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Making a better choice-- rack/panniers

Old 08-27-18, 02:56 PM
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Making a better choice-- rack/panniers

I will be doing a 2+ month tour soon, my first fully self supported one. I will be riding a 10 year old steel touring bike with rim brakes with a 72mm trail. Jandd Expedition and Extreme racks were installed and have Ortlieb front and rear rollers. Not having the same strength as I did before, it feels too heavy to handle with confidence. I would like to try to lighten the load to feel steadier, thus safer. I already saved weight by choosing the Ortlieb back rollers over my original Arkel GT-54s.

I've been exploring whether to keep the front Jandd rack, but purchase the Arkel Dry-Lites for it, then purchase a Tubus Cargo rack for the rear Ortliebs. The second option is to purchase a Tubus Tara to use with the rear Ortliebs up front, then use the Arkels on the rear with the Jandd. Either way, I'd like some type of platform available. Opinions appreciated!

Another question is, whether anyone with experience could let me know, if the Arkel Dry-lites do indeed carry the few extra liters than the front rollers, as stated?
If I use the Arkels in the front, the weight will be carried higher. I do worry about that. And, at risk of appearing like a scaredy cat, I also admit to being concerned about using the old Jandd racks at all. I haven't even left yet and it is costing me $.
Another big thanks to TimothyH for providing the rear derailleur replacement that allows me to even use this bike!

Last edited by wnylogo; 08-27-18 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 08-27-18, 03:11 PM
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If you're looking for more luggage capacity at the same time you're complaining about how much racks and panniers weigh, you're looking at the wrong things. Start by reducing the amount of stuff you're going to take. A few pounds of racks + panniers is going to be swamped by how much you can stuff inside and lash on top.
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Old 08-27-18, 03:51 PM
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Sure you can replace stuff but as pdlamb said look at what you are taking in those panniers. Write a list of every single thing you are carrying in those panniers and then take a good hard look at it find stuff you can replace with lighter weight stuff and get rid of duplicates. One to wash, one to wear always comes to mind. Also consider your gearing is maybe not low enough for you and your bike.
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Old 08-27-18, 06:53 PM
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I am not planning to carry all that much. I will have less than 35 pounds total in gear. It all fits inside the four panniers. I don't think I can reduce what I am bringing by much more. I need cold weather stuff for the first month, before being able to shed some items as I go further south. The combined current weight of the racks and panniers are what I'd like to lighten.
The desired platform was my silly idea that I could maybe strap a sixpack on before enterring the campground! Other than that, I was hoping to avoid having to lash anything on the bike.

Skip my concern about carrying the weight high vs low on the front rack, I just returned from a ride trying it out both ways and there wasn't much difference. Regarding my gearing, I went stupid low: 26-36-48 crank with a 11-40t cassette using a roadlink, which btw, wasn't supposed to work!
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Old 08-27-18, 07:14 PM
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Thought about a frame bag and a handlebar roll to eliminate a set of racks/bags? Fork racks? Mail the cold weather stuff home when needed. 26-40n is not too low, thats when you are walking. I use 22-36 all the time on my bikepacking setup.
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Old 08-27-18, 08:02 PM
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35 lbs includes tent and sleeping gear?
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Old 08-27-18, 08:20 PM
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35 pounds of gear is a huge touring load. I have transitioned from racks and panniers to handlebar roll, frame bag and seat bag. I think my touring gear weighs 20 pounds or less, not including food and water. The weight isn't a concern until you are climbing, and then you'll curse every "extra" thing you brought.
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Old 08-27-18, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa;20531815[u
]35 pounds of gear is a huge touring load[/u]. I have transitioned from racks and panniers to handlebar roll, frame bag and seat bag. I think my touring gear weighs 20 pounds or less, not including food and water. The weight isn't a concern until you are climbing, and then you'll curse every "extra" thing you brought.
huge schmuge, 35 ain't huge at all. Sure one can go all minimalist and have less, but 35 is a perfectly normal average weight that is perfectly doable to ride with, you make it sound like one of those folks who completely over does it, ie 60,70lbs of load.
It's not too say it's a different riding experience with 20lbs, or that less is better, one still has to see weight they are comfortable with and what things they enjoy having with them.
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Old 08-27-18, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
35 lbs includes tent and sleeping gear?
Yes. I also have some breakfast food and snacks to start off with.

