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Just one more on front racks and panniers

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Just one more on front racks and panniers

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Old 12-10-12, 10:42 AM
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sasemen
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Just one more on front racks and panniers

Hello very new to this forum but not touring. I have been touring for 5 years but always inn to inn so rear rack and panniers worked OK. But now I know I have to add camping to get the full experience that I've been missing. I ride a Cannondale T1 and it works well for me just a little help in the front rack and pans would be much appreciated thank-you.
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Old 12-10-12, 11:04 AM
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What is your question about front rack and panniers?
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Old 12-10-12, 12:49 PM
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You don't have to have a front rack for unsupported touring in much of the world. Concentrate on reducing bulk and stuff. Really not hard for warm weather touring. Large rear panniers and a rack pack will haul everything needed for most folks.

Almost everyone agrees that the bike feels more stable with a balanced load, like 60/40 up to 40/60. Nice but not really necessary. Many just like more compartments.

Get a low rider rack and the best panniers you can afford. Ortlieb seems to set the standard, but there are many other good and less expensive brands to chose from. You'll need to decide waterproof or not, and consider pannier weight.

Last edited by Cyclebum; 12-10-12 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 12-11-12, 12:14 AM
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I had toured a bit with just a rear rack and panniers, but when I decided to do 3 months cycling around Australia, I thought I needed to use a front rack and panniers. After all, that's what every one seemed to do. So off I went to Australia, with front rack and panniers (virtually empty because I couldn't figure out what people put in the things). About 3 days after I got there, my cycling partner and I were staying with an acquaintence who we would visit again toward the end of the trip and I decided to off-load the front panniers, and quite a bit of other stuff I figured I might need (10 lbs in total).

I haven't used front panniers since.

I really don't know what people carry that would make 4 panniers necessary. I could see it maybe if I were doing a really remote tour and needed to carry a couple week's worth of food, but I've been able to buy food quite easily on the tours I've done.
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Old 12-11-12, 11:15 AM
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Yes I need both front racks and panniers. As far as touring with just rear isn't it to your advanage to have both front and rear to help stabilizes the bike. I will be going on a solo 600 mile trip this summer and still think both are needed. Thanks to all
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Old 12-11-12, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by sasemen View Post
Yes I need both front racks and panniers. As far as touring with just rear isn't it to your advanage to have both front and rear to help stabilizes the bike. I will be going on a solo 600 mile trip this summer and still think both are needed. Thanks to all
There really isn't much difference in the stability of the bicycle if you go with 2 panniers or 4 panniers. But 4 panniers is heavier and makes climbing hills more of a challenge. Also, for 600 miles, how much stuff do you really need to bring? Are you going into an area where there are no stores during those 600 miles?
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Old 12-11-12, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I had toured a bit with just a rear rack and panniers, but when I decided to do 3 months cycling around Australia, I thought I needed to use a front rack and panniers. After all, that's what every one seemed to do. So off I went to Australia, with front rack and panniers (virtually empty because I couldn't figure out what people put in the things). About 3 days after I got there, my cycling partner and I were staying with an acquaintence who we would visit again toward the end of the trip and I decided to off-load the front panniers, and quite a bit of other stuff I figured I might need (10 lbs in total).

I haven't used front panniers since.

I really don't know what people carry that would make 4 panniers necessary. I could see it maybe if I were doing a really remote tour and needed to carry a couple week's worth of food, but I've been able to buy food quite easily on the tours I've done.
What you put in the front depends on the individual. It also depends on the logistics of a tour. I seldom tour with anyone so there's no one to share equipment with. If I need it, I carry it. If I do tour with someone, they are usually not as strong a cyclist as I am (my ride partners are usually my wife or my daughter) and I still end up carrying the heavier items.

I've mostly toured in the US and, even here, there are places where sources of supplies can be more than a day apart. If there is a Helmart within 60 miles of a portion of the route, those sources of supply can be even scarcer. For example on my 2003 tour along the Missouri River, I rode 220 miles from Sioux Falls, SD to Council Bluffs, IA. It took 4 days for me to cover that distance and the only place I could resupply was at Sioux City, IA which was only 2 days into the ride. From Council Bluffs to Atchinson, KS was another 200 miles and another 4 days without a single place to resupply. The rest of the trip had similar availability of food. The prudent bicycle tourist carries extra food even in a land of plenty like the US.

