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Trailer users - how do you find drag?

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Trailer users - how do you find drag?

Old 02-13-11, 02:02 PM
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Gotte
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Trailer users - how do you find drag?

I've always been tempted by a trailer, but the main thing that's put me off is the resistance of the extra wheel. I do have a trailer, but it's one of those kid's ones with two wheels. I've used it sometimes to transport stuff other than kids, and have found that the resistance is a pain, but then again, it's a heavy trailer with two wheels and one of those sprung attachers, so I don;t feel it's fair to compare with one of the single wheel affairs.
How do you find the resistance, is it very noticable, or marginal. Do you feel if there is noticable resistance, it offsets the heavier feel of a bike fully laden with panniers?
Also, have you had any experiences where you rate having a trailer has been beneficial to panniers?

Thanks
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Old 02-13-11, 02:30 PM
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I have 2, 2 wheel trailers, there is some surge transmitted thru the elastomer used in the hitch,
but Its been OK,
the 2, a Burly Co Op made flatbed, and a Carry Freedom City, which folds flat for multi-modal transport.

I had a uber compact travel mandolin, on my long Irish cycle Pub Crawl,
tone came up a bit short.. packed well on the rack top , though.
with the trailer I could bring the proper one.. , even if I was riding my Brompton.
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Old 02-13-11, 03:19 PM
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I am not a fan of using a trailer, but drag of the wheel is pretty minimal. I prefer panniers because I find I can get the load down better that way and I don't want to deal with shipping a trailer.

That said even the weight issue can swing the other way depending on which racks and panniers you choose to compare to. Compared to using Surly Nice Racks and Arkel panniers on an LHT, a Bob and a lighter bike will come in lighter.
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Old 02-13-11, 05:33 PM
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I've been using a BOB trailer, the single wheel tracks well and I don't feel the weight until I encounter hills. Recently I've installed an electric motor on the BOB and now the hills are just a little easier.
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Old 02-13-11, 05:43 PM
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I use a 2 wheel burley because that was the one that I could get second hand at the time.
I like it for touring on pavement because, as a clyde, it takes weight off my wheels.

I'm planning some off road touring this summer, have purchased a bike with 26" wheels and will get panniers for it.

I haven't tried transporting the burley by bus, train or plane. All I've done are "hub and spoke" tours from home.

The drag isn't a problem until the hills get steep... >8%
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Old 02-13-11, 05:58 PM
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I've done some touring with the 2-wheel Bike Friday trailer since it lets me take along the suitcase that serves as the bike box on flights to/from the tour. I do notice the little tugs and pushes when the trailer goes over bumps in the road. Not really objectionable, but it took a little getting used to at first. I prefer to use panniers for most touring mainly to reduce the total weight of the load. I try to keep the weight of my luggage down to 20 lbs. and using a trailer adds considerably to that. The added weight certainly makes itself known on extended hills.

A trailer would probably be more suitable when carrying heavier loads - and I do use one whenever I want to tow one of my boats.
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Old 02-13-11, 06:06 PM
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I have an extrawheel trailer, I've used it on a camping trip, flat terrain. It allowed me to carry much too much, but I hardly knew that it was there, except on hills. On descents at high speed got some fishtailing. All things considered it was very satisfactory.
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Old 02-13-11, 11:39 PM
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I need to lose more than a few pounds so I went with a two wheeled trailer over panniers to keep extra weight off my rear wheel. I did notice I'm a bit slower with the trailer by about .5 mph, but to me, it's not a deal breaker and other than that, I don't notice. It doesn't even hinder me on longish climbs.
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Old 02-14-11, 12:45 AM
  #9  
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I don't notice it until I push it or brake, then the load becomes apparent.
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Old 02-14-11, 12:51 AM
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If you are going to climb hills, it's not the minimal resistance of the wheel(s) on the road, but the weight of the load. Irrespective of how you carry it, that load will still take the same amount of effort or energy to get to the top.

I haven't toured with my single-wheel trailer, but have carried quite a few heavy loads. including shopping. For the latter, I prefer panniers, really. However, I expect the trailer to come into its own when touring locally on the tandem.
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Old 02-14-11, 05:30 AM
  #11  
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Resistance is resistance, friction is friction, whether it's from added weight, extra wheels, wind, gradient, whatever. You have to push those pedals around one way or the other. More resistance?, you either slow down or you get a stonger motor.

Personally, I tow a trailer because I despise how a loaded bicycle handles. So I tow a two-wheeled trailer and probably wouldn't even tour if I had to go back to panniers. I'd rather ride a bicycle than feel like I'm driving a truck.
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Old 02-14-11, 07:02 AM
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I have a 2-wheeled Quik-Pak trailer, a Bob 1 -wheeled trailer, and racks w/panniers. I really don't like the Bob, just a pain to stop and park the bike for picture taking and what-not. The Bob just feels like its pulling the bike over to the side. I really like the 2-wheeled trailer, tracks nice, no side pulling on the bike, and I just don't really notice it back there. Its weight (13#) is about the same as front & back racks w/panniers. The only issue with the Quik-Pak is that I tend to bring too much stuff, since I have lots of room. Works great (for the kids) when I tour with them since I carry all the gear. I now only use panniers when I tour solo, since I've got my gear down to about 20-25lbs, so my needs for storage is much less.