Forgot to clarify, total weight includes the panniers. I filled them up, then weighed them. Want to make sure I l distribute the load evenly.
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Old 08-28-18, 02:38 AM
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those waterproof panniers are heavy!
compare to the weight of reg'lar water "resistant" nylon bags.
unless you're planning on riding through a typhoon, ziplocs
and/or double trash bags are fine.
much lighter (and much cheaper).

oh, no wait, i have ridden through the monsoons with reg'lar
panniers and ziplocs. is okay.
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Old 08-28-18, 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by wnylogo
I will be doing a 2+ month tour soon, my first fully self supported one.
Good for you!!

Originally Posted by wnylogo
I will be riding a 10 year old steel touring bike with rim brakes with a 72mm trail. Jandd Expedition and Extreme racks were installed and have Ortlieb front and rear rollers. Not having the same strength as I did before, it feels too heavy to handle with confidence. I would like to try to lighten the load to feel steadier, thus safer. I already saved weight by choosing the Ortlieb back rollers over my original Arkel GT-54s.
Every time I get on my loaded bike it "feels" too heavy. then it "feels" normal. then I get on my MTB commuter and it feels as light as a feather!
What I'm suggesting is that before you start changing racks and panniers, start getting used to the bike loaded up. Pick quiet roads, places that are familiar. when you've done a few days of that and it still "feels" heavy, then start looking at alternatives.

Originally Posted by wnylogo
I've been exploring whether to keep the front Jandd rack, but purchase the Arkel Dry-Lites for it, then purchase a Tubus Cargo rack for the rear Ortliebs. The second option is to purchase a Tubus Tara to use with the rear Ortliebs up front, then use the Arkels on the rear with the Jandd. Either way, I'd like some type of platform available. Opinions appreciated!
I've no idea of the weight differences between the different racks and bags. Unless it's significant it seems more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic - not saying that you're doomed - just that it seems a little pointless? What's significant? Will a bottle of water exceed the difference? If yes, then it's not significant.

Originally Posted by wnylogo
Another question is, whether anyone with experience could let me know, if the Arkel Dry-lites do indeed carry the few extra liters than the front rollers, as stated?
If I use the Arkels in the front, the weight will be carried higher. I do worry about that. And, at risk of appearing like a scaredy cat, I also admit to being concerned about using the old Jandd racks at all. I haven't even left yet and it is costing me $.
Another big thanks to TimothyH for providing the rear derailleur replacement that allows me to even use this bike!
I've no idea if the dry-lites carry more. The advantage of rollers is that at the end of the day you can load up with shopping.
I use an Old Man Mountain platform rack on the front. It means the bags are carried higher than a low rider. I've no issue with that set-up except when going off road. The steering can be a little stiff and slows me down off-road. However, the higher clearance is very handy off-road! On regular surfaces it's not a problem.
"Old" Jandd racks? Are they damaged? Are you afraid of failure? In my basic experience, you'll see signs if a rack is going to fail. Paint wear, cracks forming etc. If they look good, the chances are, they probably are.

To be honest, I think you're suffering from a case of pre-tour jitters. they're a biatch!
On the one hand you're asking about losing weight, on the other if one pannier carries more than another.
Racks and bags would be the very last place I'd look to lose weight.

You haven't said where you are touring?
If it's in civilisation, I'd say set off as you are. If you find it's not working, just buy whatever will suit your needs on the way.
If you're going off-grid, then do a couple of shakedown rides first to test everything - packing list as well as bike/racks/panniers.

And 35 lbs??
I'd love to tour that light!

Don't worry - once you're on the road you'll wonder why you spent so much time stressing over all this!
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Old 08-28-18, 07:22 AM
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Calculate the weight savings of your considered alternatives. I'll bet you come up with a small percentage change.

