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Can I get by without front panniers?

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Can I get by without front panniers?

Old 11-01-21, 05:42 PM
  #51  
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I had a similar set up, two panniers in the rear and an Ortlieb medium handlebar bag. On my last two long rides, CrossVermont & XNHAT, C&O and GAP, I broke spokes on the rear wheel. This is on a rigid mountainbike and I weigh 210 lbs. The C&O broke the wheel bouncing down a single track detour around the Paw Paw tunnel. Granted the wheels may have been trued incorrectly. But the new bike is going to be set up with front panniers to distribute the weight evenly. I also found the front end very light with most of the weight in the rear.
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Old 11-01-21, 07:05 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by Dvdvija View Post
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.
you've not toured before have you?
For this to happen, you'd have to be starting on a 20% + slope, aimed straight up,and not leaning forward when standing.
I've toured rear load only in Latin America with very steep sections, and it's easy enough not to have this happen.

I guess I can see how you could imagine this happening, but it's fairly easy to avoid this, and it's very rare to encounter such steep hills, and it's easy to start at an angle or almost sideways on road.
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Old 11-02-21, 07:13 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
you've not toured before have you?
For this [front wheel lift] to happen, you'd have to be starting on a 20% + slope, aimed straight up,and not leaning forward when standing.
I've toured rear load only in Latin America with very steep sections, and it's easy enough not to have this happen.

I guess I can see how you could imagine this happening, but it's fairly easy to avoid this, and it's very rare to encounter such steep hills, and it's easy to start at an angle or almost sideways on road.
Front wheel lift isn't that uncommon; I've done it unloaded on grades less than half of that while just riding along (but not being too careful).

Having said that, there's not much of a lever arm from the rear axle to the center of gravity of most loaded panniers, so your overall center of gravity isn't going to shift very far back when you load up. And since your body weight distribution dominates the c.g. of the bicycle, leaning a bit forward can compensate for the load and prevent wheel lift.

Bottom line: front wheel lift is disconcerting, but it's not that big a deal.
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Old 11-02-21, 02:20 PM
  #54  
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The one time that really stands out in my memory for wheel lifting was riding up Burke mt in Vermont. When I stopped for a breather, it was very very challenging getting going again, you have to start horizontally and quickly on the narrow road get turned and pedaling while leaning forward big time.
I was on a mtb with 22/28 low gear. Unloaded, maybe a small pannier with a lunch and stuff.

found this blurb about it:

: Extreme
scenery: 4
traffic: 5
road: 3
The average grade of 12.7% for 3.3 miles makes this the steepest top 100 climb in the USA. BUT, those stats do not represent the true torture of this climb!! After turning onto the toll road for the last 2.5 miles it averages OVER 14% [I had 14.27%] to the top . That includes a “wall” about 1.2miles long at 22% followed by 16%”recovery” slopes. Burke is hands down the toughest pure climb that I’ve ever done. Having climbed Mt Washington and Ascutney(the previous day)several times, along with Equinox, Lincoln Gap East, Mt Evans Colorado, Galibier and Mt Ventoux France, and several other top 100 climbs, that should give u some context/credibility to my statement. Bring your A+ game for this climb.
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Old 11-02-21, 03:12 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
The one time that really stands out in my memory for wheel lifting was riding up Burke mt in Vermont. ...
The average grade of 12.7% for 3.3 miles makes this the steepest top 100 climb in the USA. BUT, those stats do not represent the true torture of this climb!! After turning onto the toll road for the last 2.5 miles it averages OVER 14% [I had 14.27%] to the top . That includes a “wall” about 1.2miles long at 22% followed by 16%”recovery” slopes. ....
I can only think of one time that I have had a front wheel lift off the ground when I was on a bike. A landscaper had put in a very steep section that was about 4 or 5 feet high on the lawn at a community park near a picnic area, and I pushed hard in a low gear to climb those few steep feet.

Otherwise when a hill is that steep, I am off the bike walking it up the hill. Like the 13 percent grade one below.




And as PDLamb noted, your body weight location is a big part of the center of gravity, on a touring bike we usually have longer chainstays so that puts your body further in front of the rear tire patch on the ground.
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Old 11-03-21, 01:22 AM
  #56  
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You can get by without front panniers, but the bike will handle better if you spread the load out front and rear. Also, it lessens potential damage to rear rim when crossing railroad tracks with all the weight on the rear (happened to me once, 40-years ago).
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Old 11-03-21, 04:41 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
all great points.
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.
The Trek 520 back rack is 800g. I cannot find the weight of the front rack but I am guessing 600g. These come with the bike so I will not be replacing them
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Old 11-03-21, 04:48 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by M Rose View Post
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.
I do not have the 520 yet. A local bike shop said 2 months ago they were expecting it to arrive at the end of October. Hoping to get a call this week to pick it up. Still hoping to get some outdoor riding in over the next two months (I live in upstate NY and it is getting colder) just to get some time on the bike. I also have a trainer in my basement I can use with the 520. Not as good as outdoors but it does keep my rear end in the seat
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Old 11-03-21, 05:31 AM
  #59  
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Re racks coming with bike so not changing, I get it. If and when looking at front panniers, do note the weights,and waterproof generally are so much more convenient never worrying about wet contents.

re a new bike, ride the thing as much as you can before trip, and this is important, ride it loaded and get the spoke tensions checked a good while before the trip, as they always loosen up a bit with loaded riding, and getting an experienced mechanic to do this will greatly help reduce having any spoke issues during trip.
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Old 11-03-21, 05:46 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
you've not toured before have you?
For this to happen, you'd have to be starting on a 20% + slope, aimed straight up,and not leaning forward when standing.
I've toured rear load only in Latin America with very steep sections, and it's easy enough not to have this happen.