The reason for this 'food desert' is because there are Helmarts at about 70 mile intervals along I-29. People will get in their stupid cars and drive 70 to 80 miles round trip to save $0.03 on a bottle of detergent. The local guys are 'just too expensive' and thus go out of business. I've seen it in my own family...and shake my head at the stupidity every time it comes up.
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Old 12-11-12, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
What you put in the front depends on the individual. It also depends on the logistics of a tour.
Possible weather, too. When we were in MT last year, the chance of temps of 40 and below and rain were very possible. Snow flurries were not even out of the question as they were forecast in areas where we would be less than a week before. Prudence called for carrying both cold/wet and warm weather gear. Were all four pannier stuffed? No. But I certainly would not have been able to get everything into two rear panniers. Also, I am 6'2" with broad shoulders. I don't over dot it with clothes, but what I do carry takes up more space that those of smaller people. Size 13 sandals also take up some space. Let's say my heavy front rack and panniers weigh 5 lbs. total. That's only 2% of my body and bike weight alone. Less when you add the other gear.
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Old 12-11-12, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
There really isn't much difference in the stability of the bicycle if you go with 2 panniers or 4 panniers.
Well, you certainly have more experience touring than I do, but I find a big difference in how the bike handles with/without front panniers. That doesn't necessarily mean 2 vs. 4, because it could be 2 in the front vs. 2 in the back. I put plenty of my own weight on the back of the bike, and I like the way the bike feels a little better when the cargo is weighted towards the front.

I have found that I can get all of my gear into 2 panniers, plus the top of the rear rack. Once I satisfied myself that it was possible, I decided I didn't like it that way and went back to 4 panniers.

But, to the OP, Machka and Cyclebum are correct that you probably don't need 4 panniers, but then none of us know your situation. I know that I can get away with 2 panniers now, but I also ended up with some smaller-packing equipment then what I started with. If I were to tour with the big, cotton sleeping bag I used for years of car camping, I'd probably need a trailer for that one item alone (I know because I tried to take it on an overnight trip once and eventually decided I'd rather be cold. Then I bought a new bag.).

However, we are falling into the Bikeforums trap of telling you that you're doing it wrong rather than answering your question. You want 4 panniers, and that's fine. But what, specifically is your question? What rack to choose? What panniers to use? There are a lot of variables. There are racks that do nothing but hold your panniers, and then there are racks that also have a front platform. I love my Old Man Mountain platform rack even though I almost never use the platform. It's probably overkill. There's also a question of what racks your bike can accommodate, what your budget is, and how much you actually plan on carrying up front. I use the same panniers front and back, which are somewhat large. I know a lot of people use smaller panniers in the front. I do tend to carry lower volume, but higher weight in the front. I could get by with smaller front panniers, but the panniers I have are functioning fine and were so inexpensive, that spending real money on a better set has moved down on my "to buy" list. http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...48_-1___202599
But it seems like if you're using full-sized panniers of the front, you might need to make sure your front rack holds everything up high enough. I have no problem with the Old Man Mountain platform rack, but I wonder if I might have issues with a low rider rack using my large panniers.

So things to ponder that will affect your decision:
Budget
Capacity of panniers
Needed weight rating of the rack
Desired features of the rack (platform or no, disc break compatible or no, mounting options)
Desired features of the panniers (waterproof, pockets, type of attachment system)

If you can provide some details on what you need, there's probably someone with similar needs who can advise you on what they've used.
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Old 12-11-12, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sasemen View Post
Hello very new to this forum but not touring. I have been touring for 5 years but always inn to inn so rear rack and panniers worked OK. But now I know I have to add camping to get the full experience that I've been missing. I ride a Cannondale T1 and it works well for me just a little help in the front rack and pans would be much appreciated thank-you.

Adding a front rack is a good idea if your rear rack was designed solely as a commuter or light load touring rack. Most people start out with a rear rack that isn't made to carry heavier loads unless you own something like a Bruce Gordon or the Old Man Mountain and anything equivalent. So the front rack would offset the load.

If you use a commuter or a wannabe touring type rack that isn't strong and stiff in the first place, overloading the rear rack will cause a known effect called "fish tailing" and hence compromising bike stability because the side to side oscillation from the rack itself (being flexible and cheap) would resonate throughout the frame. But because the Cannondale T1 has a stiffer top tube than a usual bike, the onus lies on your rear rack needed to be stiff and strong. Old Man Mountain racks are rated for their "dynamic" loading which has a smaller number than a typical top down static loading.

Another advantage of having a front rack has to do with aerodynamics. If you simply have front panniers and streamline rear (basically bungee your camp gear and stuff to the top rack), you have a better aerodynamic profile riding a headwind. I've tried it and it does work. However, if you are carrying 4 panniers, then this defeats the purpose though.