As has been said, you've got to move whatever you bring, whether its on the bike or behind it. I don't believe there's any real measurable difference in resistance between using a trailer or panniers that a rider would feel.

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Old 02-14-11, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Gotte View Post
I've always been tempted by a trailer, but the main thing that's put me off is the resistance of the extra wheel.
This is an excellent question, and part of the answer is almost never addressed, including by those that have commented on this topic so far. Most new trailers come with a lower priced, lower psi rated (around 45) tire/tires. I've found that putting higher quality, higher psi rated tires makes a big difference in rolling resistance. The Schwalbe Marathon Racer in 16" has an 85 psi rating and the Kenda Kwest is 100 psi.

On my recent cross country tour we pulled two 2 wheel Burley Nomads and one 1 wheeled BOB. All did fine, but I personally prefer the 2 wheelers due to perceived better handling/less weight on rear wheel. With good tires, I really don't notice a difference in rolling resistance between 1 or 2 wheeled trailers. Before the next tour I'm going to replace my Nomad with a Qik-Pak as they are a little larger, are more watertight, and have a superior hitch to the Burley's.

As others said, after years of pannier touring, I now prefer a trailer. I like that my bike still performs mostly like my empty bike when pulling a trailer as opposed to being loaded with panniers (especially in quick manuevers, I can dodge any unforseen pothole much faster with a trailer vs pannier). I found lower resistance to crosswinds with a trailer. I find cars seem to give me more room when pulling a trailer than panniers- I think some drivers equate a gear trailer to a kid trailer.

http://www.biketrailershop.com/schwa...c5298_a_7c1427

http://www.biketrailershop.com/kenda...15-p-1394.html
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Old 02-14-11, 10:36 AM
  #14  
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I took a Bob on tour. On level ground it was fine. I often would check my mirror after a stop to make sure I had remembered to re-attach it. However, as soon as I got on a substantial hill, I knew it was there. I started referring to it in my head as "the anchor." After that tour I went back to panniers.

If I had a bike that wasn't able to mount panniers, I'd still use the Bob, but since my LHT is made for racks and panniers my Bob has been assigned to shopping duties around home.
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Old 02-14-11, 03:59 PM
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Thanks for the input, guys. Really interesting reading your opinions on the subject.
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Old 02-14-11, 04:39 PM
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I pulled a BOB trailer for 5,000 miles last winter all across the US. There is extra drag that is noticeable, but I attribute it way more to the weight of the stuff I was carrying than to the trailer. The single wheel design works amazingly well. I had about 50 pounds in the trailer and after a short adjustment period, I would completely forget about hauling it. I have used panniers too, and I can say, that properly loaded and set-up, they both work very well.
The comments that you can't feel the weight until the hills have nothing to really do with the trailer, but just the fact that you are carrying extra weight, and you must work harder to get up hills. I don't think trailers are any harder in hilly terrain than racks/panniers. Obviously there is more drag due to the extra wheel, but compared to the weight of you and the bike and your gear, it is negligible.
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Old 02-14-11, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by EriktheFish View Post
This is an excellent question, and part of the answer is almost never addressed, including by those that have commented on this topic so far. Most new trailers come with a lower priced, lower psi rated (around 45) tire/tires. I've found that putting higher quality, higher psi rated tires makes a big difference in rolling resistance. The Schwalbe Marathon Racer in 16" has an 85 psi rating and the Kenda Kwest is 100 psi.

On my recent cross country tour we pulled two 2 wheel Burley Nomads and one 1 wheeled BOB. All did fine, but I personally prefer the 2 wheelers due to perceived better handling/less weight on rear wheel. With good tires, I really don't notice a difference in rolling resistance between 1 or 2 wheeled trailers. Before the next tour I'm going to replace my Nomad with a Qik-Pak as they are a little larger, are more watertight, and have a superior hitch to the Burley's.

As others said, after years of pannier touring, I now prefer a trailer. I like that my bike still performs mostly like my empty bike when pulling a trailer as opposed to being loaded with panniers (especially in quick manuevers, I can dodge any unforseen pothole much faster with a trailer vs pannier). I found lower resistance to crosswinds with a trailer. I find cars seem to give me more room when pulling a trailer than panniers- I think some drivers equate a gear trailer to a kid trailer.

http://www.biketrailershop.com/schwa...c5298_a_7c1427

http://www.biketrailershop.com/kenda...15-p-1394.html
This is my experience hauling a Nomad around.... Still prefer Panniers but the Nomad was nicer to pull than my old Bob.
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Old 02-14-11, 11:50 PM
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I use a Bike Friday trailer, given to me by a friend, to haul groceries. I'm not sure what a load of groceries weighs, but it might approach 50 pounds. We'll weigh it next week. I pull it with my Bianchi Volpe, which is a relatively agile bike. There is nothing agile or quick handling about it with the loaded trailer. I still prefer panniers, and based on the experience with groceries would not use a trailor on a tour. I know physics is physics, but it just seems harder dragging that thing up the hill (there is one short, steep pitch coming home) than doing tha same hill using panniers. However, there are probably too many variables involved to blame it on the trailer.

