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Can I get by without front panniers?

Old 10-26-21, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
... One unique and in my eyes, excellent feature is the bag uses a zipper. Brilliant from where I sit as it will allow me to stack items in a specific order and access them by moving the zipper (two way zipper) to where items are located in the bag. Instead of emptying the contents of the bag to access what is towards the bottom, I will be able to move the zipper directly to the location and open it up to get to the item.....
Zippers leak. Some of the weather resistant ones are better.
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Old 10-26-21, 07:50 PM
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D (HendersonD), the drawback to testing out a rear pannier only scenario with a new bike is that you may be convinced that the handling is good, esp if the bike is real step up from what you've used in the past. I assume the new bike has LowRider fork fittings. At the very least, borrow somebody's LowRider rack, put some small panniers on, load them with bricks or whatever and ride them. Go climb a hill so steep you have to stand. Do some fast traffic starts, out of the saddle.

Notice virtually every poster here who's tried the LowRider approach has adopted it. (4200 miles is a long ways to go with a 2nd best system.) Yea, it will cost you another $200 and add several pounds but, 4200 miles is plenty of time to appreciate a better ride. (And the weight? Being able to get out of the saddle when that weight matters is a real blessing!)
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Old 10-26-21, 08:41 PM
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My only extended 'tour' was ~1000mi and 40+ years ago. I carried a canvas duffle bag containing two changes of clothes (no other gear) that was stuffed into a plastic garbage bag, and bungied to the top of my Pletscher rear rack. Probably less than 10-pounds in the duffle at any time, and I only weighed 135-140 back then. I never had a problem with stability of either the bike or the load on the rack.

Later, around 1980, I got a pair of Cannondale Overland panniers and used those attached to that same cheap Pletscher rack, and sometimes used an additional trunk bag on top of the rack.... Only went on under 100-mile weekend excursions at that time of my life... Again, never had any stability issues.

BTW, I still have the same bike, and it still wears the same rack!


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Old 10-27-21, 04:06 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
D (HendersonD), the drawback to testing out a rear pannier only scenario with a new bike is that you may be convinced that the handling is good, esp if the bike is real step up from what you've used in the past. I assume the new bike has LowRider fork fittings. At the very least, borrow somebody's LowRider rack, put some small panniers on, load them with bricks or whatever and ride them. Go climb a hill so steep you have to stand. Do some fast traffic starts, out of the saddle.

Notice virtually every poster here who's tried the LowRider approach has adopted it. (4200 miles is a long ways to go with a 2nd best system.) Yea, it will cost you another $200 and add several pounds but, 4200 miles is plenty of time to appreciate a better ride. (And the weight? Being able to get out of the saddle when that weight matters is a real blessing!)
The new Trek 520 I purchased comes with a front and rear rack installed. The front does appear to have several different heights that panniers can be installed. I will give a front set of panniers a try. It does sound like having a front set would be the best way to balance out weight and give me some extra space for things like groceries. I think the key is to still try and limit my load to 30lbs. In other words, do not completely fill either the front or rear panniers just because I have the extra space. With this setup it sounds like the only thing that might go on the top of my rear rack is a tent and poles
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Old 10-27-21, 05:28 AM
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Some things to consider on a cross country trip are comfort things connected to the range of temps you'll encounter, so a few more clothing options that add a bit of space.
sleeping bag, camp mat, I take a compact camp pillow cuz I value a good night's sleep, these three take up space in one of my rear panniers, not heavy but volume.
As you say, tent on top of rack is easiest, keeps wet tent away from stuff in panniers (dew in morning common, so damp tent)
Small stove and cooking set a real bonus as mentioned.

which leads us to these questions....Are you 20 or 60?
what camping have you done
how minimalist/uncomfortable do you either know or THINK you'll be fine with

I take a full rain gear set, good rain jacket, pants and rain shoe covers, rain helmet cover, this takes up space, but totally worth it. You may not think it's necessary, or rather, think that it's necessary, unless you've spent miserable, wet cold days riding when you didn't have this stuff.....again leads back to your misery acceptance and or real life experiences or not.