Last thing that most people seemed to neglect about front panniers is the addition to steering stability due to gyroscropic forces on the front wheel when turning at very high speeds. The oscillation generated on the front handle bar when going downhill at high speed can be dampened by having front panniers. That's why classic cycle tourists would only tour with front panniers and a top loading rear load. Both to solve the front end shimmy at high speed (fish tailing effect) and the skinny top tube on early on steel touring bike like the Miyata 1000 GT which was one fine steed! The old school way of solving this is to have 60% load upfront and 40% rear. Modern touring bikes do not need to adhere to these restrictions unless you have a light touring bike.

Hope this helps.

And yes, there is nothing wrong with touring on 4 panniers except that you do carry more weight.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 12-11-12 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 12-12-12, 01:14 AM
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There is nothing wrong with wanting to use 4 panniers, but I do question the "need" for them because they add extra weight which can be a hindrance.

If the OP is travelling through some remote areas and wants to carry several days worth of food, that's one thing, but if the OP is spending ... 2 weeks (600 miles is probably about 2 weeks, I'm guessing) in a populated area, there's no need to carry extra weight.


It would probably help the discussion if the OP filled us in on roughly where he was thinking of touring, and what he was thinking of bringing that wouldn't fit into 2 panniers.
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Old 12-12-12, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
There is nothing wrong with wanting to use 4 panniers, but I do question the "need" for them because they add extra weight which can be a hindrance.

If the OP is travelling through some remote areas and wants to carry several days worth of food, that's one thing, but if the OP is spending ... 2 weeks (600 miles is probably about 2 weeks, I'm guessing) in a populated area, there's no need to carry extra weight.


It would probably help the discussion if the OP filled us in on roughly where he was thinking of touring, and what he was thinking of bringing that wouldn't fit into 2 panniers.
It's highly dependent on where sasemen...or anyone...is going. I could ride from Denver to Oklahoma City, for example. It's a 600 mile trip. From Denver to Limon, there are a few more towns but from Limon to Lamar there's nothing. There's more nothing from Lamar all the way to Oklahoma City. On that route you might even have to carry your own water. I can think of 6 other routes of roughly the same distance that would be just about as empty...if not more so.
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Old 12-12-12, 12:50 PM
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If you can keep the load down to Just pack stuff in 4 panniers, great.

heavy stuff in the front, Low riders work to add stability, bulky stuff in the bigger back ones.
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Old 12-12-12, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
It's highly dependent on where sasemen...or anyone...is going.
Well ... that's why I said ... "It would probably help the discussion if the OP filled us in on roughly where he was thinking of touring, and what he was thinking of bringing that wouldn't fit into 2 panniers."

The thing is, you can go down to the local MEC and buy a front rack and set of panniers. That's all I did when I thought I needed front panniers. But as for what size of panniers the OP needs, he'll have to determine that by figuring out what he wants to bring that won't fit into his current panniers.

Is he travelling up Vancouver Island in April and will need all sorts of rain gear? Or is he doing 600 miles in northern Alberta in October and will need all sorts of cold weather gear?

So, if the OP is determined to buy front panniers, step 1 for the OP would be to determine how much gear he thinks he needs to bring, in order to determine what size panniers he estimates he'll need to buy.

Once the OP has the panniers, I'd then recommend loading everything up onto the bicycle and riding up some hills. He may decide that he doesn't need so much stuff and may put those front panniers into storage in the garage.
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Old 12-12-12, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Well ... that's why I said ... "It would probably help the discussion if the OP filled us in on roughly where he was thinking of touring, and what he was thinking of bringing that wouldn't fit into 2 panniers."

The thing is, you can go down to the local MEC and buy a front rack and set of panniers. That's all I did when I thought I needed front panniers. But as for what size of panniers the OP needs, he'll have to determine that by figuring out what he wants to bring that won't fit into his current panniers.

Is he travelling up Vancouver Island in April and will need all sorts of rain gear? Or is he doing 600 miles in northern Alberta in October and will need all sorts of cold weather gear?

So, if the OP is determined to buy front panniers, step 1 for the OP would be to determine how much gear he thinks he needs to bring, in order to determine what size panniers he estimates he'll need to buy.

Once the OP has the panniers, I'd then recommend loading everything up onto the bicycle and riding up some hills. He may decide that he doesn't need so much stuff and may put those front panniers into storage in the garage.
Step one for the OP is to inform people here where he intends to ride the 600 miles...
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Old 12-12-12, 01:59 PM
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Figuring out at least approximately what you want/need to carry comes before deciding how to carry it, in my opinion at least. Remember that volume can be greatly reduced by care with packing methods. Tiny stuff sacks with clothing very tightly stuffed for example can reduce volume quite a bit.

