Long touring without front panniers

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
FarOeuf
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby FarOeuf » 10 May 2016, 5:40pm

foxyrider wrote:Messy solution to a non existent 'problem'. Any advantages are outweighed by the disadvantages. The whole idea was to allow luggage to be carried on MTB's where traditional racks/saddlebag systems wouldn't work and for that use it works.

The key things when loading a bike are always the same - weight and bulk should be kept as low as reasonable for stability - a ratio of 40% front 60% rear weight distribution. These things might sound like repetition of old advice but there are good reasons for the advice and it's validity remains true.


the 'problem' that soft bags fix is panniers bouncing off over rough ground (including rough tarmac), they fix the problem where you only 1/2 fill a single pannier so taking two is 1kg of unused weight in the panniers alone, they fix the problem of the panniers sticking out and catching on things, they make ultralight touring much simpler, if you want to ride faster they're more aerodynamic, etc, etc.... but I guess if you tour mostly on good roads in easy surroundings then they may appear not to fix anything.

I would assume when the whole pannier idea was brand new lots of people made very similar (dogmatic) arguments about why they were the devils invention, not least that putting all that weight over the rear wheel (in addition to the rider) was sheer lunacy. But the world kept turning when panniers and racks came along. Now some people are experimenting with soft bags in the pre-pannier style, the world continues to turn. I really don't understand why people get upity/dismissive about strapping a bag onto a bike, I mean people have been doing it for decades...it's hardly a new idea.

If anything it's great that there are so many choices, and if you're prepared to ignore the magazine/marketing hype you can pick up some very inexpensive bags (in-frame, seat post, bar mounted, always on sale due to fashion) to replace or compliment any setup you can imagine. From traditional panniers, to Carradice style saddle bags to Alpkit style soft bags, it's surely never been a better time to try things out or copy designs and make your own. Mix and match, there's no law that says you must exclusively do one thing or another, or even your forthcoming trip must have the same luggage setup as the one you do after it.

AaronR
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby AaronR » 10 May 2016, 6:23pm

Long tour last year with the fairly traditional panniers front and rear, rack pack and bar bag

Will second what most have said that bar bag is excellent for a quickly detachable bag for valuables, and that because I had all that luggage space I used it - and as a result probably carried more than I needed

A change of bike (which gives even more mounting options than the old one) means that in the future I can do whatever I like luggage wise, but as others have posted I will be looking at what I need to pack, and then fitting it to bike as opposed to fitting luggage to bike and then packing in to it

hamish
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby hamish » 11 May 2016, 12:39am

I use a frame bag for touring off-road. It is great. It takes a load of heavy stuff like food and places it in the centre of the bike where it doesn't mess up the handling or balance of the bike on tracks and singletrack.

I would use on happily on my touring bike to gain extra capacity. You need to make sure that a frame bag fits properly, isn't too wide so it doesn't brush your calves and be aware that it can scratch paint or scuff a titanium frame. I don't think that soft bikepacking bags will replace rear panniers for me for road based touring - but of the range of bikepacking bags available it is the frame bag that is most useful and can complement panniers very well.

mullinsm
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby mullinsm » 11 May 2016, 11:35am

I've toured and camped with two and four pannier set-ups and must confess that It's a struggle to get everything in two bags and a bar bag, but it can be done. A frame bag will obviously give you a bit extra and that would help, but one thing you'll certainly miss is the stability that front panniers give so you might want to try a descent or two before you commit to a long tour.

MartinBrice
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby MartinBrice » 12 May 2016, 1:23pm

Agree with this ^^^
The reason these bags are now popular is, I think, because carbon lightweight racing bikes have become much better and more reliable, and lightweight wheels as well. This means such bikes can be used on these long-distance endurance events, such as the TCR and Mark Beaumont's Africa trip. Look at what those gnarly women (eg Emily Chappell) are riding on that Scottish 500.

These are fast, reliable, lightweight bikes.

But this type of bike doesn't take racks - back or front - so you have to use these smaller bags attached to the frame.

Now that carbon is more reliable (good carbon, that is, not cheap stuff) people doing long-distance endurance rides across continents will use it (assuming they can afford it, obvs). The notion that if a steel frame breaks you can weld it is true but I suspect the middle of Tanzania is the place to look for someone who can weld a gas pipe, not a high-quality steel bike frame. If Mark Beaumont's carbon bike, lightweight wheels, electronic gear changers, etc, had gone wrong his ride would have finished there and then. But it didn't.

He used a Rohloff hub gear for the round-the-world trip but went back to derailleurs with D2 changers for Africa, an interesting choice.