so add in camping gear, rain gear and even a small cooking kit, and your rear pannier only setup starts to get filled to the brim.
You'd be surprised how even little clothing additions can make the difference for warmth, comfort. For me it is stuff like a light toque (a beanie), a fleece neck up buff type thing, some thin gloves, warm wool socks, wool blend arm and leg warmers.......
heck I even bring dish washing gloves for those cool, raining all day crap days, if not your hands freeze.

the most important thing is that you practice putting equipment lists together, packing and riding with it to see what works for you, and or your misery acceptance level.
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Old 10-27-21, 05:37 AM
  #31  
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Oh, especially on a long trip, it's also nice with more pannier room to not have to do a Tetris game every time you attempt to put everything away each morning.
Yes, we quickly get accustomed to where everything goes and how, but it is nice to have some leeway and to access stuff easier (main downside to pure bikepacking bags and much more limited volume).
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Old 10-27-21, 05:47 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Then there's the new bike packing style where the load is carried in a handlebar roll, a frame bag and a small bag behind the saddle, as typified here by these 1897 Buffalo Soldiers:


The original bike packers, love it!
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Old 10-27-21, 05:52 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
which leads us to these questions....Are you 20 or 60?
what camping have you done
how minimalist/uncomfortable do you either know or THINK you'll be fine with

I take a full rain gear set, good rain jacket, pants and rain shoe covers, rain helmet cover, this takes up space, but totally worth it. You may not think it's necessary, or rather, think that it's necessary, unless you've spent miserable, wet cold days riding when you didn't have this stuff.....again leads back to your misery acceptance and or real life experiences or not.

so add in camping gear, rain gear and even a small cooking kit, and your rear pannier only setup starts to get filled to the brim.
You'd be surprised how even little clothing additions can make the difference for warmth, comfort. For me it is stuff like a light toque (a beanie), a fleece neck up buff type thing, some thin gloves, warm wool socks, wool blend arm and leg warmers.......
heck I even bring dish washing gloves for those cool, raining all day crap days, if not your hands freeze.

the most important thing is that you practice putting equipment lists together, packing and riding with it to see what works for you, and or your misery acceptance level.
I am 62 and have done a lot of backpacking and tent camping over the years. I have done a good bit of riding but only one week long tour and it used hotels. As I mentioned in my first post I will be doing the Transamerica route next year starting in May, finishing in August and going east to west. One of the hardest things is deciding what clothing to bring since I will be traveling so many states and elevations. Having some extra room is handy. Leg and arm warmers, rain jacket/pants/shoe coverings, some type of warmer jacket or long sleeve layer, beanie are all under consideration.
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Old 10-27-21, 06:17 AM
  #34  
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One thing that comes into play when it comes to the various shimmys folks blame completely on the load is the rider themself. There is phenomenon called pilot-induced oscillations in aircraft and the effect also occurs with bicycles. The shimmy that folks talk about in bikes is the same thing. I can't help but notice that among the riders I know there are some that never seem to have a problem with this no matter the setup and some that seem to have a problem with every bike they own at some point.

I always intuitively felt that I could avoid the shimmys or suppress them when they started but didn't fully get why until a pilot friend observed that they were PIOs and likely have a large rider component in their cause.

The wikipedia page on PIOs says "Pilot-induced oscillations may be the fault of the aircraft, the pilot, or both. It is a common problem for inexperienced pilots, and especially student pilots, although it was also a problem for the top research test pilots on the NASA lifting body program". Knowing that there is a pilot responsible portion of the cause may allow some to short circuit the feedback loop that causes the shimmy.

I am not suggesting that folks not try to use a setup that is reasonably balanced and carries the load sensibly, but understanding that there is a rider component and how that happens might help avoid it. Reading a little about how PIOs occur may help avoid them.
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Old 10-27-21, 06:22 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
I am 62 and have done a lot of backpacking and tent camping over the years. I have done a good bit of riding but only one week long tour and it used hotels. As I mentioned in my first post I will be doing the Transamerica route next year starting in May, finishing in August and going east to west. One of the hardest things is deciding what clothing to bring since I will be traveling so many states and elevations. Having some extra room is handy. Leg and arm warmers, rain jacket/pants/shoe coverings, some type of warmer jacket or long sleeve layer, beanie are all under consideration.
clearly from your hiking experience, you know about using up all your layers effectively for varying temps and conditions, so choosing your clothes is important. I always have a fleece, and along with other tops, either jerseys (I generally take two, a warmer one and a good hot weather one that breathes better) or even a regular non cotton t shirt, I can easily layer my top for warmth. Rain jacket as windbreaker, and or a really light riding jacket for wind breaking, generally covers it all well for top of body, along with beanie and neckup for extra warmth---all this really does cover a wide range of temps, for me anyway, and Ilm a skinny dude just a bit younger than you.