And I agree: 35 lbs. is not heavy. When I crossed the country my bike and gear weighed 90 lbs. The bike was aluminum, so it was relatively light. A lot of the weight came from the film camera equipment, including a medium format camera with three lenses, that I was toting.
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Old 08-28-18, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
Good for you!!



Every time I get on my loaded bike it "feels" too heavy. then it "feels" normal. then I get on my MTB commuter and it feels as light as a feather!
What I'm suggesting is that before you start changing racks and panniers, start getting used to the bike loaded up. Pick quiet roads, places that are familiar. when you've done a few days of that and it still "feels" heavy, then start looking at alternatives.


I've no idea of the weight differences between the different racks and bags. Unless it's significant it seems more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic - not saying that you're doomed - just that it seems a little pointless? What's significant? Will a bottle of water exceed the difference? If yes, then it's not significant.


I've no idea if the dry-lites carry more. The advantage of rollers is that at the end of the day you can load up with shopping.
I use an Old Man Mountain platform rack on the front. It means the bags are carried higher than a low rider. I've no issue with that set-up except when going off road. The steering can be a little stiff and slows me down off-road. However, the higher clearance is very handy off-road! On regular surfaces it's not a problem.
"Old" Jandd racks? Are they damaged? Are you afraid of failure? In my basic experience, you'll see signs if a rack is going to fail. Paint wear, cracks forming etc. If they look good, the chances are, they probably are.

To be honest, I think you're suffering from a case of pre-tour jitters. they're a biatch!
On the one hand you're asking about losing weight, on the other if one pannier carries more than another.
Racks and bags would be the very last place I'd look to lose weight.

You haven't said where you are touring?
If it's in civilisation, I'd say set off as you are. If you find it's not working, just buy whatever will suit your needs on the way.
If you're going off-grid, then do a couple of shakedown rides first to test everything - packing list as well as bike/racks/panniers.

And 35 lbs??
I'd love to tour that light!

Don't worry - once you're on the road you'll wonder why you spent so much time stressing over all this!
To the fellow who asked the original question--this fellows comments are good ones, especially about how a loaded bike always feels weird at first for someone who hasnt ridden loaded before, and yes, after just a few days it becomes natural and you adapt.
You adapt your riding style, your slower speed, slower acceleration, longer braking--basically its a diff rhythm of riding and thats what it is.

Also, after a week or two, you gradually become stronger and you get used to the weight.
**IMPORTANT--for your first bunch of days, plan short distance days, like 50 or 60km, 30-40miles, and take your time. Listen to your body and dont overpush it, especially not for the first weeks, your knees and everything will appreciate it, not to mention your keester, hands etc.
AND DOWNSHIFT, DOWNSHIFT.

re load + bags weight. I also agree on looking at exactly how much weight you'll save.

and again, 35lbs is a perfectly fine load weight, in fact , a very good one that would be a good target, if its a bit more thats ok too.

re dry lites--I have an early pair, and while I cant account for the volume, do be aware that you have to be more careful with them, both from outside abrasions etc, and also from being careful of not having any pointy stuff inside them rubbing against the sides.
Also, they are a pain in the a to take on and off, which you would not want to do at the end of each day, it would get annoying. Bringing your panniers into your tent is important, from a safety issue, so the ortliebs have that advantage. Easy on easy off is a big plus, just like an easy putting up tent is a plus. On a long trip, we appreciate things going smoothly at the end of a riding day, getting tent set up, stuff inside, and off to the showers and washing your days bikes clothes right away so that they will dry in the sun as much as possible.
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Old 08-28-18, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Calculate the weight savings of your considered alternatives. I'll bet you come up with a small percentage change.

