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Old 06-30-10, 02:58 PM   #1
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Equipment rentals?

I know of a few camping goods stores that will rent out tents, sleeping bags, etc for a week. Has anyone heard of a place that will rent out panniers and other bicycle-specific gear? I'm planning my first tour (the GAP/C&O combo -- nothing too flashy); I'd like to see if I can rent good panniers and try them out before buying a set of my own.
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Old 06-30-10, 05:30 PM   #2
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You could always buy cheap panniers like sunlite or Transit for probably close to what it would theoretically cost to rent them. Cheap panniers make great commuter bags once you upgrade to quality bags as well so its not really a lost investment. I also see a lot of used or cheap new panniers for sale on ebay. I think I got my first set of nashbar "touring" panniers for under $20 from

What other bike specific gear do you want to rent that can not be borrow or rented from a camping store? You can make your own pop-can stove and use pots and pans you already have at home.

How about kitty litter bucket panniers? Maybe set you back about $15!
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Old 06-30-10, 06:29 PM   #3
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If the cost of renting "other gear" is the same as renting tents and sleeping bags for a week, it is worth it to just buy. I was able to pick up a decent tent for not much more than REI charges for a weeks rental. I would suspect panniers and racks and such are the same.

About the only way rentals make any sense is if you are traveling somewhere and don't want to carry the gear with you.

I have a pair of Sunlites that served me well on a couple of trips. Add a small backback strapped to the rear rack and it is plenty space for a 2 week credit card tour. Total cost, around $75 including rack. I have since upgraded to Ortliebs but would still use the Sunlites for short trips.
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Old 06-30-10, 06:32 PM   #4
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These are great. I have two sets. They hook together and I used them as carry on bags when flying.

Tent, I have one of these. Good buy
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Old 06-30-10, 07:43 PM   #5
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For what it's worth, I have a set of Transit (Performance) bags that is adequate. But they were around $80 for a pair of rears. For essentially no more money per axle I bought a set of Ortlieb Backroller Classics and Front Roller Classics (choice of all colors) for under $200 delivered from PBK. For those who don't know, that is Pro Bike Kit out of England. Don't know how they do it but everything I've ever bought from them was MILES cheaper than anywhere else on the net. The Backrollers are $108 and the Frontrollers are $88 right now, no shipping charge to the States. (They have the other styles of bags too -- I just wanted rollers.) The Fronts are about comparable size-wise to the Transit Pros, and the price is about the same.

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Old 06-30-10, 07:51 PM   #6
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Many virgin tourers seem quite willing to buy the best upfront, without even knowing if touring will be their 'thing.' Nothing wrong with that if you can afford it. Can be quickly sold if cycle touring doesn't turn out to be nirvana.

Your approach seems sensible and practical. Do your first tour with minimal investment. 10 Wheels ideas are good. Learn the ropes and get a handle on your personal preferences/needs. If touring looks like it'll be something you'll want to continue, you'll be an educated shopper for bigger/better/lighter/more durable.

Actually you can make do on a short tour with a rear rack, some stuff sacks, and bungie cords. All you'll need can be bungied to the bike somewhere. Not as elegant or convenient as standard panniers, but can be made to work. Especially in the summer.

Rule of thumb: If your gear weighs more than about 35 pounds, you may be packing too much. That's excluding the weight of panniers and water.
The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me
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Old 06-30-10, 08:00 PM   #7
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Check out a lot of different panniers, and then trust your judgment about which to buy. After you have inspected five or ten different brands and models, you will probably have a good idea of what is important to you. Choosing the right set of panniers requires a balance between capacity, easy of loading, ease of mounting, durability, waterproofness, and more. "Perfect" panniers do not exist. But it is not hard to find panniers that will serve their intended purpose.

I place a premium on durability and repairability. I resent paying good money for junk. A few years ago, I bought a pair of Cannondale panniers that fell apart after two or three seasons. They are beyond the point of repair. Meanwhile, the Cannondale panniers I bought in 1989, made of heavy Cordura nylon, have needed a few stitches and patches , but are still going strong in their 21st season of use!
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