for legs, I tend to bring tights that get used a lot for cooler temps, just pulled over my padded riding shorts. I also have my rain pants (light ones, North Face model) and on long trips I generally bring "off bike" civvie clothes, a light pair of quick dry hiking pants (handy of course for cool but especially if buggy as they are loose fitting, as opposed to tights that mosquitoes will still get through)
I also bring light shorts for off bike wearing, plus a light button down short sleeved shirt , to look sort of normal for non riding days. Plus it feels nice on a long trip to be out of bike clothes and its fairly light and easy to have non riding clothes. Emphasis always on light, which is easy to find, not even expensive necessarily.

so ya, this stuff does add up, but in the end, its up to you on your comfort level.
I personally also like to have some off bike shoes, just to be out of my biking shoes and it feels good, but some more space taken up......

in the end, its probably best if you can try out some short trips with x amount of stuff, and figure what you prefer. And of start out with stuff and mail stuff home when you realize you dont need x or y or z.....pretty typical
I assume you're a Yank?
Up here in The Great White North, May can still be pretty cold and wet, but it can also be hot too....but we are much higher north, so not the same probably.

have fun prepping your stuff, hopefully you live far down enough that you can actually ride this year with options of packing
cheers
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Old 10-27-21, 07:46 AM
  #36  
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I carry a guitar on the rear as well. No problems handling. For cold weather tours I have two front rollers for the extra volume.
Biggest hassle with four panniers is carrying them onto trains.


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Old 10-27-21, 08:07 AM
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Clothing, I always have a down vest. Packs really tiny, weighs almost nothing. Front open, adds little warmth, front zipped or snapped up and adds more. Under a windbreaker or rain jacket it adds a lot more. I keep my thin beany stocking cap in a vest pocket so I know where to look for it. The stocking cap seems to make a sleeping bag warmer too.

My rain gear is strapped on top of my Frontloader panniers, it is very handy there, release the buckle and it is ready to go. And front panniers, you can see if it is loose. The Frontloader panniers have a strap that goes over the top, that is the strap I use.

A gal I used to work with always used a sleeping bag liner. She said it kept her bag much cleaner when you are grungy. That was good advice, I have been using one for over a decade, it is easier to wash a sleeping bag liner than a sleeping bag.

***

I have used both top loading (load from the end) and side loading (much wider opening to load it) drybags on top of the rear rack. Advantages and disadvantages to both.

The top loading ones, when empty are easily rolled or folded to store it in a pannier when not needed. Side loading ones have a stiff piece on the opening to make it easier to roll it up and close it. That stiff piece makes it much less likely that you can fold it up to shove inside a pannier when not needed.

Previously I suggested to you a side loading one because it has a bigger opening and is easier to organize. But if you pack light and would usually not use the extra drybag, a top (or end) loading one that is easier to store in your pannier would make more sense. So, disregard my previous suggestion for a side loading one, for you a top loading (end loading) one probably makes more sense.

A few years ago I became a big fan of those bungee nets with hooks to attach drybags to a rack. But a nylon strap or two is a good thing to have along too.

***

There is one more option that you may consider instead of front panniers. The bike packing crowd has been using things that are essentially a cross between a rack and a water bottle cage, two of them that come to mind are Salsa Anything cages or Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cages that can be used to strap a small dry bag onto a fork. Once those two brands of cages came out, lots of other manufacturers jumped on the same band wagon to make similar devices. And Salsa has made several versions of them. The drybags that you can use with that option are roughly half the volume of the Ortlieb Frontroller panniers and much lighter. I have no photos to show as I do not use them. I think your bike will have the fittings on the front fork to use those cages if you so choose. The Salsa ones use three mounting bolts, the Blackburn uses two that are the same distance apart as standard water bottle cages.

