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Bags or trailer?

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Old 11-23-15, 08:55 AM
  #1  
Rocky Gravol
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Bags or trailer?

At the bar last night we got into a disscustion
about which takes more effort.

Fully loaded or towing a trailer?
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Old 11-23-15, 10:26 AM
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You might want to move this to touring.
I've only seen 1 person complete a brevet pulling a trailer. He did it in good style... but generally most folks riding ultra events go as light as possible for conditions in order to successfully complete the ride / event.
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Old 11-23-15, 10:43 AM
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moved here from the long distance forum.
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Old 11-23-15, 10:46 AM
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I'd say a trailer takes more effort. Every trailer I've ever pulled has a tiny bit of "spring" in the attachment arm. That "spring" saps your energy. Not to mention the feeling of dragging a trailer is slightly annoying. Bags, on the other hand, are directly attached to the bike so in effect only make the bike heavier.
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Old 11-23-15, 11:11 AM
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Fully Loaded? after How May Drinks?

where are you going to tour? and How long are you spending on that tour ? Hotels Or Camping?

Out Here, on a Very Popular touring route (and a Drinking town) all sorts of gear carrying methods are used..

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Old 11-23-15, 11:31 AM
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I've done both. Nice thing about the trailer: When you're going along level ground, and going straight, it's almost like you're unloaded. It's also nice because you can unhook it quickly and actually be unloaded.

Just don't turn.
Or go uphill.
Or downhill, really.

Not that it's bad. It's just not as good. The times I've used the trailer, I've had a specific reason: A suitcase trailer meant that I was able to bike away from the airport with my luggage in tow. A trailer carries larger and more unwieldy loads.

But trailers weigh a lot more than bags. You feel that on uphills, you deal with that when braking. You can't corner as well. More parts to break. Likely another size spare to carry.

And while I'm all about bringing whatever you need to be comfortable on your trip, I also feel like if you need a trailer to manage your gear, maybe you packed too much. Not that I didn't absolutely stuff my trailer when I used it.

I don't mind hauling a trailer at all, if it's necessary. But which takes more effort? Physics says that if has to be the trailer. It adds weight, more work has to be done for the extra weight. It's the Law. In practice, there are times when pulling a trailer feels like riding unloaded, which is nice, but there are plenty of other times when you really do notice the trailer, and how much you notice it and how much it affects your riding is dependent on terrain and what you're trying to do. Meanwhile, a loaded bike never feels like an unloaded bike, but it's consistent. Given the choice, I'll take bags, but when a trailer is the right tool, I'll use it. But it can never be less work to use a trailer, because it's always more weight.
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Old 11-23-15, 11:34 AM
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most rack/ pannier/ set ups weigh from 7 to 10 lbs Trailers tend to weigh 17 lbs and up. You will not feel the difference on flat ground, but on hills it is significant. If you would like the idea of eliminating 1/3 of flat tires, eliminate the trailer. One thing I have noticed that it is nicer to have a bunch of different compartments as apposed to one big compartment. It's always a big digathon with the single trailer sack. Assuming that you like being organized.
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Old 11-23-15, 12:03 PM
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Lots of variables.

How many miles a day are you riding? What are you carrying?

I've pulled a trailer around town enough that I know it causes a lot of extra resistance, even when empty. Add 20 or 30 pounds and I really start feeling it. A few hundred pounds, and it is a big hassle. So, any cargo I take for a tour would go on the bike, unless I just run out of capacity.

But, if I was taking my boat or backpack or other big awkward loads, it would be more convenient to just drag it behind (single wheel trailer?)

However, 50 miles a day with a trailer would be fine.
150 miles a day, and everything would be on the bike if possible, and loads would be minimized.

