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Anyone do front loaded only touring and what is your reason if you do?

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Anyone do front loaded only touring and what is your reason if you do?

Old 04-27-16, 08:26 PM
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hilltowner
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Anyone do front loaded only touring and what is your reason if you do?

Once upon a time, when my brother got his first set of lowriders, he remarked how much he liked touring with them. He liked it so much he said he'd like to experiment with all the weight in the front. His touring tapered off after that and he never really put the idea to a lengthy test. I have toured pretty extensively with both front and rear loads and have toured enough times with rear only but never the reverse. I'm thinking about trying it, especially now that I have a new Soma Grand Randonneur which is set up for carrying most of the weight in the front. It is in fact not recommended for "loaded touring" so I don't have much choice (apart from towing a trailer) if I want to load it for more than the typical rando-style riding. I guess I'll have to experiment myself with what works and doesn't but would welcome any comments from people who have tried it.
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Old 04-27-16, 08:39 PM
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I did this in 1990 on a ride through Switzerland. Worked fine, including on descents. You could certainly load it up and ride locally a bit to get a feel for it, eh?
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Old 04-27-16, 10:49 PM
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A lot of people like more weight on the front because it's said to make climbing easier and spreads the total load on the frame better. This works a lot better if low-rider rack is used to lower the center of gravity quite a bit over a regular front rack.

Cheers
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Old 04-27-16, 11:38 PM
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Something about the frame geometry of my 1980's era Cannondale touring bikes means that the more weight they have on the front wheel the better they handle. So, whenever I load one of them up I start with the front panniers first and then if I need more capacity start filling the rear ones.
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Old 04-28-16, 07:01 AM
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logically, evening out the weight distribution of front/back wheel makes sense for the forces on the wheels/spokes, so I get the concept. I would add my opinion against it, but the main caveat is that I only weigh 140, so even with 25 or 30lbs on the rear rack, its still less than the average guy.

I've tried front only, but realize that I very much like and appreciate as quick and light steering as I can get, its just pleasureable for me going around corners, so a front only load slows the steering down a lot, and I have always put the lighter stuff in my front panniers (or only use a handlebar bag and two rear panniers).

So for me, steering response is more the factor here, if I have the option of keeping the weight down up front.

Its along these lines that I will always prefer a faster quicker steering bike overall, because even with just a handlebar bag, the steering slows down a certain amount.
Ive toured on my old mtn bike, with rear panniers and front bar bag, and still really really enjoyed twisty downhills as the bike was still pretty fun turning.
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Old 04-28-16, 08:59 AM
  #6  
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day to day my 2 small wheel low trail folding bikes a Bike Friday with front panniers ,
and Brompton with its front bag on the head-tube mounting block, Just Ride better than without the mass up front,

Long tours I've had more stuff than will fit in those front bags..
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Old 04-28-16, 09:09 AM
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I tried it once. It was far more stable and enjoyable.....until there was a headwind. The resistance seemed to be much, much more than if the load was on the rear. I have no speedometer so it is just a feeling.
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Old 04-28-16, 12:03 PM
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I do "front-load only" touring although sometimes I place a small dry bag on top of my rear rack with my sleeping insulation for a total of less than 2 lbs rear load.

Here's some background for my reasons:
It was in the late 60s that I realized that KOPS (very popular back then in Europe where I lived at the time) is only a suggestion, and that I'm more comfortable with knee quite a bit behind pedal spindle. This setup results in my body weight shifted a bit aft compared to many cyclists - with no extra load on the bike.
A decade spent on a bike exploring the multitude of technical singletrack in the mountains of Western NC taught me that front traction is paramount and should not be overlooked, ever. And a big part of it comes from weight over the front wheel. It is easy for a MTB rider to shift weight fore for brief climbs, but is not enjoyable for longer stretches of road, especially with a laden bike.

When I came to touring, I tried rear-loading and felt disgusted. Front traction was not there on uphills, weight was too high resulting in unpleasant handling. Tried front load only as most of the time 30 liters of panniers is enough for my stuff - I travel light - on a lowrider rack, and felt relieved - the handling and the traction felt just about the same as they are on my faster (unloaded) road bikes (well, handling is just a tad slower). I decided to stick with this solution, and did.
Unlike many tourers I have met, I enjoy fast descends, and the handling of my front-loaded bike allows for plenty of that.

If I travel in shoulder season (spring/fall) and need to carry more insulation (thicker sleeping quilt and extra fleece or an insulated puffy jacket), then I take the dry bag for my puffy and quilt, and lash it on top of the rear rack.
Some time ago I tried to use 4 panniers, adding two small Nashbar ones to the back, and quickly discarded the idea since one of the rears took my puffy stuff, and the other was only used to carry to my overnight camp some extra water and food bought in the last town I passed through, while it was empty during the day. It irritated me to have lugged this extra weight of rear panniers when I could get by with just a 3-oz dry bag instead.

Last but not least - I can not prove it, but the felt air resistance at speed with loaded rear panniers seems higher than the resistance from the front-only lowriders. As to crosswinds - there's no contest, the lowriders win every time.
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Old 04-28-16, 12:29 PM
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I place most weight up front on a high front rack (BG MTN Rack) with a dry bag on rear rack top for lighter bulkier items and prefer this for off pavement touring. This protects the rear wheel from slamming fully loaded into rocks. ruts and holes.
I can lift the front wheel over these obstacles while unweighting the rear wheel so it can articulate over the obstacle without damage. I only know that it has worked for me for almost four decades. My wheels last a long time and even after the Divide Ride my wheels did not need truing. That is all I know or think I know..
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Old 04-28-16, 02:34 PM
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Lots of knowledgeable, differing views here certainly shows that there is more than one way to skin a cat!
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Old 04-28-16, 03:17 PM
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i saw a guy touring down the east coast with a fancy expensive racing bicycle. he put a cyclocross fork on the front to hold a rack.
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Old 04-28-16, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tcarl View Post
Something about the frame geometry of my 1980's era Cannondale touring bikes means that the more weight they have on the front wheel the better they handle. So, whenever I load one of them up I start with the front panniers first and then if I need more capacity start filling the rear ones.
Strange but true.