You might consider those as another option if you are packing as light as I think you plan to.

***

You mentioned the tent you plan to carry. It looks like that is a trekking pole type of tent, you probably have either long trekking poles for it or long tent poles that will not fit in a pannier. You would either need a tent pole bag, or poles that fold up much shorter.

I went the shorter pole route. Tent in the photo below is the trekking pole tent I like for bike touring, the poles for it are ones I cut to fit in a front pannier. This is from my bike tour two years ago.




I bought a cheap long tent pole on Ebay, shipped from asia. I cut down the pole segments so that I could fold up my tent poles to be short enough to fit in a pannier. It took some quality time with a spreadsheet to calculate the exact lengths I needed for the pole segments and a good hack saw, file and vice to do the cutting. I probably spent a lot more time calculating lengths than I did actual cutting and fitting. Also bought some trekking pole rubber feet from asia, used them on each end.

I do not know if any camping stores these days will custom cut a tent pole or not. But I did not look for any, I am an engineer by training and have lots of tools, so it was easy for me to make the shorter poles myself. And I do not know if any of the tent makers that are making poles that substitute for trekking poles wll cut ones that fold shorter for a pannier.
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Old 10-27-21, 08:14 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I met a German gal at a hostel, we were both going the same direction so we traveled together for a few days. She had a heavy load on her rear rack but the bike seemed to handle ok with it. Photo below.
That front fender line is like a car crash- I cant look away! It may be jacked up because it was in a car crash, actually. It looks to be dragging on the tire even.
I dig the metal handlebar basket- its quite the juxtaposition from the large waterproof panniers.
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Old 10-27-21, 08:18 AM
  #39  
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If you have the clothes you need for a wide range of temperatures, and are packing light, you have only a few of each item at most. Thus, frequent laundry for a small number of items.

If you plan to do much sink laundry, a flat drain stopper that is really flexible is great to have along. Campgrounds rarely have drain stoppers in the sinks. Mine is silicone and is flexible enough to get a good seal. They no longer sell them where I bought mine, thus I have no suggestion on where to buy.

My clothesline is thin cord, maybe 3/32 inch or so, 25 feet long, 10 clothespins on it. Packs down very small and weighs almost nothing.

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Old 10-27-21, 08:35 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
The new Trek 520 I purchased comes with a front and rear rack installed. The front does appear to have several different heights that panniers can be installed. I will give a front set of panniers a try. It does sound like having a front set would be the best way to balance out weight and give me some extra space for things like groceries. I think the key is to still try and limit my load to 30lbs. In other words, do not completely fill either the front or rear panniers just because I have the extra space. With this setup it sounds like the only thing that might go on the top of my rear rack is a tent and poles
I do my farmer's market shopping with four small Ortleibs. Apples, pears and hard veggies go in front. So do any jars. Blocks of cheese. Heavy items. Delicate fruit and greens go in back. (The front panniers are much harder on delicate stuff, much like they are much harder on rims.) I roll the tops down all the way on partial loads. If not enough to be able to roll down securely, I put a jacket or the like over the goods, then roll. If I am going to buy light or if I'm taking my fix gear, it's front panniers only. (It's 9 miles and 500' of climbing home. A poor riding bike isn't fun.)

I don't know if I"ll ever tour again, esp with outdoor camping. (Too many old injuries to get comfortable sleeping.) But if I do (or if I did 30 years ago with a younger body!), I'd simply use my four small panniers and use the rear rack for tent and sleeping bag. (And pay REI to waterproof my old "2-man 3 season" tent - one of the early "light" tents, ~ 4 pounds. Brought it out after years of dis-use, last time out being in a cow pasture!. Scrubbed it clean, rode Cycle Oregon with it and discovered - yeah! this tent is wonderful! and it leaks like a sieve! Rainiest Cycle Oregon in anybody's memory. Memories of sailing the Atlantic wet.)