Bicycler
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby Bicycler » 12 May 2016, 3:30pm

Sweep wrote:
Ridgie wrote:I'm currently in a position to buy a fairly light touring bike, (titanium) that will not accommodate front panniers.

Got to ask (or you never learn) - why won't it accommodate front panniers?

Same query here. You don't need braze ons to fit a front carrier

Haribo
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby Haribo » 15 May 2016, 5:21pm

FarOeuf wrote:, if you want to ride faster they're more aerodynamic, etc, etc....


Now, there is a lot which I agree with in your post, particularly in regard to having a choice being a good thing, and it's just a case of going with whatever is your preference. But I have to object to unsubstantiated claims to scientific fact.

I take it that your are assuming that, because the frame bag presents a slightly narrower front profile (sans rider, at least), that means it is more aerodynamic, but aerodynamics is not that simple. I could equally argue that, since an equivalent volume of panniers would be mounted further back (and crucially, behind the rider) and lower to the ground, then panniers would be more aerodynamic - there is a reason that fighter jets and fast cars tend to be wedge shaped.

And I would equally be making an unsubstantiated claim based on opinion, not fact. At the end of the day, any differences are going to be trivial, and dependant on the exact setup - and even the materials used.

I am not trying to be argumentative, I just think that spurious claims of 'fact' on a matter that is almost entirely subjective, does nothing to help matters.

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sabrutat
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby sabrutat » 17 May 2016, 9:48pm

I'm thinking about buying a proper touring bike and mounting front panniers after more than 8,000 miles on this rig.

Image

One reason is to more evenly spread the load for steep climbing, the other is I'll be able to use smaller panniers on the back to enable easier un/hitching of the trailer either side of those infernal motorcycle gates of which some local authorities are so infuriatingly fond.

Option two is, of course, a battery-powered angle grinder.

Bicycler
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby Bicycler » 17 May 2016, 10:13pm

Rather than buying a new bike you could just replace the suspension fork. Surly have a few suspension corrected forks with front carrier braze-ons. Or you could use any suitable rigid fork and a clamp on or axle-mounted carrier.

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horizon
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby horizon » 17 May 2016, 11:43pm

FarOeuf wrote:
I would assume when the whole pannier idea was brand new lots of people made very similar (dogmatic) arguments about why they were the devils invention, not least that putting all that weight over the rear wheel (in addition to the rider) was sheer lunacy. But the world kept turning when panniers and racks came along. Now some people are experimenting with soft bags in the pre-pannier style, the world continues to turn. I really don't understand why people get upity/dismissive about strapping a bag onto a bike, I mean people have been doing it for decades...it's hardly a new idea.



I became fixed on four panniers when I loaded up my Super Galaxy twenty years ago with full camping gear and yomped along the A38 in the sunshine: it just felt completely right. I had loads of space, nothing flapped, the bike was as solid as a rock, I knew where all my stuff was, steering untouchable, the centre of gravity of the low-riders beautifully low. 20 kg safely stowed and problem sorted 100%.

I recognise that people have other needs, concerns, requirements - and solutions. But this was a pretty major milestone and one that requires a lot of beating.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

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sabrutat
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby sabrutat » 18 May 2016, 1:24pm

Bicycler wrote:Rather than buying a new bike you could just replace the suspension fork. Surly have a few suspension corrected forks with front carrier braze-ons. Or you could use any suitable rigid fork and a clamp on or axle-mounted carrier.


Thanks dude! I'll look into it.

Giles Pargiter
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby Giles Pargiter » 25 May 2016, 12:22pm

Very interesting the views and preferences that the OP's question have led to in this thread, I find it good reading, their are some very good points within it.

Personally I find that a pair of rear panniers and a good old Carradice amply sufficient for the things I wish to carry. These include a tent and cooking equipment.
I have many times considered carrying the same amount of equipment but spread into front panniers as well, in order to better balance the bike. Although this thought occurs to me every time I'am struggling up some mountain trail - I have never actually decided it is enough of an advantage when faced with making the neccessary adjustments in the workshop. Personally I really don't like the feel of front panniers on my steering.
I have not had any trouble with panniers coming unhooked or flapping about with the advent of modern fastenings. both of these are easily cured with a webbing strap anyway.

The point Haribo makes about aerodynamics; I can't off hand point you to the references (I'm sure google will avail) but according to tests that I have looked at, front panniers are in fact more aerodynamic than rears. The aim being to have as near a "teardrop" shape as possible with the blunt end forwards. I would think that with frame bags as with aero wheels, as soon as the headwind is any more than a very few degrees off, you completely loose any fractional advantage. Let's get a grip here though, we are talking about loaded touring. Smiles not miles and all that, so really whatever you find most convenient and are comfortable with.