We ran into a guy on and off for a couple days last summer on the Pacific Coast Route who was pulling a BOB. He had trouble with it on the long downhills. I believe it was when he was trying to slow down. Here again, there are a lot of variables.
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Old 02-15-11, 08:12 AM
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Not addressing the original question, but I'm another one who had trouble with the trailer on downhills, it fishtailed horribly, and ultimately caused a terrible crash. I had really weird/bad handling - big uncontrollable swerves - over about 20 mph.

I switched to panniers, and love how they make the bike feel like a normal bike, only heavier.

I guess that goes to show there are a lot of factors that affect the bike handling - I think one big factor for me is that I'm quite a small person, and was riding quite a light bike, with a fairly heavy trailer. I think BOB is officially rated to 30 pounds and 25mph, I exceeded both and had serious trouble.
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Old 02-15-11, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Not addressing the original question, but I'm another one who had trouble with the trailer on downhills, it fishtailed horribly, and ultimately caused a terrible crash. I had really weird/bad handling - big uncontrollable swerves - over about 20 mph.

I switched to panniers, and love how they make the bike feel like a normal bike, only heavier.

I guess that goes to show there are a lot of factors that affect the bike handling - I think one big factor for me is that I'm quite a small person, and was riding quite a light bike, with a fairly heavy trailer. I think BOB is officially rated to 30 pounds and 25mph, I exceeded both and had serious trouble.
oops...... My Bob was less stable than my Nomad.... Bob tended to get bouncing with a lighter load and speed where the Nomad just hung out behind and didn't create any drama. That being said.. Still prefer panniers.
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Old 02-17-11, 08:16 PM
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My Bob trailer was great on flat roads or flying down hill. I never had a problem with it wobbling even down hill. Every time I went up hill I felt like I was pulling a '65 Cadillac. I switched to panniers this fall and the difference was significant.
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Old 02-17-11, 08:53 PM
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I just took mine out for a whirl loaded up. Rode 70 miles up and down steep hills all day (westchester county, NY. The picture is a beach in CT) At first it was heavy, but no more than panniers were. After riding with it for a while I noticed that I forgot about it and just grew accustomed to the weight. It's easy to forget about after a while.

Most of your effort will be pulling the weight... not dealing with drag which is probably so subtle, it's not even worth worrying yourself over. IN FACT, I find that a trailer helps keep your momentum going on flats, as you get some "feedback push" from the trailer every pedal stroke, which also allows for long coasting. If you keep a good momentum going, the trailer kind of pushes you along and keeps the pace quick and steady.

My experiences were with a load of about 45 pounds.
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Old 02-17-11, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Not addressing the original question, but I'm another one who had trouble with the trailer on downhills, it fishtailed horribly, and ultimately caused a terrible crash. I had really weird/bad handling - big uncontrollable swerves - over about 20 mph.

I switched to panniers, and love how they make the bike feel like a normal bike, only heavier.

I guess that goes to show there are a lot of factors that affect the bike handling - I think one big factor for me is that I'm quite a small person, and was riding quite a light bike, with a fairly heavy trailer. I think BOB is officially rated to 30 pounds and 25mph, I exceeded both and had serious trouble.
The bob only fishtails when you distribute the weight un-evenly. If you even START to fishtail, you should move a few things around. For light loads, I don't use my BOB; I just slap on a pannier or two. But for touring, I love the thing. The "raiting" of 30 pounds and 25 mph is mostly for the sake of liability. I take it out all the time and exceed those caps every ride and hill. Where I am, we have lots of short steep climbs that you can fly down. I get up to 40 mph with the bob and have no problems ( I balance it pretty darn well)
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Old 02-17-11, 10:28 PM
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Lamabb - I think it also has to do with the weight difference between the person/bike & trailer. I'm pretty small, the trailer was pretty heavy. I've heard a number of people say you have to distribute the weight a particular way, but I'm not willing to try it again. I just never felt like it handled properly, I was always fighting it for control.
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Old 02-19-11, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Lamabb - I think it also has to do with the weight difference between the person/bike & trailer. I'm pretty small, the trailer was pretty heavy. I've heard a number of people say you have to distribute the weight a particular way, but I'm not willing to try it again. I just never felt like it handled properly, I was always fighting it for control.
Maybe. I'm 190 so I have plenty of weight on the bike for control.
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