I guess I can see how you could imagine this happening, but it's fairly easy to avoid this, and it's very rare to encounter such steep hills, and it's easy to start at an angle or almost sideways on road.
You must be very short.

weight distribution for a 193 cm rider can result in wheel lift......UNLOADED. Rear loaded panniers w/o a front can be a PITA
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Old 11-03-21, 11:37 AM
  #61  
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Ghost. I'm over 5,10 and while I agree that I prefer 4 panniers, it's really not that hard to just lean forward or stand and lean forward.
for me anyway and like I said, I've toured rear loaf only on steep roads.
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Old 11-03-21, 12:02 PM
  #62  
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Maybe a few people here with a short chainstay bike can lift the front wheel when their bike is loaded for touring.

But has anyone actually had a problem with excessive front wheel lift? I doubt it.

I can see where I might have that problem if I tried to tour on my folding bike with short chainstays and short wheelbase if I tried to pedal up a steep driveway. Or pedal up one of the steep residential streets in Duluth, Minnesota. But that would be the exception and not the rule.
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Old 11-03-21, 04:23 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
I do not have the 520 yet. A local bike shop said 2 months ago they were expecting it to arrive at the end of October. Hoping to get a call this week to pick it up. Still hoping to get some outdoor riding in over the next two months (I live in upstate NY and it is getting colder) just to get some time on the bike. I also have a trainer in my basement I can use with the 520. Not as good as outdoors but it does keep my rear end in the seat
I chose the 520 Grando, just put the down payment on it yesterday… I should have it payed off by the middle of December.
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Old 11-04-21, 01:36 PM
  #64  
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Well, maybe not so relevant, but a few years ago while climbing the pyrenees in winter, a very, very hard headwind, lifted my (unloaded except for a handlebar bag) front wheel straight up and threw me off the road and almost over the edge of what would have been almost certainly a fatal fall. I walked after that.

Once in France on the flats the wind was too strong to stand and hold my bike upright, let alone ride.
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Old 11-04-21, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
...
Once in France on the flats the wind was too strong to stand and hold my bike upright, let alone ride.
A windy day, I decided not to travel. Rode my bike about 2 km to a bakery, coasted with the tailwind all the way. Walked the bike back, but had to use the brakes to hold the bike in place when the wind gusted, as otherwise it would have pushed me backwards.

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Old 11-04-21, 03:38 PM
  #66  
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My experience is that you need to add some non-zero share of your load to the front. It doesn't matter if it's front panniers or handlebar bag or a front rack-top bag or load. Just not 100% on the rear as this affects handling negatively, especially at slow speeds or when trying to push the bike beside you while walking - a bike heavily loaded only over the rear axle may want to fall or flip over suddenly.

So if you already have a handlebar bag, carry some of your heavier but smaller items in it to balance the bike better. It doesn't need to be much, just a fraction of whatever is carried on the rear.
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Old 11-11-21, 06:59 PM
  #67  
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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?
You can get by with whatever enables you to pack 30 lbs. If it was me I’d put front roller classics on the front, Revelate Designs Tangle bag under top tube, medium drybag on top of rear rack. I don’t like big handlebar bags cantilevered off the handlebars.
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Old 11-12-21, 07:43 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
You can get by with whatever enables you to pack 30 lbs. If it was me I’d put front roller classics on the front, Revelate Designs Tangle bag under top tube, medium drybag on top of rear rack. I don’t like big handlebar bags cantilevered off the handlebars.
That sounds like a very good approach if it is the right amount of volume for the load carried. I used a similar sized set of front panniers with a tent on top of the rear rack on one tour, but didn't need a frame bag or more space of a dry bag on the rear rack for my gear. If I had needed more volume those two bags would have been a good way to add it. I think my gear not counting food or water was 22 pounds on that trip. The setup worked very well and I found the handling to be very good.

My only issue is that the Tangle bag is fairly expensive for not a whole lot of capacity. With the setup you suggest I don't see it as being all that likely to be necessary. Between the front rollers and the bag on top of the rear rack there is a lot of capacity. A little bag that is for items that are easily at hand may be required, but that could be a tank bag or a little handlebar bag. If you really need a lot of capacity maybe four panniers is the way to go (or better yet start trimming the packing list).

The rear rack has the advantage of being able to be loaded up with extra stuff when needed. If you need to haul food and water for 24 or 48 hours between restock, or just hauly groceries, or maybe even haul a load of firewood the rear rack can come in handy.

