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 » 9 May 2016, 6:02pm

Ridgie wrote:I'm currently in a position to buy a fairly light touring bike, (titanium) that will not accommodate front panniers. The bike suits me perfectly in every other aspect, and, as it will be very expensive, the lightness will make it an excellent machine for regular club use as well as summer tours.
I generally expect to tour for up to a month at a time in the summer. and I have always gone with 2 front and 2 rear panniers and no other storage. I camp and cook, but take a lightish load nonetheless. Does anyone feel that I will be able to substitute the front panniers with one of the the new 'frame bags' combined with a bar bag? And could this combo make up for the loss of both front panniers?


there are a huge array of frame/saddle/bar bags, so you just need to work out what you need to take, what shape it is, and find bags that suit. The bike specific frame/bike-packing bags tend not to be waterproof. But using dry bags is straightforward, and you can attach with bungees or straps.

A four week tour to Slovenia and back, camping (tent under bars in a roll-bag) but not cooking. The Alpkit dry bag (10l I think) on the seatpost was only £14, strapped on with a bungee. Normal Ortlieb bar bag (6l).

Image

FarOeuf
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby FarOeuf » 9 May 2016, 6:08pm

simonhill wrote:Of course, every time we see one of these old chestnuts we could ignore it or just tell the poster to do a search.

Nonetheless, I agree about those framebags. A recent article on what is now called bikepacking showed a bewildering arrangement of very small bags strapped to every spare bit of tubing. Total baggage amount equalled about one easy to carry (rear) pannier. I fail to see the advantage of carrying all your stuff in lots of small bags instead of one or two larger ones.


because the bike handles as if it has no luggage at all. there's no pannier clanking noises. you can ride pretty quickly, jump off pavements, etc, without risking the pannier coming loose.

Of course the 'bike packing' fashion is just the latest fad to satisfy roadies looking to spend some more of their cash. People have been ultra-light touring sinces bikes were invented. It's nothing new to tour without panniers. When were these new-fangled panniers invented anyway, you tend not to see them in the photos of the 50s/60s when most people appeared to just lash loads of stuff to their bike (in bags!) and go? :)

gloomyandy
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby gloomyandy » 9 May 2016, 6:10pm

That looks a pretty minimal setup! Do you have the details of what it is you carried?

FarOeuf
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby FarOeuf » 9 May 2016, 6:26pm

gloomyandy wrote:That looks a pretty minimal setup! Do you have the details of what it is you carried?


Hilleberg Akto tent, summer sleeping bag, a couple of t-shirts, three or four pairs of socks, spare shorts. Bar bag full of maps, camera, documents, and food. Not much else needed for a bike ride :)

I think the main problem people have with packing/bags/panniers/etc, is choosing the look of the bike first. You just take the kit/clothes/gear that is going to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable. Then find bags that will fit your luggage, rather than the other way around. I've seen so many 'bike packing' setups with huge extended wedge shaped seatpost bags, waving around in the wind. Just seems crazy sometimes.

And with bags it's best to balance the weight out front and back, rather than just load up the back end (seat post). I suspect that's largely down to the weight being carried higher up than a pannier setup.

EDIT: this was autumn, I find I need panniers for winter touring to carry extra clothing and a warmer sleeping bag.

andymiller
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby andymiller » 9 May 2016, 7:03pm

A month isn't a long tour.

Most people I meet on the road seem to manage with two panniers and a holdall-style bag (and they still seem to be able to carry cooking equipment and chairs etc).

The amount of stuff you 'need' tends to expand to fill the space available.

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matt2matt2002
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby matt2matt2002 » 9 May 2016, 8:19pm

I toured for 2 months along the Pamir Highway ladt summer.
Took 4 panniers and bar bag.

Looking back, the 2 rear panniers would have been fine.
I had the space, so filled it!!!

I liked the bar bag for passport, camera and valuables.
Easy to remove when stopped for breaks.
2018 Ethiopia.5 weeks.
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shane
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby shane » 9 May 2016, 8:33pm

Totally agree with the veterans here, I've often travelled with the standard set up and wasn't sure what all that BIkepacking non-sense is about.

Ironically several years on, my packing basics haven't changed. I need about the same gear for a weekend or a month, its just a question of which season. Now I just need a lot less of it :D

The definition of " long touring" maybe be the key. The difference between a holiday or a long trip or a lifestyle. The choice of taking the laptop/tablet, the extra blanket, fancy clothes, more spare parts, more serious tent, thicker sleeping bag. We all have our comfort zones and comfort blankets and should travel on the limits of them to keep things interesting. For some thats 40kg of junk, for others its 5kg of junk.

But, like the others I digress, for the OP. Yes you can get by without front panniers, frame bag and the other bike packing non-sense is optional.

