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Non Sag bike tours : panniers vs a trailer

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Non Sag bike tours : panniers vs a trailer

Old 02-22-19, 04:53 PM
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Non Sag bike tours : panniers vs a trailer

I am encouraging a friend to do a very special nonsupported special tour of the California coast. She is new to touring. She hasn't a touring bike with eyelets. Her only option is to use a friend's trailer. ( She is not a minimalist.)
But the beauty of this tour has her psyched.
For those who have an option between a trailer vs panniers. What are the issues of touring with a trailer? ? Sway.?
Q. Bike trailers. Love them or hate them. Thanks.
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Old 02-22-19, 05:20 PM
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I do a lot of towing of personal stuff with a trailer. You get used to it. Some things with a trailer is the spring connection bouncing with some trailers.

But, I'd much prefer panniers for longer trips. There is a little bit of a sway (tail wagging the dog) effect with panniers that I'm still working on trying to solve.

A poorly loaded trailer can also fishtail, especially on descents (best if you pedal through them).
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Old 02-22-19, 06:29 PM
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Nothing wrong with using a trailer in these circumstances.

I do most of my longer touring with panniers, but have three trailers (and don't own an automobile). The issues will depend a bit on the particular trailer. For example,

One of my trailers is a Burley Travoy. This is my grocery cart/trailer and it does fine at that purpose. However, I wouldn't bring it on a tour and there are a few issues:
- It is a two-wheel trailer, so there are now three wheels to track. Not a big deal if the road is wide and smooth, but add some potholes or glass to avoid and it becomes more tricky.
- This particular trailer attaches at the seat post, that type of higher attachment might be slightly less stable than if it attached down low.

I also have a Bob trailer that I use for carrying larger amounts of stuff. The advantages/disadvantages of touring with this include:
- It carries a lot of stuff. Good if this is what you want to do, but you do want to be careful on accidentally overpacking too much simply because you can
- The rear wheel is a different size than the other wheels, so I have to be prepared to patch/fix two different wheel sizes.

My third trailer is the one I've toured with a few times and is my preference from perspective of touring. It is an extrawheel trailer which is slightly different than my Bob in a few regards: it has a the same wheel size as my bike, so no separate tires/tubes or similar issues. It also tracks remarkably well even better than the Bob.
- The largest downside might be if I need to carry my bike over logs or similar off-road obstacles, I find it more awkward than just the bike alone.
- It is also one additional thing I need to take with me if I am flying in an airplane.

Handling with pulling a trailer is sometimes slightly different, but I get used to that pretty quickly. Overall in similar circumstances where the bike might not support panniers, I would use a trailer instead.
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Old 02-22-19, 08:34 PM
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I have never used a trailer. But, you are planning for Pacific Coast and I rode that from Astoria to San Fransisco.

I found most of the uphills on the coast were about 8 percent grade. So the question becomes, how much does the trailer and big duffle or big drybag or whatever weigh? And how much do the racks and panniers weigh? And, which is lighter? When you are in first gear and cranking up an 8 percent grade, that is when you will wonder which option was lighter.

That said, if the only choice is her existing bike with a borrowed trailer - or buying something else, then the budget becomes critical.

Will the trailer complicate things when getting to and from the start and ending points? A bike on mass transit or train is simpler than a bike with a trailer.

I have ridden behind bikes with panniers and also behind bikes with trailers. For someone behind, the panniers were easier to see. I rode behind one guy that had a trailer with a fiberglass pole and a flag on it for visability. That flag on a pole really helped make it easier to see from behind.
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Old 02-22-19, 08:49 PM
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Notes from my thread on an aborted TransAm ride (search on "Map 12" if interested).