And I agree: 35 lbs. is not heavy. When I crossed the country my bike and gear weighed 90 lbs. The bike was aluminum, so it was relatively light. A lot of the weight came from the film camera equipment, including a medium format camera with three lenses, that I was toting.
Mamma Mamiya you were nuts! ;-)

Im sure Ive told you that already when this has come up before.
Heck, back in the day, I never even took a 35mm body and one lens, not wanting the weight and worry of equipment.
And I worked in commercial photography for decades, just didnt want the hassle, so took a pt and shoot with a good lens, fixed 35mm pt and shoot (Contax)
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Old 08-28-18, 11:09 AM
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Thanks, appreciate all the input. Some really good advice. I think most had the impression I was a male. Nope, I am a lady working on her bucket list. Like I said, don't have the strength as I did before. Yes, trying to lose the weight of perhaps the amount of a water bottle may seem inconsequential, but it is what will allow me the small luxury of bringing a Helinox Chair Zero. Thus, the interest in the Dry-lites. They have more height over the front Ortliebs. I am not looking to add more stuff, just to better accomodate what I have without adding weight. Convenience is a factor I overlooked, so maybe the Dry-Lites aren't the better option.
Obviously I don't have the experience of many of you and do look forward to gaining some firsthand knowledge.
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Old 08-28-18, 12:39 PM
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re those chairs, I have certainly thought of them over the last few years, and how especially if at a campsite or wherever with no picnic tables etc, it can get my back sore after a bunch of days. Certainly when we are in our 20s we dont give a second thought to such things, but in my case, 30 odd years later, I do.
I havent gotten a chair yet, as the last bunch of trips Ive done, I was always staying in cheap hotels and eating in cheap eateries (Latin America) or in France, teh campgrounds pretty much always had tables and chairs in a place set up for hikers and bikers (even fridges sometimes, gas stoves) so sitting was fine.

when you say "leaving shortly", I do really recommend putting all your intended junk together, packing it and riding some. It will help with getting used to the weirdness feeling, and you'll gradually become more comfortable riding.

re the convenience factor of the dry lites, Ive toured for about 30 years, and would never leave my panniers on the bike overnight, I wouldnt sleep well, so using them one has to accept mucking about with putting the velcro back on properly in the morning, and or they'd be perfect for a credit card motel trip where you could bring the bike into the room with you (which in my experience, is nearly always the case, no prob bringing it in)

re gearing. What is the gearing of your bike? Number of chainrings at front, number of teeth on the small ring , and size of rear cassette.
700 wheels?
Just curious because having low gearing makes all the difference, especially for gradually getting stronger and taking care of your knees. Too slow a cadence working hard to get up a hill (cadence is the revolutions per min of your feet) is a lot harder on your knees and your leg muscles.

and to repeat this again, plan short days for a while, there is no point planning to do 60 mile days, cut it in half, and gently work into things.
Also, any fit issues (seat not high enough or whatever) will show itself up more at first, given how much we work harder with a heavy bike. If you can, make sure your bike issetup well for you, and that includes changing the stem lets say, to have a more comfortable "reach" position.

also, i hope you arent starting out hitting mountains right away.

how long to leave, where to (if you want to share details that is) ?
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Old 08-28-18, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
re those chairs, ...
when you say "leaving shortly", I do really recommend...

re the convenience factor of the dry lites, Ive toured for about 30 years, and would never leave my panniers on the bike overnight, I wouldnt sleep well, so using them one has to accept mucking about with putting the velcro back on properly in the morning, and or they'd be perfect for a credit card motel trip where y...

re gearing. What is the gearing of your bike? Number of chainrings at front, number of teeth on the small ring , and size of rear cassette.
700 wheels?
Just curious because having low gearing makes all the difference, especially for gradually getting stronger and taking care of your knees. Too slow a cadence working hard to get up a hill (cadence is the revolutions per min of your feet) is a lot harder on your knees and your leg muscles.
...
also, i hope you arent starting out hitting mountains right away.

how long to leave, where to (if you want to share details that is) ?
You made me smile about the hitting the mtns first part. I did the Southern Tier route fully supported, including hotels. I was so ill prepared for hitting those passes so early on. CA was hit with an unseasonal heat wave that followed us for several states! Would have been so much much easier starting in FL and building up the legs and lungs. There were several self supported fellows we leapfrogged with in the beginning. The solo rider dropped out before we hit Jacumba Hot Springs and another was amicably dropped by his riding partners because he couldn't keep up. I know I would not have been successful doing it self supported at the time. At least now, I do have a respectful sense of what is involved.

