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front panniers only?

Old 06-13-12, 07:31 PM
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front panniers only?

Anyone touring with front panniers only and "stuff" on rear rack. I'm trying to do such for a short weekend 2 1/2 days, 2-night tour. My front are old Tailwinds, (from 1984 baby!) on Blackburn low riders on my Fuji Touring Series IV. Yeah, sounds retro, just my old stuff that's all.

If I run out of room packing tomorrow night, I'll add a pair of equally small rear panniers. I'd love to make some seriously thin rear panniers some day.

Happy trails,
John
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Old 06-13-12, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by transporterjr
Anyone touring with front panniers only and "stuff" on rear rack. I'm trying to do such for a short weekend 2 1/2 days, 2-night tour. My front are old Tailwinds, (from 1984 baby!) on Blackburn low riders on my Fuji Touring Series IV. Yeah, sounds retro, just my old stuff that's all.

If I run out of room packing tomorrow night, I'll add a pair of equally small rear panniers. I'd love to make some seriously thin rear panniers some day.

Happy trails,
John
Yes, if you go light you can make it fine. I prefer fronts only.
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Old 06-13-12, 07:53 PM
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I did a 3-month cycling tour of Australia in 2004 with front panniers only (and a Carradice on the back). Actually, I had racks front and back, and I moved the panniers as the whim or hills prompted me to. So most of the time I had them on the front, sometimes I had them on the back.






Rowan and I are setting out on an 8-month tour shortly, and we'll just have rear panniers (and a Carradice and a handlebar bag) ... but no front panniers.

Last edited by Machka; 06-13-12 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 06-13-12, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
I did a 3-month cycling tour of Australia in 2004 with front panniers only (and a Carradice on the back). Actually, I had racks front and back, and I moved the panniers as the whim or hills prompted me to. So most of the time I had them on the front, sometimes I had them on the back.






Rowan and I are setting out on an 8-month tour shortly, and we'll just have rear panniers (and a Carradice and a handlebar bag) ... but no front panniers.
Wow, I seriously need to re-learn how to pack. I take front and back panniers for a week long trip. :-/
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Old 06-13-12, 08:19 PM
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I started that tour with front and rear panniers, figuring that was how people toured.

The first few days were in and around the Sydney area ... very, very hilly ... and I struggled a lot. We stopped at the home of an acquaintance for a night, and spent the evening going through everything I brought. I left both my smaller panniers behind, filled with stuff, and did the rest of the tour much lighter.

It was so much easier to get around with less stuff, both cycling (and especially cycling uphill) and hauling it all into hostels, onto busses, onto flights, etc.


This is basically our setup for our upcoming tour, although we both have new panniers. My new panniers are a little bit larger than the ones in this photo.


Last edited by Machka; 06-13-12 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 06-13-12, 08:33 PM
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I just put my rack trunk on the back and thin sleeping bag looks like I can strap on top of that. That might be my set-up. I can put the sleeping bag, (not in stuff sack) in the front pannier, but it fills it up and I think balancing weight L to R might be a problem. I got to have it all packed tomorrow night after work, so I can't experiment too much. The front panniers I have are "about" 1/2 the size of Machka's so you have an idea of how small they are. Here's a few of the panniers on last years ride https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post12720882
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Old 06-13-12, 10:13 PM
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+1 for front panniers only plus a dry bag stuffer on the rear rack top. My preferred setup for the last thirty years.
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Old 06-13-12, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by transporterjr
Anyone touring with front panniers only and "stuff" on rear rack. I'm trying to do such for a short weekend 2 1/2 days, 2-night tour. My front are old Tailwinds, (from 1984 baby!) on Blackburn low riders on my Fuji Touring Series IV. Yeah, sounds retro, just my old stuff that's all.

If I run out of room packing tomorrow night, I'll add a pair of equally small rear panniers. I'd love to make some seriously thin rear panniers some day.

Happy trails,
John
For a 2 nights tour, I use a pair of small Ortlieb classics which are pretty old. Or I mix them with an Ortlieb Classic and a Serratus Backpack pannier which I can turn into a back pack on a whim. Very handy and very light weight. I do loaded tour with a folding bike, so obviously I put them on the front to tame the twitchy handling and depending on the duration; I may strap the tent/sleeping stuff at the rear in a dry bag strapped to the rear rack or tow the Burley Travoy if I do buses or trains as it's got wheels I can pull. On normal bikes and hotel/moteling, I put the panniers on the rear.
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Old 06-14-12, 02:09 AM
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I have a bunch of stuff in my front panniers in my commuter..

My rain gear is a majority of one of them.
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Old 06-14-12, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by arctos
+1 for front panniers only plus a dry bag stuffer on the rear rack top. My preferred setup for the last thirty years.
Arctos, - good to hear. I do think this is a good route. While I ran this plus a set of lightly rear panniers on the last tour, and the bike was well balanced. Perhaps with slightly larger front panniers and/or a handle bar bag might be my ultimate set-up.