Gear: We both began the trip with front and rear panniers, handlebar bags and stuff on the rear rack tops. At one point Jeff had an equipment failure with a front Thule pannier so we returned to Richmond for repairs/replacements. I wound up borrowing a friend's B.O.B trailer that I've been wanting to try and Jeff used one pair of my panniers to replace his damaged ones so we set out again with considerably different setups. I found the trailer to be more stable but my all-up weight was greater. Kind of a wash but the trailer does have the added hassle factor (additional length, different sized wheel, etc.) and the single large bag in the trailer is more difficult to compartmentalize than individual panniers. And if you open it in a heavy rain you'll want everything in it bagged to stay dry. Another issue was weight distribution in the bag. The items you want on the top, food bag anytime and tent at the end of the day, were the heaviest and seemed to affect the handling a bit. Nothing serious, but any packing change meant trading one hassle for a different hassle.
---------------------------------

Additional thoughts:

Stand-up pedaling on climbs is easier with the trailer than with the four panniers; you can rock the bike from side to side more easily.

I had a tiny bit of sway with the trailer, less than I had with the four bag configuration on my RB-T. The sway on fast descents was disconcerting and I've experienced it with different bikes, so if touring in hilly country would prefer the B.O.B.

I would definitely recommend a B.O.B. over a two-wheel trailer. The single wheeled trailer's single track will be much narrower than a two wheeled trailer.

Also, and someone else might be able to comment on experience with this, the lack of eyelets does not necessarily preclude the use of racks. P-clamps (AKA Adel clamps) might serve to mount the rack on the fork blades and seat stays. I know they can be used with fenders (which your friend might also want for touring) but have not tried them for racks supporting loads.

Last edited by thumpism; 02-22-19 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 02-23-19, 06:27 AM
  #6  
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^^^This^^^

My ex-GF toured with a B.O.B. I also rode across the country with a dozen others. Four of them had B.O.B.s. The above sums things up well. Note that the B.O.B. with the dry bag adds something like 18 lbs. empty. Advise your friend to be judicious when packing. If she has good bike handling skills, there should be no problem. My ex is 5', 120 lbs. soaking wet. She had no problems over hilly and mountainous terrain, some of which was unpaved.

I'll add this about two-wheeled trailers: Depending on the width of the shoulder, they can conflict with rumble strips. The second photo is a good example.




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Old 02-23-19, 07:55 AM
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I have always toured with panniers, but have frequently toured with others using trailers/bobs.
It really is a matter of personal choice.

As a pannier guy, I am jealous of a few aspects of trailers/bobs.
How light the bike is and how you can disconnect in a jiffy.
How easy it is to pack, unpack, and find things.

Drawbacks of trailers/bobs seem to be -
Very hard to park the dang combo - esp. in town.
More expensive or impossible to use some forms of transportation.
(Limitations also apply to trikes & recumbents)

As for weight - when you combine the weight of racks & panniers,
I think it all evens out.
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Old 02-23-19, 09:02 AM
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According to Ortlieb's web site, a set of Back Roller Classics, Front Roller Classics, Tubus Cargo Evo and a Tubus Tara lowrider rack is 10.76 lbs.
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Old 02-23-19, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
According to Ortlieb's web site, a set of Back Roller Classics, Front Roller Classics, Tubus Cargo Evo and a Tubus Tara lowrider rack is 10.76 lbs.
According to 473 touring cyclists' testimonies -
A set of Arkel Grand Touring with racks is 97.33 lbs.
(Actually rear - 6.6; front - 5.4; handlebar - 3.0 = 15 lbs plus racks)

I suspect most folks with panniers have a set-up comparable in weight to:
Bob Yak - 13.5 lbs
Bob Ibex - 17 lbs
When you add dry sack and attachment - a bit more.

The Yak compares with Ortliebs (which have only moderate space)
The Ibex compares with Arkels (which have space for a kitchen sink)
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Old 02-23-19, 11:28 AM
  #10  
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When I made my comments above in post 4, I was thinking the specific route but I was thinking in generic terms about the trailer. I was not thinking about the specifics of her bike.

Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
... She is new to touring. She hasn't a touring bike with eyelets. Her only option is to use a friend's trailer. .....
If she has a bike with no way to mount a rack, I take it that it is either a higher end mountain bike or a higher end road bike. If it is a mountain bike, the gearing should be good for that kind of route, but if it is a road bike, she might struggle with the gearing on the uphills.

When I rode that route, I had a low gear of 20.7 gear inches, which was just barely adequate for almost all the hills we encountered in CA. (I know you are not going to be in Oregon, but there were some 12 percent grade hills on some of the alternate routes on the Oregon cycle map.) But my road bike has a low gear of 30.6 gear inches, I would not want to do that route with that kind of gearing.