Martin Bruce makes a point about Carbon fibre frames and the relative supposed repairability of steel.
Now although I personally strongly prefer steel frames. I like the resilience and overall suitability of the material, I also gain satisfaction from the knowledge that they take eight times less energy to manufacture than an equivalent alumium frame and do not take loads of high tech oil industry chemicals to manufacture. - "Carbon" frames are in fact at least eighty percent plastic. Steel frames also have an inordinately long service life - barring accidents. What an amazing use of human effort and endeavour, not to mention energy this represents, and I still have bikes that are up their with the best.
However although I'am capable of welding/brazing/soldering them to original standard - that is only if I have gas welding kit to hand. If as Martin hypothesises a frame broke in the middle of Tanzania then with the fibreglass repairkit in my saddle bag I could be pretty sure of repairing it to original strength, if not appearance, with no further tools or help - if it were carbon fibre. Granting that you could temporarily repair a steel frame the same way.

Anyway, there are some of my thoughts on your thoughts, I'm off out for miles of smiles. :wink:

PS. Panniers were/are used on horses and pack animals.
Last edited by Giles Pargiter on 25 May 2016, 2:57pm, edited 1 time in total.

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horizon
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby horizon » 25 May 2016, 12:59pm

This thread only makes sense really when you have defined what you are taking with you. So it's been a mixed discussion: what do I need to take (question 1) and what's the best way of taking it (question 2). My guess is that the real choice is about what to take - if you have a huge amount of stuff then front loading becomes IMV inevitable. It's a bit of a non-sequiteur to say that you don't need front panniers because you don't need the stuff in the first place.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

bainbridge
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby bainbridge » 25 May 2016, 10:38pm

2 rear panniers and a rack pack have done me so far, but the tent has to go alongside the rack pack bungeed to the rack.

The rack pack accommodates lunch, phone, wallet, passport, sun cream, little first aid kit, multitool, sunglasses etc and can be whipped of and shouldered when going in a shop or similar.

I can't tour without it!

willem jongman
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby willem jongman » 26 May 2016, 10:44am

The advantages of touring with just two panniers are obvious: you save 2-2.5 kg weight and 100-150 pounds expense on the panniers and a front rack. Therefore, you can use a lighter and more responsive bike for a more enjoyable and crisper ride and easier climbing. You can go to where you might otherwise not want to go. But there are limitations, and the question is if those are relevant for you, or not.
The length of the tour is hardly relevant: for a month touring I take little more than for a few days. What does matter is the climate and the terrain. Two panniers are almost certainly not enough for an expedition tour, or for a tour in most winter conditions. However, for a month long summer trip from the UK to the South of France and back they should easily suffice, provided you do not take too much (invest the money you save on front panniers in more compact sleeping kit). Loading 20+ kg on the back of any bike without front panniers is not a good idea. On my bike I can easily take 12-15 kg without affecting the handling, and that is enough for any three season European tour. An exception would be places like Norway. I did tour there a few years ago, with some 18 kg to cover for -10 degree nighttime temperatures at higher altitudes, and potentially protracted periods of rain. The bike still handled OK, but I could feel the difference from one day to the next, depending on the quantity of food that I was carrying. This point where handling begins to deteriorate will differ from one bike to the next, but it gives at least some idea of the practical limitations, and the challenges.
So where do you put all this luggage? I have a handle bar bag, two Ortlieb rear panniers, and the (often wet) tent strapped on top of the rack. I strap my potentially wet rain jacket and trousers to the top of the panniers, and I have my smelly fuel bottle in a Bikebuddy underneath the down tube. I am not convinced of the advantages of frame bags: they are relatively small, and prevent you from fitting water bottles to your frame. So what is the real gain? Where I feel real improvements are still possible is in handlebar bags. The traditional ones are small, relatively heavy for their volume, and they sit too high and too far forward. Without low riders to stabilize the bike this can be an issue. French style bags like those from Gilles Berthoud are better: they are much bigger (up to 12 litres), and sit lower and closer to the headtube (but they need a small rack and decaleur). The same advantage applies to many bike packing front bags, even though many do not mix easily with drop bars, and are not as easy to remove (I keep my valuables in my bar bag). I think bike packing has advantages for serious off road touring, just as the traditional Carradice saddle bags have advantages for fast and light touring on an audax bike.