I listed my gearing earlier, you see it above and I have 700s. I leave next month, going over 2000 miles north to south. I doubt it'll be possible to bring the panniers inside my tent since I chose an ul 1 person. Not too worried about that. More cognizant about the riding conditions and preoccupied drivers.
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Old 08-28-18, 03:15 PM
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oops, forgot about that whatchmacallit link mention. Perfect setup. Without taking a peek at a gearing chart, I suspect your "stupid low" is very similar to my "stupid low" on one of my bikes, which uses 26in wheels, a 44/32/22 and 11-34.
Bottom line--there is no downside to really low gearing. None whatsoever. The times you use it, and Ive used my 16.7 gear inch low gear lots and lots and lots of times, whether in Latin America or France, and I have enough touring experience now to know that it doesnt reduce my manhood or anything like that, in fact, it saves my and anyones legs for those times its nice to have. When you dont need it, you shift up, simple as that, and it doesnt make you slower like some people think, it means you can save your legs and be fresher over teh day with less muscle and knee fatigue.

I'll finish my blah blah with the question of do you use and have a mirror? Super important doohickey in my humble opinion. Very simply, it can give you a few seconds heads up of potential serious situations, knowing when to pull over to the side or whatever, and also simply to be more relaxed because you know more of whats going on behind you with just a glance. Ive used a helmet mounted one for many years now, and dont care how dorky it looks. Wouldnt ride without it.
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Old 08-28-18, 03:52 PM
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Don't worry about them thinking you're male - this forum is extremely male dominated and they always think all cyclists/tourers are male. (I get cut down on a regular basis simply because I, like you, am not.)
You don't mention where this tour is going to take place! I'm interested to know because this effects several things about your post. In regards to not being used to the weight, I do hope you're going to start training yesterday for it. This is rather important for your body so that it doesn't get the sudden shock of the exercise and the impact on the body. If over the next several weeks you bike nearly every day, starting with no weight and adding a little weight every some days, this will help a lot. You'll also be used to the weight by the time the tour begins as well as building up your confidence for encountering various riding conditions/situations. As for high/low weight, weight is supposed to be low and of course you know that heavy things go at the bottom of the panniers, evenly distributed, preferably towards the back. You stated that you told us what all you're bringing, but I don't see such a list. If you gave us that list, it would help as we could tell you what to leave behind. Personally, most of my tours have been 18 pounds for the rear panniers, plus 3 pound tent, 4 pound sleeping bag, tarp and closed-cell roll pad. Plus a large handlebar bag. So definitely under 35 pounds. Welcome to the wonderful world of bike touring!
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Old 08-28-18, 06:30 PM
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My first tours were with fifty plus pound loads. My last tour was was under 15 pounds. I would not be touring any more if I had to carry much more than 20 pounds.

Over many seasons of increasingly light weight camping, I got my load to fit easily in two light rear panniers on a light aluminum rack. No handlebar bag either.

My frame of reference changed when I learned to pack for a bike trip, not a camping trip, If it doesn't support the biking, it doesn't come along. If you like camping more than I do, disregard all this.
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Old 08-28-18, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by wnylogo
Thanks, appreciate all the input. Some really good advice. I think most had the impression I was a male. Nope, I am a lady working on her bucket list. Like I said, don't have the strength as I did before. Yes, trying to lose the weight of perhaps the amount of a water bottle may seem inconsequential, but it is what will allow me the small luxury of bringing a Helinox Chair Zero. Thus, the interest in the Dry-lites. They have more height over the front Ortliebs. I am not looking to add more stuff, just to better accomodate what I have without adding weight. Convenience is a factor I overlooked, so maybe the Dry-Lites aren't the better option.
Obviously I don't have the experience of many of you and do look forward to gaining some firsthand knowledge.
My wife and our 2 daughters are very experienced bike tourers. They are all relatively small women: 5' 3", 4' 11", and 5' 6". They are all in excellent condition. Their target weight for gear and panniers is 35 lbs, including camping gear. Two use Ortlieb Backrollers, and one uses Ortlieb Packer Plus. They all use an Ortlieb Rackpack for their camping gear. They do really well and you can tell I'm proud of them.