It might also depend on your riding companions. A group might find it convenient to put a trailer carrying most of the cargo behind the strongest rider.
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Old 11-23-15, 01:16 PM
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How much stuff are you carrying that you need a trailer? 50L in bags plus tent etc on top of the rear rack is more than enough. Leave the kitchen sink and bathtub at home. Geez!!
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Old 11-23-15, 01:24 PM
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FWIW it's possible to back pack carry your gear in a trailer and climb stairs,

cross road washouts .. etc.


something more difficult if all the weight is all on the Bike .

( Except the superlight crowd with barely 15 pounds total added )..

& you have to take it off , to lift the bike and then put it back On . .


I have 2 Bikes with Pannier racks and 2 with just front bags and 2 different cargo Trailers ..


Want a solar powered Widget charger? given power comes from Panel square footage ..
then you may want a trailer to allow space for those Big Panels.

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Old 11-23-15, 02:33 PM
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I have never pulled a trailer, but I have seen some folks touring that were pulling a Bob trailer behind some light weight bikes. My point is that if you put racks and panniers on a bike, you need a heavier bike than you need to pull a trailer. A Bob will put some more weight on your back wheel, so you can't go too ultra light on your rear wheel, but you don't need the robust frame strength and longer chainstays that you would need for panniers.

Thus, although the trailer and luggage may weigh more than the racks and panniers, you should also factor in the weight differences in the bike.

The really light bikes however might be hard to find with the low gearing you would want for pulling the trailer up steep hills.
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Old 11-23-15, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have never pulled a trailer, but I have seen some folks touring that were pulling a Bob trailer behind some light weight bikes. My point is that if you put racks and panniers on a bike, you need a heavier bike than you need to pull a trailer. A Bob will put some more weight on your back wheel, so you can't go too ultra light on your rear wheel, but you don't need the robust frame strength and longer chainstays that you would need for panniers.

Thus, although the trailer and luggage may weigh more than the racks and panniers, you should also factor in the weight differences in the bike.

The really light bikes however might be hard to find with the low gearing you would want for pulling the trailer up steep hills.
I've had racks on my old Colnago road bike for eons. I don't do a lot of touring, but will periodically get it loaded down. It does sometimes feel a little loose in the rearend with particularly heavy loads, but I've never been certain if it is the load, rack, frame, wheels, or tires. It never has been enough to cause a problem.

One issue with the rack is that the panniers must be loaded very far back due to the short wheelbase. But there are lot of good bikes with slightly longer wheelbases. Heel strikes, and the short wheelbase can be an issue for towing some trailers too.

Another issue, however, is traction. If you've got a heavy load and a loose road surface, then you'll get better climbing traction with more of the load on the bike, and on the rear of the bike.
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Old 11-23-15, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
How much stuff are you carrying that you need a trailer? 50L in bags plus tent etc on top of the rear rack is more than enough. Leave the kitchen sink and bathtub at home. Geez!!

Family of 4 with kids under 10. One kid on a weehoo/trail-a-bike.
The 2 adult bikes cant carry everything required in panniers and atop the racks. Its easier to toss it into a trailer. Even then, panniers are used.

Ive seen it. Ive experienced it.
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Old 11-23-15, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Family of 4 with kids under 10. One kid on a weehoo/trail-a-bike.
The 2 adult bikes cant carry everything required in panniers and atop the racks. Its easier to toss it into a trailer. Even then, panniers are used.

Ive seen it. Ive experienced it.
Sure do what you need to do for the kids, But you are not average bicycle tourists, no offense meant.
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Old 11-23-15, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
How much stuff are you carrying that you need a trailer? 50L in bags plus tent etc on top of the rear rack is more than enough. Leave the kitchen sink and bathtub at home. Geez!!
did around 20k km nz/oz with bob trailer + front bags + rear bags. carried lots of stuff to
make the 18-month trip enjoyable.