Oh, I'd also bring tops and bottoms of both lightweight and medium or heavy weight thermal underwear. They take up little space, are wonderful to sleep in and if the weather turns, could be both a blessing and a lifesaver. And if it doesn't, they make really good gear padding and silencers.
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Old 10-27-21, 04:05 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I could not find a copy of the weight distribution trials that Jim Blackburn conducted when he was promoting his low rider racks, but an author and tech editor of a prominent bike magazine sent me photos of the publication that he referrer to in an article he wrote. Blackburn did not test the front heavy weight distribution.
So I wasn't the only one to have trouble finding that article, since that was the first thing I thought of when clicking on this thread. They say the Internet never forgets anything, but when websites stop being hosted or things are made deliberately harder to find, it may as well have!

I haven't done true loaded touring or bikepacking, so the following can be discounted as much as anyone pleases. But, I've done enough rides with heavy rear-only loads, or with a bulky handlebar bag mounted high on the bars themselves, to prefer front loads as low as possible. A few of the riders in my club who look like they're always on tour have come to prefer loading the front wheel, as well.
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Old 10-27-21, 10:21 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
I did a 420 mile tour with hotels and just used a pair or Ortlieb Back Roller Classic bags and it worked well
Next year I will be doing the 4,200 mile Transamerica route on a new Trek 520 using a combination of camping and hotels. When camping I will not be preparing hot food so I will not be packing a stove, titanium pot, or fuel
For my coast to coast tour I am thinking about using:
  • Pair of Ortlieb back roller classics which I already own
  • An Ortlieb Ultimate Six handlebar bag
  • Some type of waterproof bag I can put on the top of my rear rack on the Trek 520
I am trying to carry a minimal load to keep things simple and light with the goal of carrying about 30 pounds of gear/clothing/food in the 4 bags.

Any thoughts on this setup and whether I can get by without using front panniers?
I did my first serious tour with rear only and I despised it. The handling of the bike was affected and every time I moved the bike over curbs, steps, etc, the front wheel would pop up and the bike would fall over.
I prefer the balanced load
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Old 10-28-21, 07:28 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
I am 62 and have done a lot of backpacking and tent camping over the years. I have done a good bit of riding but only one week long tour and it used hotels. As I mentioned in my first post I will be doing the Transamerica route next year starting in May, finishing in August and going east to west. One of the hardest things is deciding what clothing to bring since I will be traveling so many states and elevations. Having some extra room is handy. Leg and arm warmers, rain jacket/pants/shoe coverings, some type of warmer jacket or long sleeve layer, beanie are all under consideration.
It sounds like you have a good plan and can be flexible. It's easy to ship things home or get items drop-shipped to you along the way. There's General Delivery at many small POs, and many hotels and bike shops will hold packages for you if you're a customer.

I'm a veteran backpacker (Triple Crowner) and have crossed the US twice by bike. My current three-season backpacking base load is in the eight pound range, about twice that on the bike. Two panniers is a no-brainer with that load--it can go anywhere and you barely notice it. If you're estimating 30 pounds, I'd probably also want four panniers to start with. If that bothers you, start paring down.
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Old 10-28-21, 08:12 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
It sounds like you have a good plan and can be flexible. It's easy to ship things home or get items drop-shipped to you along the way. There's General Delivery at many small POs, and many hotels and bike shops will hold packages for you if you're a customer.

I'm a veteran backpacker (Triple Crowner) and have crossed the US twice by bike. My current three-season backpacking base load is in the eight pound range, about twice that on the bike. Two panniers is a no-brainer with that load--it can go anywhere and you barely notice it. If you're estimating 30 pounds, I'd probably also want four panniers to start with. If that bothers you, start paring down.
all great points.
One of the interesting things with bike touring is that yes, less weight means easier climbing and slightly faster overall speed, but it really does depend on how you look at how you approach a tour. It does come down to a balance of comfort as well as cost of equipment, and what priority you have in the details of these. Also, up to a certain amount of weight, a bit more weight on the bike really doesnt make a big difference, and so taking X clothing, or X whatever, can easily be outweighed by being comfortable, either in camp or riding in the rain for hours on a cool day.
I personally have chosen lighter panniers and racks, just to try to keep on top of things weight wise. There are some panniers and racks that are a lot lot heavier than others, so yes, at a certain point its good to keep weights into consideration when buying stuff.
My Tubus Tara front rack weighs about 500, 550g and many other front racks like the Trek or Surly are just physically much bigger (but have upper flat platform part, that I dont use) and are heavier. I can't find the weight of the Trek rack, they are coy it seems about its weight.
Same with panniers, some are a lot heavier than others, so choice of these items will save pounds here and there, just of course will a tent, sleeping bag etc, but then we get back into the price budget thing......

anyway, maybe you will see that two rear panniers is enough, but do at least note weights of items also, while trying to figure out what works for you comfort wise.
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Old 10-28-21, 11:42 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you have the clothes you need for a wide range of temperatures, and are packing light, you have only a few of each item at most. Thus, frequent laundry for a small number of items.