Of course a Carradice or other saddle bag including a bikepacking style bag could be an alternate asnwer to the rear rack and dry bag.
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Old 11-12-21, 08:46 AM
  #69  
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I’ve never tried them, but top-tube bags and frame bags would surely get in the way if you cycle ”knees in”, neh?
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Old 11-12-21, 03:29 PM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by imi View Post
I’ve never tried them, but top-tube bags and frame bags would surely get in the way if you cycle ”knees in”, neh?
Maybe. It probably depends on a number of factors. Those bags don't look much (any?) wider than a water bottle and most of us are used to having water bottles in the main triangle. In general I think they are pretty skinny. REI lists the medium size Tangle bag as 19.5 x 4.75 x 2.75 inches. Pretty sure the 2.75" is the width. It doesn't seem likely to be a big problem. Also I suspect even if it initially gets in the way a little it might be something that we can adjust to.

I have't used them either though, so just guessing. I know that I tend to be fairly tolerant about stuff and think I'd get used to it if it was iniitially an issue. Could be wrong though.
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Old 11-12-21, 04:15 PM
  #71  
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I have occasionally used a frame bag about 3 inches thick. But I think the only people that would have trouble are those that think they are riding in a time trial and are trying to get more aero than the rest of us.

Total volume of those frame bags is not that high unless you get one that fills the whole triangle, and then you lose your water bottles so you then need some of that frame bag volume for water.

I am guessing my frame bag is about 5 liters, and I can keep a one liter bottle inside the triangle next to the bag. The bottle in the photo is not a full liter but I can put a full liter in that spot.

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Old 11-13-21, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have occasionally used a frame bag about 3 inches thick. But I think the only people that would have trouble are those that think they are riding in a time trial and are trying to get more aero than the rest of us.

Total volume of those frame bags is not that high unless you get one that fills the whole triangle, and then you lose your water bottles so you then need some of that frame bag volume for water.

I am guessing my frame bag is about 5 liters, and I can keep a one liter bottle inside the triangle next to the bag. The bottle in the photo is not a full liter but I can put a full liter in that spot.
Thanks for the clarification. That is about what I thought, but I didn't have the personal experience to verify.

Given the smallish volume I never was too tempted with bags in the main triangle. I don't use a very large frame and like two large bottles in the main triange. So any bag in the triangle wouldn't hold much and would crowd the bottles. Add the fact that the bags tend to be expensive and that I never really was looking for that little bit of extra capacity and there was never a good reason for me to want one.

I can see why they might be a good fit for others who were looking for every bit of possible space without using racks or had some other reason to want to use that space.

I have considered a little tank bag for small items on top of the top tube.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:16 AM
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Got the COVID booster. Made it through the following day of 101º fever (YMMV) watching 'touring across America' YouTube videos. FWIW, rider after rider with a handlebar bag and rear panniers. Mildly surprised two decades into the third millennium, but IIWII. If the folks out there doing it only knew what the folks on the internet talking about it know, ya know?
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Old 11-13-21, 08:32 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
..... FWIW, rider after rider with a handlebar bag and rear panniers. Mildly surprised two decades into the third millennium, but IIWII. If the folks out there doing it only knew what the folks on the internet talking about it know, ya know?
There's no right or wrong here, and clearly the tents, camp mats and even sleeping bags are smaller and lighter.
Simply comes down to personal preferences of a certain amount of comfort, some of that coming from / affected from previous experience bike touring in various temperatures etc, and of course, budget.

the person asking this question is going to have to figure this stuff on their own. Wez just givin sum insite tis all.
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Old 11-13-21, 08:59 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Thanks for the clarification. That is about what I thought, but I didn't have the personal experience to verify.

Given the smallish volume I never was too tempted with bags in the main triangle. I don't use a very large frame and like two large bottles in the main triange. So any bag in the triangle wouldn't hold much and would crowd the bottles. Add the fact that the bags tend to be expensive and that I never really was looking for that little bit of extra capacity and there was never a good reason for me to want one.

I can see why they might be a good fit for others who were looking for every bit of possible space without using racks or had some other reason to want to use that space.

I have considered a little tank bag for small items on top of the top tube.
That is pretty much my thinking. The only reason I chose to buy that frame bag was:
(1) I was going to do a week long mountain biking trip, I do not have a mountain bike but my expedition touring bike was designed to work with a 100mm suspension fork so that was the bike I was going to use. And,
(2) The bag on Amazon was less than $20, so if it did not work out well, it was only a small loss. It was not designed for attachment to a headtube, but the way I used it, I needed to add a strap around the headtube.

The bike packers that I have seen in some campgrounds were really pushing the limits for what they could carry on a bike with no racks. For them, even a couple more liter capacity with an expensive bag appeared to be cost effective in their opinions.

I have not used that frame bag in the past five years. But still have it. I usually carry a dry bag on top of the rear rack that has a lot of capacity but can also be shrunk down if less than half full. With that drybag, a frame bag became less useful for regular touring the way I do it. Unlike you, a lot of my tours involve long stretches without reliable food availability so I need to have more volume capacity for food on parts of the trip.
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