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Old 02-23-19, 11:36 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
(She is not a minimalist.)
One additional thought.

The more cargo space one has, the more one tends to fill it up.

A lot will depend on the person, target miles, terrain, etc.

If she is a smaller weaker rider, she may choose to severely limit her gear (or give some of it to a companion). Especially if she is pushing long miles (100+ miles a day vs 50 miles a day).

Comparing gear, my BOB came with a drybag, perhaps not so different from dry panniers.
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Old 02-23-19, 12:42 PM
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You made the case

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have never used a trailer. But, you are planning for Pacific Coast and I rode that from Astoria to San Fransisco.

I found most of the uphills on the coast were about 8 percent grade. So the question becomes, how much does the trailer and big duffle or big drybag or whatever weigh? And how much do the racks and panniers weigh? And, which is lighter? When you are in first gear and cranking up an 8 percent grade, that is when you will wonder which option was lighter.

That said, if the only choice is her existing bike with a borrowed trailer - or buying something else, then the budget becomes critical.

Will the trailer complicate things when getting to and from the start and ending points? A bike on mass transit or train is simpler than a bike with a trailer.

I have ridden behind bikes with panniers and also behind bikes with trailers. For someone behind, the panniers were easier to see. I rode behind one guy that had a trailer with a fiberglass pole and a flag on it for visability. That flag on a pole really helped make it easier to see from behind.
She can't go. A part of this tour is scuttling about San Francisco on Bart as we head to points south . Recumbent s are taboo, so too would be a trailer. Hadn't thought of that. Thanks ..still appreciate the Info for future trips
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Old 02-23-19, 01:00 PM
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I've owned a Bob knockoff and also used a borrowed two-wheel trailer on multiple tours. I have Arkel panniers now and have toured with them - both with a diamond frame bike and with both short and long wheel-based recumbents. Heck, I even rode the Natchez Trace Parkway with a trike - half with panniers and half pulling a trailer. Between them all, I found there was no serious tour-stopper with any setup. Each had advantages and disadvantages.

Remember that two wheel trailers result in 3 wheel "tracks" - 3 distinct paths where burrs, glass and other bad things can lie on the road waiting to puncture your tire. Your "package" will be wider than either riding with panniers or towing a single wheel trailer (Bob-style). Also, with any trailer setup, you'll have to carry at least two sizes of tubes, spare tires(?), and spokes as your bike and trailer wheels are rarely the same size.

Dead-weight-wise, a rack and rear-only panniers is the easiest way to go. Maxing out cargo capacity goes to 2-wheel trailers in my experience. Worst experience possible, imho, is overloading a trailer and walking/pushing the bike&trailer up a multiple miles long hill. (been there, done that, hopefully will NEVER do it again)

Recommendation? To be honest, I prefer panniers and racks. They are just a simple setup and seem more versatile to me.
You want compartments? Buy Arkels.
You want absolute water-proofness at the expense of a single everythingandthekitchensinkinonecompartment? Buy Ortleibs.
You want compartments but have a single big bag (trailer or Ortleib panniers)? Use small stuff sacks to separate things then put those into the big bag. (Disadvantage - weight and do you know/remember what's in a stuff sack without opening it?)
You want cargo the capacity of a station wagon and don't mind having to search around for a long, clear parking space with enough surrounding area that you can walk you bike-trailer combo out of that space to make a 180? Go with a trailer...

I'm heading out on a tour myself this Spring - going with a rear-panniers and handlebar bag setup. My total packed items weight will be under 20 pounds including food, tent, sleeping system, clothes and misc - not including the panniers, handlebar and rack. I will thank myself for riding light every mile and every hill I ride over.

Good luck.
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Old 02-23-19, 01:22 PM
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On The Coast, touring , We See Both..

I personally own one.. .. had a 1 wheel Bob*, now have a 2 wheel Burly.. (practical, utility )

* QR skewer mounted , also offer BoB nuts for solid axle hubs.. ..





...

