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Front panniers, what is your opinion?

Old 11-10-03, 07:00 PM
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Front panniers, what is your opinion?

The recent discussion about panniers vs trailers brought up a question I have. Is it helpfull to have front panniers as far as handling? I can pack all the gear I need in my rear panniers, but I have heard that adding front panniers helps on stability. What are your thoughts?

MBD
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Old 11-11-03, 04:18 AM
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I have done one to two week tours with just rear panniers and had no problems with handling and stability while on the bike.Off the bike it can be somewhat unstable but you quickly learn to compensate to avoid it falling over. I suggest you just stick to rear because if you add the front you will just have a tendancy to add unnecessary weight.
However if you overload the rear weight wise it will tend to cause more mechanical problems so if you start noticing more flats/broken spokes etc. I would either lighten the weight or add front panniers.

Last edited by RWTD; 11-11-03 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 11-11-03, 06:49 AM
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I have done week long tours with just the rears and also with 4 full panniers, if you can fit everything in just the rears without having to haul anvils around, you'll be fine with that. Handling the bike when off it is a bit more awkward with just two heavy rears but not really bad in anyway, just different. When I'm doing camping and perhaps some hiking, I usually need the front panniers for the space...

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Old 11-11-03, 04:59 PM
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The most important thing to remeber when using front panniers is this:Make sure everything is tight and secure in them!! Any object sliding around in your front panniers is going to make the bike a handful to handle.

I used to commute to college in a bike with lowrider front panniers. I always put my textbooks in them, and put the larger, lighter things in the rear. Weight distribution was just about perfect that way.
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Old 11-11-03, 09:10 PM
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Thanks guys very helpfull info.

MBD
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Old 11-12-03, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mntbikedude
The recent discussion about panniers vs trailers brought up a question I have. Is it helpfull to have front panniers as far as handling? I can pack all the gear I need in my rear panniers, but I have heard that adding front panniers helps on stability. What are your thoughts?

MBD
I guess front panniers add to that tank feeling when the bike's fully loaded. Maybe they help with stability. I don't know.

On the other hand, I don't take both my hands off of the bars with front panniers, because I'm never sure the balance is good enough.

I do like the idea of taking some weight off of the rear, though. That rear wheel's already holding most of *my* substantial weight up; wear and tear is probably reduced by placing some weight on the front.

But ultimately I like front panniers not because of handling issues, but because of the room, and because they help a lot with organization. Instead of cramming everything into the dark corners of the large bags in back, I've got things in easy-to-get places in the front and the rear.

On a long trip, I do like the room, too. My cooking stuff, raingear, lock, and little doo-dads go up there.

I also use the front panniers all the time on my touring bike to do errands, to go watch birds, go into the woods, or whatever. They're large enough odds and ends, like binoculars, some items from the store, my lock, my raingear, things like that. But I don't have to carry these enormous backpacks.

Another thing, now that I'm thinking of it: front panniers make the bike easier to *carry*. You can pick the bike up from the seat tube and carry it up the stairs more easily than with all of your stuff on the rear alone.
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Old 11-13-03, 10:04 PM
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A lot depends on how stable or twitchy the bike is.

Generally speaking, I would say that for a 2-3 days tour using motels and the like, rear panniers are enough. However, if you plan a long tour (and therefore need clothing for all conditions) and/or do unsupported touring with camping, then you definitely need four panniers.

Loaded touring with everything behind you can be done, but the steering is overly nervous and the bike may tend to wobble at moderate to high speed. By contrast, weight in front tend to stabilise the bike. I even found at one time last Summer that too much weight in front can make the bike unsteerable in gravel, because the bike simply wants to go straight ahead !


regards,
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Old 11-29-03, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mntbikedude
Is it helpfull to have front panniers as far as handling?
MBD

It helps a lot...
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Old 11-30-03, 03:40 PM
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I loaned out my front panniers to someone .So when I took my 6 day tour this summer I had just a rear set of panniers with all my camping gear on top. It wasn't a handful to ride. but walking the bike was tough. Next year I 'll make sure I have my front panniers, The bike is much better balanced with the camping gear in front panniers.
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Old 12-14-03, 08:23 AM
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I toured Central Europe with just rear panniers and a bag strapped on the rack and it was fine. The problem with having more room for me is I end up lugging around more stuff. If everything you need fits just in the rear panniers then I woukld leave the front panniers at home.
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Old 12-16-03, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by fujitive
I toured Central Europe with just rear panniers and a bag strapped on the rack and it was fine. The problem with having more room for me is I end up lugging around more stuff. If everything you need fits just in the rear panniers then I woukld leave the front panniers at home.
This makes the most sense to me. On my Ore trip I took just rear panniers and a small bag under the seat on on the handlebars. And about 3 days into it I stopped at one of those shipping companies and shipped home the stuff I didn't really need. I was blown away by how much I didn't need.

And that is part of what I enjoyed about the bike tour was simplifing my life to such a basic level. Was indeed a liberating feeling. Wish I had the guts to do that in my none bike life.

MBD
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