BTW: In most cases, what you think you need is likely to be way more than what you actually need.
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Old 12-12-12, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
What you put in the front depends on the individual. It also depends on the logistics of a tour. I seldom tour with anyone so there's no one to share equipment with. If I need it, I carry it. If I do tour with someone, they are usually not as strong a cyclist as I am (my ride partners are usually my wife or my daughter) and I still end up carrying the heavier items.

I've mostly toured in the US and, even here, there are places where sources of supplies can be more than a day apart. If there is a Helmart within 60 miles of a portion of the route, those sources of supply can be even scarcer. For example on my 2003 tour along the Missouri River, I rode 220 miles from Sioux Falls, SD to Council Bluffs, IA. It took 4 days for me to cover that distance and the only place I could resupply was at Sioux City, IA which was only 2 days into the ride. From Council Bluffs to Atchinson, KS was another 200 miles and another 4 days without a single place to resupply. The rest of the trip had similar availability of food. The prudent bicycle tourist carries extra food even in a land of plenty like the US.

The reason for this 'food desert' is because there are Helmarts at about 70 mile intervals along I-29. People will get in their stupid cars and drive 70 to 80 miles round trip to save $0.03 on a bottle of detergent. The local guys are 'just too expensive' and thus go out of business. I've seen it in my own family...and shake my head at the stupidity every time it comes up.
Agreed on the hellmart. Some people drive to waste on gas to save on a detergent bottle. But that's life. Here in Canada, we just had a new toll bridge that was supposed to solve traffic congestion. Guess what happened. It solved it alright, but made people use other free bridges which then cause traffic jams on them while leaving this new toll bridge relatively car free. The stop and go traffic and the longer detour will cost them more in gas, but people's mentality is to save money and sometimes they do stupid things to accomplish it.
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Old 12-12-12, 03:18 PM
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I think the OP isn't willing to bungee strap any additional stuff on the rear of the bike to accommodate the extra stuff he needs to carry with on this 600 mile trip. So the front racks make it feasible. If the OP is already doing inn to inn trips with 2 panniers, we know that he needs to carry extra stuff. It's different compared to some of us who tour on a carbon bike with just a trunk bag and a handle bar bag that can achieve the same trip with less stuff and weight. Btw, I do tour with a carbon bike with enough clothes to fit a trunk and bar bag and did fine without needing 2 panniers. For camping, it's just an extra tent, pad and downbag plus cooking utensils and I did that fine with a carbon bike as well. But if I want full luxury comfort or places that I don't have easy access to food etc, then yes I would go to 4 panniers. It's the flexibility that counts.
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Old 12-12-12, 03:32 PM
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Saseman, if you want to carry panniers in front get a low rider front rack. If you only need to carry a small duffle bag sized load consider a small front rack like this


http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...ront-rack.html

Depending on your panniers you might be able to use this rack with panniers. I can adjust my Ortlieb front rollers to fit there.
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Old 12-12-12, 07:20 PM
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if i'm camping and cooking, i like to designate one front pannier to hold
food and cooking gear. all food and snax go in that bag, no exceptions.
when necessary, that bag can be hung in a tree, so no food smells in the
tent or the other bags left on the bike to attract critters.
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Old 12-12-12, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
Last thing that most people seemed to neglect about front panniers is the addition to steering stability due to gyroscropic forces on the front wheel when turning at very high speeds.
Wuh? Care to explain this a little more completely?
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Old 12-12-12, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
if i'm camping and cooking, i like to designate one front pannier to hold
food and cooking gear. all food and snax go in that bag, no exceptions.
when necessary, that bag can be hung in a tree, so no food smells in the
tent or the other bags left on the bike to attract critters.
Bingo. I do the same thing, especially in bear country.
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Old 12-12-12, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
Some people drive to waste on gas to save on a detergent bottle. But that's life. Here in Canada, we just had a new toll bridge that was supposed to solve traffic congestion. Guess what happened. It solved it alright, but made people use other free bridges which then cause traffic jams on them while leaving this new toll bridge relatively car free. The stop and go traffic and the longer detour will cost them more in gas, but people's mentality is to save money and sometimes they do stupid things to accomplish it.
Which is wonderful for those of us who are smart enough to exploit that behavior for our own benefit.

Just sayin'.
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Old 12-12-12, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax View Post
Bingo. I do the same thing, especially in bear country.
i was thinking more in terms of having your bags gnawed through and your food
eaten when in raccoon, opossum, or hippie territories.
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Old 12-12-12, 08:27 PM
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corvuscorvax
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i was thinking more in terms of having your bags gnawed through and your food
eaten when in raccoon, opossum, or hippie territories.
Which is also why you keep your weed in the hang bag. Damn hippies.
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