The other route I may explore in the future is an expanding rack trunk, with light "panniers" that unzip from the side of the rack trunk. https://tinyurl.com/8yj34a9
This gives a bit of expanding room when you need to pick up some food to take into camp. I wouldn't tour with the rack trunk's nylon "panniers" full

However, with the 1st kid's college bill about to arrive, I'll have to make do with the bags I have. I do have a handlebar bag, but skipping it for this ride as it interferes with my light and I expect a bit of night riding the 1st day due to starting after work.

I'm using my 50 deg sleeping bag from my 84 x-country tour. It had little insulation new and less loft now, but with a pair of light weight long johns, it should do. With all my old gear on this old bike, I feel like I am doing a vintage tour. Maybe I need to find a Sony Walkman to round the gear out
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Old 06-14-12, 05:13 AM
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I did a Pacific Coast tour with 2 front panniers and the tent on the rear rack. It worked out very well.

I am not a fan of trunk bags.
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Old 06-14-12, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
... ... My new panniers are a little bit larger than the ones in this photo. ... ...
Just curious, can you give us a gear list of what you are taking for the major items like panniers?
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Old 06-14-12, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Just curious, can you give us a gear list of what you are taking for the major items like panniers?
https://www.machka.net/articles/packinglist.htm ... give or take a bit.
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Old 06-14-12, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I did a Pacific Coast tour with 2 front panniers and the tent on the rear rack. It worked out very well.

I am not a fan of trunk bags.
I can understand - I have mixed feelings about the trunk bag. For this trip, I am likely skipping the tent, only needing it 1 of the 2 nights. My sleeping bag is a small diamter roll that can fit atop the trunk bag. With small one compartment panniers, the trunk bag gives me a few pockets for camera, map, etc.

John
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Old 06-14-12, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
I did a 3-month cycling tour of Australia in 2004 with front panniers only (and a Carradice on the back). Actually, I had racks front and back, and I moved the panniers as the whim or hills prompted me to. So most of the time I had them on the front, sometimes I had them on the back.






Rowan and I are setting out on an 8-month tour shortly, and we'll just have rear panniers (and a Carradice and a handlebar bag) ... but no front panniers.
Machka:

What you have done is wonderful. I often see bicyclists (but notice it more with motorcyclists) looking like they are carrying everything they own. I took a 3-week, 7,000 mile trip with my daughter on my Ducati and had the original hard saddlebags (small and sleek), a tail bag, tank bag, and she had a small back pack. We had two sets of camping gear (two tents, two pads, two sleeping bags, two pillows), cold weather clothes, motorcycle gear (like heated vests), tools, computer, etc. and it all fit inside.

Even so, at a stopping point between Florida and Newfoundland (in Penn) I stopped off at a FedEx and mailed a box of things back (computer, some tools, etc). Got tired of packing so tight. Did another mailing after leaving the colder weather of Newfoundland (including my warmer gear and tie-down straps that I thought I'd need for the ferry/motorcycle transport).

You have proven that you can go light. I bet you were still comfortable and likely had an easier time of the trip. I find it a burden to pack and unpack so much stuff and would rather do without in some cases.

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Old 06-14-12, 12:56 PM
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I just spent a week biking around Ohio and thought I had pared my gear down to two large panniers and a bag of my sleep stuff (tent, sleeping bag, etc.). I had sent most of my gear ahead and left myself with one backpack to fill with miscellany the night before I hopped on the train. Once my backpack was nearly bursting at the seems and surrounded with other items I hadn't packed yet, I gave up and grabbed my other two panniers.

I think it's a great idea, but I haven't mastered it yet. Although I also find that if you can control the urge to overpack, more panniers can be more versatile. On my trip I had times where it was useful to put items on top of the platforms of both my front and rear racks, but most of the time they were empty because everything was in the panniers. Had I gone with my original plan, the top of my rear rack would have always been full, and I wouldn't have had panniers to hang off of the sides. So I don't know. For me, it might be better to trim my gear down to two smaller rear panniers and leave the top of the rack open for occasional use.
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Old 06-19-12, 05:06 PM
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Update - the (very) small Tailwind front panniers and RackTrunk with sleeping bag on top worked well for this weekend+ trip. I have a bit more detail in other posts (I feel I am repeating myself), but perhaps worth repeating in this thread.

My "lodging" was just a tent fly, ground cloth, hanging mosquito netting, titanium stakes and back packing air mattress. I did not carry the cook gear, but I took a bowl and some oatmeal and cliff bars. The sleeping bag is from 1984 and is light, but only 50 deg. I took long underwear and wool hat for sleeping and needed them with this bag. I took a pair of pants, shorts, long sleeve, short sleeve, wind breaker and fleece jacket, and few other clothing items. Big towel, camera, head lantern, and the usual tools, tube, toothbrush, etc. So pretty light I guess. The problem was carrying anything extra on the road when one is packed so tightly, like some drinks and lunch to ride to a better spot than the convenience store to consume such.

If the front rack was a higher rack and I could add a couple of things up there, that would work well. I'm thinking some custom thin rear panniers would be neat and allow some expansion room.
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