However there is a limit to how much you can overload the front. For giggles, each day on my 28rt mile commute I added more and more weight to the front. At some point handling went to yuck.

I love my cdale for two bag front loaded touring. Though I do roll with a rear rack for the long items and extra water space.
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Old 04-28-16, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I've tried front only, but realize that I very much like and appreciate as quick and light steering as I can get, its just pleasureable for me going around corners, so a front only load slows the steering down a lot, and I have always put the lighter stuff in my front panniers (or only use a handlebar bag and two rear panniers).

So for me, steering response is more the factor here, if I have the option of keeping the weight down up front.

Its along these lines that I will always prefer a faster quicker steering bike overall, because even with just a handlebar bag, the steering slows down a certain amount.
Ive toured on my old mtn bike, with rear panniers and front bar bag, and still really really enjoyed twisty downhills as the bike was still pretty fun turning.
I've been trying to understand the push for "low trail" steering on rando bikes and I think this blog post by Dave Moulton helped nail it for me. Dave Moulton's Blog - Dave Moulton's Bike Blog - Trail, fork rake, and a little bit of*history

In Moulton's post he mentions the almost zero trail of bikes in the 30's through 50's and the logic behind it as well as the history of bikes acquiring more and more trail as frames became lighter and road conditions improved. The one thing he debunks, the argument that longer trail means steering "uphill" and causing sluggish steering seems to apply only if you don't have a lot of weight on your front fork. If you do, the old argument makes sense. Rando bikes are built with low trail because they are designed to carry more weight up front (makes accessing your gear easier while you are moving). At least that is my thinking and since my Soma G.R. is relatively low trail, touring with almost all the weight up front ought not to compromise the steering too much. I will probably do what IK_biker does and put my sleeping stuff (small down bag, hammock, tarp) on a rear rack. I think my low riders can take everything else I typically put in my rear panniers. If that's the case I won't be any less equipped than I have been on many tours except the ones when I've been a hundred miles between resupply points.
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Old 04-29-16, 05:42 AM
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will look at that, tks
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Old 04-29-16, 03:13 PM
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front load ONLY! bike behaves like a normal road bike, get a low trail fork and you will be very happy! climbing out of the saddle becomes fun! back load makes your frame wobble left and right, like a pudding, and STRESS your back wheel until your spokes say: good bye.

Last edited by str; 04-29-16 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 04-29-16, 03:21 PM
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here:

https://www.adventurecycling.org/default/assets/resources/200906_MechanicalAdvantage_Heine.pdf

Last edited by str; 04-29-16 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 04-29-16, 03:22 PM
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I have used front and rear panniers in my touring but front only on several of my bikes for grocery runes, etc. Weights can get quite high. ANd since that bike is fix gear, having the rear of the bike light helps a lot climbing out of the saddle. I have put close to 20 pounds in each front bag without issue. (Except you do want big, sturdy front tire and rim. It will take real abuse when you hit a pothole. Plus side is that security riding snow/ice/railroad tracks is far better.)

Edit: Oh, low trail is a real plus!

Ben
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Old 04-29-16, 03:29 PM
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Old 04-29-16, 03:31 PM
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Old 04-29-16, 03:32 PM
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Old 04-29-16, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
A lot of people like more weight on the front because it's said to make climbing easier and spreads the total load on the frame better. This works a lot better if low-rider rack is used to lower the center of gravity quite a bit over a regular front rack.

Cheers
no, the trick is a low trail fork. but even with a normal fork climbing/bike handling is FAR far better than with back panniers.
and this has nothing to do with your body weight, it has only to do with where you place the weight of your panniers.

Last edited by str; 04-29-16 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 04-29-16, 05:08 PM
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I'm looking to do some bike-camping (< week) this spring-summer on my fixed speed. The bike frame & rack are what I toured on back in the 1970's. Here's the rig as currently contemplated:

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Old 04-29-16, 07:00 PM
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Prefer front loads to rear loads. Although, I think my loadout for my next trip will have a very light rear-load bias because it makes more sense for the stuff I'm carrying. Strange situation, actually.






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Old 05-01-16, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by hilltowner View Post
Once upon a time, when my brother got his first set of lowriders, he remarked how much he liked touring with them. He liked it so much he said he'd like to experiment with all the weight in the front. His touring tapered off after that and he never really put the idea to a lengthy test. I have toured pretty extensively with both front and rear loads and have toured enough times with rear only but never the reverse. I'm thinking about trying it, especially now that I have a new Soma Grand Randonneur which is set up for carrying most of the weight in the front. It is in fact not recommended for "loaded touring" so I don't have much choice (apart from towing a trailer) if I want to load it for more than the typical rando-style riding. I guess I'll have to experiment myself with what works and doesn't but would welcome any comments from people who have tried it.
how is it going, tests done? ;)
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Old 05-01-16, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by str View Post
how is it going, tests done?
Still just in rando mode. I probably won't try to go for a loaded tour for a while yet.
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