If you plan to do much sink laundry, a flat drain stopper that is really flexible is great to have along. Campgrounds rarely have drain stoppers in the sinks. Mine is silicone and is flexible enough to get a good seal. They no longer sell them where I bought mine, thus I have no suggestion on where to buy.

My clothesline is thin cord, maybe 3/32 inch or so, 25 feet long, 10 clothespins on it. Packs down very small and weighs almost nothing.

A rubber or silicone drain stopper pad can usually be bought at a dollar store. That's where I get mine here in South Central Ontario, Canada.

Cheers

Cheers
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Old 10-28-21, 11:51 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Oh, especially on a long trip, it's also nice with more pannier room to not have to do a Tetris game every time you attempt to put everything away each morning.
Yes, we quickly get accustomed to where everything goes and how, but it is nice to have some leeway and to access stuff easier (main downside to pure bikepacking bags and much more limited volume).
This is especially true if you have to set up or break camp during inclement weather. I've taken to using a tarp over my tent when it looks like it might rain. With the tarp I can pack my panniers and fold up my tent whilst keeping everything and myself dry.

On a long trip comfort off the bike is very important as is the ability to have a good restful sleep.

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Old 10-28-21, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
The new Trek 520 I purchased comes with a front and rear rack installed. The front does appear to have several different heights that panniers can be installed. I will give a front set of panniers a try. It does sound like having a front set would be the best way to balance out weight and give me some extra space for things like groceries. I think the key is to still try and limit my load to 30lbs. In other words, do not completely fill either the front or rear panniers just because I have the extra space. With this setup it sounds like the only thing that might go on the top of my rear rack is a tent and poles
how do you like your 520? How many miles have you put on her so far?

Im looking at buying either a 2022 Domane 2 Disk or the Grando (520 with GRX components and 40mm tires). I have ridden both bikes, and each has their own pros and cons. This bike will be my second bike and be used for pleasure distance rides as well as some occasional multi-day bikepacking trips.
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Old 10-28-21, 02:23 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
A rubber or silicone drain stopper pad can usually be bought at a dollar store. That's where I get mine here in South Central Ontario, Canada.
I don't bother carrying one. A balled up sock or plastic bag serves well enough for me. Even if you prefer a real stopper it is something to remember when yours is misplaced.
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Old 10-28-21, 04:56 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
This is especially true if you have to set up or break camp during inclement weather. I've taken to using a tarp over my tent when it looks like it might rain. With the tarp I can pack my panniers and fold up my tent whilst keeping everything and myself dry.
...
I quit using a one person tent for bike touring about 8 years ago. Now use a two person tent. That way I have enough room in the tent that I can pack up everything except my last pannier while I am still inside the tent. My tent then goes in that last pannier. My front right pannier that holds the tent, everything else that goes in that pannier is something that can get wet without any concerns.
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Old 11-01-21, 11:52 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
I did a 420 mile tour with hotels and just used a pair or Ortlieb Back Roller Classic bags and it worked well
Next year I will be doing the 4,200 mile Transamerica route on a new Trek 520 using a combination of camping and hotels. When camping I will not be preparing hot food so I will not be packing a stove, titanium pot, or fuel
For my coast to coast tour I am thinking about using:
  • Pair of Ortlieb back roller classics which I already own
  • An Ortlieb Ultimate Six handlebar bag
  • Some type of waterproof bag I can put on the top of my rear rack on the Trek 520
I am trying to carry a minimal load to keep things simple and light with the goal of carrying about 30 pounds of gear/clothing/food in the 4 bags.

Any thoughts on this setup and whether I can get by without using front panniers?
Wouldn't you want to use front panier to help balance the load? I'm thinking if you have all the loads in the back and you are trying to ride up hill, your front wheel will want to get off the ground.
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