Author Topic: 2 or 4 panniers  (Read 2677 times)

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Offline Cat

2 or 4 panniers
« on: September 10, 2013, 11:43:49 am »
Hi!
I am cycling cross the us and about to let go of most of my load for a fast ride from wichita to savannah. Everything fit in the rear panniers and it feels ok to ride like that. But i wonder if it still would be better to keep the front panniers so the load will be more spread out on the bicycle? Will it be to much weight on the rear wheel just having the load above the rear wheel. I have a salsa vaya 2 frame if that matters. Are there any thoughts about this?

Offline Pat

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 12:10:38 pm »
Cat,

Sounds like a fun trip.  People must think we are crazy to talk about riding such distances.  I know I used to.

You are asking one of those "religious" questions where logic and reason will soon be swamped by dogma and faith.  I would suggest you try it for several days and see what you think.  Have you weighed the rig, loaded, with you on it?
    (1)  Find a bathroom scale and a block of wood the same height as the scale.
    (2)  Weigh yourself, your bike, and your gear to get the total weight.
    (3)  Load the bike down, put one wheel on the scale and the other on the block of wood.
    (4)  Manage to stay up - maybe lightly leaning to a wall or someone holding you, have another person read the weight.
    (5)  The weight in #4 / #2 gives you the percentage weight of the wheel over the scale.

Having said all that, I usually tour with four panniers.  And, lately, I have been training with only weight in the rear panniers.  The rides and handling are very different.  I suggest you try both, for some extended rides, on flat ground, climbing, and descending, before you decide.

But the most important thing is that you decide.  Do what feels comfortable and works for you.  After all, you are the one that will be pedaling down the road, having a grand adventure, not us arm-chair riders.

Happy trails,

Pat

Offline Bike Hermit

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2013, 12:42:41 pm »
Cat,

Sounds like a fun trip.  People must think we are crazy to talk about riding such distances.  I know I used to.

You are asking one of those "religious" questions where logic and reason will soon be swamped by dogma and faith.....

Pat

You forgot aesthetics. It doesn't look right to have panniers on the back and no load in front. IMHO. And there will be more weight and stress on the rear wheel. I say spread out the load. 

Offline John Nelson

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 01:05:45 pm »
I use four panniers and would not really consider dropping back to two. Having said that, however, I think maybe two panniers is right for you. You are apparently doing a fast/light ride, don't need the space, and your bike handles fine with only the two. The problem with four is that it requires adding the non-trivial weight of the front rack and front panniers--so there's a big penalty for adding a bit more capacity. If you're not loading your rear panniers with tons of crap, then the stress on the rear wheel should be okay. Before you decide, however, do this. Ride more with your rear panniers loaded with all (all--not just most) of your touring gear, including food and water. Ride up and down long, steep, winding hills. Make sure your handling is good both up and down. Then make sure that your panniers have enough spare room to carry extra food and water for the inevitable desolate stretches.

Offline Cat

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 01:30:46 pm »
I am out riding with almost all the load and it acctually does feel different without the front panniers but not bad, i think. regarding the wind it might be better with just the rear? I will check and see if my host has a scale. Oh, and there are absolutely no steep winding hills out here in the middle of kansas. The biggest i have seen so far might be the driveway to mcdonalds.
Anyways - it is just a great joy being out on a bicycle!!

Offline geegee

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2013, 11:49:25 pm »
I completely disagree that 4 panniers look better. I think having only rear bags looks more streamlined, and front panniers produce more drag against a headwind or sidewind. My view is less is better, each bag just adds weight so if your stuff fits in two and it feels right, go with that.  i also tour with mis-matched tires, 32 in the rear and 28 in the front.

Offline staehpj1

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 09:14:10 am »
How much are you carrying?  That will have a major effect on what packing scheme works best.  I find that when going moderately light (15-20 pound base) I like to go with front panniers only.  With a little more (20-25 pound base) I go with front panniers and the tent on the rear rack.  If I were to go heavy again I'd use 4 panniers, but once I started going lighter I doubt I will go back to heavy touring.

Lately I have been going very light and skipping the panniers altogether.  I just used stuff sacks on the rear rack for my last couple tours.  I was camping and cooking and the longer of the two was another coast to coast trip.  I found that I got along fine with 10 pounds or so of gear.

Offline Cat

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 01:29:43 am »
How much are you carrying?  That will have a major effect on what packing scheme works best.  I find that when going moderately light (15-20 pound base) I like to go with front panniers only.  With a little more (20-25 pound base) I go with front panniers and the tent on the rear rack.  If I were to go heavy again I'd use 4 panniers

Oh, I never had the thought to use only the front panniers. It seemed natural to keep the rear panniers...
I dont have access to a scale but I would guess I will be carrying about 20 pounds.
I still have one day left to try it out.

Offline JayH

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2013, 07:08:52 am »
20lba is not heavy at all. Sometimes I have that weight in groceries when I bike to the grocery store...  The reason some folks use 2 front panniers as opposed to 2 rear ones is that the bike is already heavily weighted towards the rear without any racks and panniers so putting the panniers (and rack) in the front balances the bike better.    There are other reasons for and against both schemes and a ton of folks simply ignore the balance and happily ride with all the weight on the back  so it's really hard for anybody here to tell you what you prefer.

Jay


Offline Bike Hermit

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2013, 11:12:54 am »
I completely disagree that 4 panniers look better. I think having only rear bags looks more streamlined, and front panniers produce more drag against a headwind or sidewind. My view is less is better, each bag just adds weight so if your stuff fits in two and it feels right, go with that.  i also tour with mis-matched tires, 32 in the rear and 28 in the front.

aaargh. Say it isn't true. Rear panniers only AND mis-matched tires! Actually, that does make some sense since the rear wheel carries significantly more weight in this scenario.

Offline Cat

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 01:23:47 pm »
Everything fits in the frontpanniers and it feels good to have them on the front wheel and the tent on the rear. If not I could put the frontpanniers wherever later on. Thanks you all!

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2013, 11:14:41 pm »
Back before the Tour Divide ever happened, and frame packs were invented (or "re-invented, if you look at the photos of the old Buffalo Soldiers), "bikepacking" was done with two rear panniers  or a Bob trailer. My friends in Russia still travel primarily with rear "U" packs or panniers. (See image, in Karelia this summer:) Bikepacking by MTB, I load the rear. Loaded touring, rears for 1-2 nighters, all four for longer.

Just my 2 cents.
Ride safe,
Hans
« Last Edit: September 15, 2013, 11:16:20 pm by TwoWheeledExplorer »
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Offline Pat Lamb

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2013, 11:54:57 pm »
I am out riding with almost all the load and it acctually does feel different without the front panniers but not bad, i think. regarding the wind it might be better with just the rear? I will check and see if my host has a scale. Oh, and there are absolutely no steep winding hills out here in the middle of kansas.

Are you near the Black Flint Hills?  I remember one climb somewhere east of El Dorado that kicked my - er, bike.  If you're not too far off it might be worth a road trip to see how the bike handles with all the weight on the back, then with a split load.  I know I sometimes have to concentrate on weight distribution and handling unloaded when the grade kicks up; it gets your attention when you push really hard and the front wheel comes off the ground, completely unintentionally.

Offline tonythomson

Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 08:58:45 am »
Four without a doubt, enables you to distribute the weight to suit your style and the terrain.  Having space in your panniers gives you flexibility for carrying extra food/water if needed at some particular point in your journey.

Don't get hung up about weight, take the minimum you need relax and enjoy.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com