This is how they are set up. The loads look big, but they are riding bikes with small frames ranging from 42 cm to 50 cm. None of them complain about shimmy or weight distribution.




My wife rode across the U.S. using only Ortlieb Packer Plus front panniers carried on the rear of the bike. Her camping gear was carried on top the rack. Today her hair is cut short, has some gray in it, and her present panniers are full sized rear panniers I might also mention the tops of those red panniers are almost bleached to a very pale pink or almost white today!

The point is that 35 lbs is a good load, and if you listen to some of the moderate folks above, you should do well.





Last edited by Doug64; 08-30-18 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 08-28-18, 08:59 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by travelinhobo
Don't worry about them thinking you're male - this forum is extremely male dominated and they always think all cyclists/tourers are male. (I get cut down on a regular basis simply because I, like you, am not.)
You don't mention where this tour is going to take place! I'm interested to know because this effects several things about your post. In regards to not being used to the weight, I do hope you're going to start training yesterday for it. This is rather important for your body so that it doesn't get the sudden shock of the exercise and the impact on the body. If over the next several weeks you bike nearly every day, starting with no weight and adding a little weight every some days, this will help a lot. You'll also be used to the weight by the time the tour begins as well as building up your confidence for encountering various riding conditions/situations. As for high/low weight, weight is supposed to be low and of course you know that heavy things go at the bottom of the panniers, evenly distributed, preferably towards the back. You stated that you told us what all you're bringing, but I don't see such a list. If you gave us that list, it would help as we could tell you what to leave behind. Personally, most of my tours have been 18 pounds for the rear panniers, plus 3 pound tent, 4 pound sleeping bag, tarp and closed-cell roll pad. Plus a large handlebar bag. So definitely under 35 pounds. Welcome to the wonderful world of bike touring!
I didn't think male nor did I think you were male nor do I care what gender someone is or isn't. It is all just silly binary B.S. I do remember you making some odd remarks that had me scratching the old noggin. I remember one was "I don't talk to credit card tourers" It seems that was a cut down towards "lesser" tourers.

Though I do agree training is quite useful and getting your weight right on the bike is important. Weird your sleeping bag weighs more than the tent. It is odd how that works sometimes.
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Old 08-29-18, 12:40 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by wnylogo
Yes, trying to lose the weight of perhaps the amount of a water bottle may seem inconsequential, but it is what will allow me the small luxury of bringing a Helinox Chair Zero.
You're going on a 2000 mile/2 month road trip - bring the darn chair!
I'm a firm believer in packing a bit of comfort!
Try to pack the heavier stuff in the bottom of the panniers, keep the weight relatively even across the panniers and get a bit of practise riding loaded.

Once you're on the road, try not to focus on the weight you're carrying.
I know if I was to continually think about the stuff I'm carrying while riding, I'd go slowly demented! However, over the course of a long trip there have been times when I've been very glad I had the very things I would happily discard going up a mountain!
Originally Posted by wnylogo
I am not looking to add more stuff, just to better accomodate what I have without adding weight. Convenience is a factor I overlooked, so maybe the Dry-Lites aren't the better option.
It took me a long, long time to get a good packing system together - stability & practicality/convenience.
If you like nerdy pannier discussions have a read here.... https://forum.cyclinguk.org/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=123706
Some useful info.

Another thing on replacing gear. If you've used and are familiar with your racks/panniers then I'd be wary of changing them out for something I haven't used. There could be issues with the new gear you haven't considered.
Originally Posted by wnylogo
and do look forward to gaining some firsthand knowledge.
And when you're done, hopefully you'll come back and update us all with your experiences!
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Old 08-29-18, 02:01 AM
  #24  
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I've switched to a fairly light weight basket fixed to the top of the rear rack for all the bulky but light stuff, cargo net over the top and it's job done.
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Old 08-29-18, 04:57 AM
  #25  
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Even winter camping with a 4 season tent and sub zero sleeping bags, we have less than half your weight. You need to rethink what you are taking and why.
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