacking depending on your needs. On my touring bicycle I carry an empty 10 liter water bag so I can fill it prior to camping in remote areas. I also need room for several days worth of food.
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Old 05-08-19, 05:07 PM
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I think Rick said it right, it's hard to carry enough in panniers alone unless you two are super conservative .
We use a one wheel trailer and occasionally carry the coats or raingear in a bag on the rear rack. A trailer makes your rig very long,
but we prefer the aero of the trailer, everyone will have a different thought on this

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Old 05-09-19, 06:35 AM
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We did a 1 month tour in Denmark with 4 panniers an 2 dry bags. We carried all our camping gear.
So it can be done. We have Ortlieb panniers and they now have come out with even larger capacity ones for tandems.
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Old 05-09-19, 08:56 AM
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My whole perspective is from a bikepacking point of view so please take that into account. When I bikepack, I go very minimal and strive for one resupply stop each day and I don't take any cooking gear. Some of the consensus in the bikepacking community is that if you take a trailer, you will take more gear than you need. So you kind of need to figure out if you are going for a minimal or heavy load out or somewhere in between. So on my bikepacking rig and what has gotten me by on several multi-day trips.
  • Tent and sleeping bag are in a handlebar bag.
  • Water bottle holders are mounted on the front forks.
  • Repair parts (minimal) and other assorted gear in a frame bag in the inner triangle.
  • Food in feedbags alongside the stem.
  • A gas tank and Jeri can bags hold first aid
  • Clothes and other gear in a seat bag.
  • Some light stuff in a backpack.
Our mountain tandem has an enormous space between the captain and stoker seat post that is typically wasted space. On a Fall trip to a B&B 40 miles or so from here, this was our load. It is a mountain tandem but in this configuration I was running a road wheelset. This was also before I finished the frame bags which can hold a lot of gear. I am not real crazy about the rack so I might tig up a titanium one and make some minimalist saddlebags for it with a bag on top.

Anyways, I am not a fan of panniers. All that said, our current road tandem is not conducive to frame bags. I can make ones for it but it just isn't worth it. So... We bought a BOB trailer. We use that for getting groceries from the store and likely will use it if we do any long multi day road rides. But we also have a new road tandem being built that is similar in design to our mountain tandem so it will also get some frame bags made for it so the BOB may be unnecessary.

Just my insights for whatever they are worth.
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Old 05-09-19, 10:45 AM
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Less is more! We prefer panniers over a trailer.

Yes, you can pack sloppily and take more in a trailer. That's not necessarily a good thing. One or more additional wheels to look after. Lots more length to maneuver. Our experience with trailers is they change handling and braking dynamics, forcing a much more conservative approach to downhill runs and planning stops.

We suffered trailer damage during a day trip that forced us to abandon the rest of the trip. The damage was result of the trailer striking an obstacle and torquing and bending the tow bar (the part connecting the trailer to the bicycle), rendering the trailer untowable. An inconvenience on a day trip that would have been more problematic on a multi-day trip.

However, a cargo trailer was something of a godsend on a multi-day trip on the Great Allegheny Passage trail with a large all-ages group. We could offload gear off riders that were struggling. Everyday the trailer started out almost empty and by the end of the day it had a large collection of stuff.

Good luck with whatever approach you choose.
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Old 05-10-19, 10:31 AM
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We are planning our first ever tour on a tandem this July with 4 panniers only plus one saddlebag and one handlebar bag with camping equipment. I think it will work out ... based on my preliminary planning my wife will have to leave the hair dryer at home 😁
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Old 05-11-19, 02:15 PM
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Really good advice and input so far.

I chose a BOB trailer for a few reasons:
Mt. tandem with suspension fork didn't accommodate front panniers.
Don't like the totally overloaded rear pannier setup.
The trailer seemed like a great way to keep tons of weight off the bike.
Touring offroad meant encountering bumps, ruts & rough terrain; thought it be better to do so without an overloaded tandem.
Industry deal made the BOB a financially reasonable solution.
Plus I liked the idea of having a trailer for my single bike as well for shopping trips.
We didn't have dedicated, lightweight touring gear, so we couldn't compress it into a manageable size.

We did meet a single bike tourer who overloaded his BOB, got high speed wobble and crashed HARD. He had MAJOR road rash and scars to prove it. So if you go with a trailer, respect the max weight limit. (Although a tandem should be better able to withstand high-speed wobble issues. Then again, the consequence of a crash is twice [or more] as bad!)

This was 20 years ago, before the proliferation of extensive use of frame, handlebar & seatpost bike packing.

You could start "small" by choosing some frame bags and starting with credit card touring to see how things go. Decide how much you like it and how much you intend to invest in lightweight touring gear.

Either way, touring by tandem is so ideal. No getting separated. Working together as a team the entire tour. Conversation and being able to enjoy things together.
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Old 05-13-19, 06:56 AM
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We've done week long trips with panniers only without any problem. It does require front and rear panniers. In both cases we traveled with another couple so we did split cooking gear across two bikes but we had two tents. I could see full up off road camping requiring a different solution, in that case I would not want the extra weight on the bike.
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Old 05-13-19, 09:28 AM
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[Off topic] Bakerjw, it looks like you have one custom tandem with S&S couplers, and one Viaggio. It's possible that one of your bikes cost 5-10 times as much as the other. I also take it from your post that you are replacing the Viaggio. How have you liked it overall? How does it ride compared to the Curtlo?
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Old 05-14-19, 12:52 PM
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We've done 2-week camping tours with 2 panniers. Worked fine. Some prefer a trailer. My take is that if speed uphill is simply not an issue, most of those folks prefer a trailer. It adds weight. Those who have difficulty climbing 10% loaded prefer 2 panniers. If you think you need 4 panniers, do the weight calculation. Maybe a trailer comes out the same.
Results matter
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Old 05-18-19, 03:49 PM
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Extra Wheel Trailers themselves have pannier racks and use a 2nd front wheel for spares in common

so you have 3 pair of panniers, a front & 2 rears ... trailer is light , it's essentially another fork..
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Old 05-20-19, 11:00 AM
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The Extra Wheel Trailer looks like a really good solution. They have capacity similar to a Bob trailer and are lighter. Having a couple of bags would be easier to lug around than a large Bob bag. Does anyone have real world experience with them?
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Old 05-20-19, 11:41 AM
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Here are a couple of reviews.


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Old 05-30-19, 03:21 PM
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Here's our setup. I've only done a couple of s24o's but space is not a limiting factor.

Rear panniers are 45L each and fronts are 30L, plus whatever fits on top of the rear rack - that's quite a bit of space for two people with compact gear (somewhere between car camping and backpacking). If more was needed up to 20L could go in a handlebars harness as well. A backpack would be a last resort.
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Old 05-31-19, 06:46 AM
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We have been touring self contained and camping for 20+ years, generally on month long trips. We use the larger ortlieb panniers both front and back, a medium size rear rack bag, a small frame bag and handlebar bag. We have room to spare which is important when stocking up on food at the mothership (supermarket). Much of our gear was used for backpacking. Our opinion is that a trailer adds weight and the extra length on an already long bike is a hassle.
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Old 06-06-19, 10:11 PM
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Panniers vs trailer

We just returned from a self-contained tour of the Rhine River, beginning in Andermatt, Switzerland to Rotterdam, Netherlands by ourselves. It was awesome! We carry 2 panniers, a trunk bag, and 2 frame bags. We pack light and stay in hostels, AirB&Bs, and hotels. It took us about a month but we took many off route side trips.

Being a science teacher, less work will be done if you carry panniers.
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