3-man 3-season tent. heavy-duty hiking boots. 35mm slr w/lenses and film. short-wave radio.
tools and spare tires. and some more fun stuff.

heaviest total weight (bike + gear + consumables) was for crossing the longish dry spaces
in the deserted desert in 105 degrees, came to 175 pounds (5 gallons water).

think of it like this. we're touring (well, i am anyway) to travel, see the sights,
have fun along the way. i'm not racing. i want a little more comfort. i don't like (can't) sleep in a hammock...despite the fundamentalists that have decreed i'm "doing it wrong." i don't want to be 300 miles from nowhere
wishing i had a certain item. maybe not a ukelele. of course, if someone wants to play don ho in the wilderness, that's none of my business (assuming
his tent ain't near mine.)

i could choose to tour in a 40ft RV with all the comforts of home, or i could
drive cross-country sleeping (poorly) in my porsche.

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Old 11-23-15, 11:56 PM
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Describe the average bicycle tourist...
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Old 11-24-15, 12:40 AM
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When I tour the logging/mining roads of Northern Ontario, Canada I use panniers front and rear. I like panniers that have a side entrance as well as a top entrance because then I can access stuff at the bottom without having to remove everything else. On the rocky and loose soil (that can be at the same time) of those roads especially on hills a trailer would break the trip with the extra drag and the wheel(s) catching on stuff on the road = like large stones.

I think it depends on the terrain you're riding. a lot of people swear by trailers.

Cheers
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Old 11-24-15, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Describe the average bicycle tourist...
In America....White male in his 60s. Beard. Bell V1 Pro Helmet. Cotton tube socks. Duct taped panniers. Cycling in baggy shorts. Birkenstocks for off the bike. Ample supply of Gorp, bananas and peanut butter. Wire-rim spectacles. T-shirts, not jerseys. What did I forget?
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Old 11-24-15, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Describe the average bicycle tourist...
+1.

Me, SO and our kid did some light touring with a trailer (a Nordic Cab). He was 2 years old back then, so we needed the trailer in any case. I'm the faster rider, so I towed the trailer with the bulk of stuff packed in. The weight balanced out our ride speed differences nicely. Carrying groceries was easier with the trailer than with panniers. We took a bus for one leg of the trip, and the trailer collapsed down sufficiently to fit in the bus cargo hold.

We still had several panniers between the two bikes, as the amount of stuff you need when you're travelling with a 2-year old is impressive. If we had 4 large panniers each, plus handlebar bags, plus stuff sacks on top of rear panniers, we could have carried all that gear on bikes. We would've been forced to leave the kid home though.

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Old 11-24-15, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Describe the average bicycle tourist...
The average bicycle tourist is the one whose bike, or load, or opinions, or all three, give rise to @Squeezebox 's disapproval.
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Old 11-24-15, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
The average bicycle tourist is the one whose bike, or load, or opinions, or all three, give rise to @Squeezebox 's disapproval.
I have not been here long enough to disapprove of any other opinions. I'm simple asking questions. I think the lighter the better. I will not bring a cast iron skillet. I love them at home, too heavy for a bicycle. nor a down jacket in June. as examples.
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Old 11-25-15, 10:07 AM
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I'd like to thank the mods for moving this thread here.
I'm usually on the Classic and Vintage forum.
After I posted, I saw that this forum was a better place.

After a few beers at the tavern, this became a long, some what heated discussion.
A few of my bike friends have trailers that they're not using anymore and
offered them to anyone of us that wanted to borrow them.

I like to do light sport touring keeping my gear as minimal as possible.

This summer I plan to ride the John Wayne Trail in Washington State.
From Seattle to Idaho, it's about three hundred miles of mostly hard packed gravel.
Some parts of the trail are some long desolate stretches, so you need to ride self contained.

There are a lot of good comments here, thanks very much.
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Old 11-25-15, 10:10 AM
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And BTW I'm not quite sixty yet,
but I tend to resemble the average American bike tourist.
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Old 11-25-15, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
.... nor a down jacket in June. ....
Where I travel, a down jacket in June can feel pretty good in the morning.
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Old 11-25-15, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Where I travel, a down jacket in June can feel pretty good in the morning.
They also make for a nice pillow at night.
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