This is my current setup for a month trip with towns most days:

ImageIMG_2218 by Shane Cycles, on Flickr

Same trip length 5 years earlier looked like this
ImageMr Hyde by Shane Cycles, on Flickr

And this set up plus 2 rear panniers could be perfect for the OP:

ImageP1030328 by Shane Cycles, on Flickr

Horses for courses, smiles not miles :D

Ridgie
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby Ridgie » 9 May 2016, 9:22pm

Many thanks to all the people who responded. It has sparked some interesting comments, debate even, and I have probably changed my mind about the bike as a result. I think I'll still want to travel with 4 panniers, but more for balance than anything. I do travel quite light, but I do seem to be really bulky. Super light shoes, but super bulky at the same time. I also like to have the room to buy some shopping including that essential bottle of wine. I cook quite a lot and need space for the stuff.
It was going to be a fairly lightweight titanium tourer with carbon forks, (hence no front panniers) and it will now definitely be a steel tourer with mountings for panniers on the front fork, albeit with Rohloff hub, so still far too expensive ..... Ah well!
Thanks to you all again - and happy touring.

gloomyandy
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby gloomyandy » 9 May 2016, 9:35pm

Hi Shane,
interesting comparison between different setups. To my eyes the four panniers look much neater! How does the weight compare? I've just been sorting out my own panniers for use on my new bike and I must admit the panniers all by themselves are not light. Do you take less stuff with you with the new setup, or is it just distributed in a different way? In the first photo of your post there seems to be a couple of bags on the floor, where do they go on the bike?

simonhill
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby simonhill » 10 May 2016, 10:51am

Thanks for saying that bikepacking luggage makes bike handle better. That explains some of it.

One of the reasons I don't like that style is because on most trips I need to unload my bike a few times for plane, train, bus, bike or truck. Manhandling the many bags in the bikepacking system would be more difficult than just two panniers. Also a bit of a security issue as you stand at a busy bus station with a pile of very nickable small bags surrounding you as you try to load your bike on the roof rack.

tatanab
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby tatanab » 10 May 2016, 11:15am

Frame bag as shown above -- I would not get to the end of the road before throwing that away. I ride slightly knock kneed as the result of a cycling collision 40 years ago and so my legs would drag on the bag. It looks wide enough to me that one would have to ride with knees quite far apart.

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foxyrider
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby foxyrider » 10 May 2016, 11:17am

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.

If you want to run just rear bags be sure they are balanced and that you can actually get everything in! I did a week camping with everything on the rear once - never again - the bike was so unstable and wouldn't climb. (I always tour with a bar bag but that's not a weight thing but security/access)

Over the years i've invested a lot in lighter more compact camping gear and I know that if neccesary I could get all my kit in 2 rear bags but with that past experience I would still try to avoid doing so.
Convention? what's that then?
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tatanab
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby tatanab » 10 May 2016, 11:41am

Nothing new in cycling. this was 1896.
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meic
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby meic » 10 May 2016, 11:54am

Ridgie wrote:Many thanks to all the people who responded. It has sparked some interesting comments, debate even, and I have probably changed my mind about the bike as a result. I think I'll still want to travel with 4 panniers, but more for balance than anything. I do travel quite light, but I do seem to be really bulky. Super light shoes, but super bulky at the same time. I also like to have the room to buy some shopping including that essential bottle of wine. I cook quite a lot and need space for the stuff.
It was going to be a fairly lightweight titanium tourer with carbon forks, (hence no front panniers) and it will now definitely be a steel tourer with mountings for panniers on the front fork, albeit with Rohloff hub, so still far too expensive ..... Ah well!
Thanks to you all again - and happy touring.


I have exactly the same criteria.

Sometimes I enjoy a lighter bike with all the weight on the back, sometimes I enjoy the luxury of a load of bags only part filled, so no struggling to squeeze everything into tiny spaces and buying as much shopping as i want.

I bought a pair of 531 Club Tour forks from Thorn, which I leave fitted with headset lower seat, low rider racks and a matching front brake. I can swap them over just by undoing the topcap, stem and brake cable clamp. Rearrange spacers and refit.
When I come back from a tour I just return my CF forks and enjoy the benefits of a lightweight titanium bike again.
Yma o Hyd

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shane
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Re: Long touring without front panniers

Postby shane » 10 May 2016, 5:14pm

simonhill wrote:Thanks for saying that bikepacking luggage makes bike handle better. That explains some of it.

.

Handles better (especially offroad), no panniers snagging on rocks or bushes when doing single track(or bouncing off the racks). More importantly in my case, the overall weight is less (baggage plus bike is around 25kg) so its easier to lift over fences, walls, fallen tree's and other obstacles when doing mtb type routes (also easier to load onto busses, trains and trucks, because all the bags stay on the frame in my case). Its also now (after much faffing around) nicely balanced when I carry it too, very convenient when the tracks become too steep, or unrideable.

ImageIMG_2300 by Shane Cycles, on Flickr

For me bike packing has opened up routes that would not be possible (or very difficult) with a standard set up. My taste in trips has changed, and this is a solution to that problem. I now couldn't imagine doing endless 1000's of miles on tar roads like many of my previous trips.

ImageIMG_2316 by Shane Cycles, on Flickr

gloomyandy wrote: In the first photo of your post there seems to be a couple of bags on the floor, where do they go on the bike?

Its a lightweight backpack.

tatanab wrote:Frame bag as shown above - It looks wide enough to me that one would have to ride with knees quite far apart.


I made it myself, so its fits perfect. The knee area is about 6cm wides and expands to about 8-10 when overfilled, which is just do-able. outside the knee area its fans out to about 15-20cm.
There's a lot of marketing going into bike packing. But, for most folks a classic 2-4 panniers will work better and probably be cheaper.