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Old 02-23-19, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
She can't go. A part of this tour is scuttling about San Francisco on Bart as we head to points south .
Recumbent s are taboo, so too would be a trailer. Hadn't thought of that. Thanks ..still appreciate the Info for future trips
So? Uber or just pay a pickup truck owner to get across the Bay Bridge...??

Trailer which is 1 wheel & lighter is the Extra Wheel.. It uses a 2nd front wheel like on your bike,
and now has a pannier rack mount ...


It can also be a 2nd dynamo hub wheel to potentially trickle charge the electronics you cannot leave home without..







.....
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Old 02-23-19, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
She can't go. A part of this tour is scuttling about San Francisco on Bart as we head to points south . Recumbent s are taboo, so too would be a trailer. Hadn't thought of that. Thanks ..still appreciate the Info for future trips
I do not know where all the bus options are, but there were two of us that took a shuttle bus to the Amtrak station at Emoryville (spell?) from Fishermans Wharf. The bus had a bike rack on front we put our bikes on. A regular commuter got on the bus after us, he was miffed that we used the bike rack, his bike went down in the luggage area below and probably slid around some. We bought are bus ticket from Amtrak, as we were getting on a train at that station. I do not know what kind of trailer you have, but if it would fit in a giant garbage bag so that it is not obviously a trailer, it could go down in luggage if they prohibit trailers.

Check out the Amtrak bus options. You can see our bikes on the front of the bus crossing the bay bridge.

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Old 02-23-19, 03:32 PM
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Most of the 2-wheel trailers can be disassembled and/or folded. Of course, if it was full of stuff, you'd still have to deal with all of the stuff.

The Travoy is very much like a small hand truck/luggage carrier (which some people use for shopping).
@fietsbob's one wheel trailer can probably simply be tied/strapped to the bike.
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Old 02-23-19, 03:34 PM
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Another option, of course, is to buy/build/acquire the touring bike one wants. Frame swap?

One should be able to even do the build on a budget, with the bike costing less than the gear.
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Old 02-23-19, 03:48 PM
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Touring the globe, without internet crowd based problem solving, how did we manage ?/

Idea: from east SF bay Ride your Bicycles ... to San Jose, then to Santa Cruz, and you will be on the Coast..







...

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Old 02-25-19, 07:27 AM
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Whichever you choose, try to do a loaded shakedown ride to get used to the weight and handling. If she's not a minimalist, she may choose to lighten her load then or drop stuff off at a post office along the way.
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Old 02-25-19, 08:23 AM
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I don't know your route, but if BART is the problem, skip BART, pedal across the Golden Gate Bridge and just ride the perimeter of SF. It's easily done, ping me if you need more info.

Regarding panniers vs. trailer: I recommend rear panniers plus a bar bag as they will limit the amount of stuff she'll bring. The most common first time bike tourist mistake is bringing too much stuff. When it comes to touring: less is more.

And as for mounting her panniers, look for a solution like this: https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...-dlx-rear-rack This is the solution we're using on my wife's road bike this summer for a 60 day tour in Europe.

Whatever solution you choose, have several fully loaded practice rides before starting. Have fun and ride safe.
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Old 02-25-19, 12:16 PM
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One thing can be done with a trailer is wear it..

a dry bag with backpack straps was made by canoe explorers, to wear while they carried their canoes between bodies of water.

the act of doing that is called Portaging .. so the pack is a Portage Pack.. Put one in your bike trailer, straps up, and you can wear the trailer too..
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Old 02-25-19, 12:20 PM
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This topic has been discussed quite a bit.

I've tried both. For a variety of reasons, I retired the trailers. Panniers are so much simpler.

Last edited by Bikesplendor; 02-25-19 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 02-25-19, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
I am encouraging a friend to do a very special nonsupported special tour of the California coast. She is new to touring. She hasn't a touring bike with eyelets. Her only option is to use a friend's trailer. ( She is not a minimalist.)
But the beauty of this tour has her psyched.
For those who have an option between a trailer vs panniers. What are the issues of touring with a trailer? ? Sway.?
Q. Bike trailers. Love them or hate them. Thanks.
Rackless bags, compact gear?

Single rack with eyelet alternative (Old Man Mountain for example)?
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