Author Topic: Panniers vs. BOB?  (Read 711 times)

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Offline mscottweiss

Panniers vs. BOB?
« on: July 25, 2014, 07:17:49 am »
Hello--I am a fit and experienced cyclist, but new to the world of self-supported long-distance touring. I'm contemplating some big plans for the summer of `15, and would love to hear some thoughts on the pros and cons of panniers vs. trailer for a trip of around 2 months. Thanks!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2014, 09:49:49 am »
It will depend on a lot of factors including how much you are carrying and what bike you will be riding.

I like to pack like an ultralight backpacker and as a result won't consider a trailer.  I figure I can get my minimalist gear on even a race bike.  I have found it a good way to go.  I have even forgone the panniers in favor of waterproof stuff sacks.

Before I started packing so light I rode a touring bike with panniers.  That worked out well for me and I preferred it to a trailer with the touring bike.

Where a trailer might make sense is if you want to ride a sportier road bike rather than a touring bike and want to carry more than you can manage on the road bike.


Offline SlowAndSlower

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2014, 01:27:33 pm »
You will find many discussions of the pannier versus trailer issue and the merits of each. I personally like panniers especially if I expect to use trains along the way like I do in Europe. Just a whole lot easier.
But my personal observation is that if wind is going to be a factor in your touring I believe a BOB trailer would prove to be advantageous over a front and rear pannier set up. Especially in a quartering headwind where the panniers will tend to act act as speed brakes. This was the effect I experienced coming across Kansas riding with a mix of panniers and BOBs TransAm riders.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2014, 01:38:04 pm »
But my personal observation is that if wind is going to be a factor in your touring I believe a BOB trailer would prove to be advantageous over a front and rear pannier set up. Especially in a quartering headwind where the panniers will tend to act act as speed brakes. This was the effect I experienced coming across Kansas riding with a mix of panniers and BOBs TransAm riders.

That reminds me...  I found that when riding with a couple companions on the TA we found it very useful to draft each riding pace line.  This can be a big deal in windy places like Wyoming, Kansas, etc.

It is harder to draft behind a trailer.  To get the most benefit you need to be closer to the bike than you can get behind one with a trailer.  That won't be a big deal for most tourists, but if riding with others in open windy country it might be worth considering.

It won't be a factor if riding alone though.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2014, 07:41:46 pm »
If you believe in the wisdom of crowds, use panniers. Far more touring cyclists do.

Offline mscottweiss

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 11:39:49 am »
Thanks to you all; I really appreciate the excellent advice. Seems like there are certainly pros and cons to both options. I'm leaning toward panniers, as it seems to be the majority consensus. Once again, much obliged for your help, and I hope your rides are safe and happy.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2014, 01:31:13 am »
I own a Bob Yak and  normal panniers myself. I have toured with both. When touring on paved roads I would never choose the trailer because: The trailer lives its own life and it feels you are riding with a dead body all the time. Do not misunderstand, the trailer stays on track, but it sort of sways so you get small counter movements sent into your frame ... due to the weight it constantly tries to counteract your body/frame movement especially when you are standing in your pedals riding up a hill. I prefer panniers because they are an integrated part of the rig.

Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2014, 03:21:29 pm »
A benefit of a trailer that hasn't been mentioned is that it might allow you to use an existing bicycle for touring without the need to purchase a beefier bike that can handle the weight of heavy-laden panniers. If you are on a budget, a trailer can be a good option, especially with things like hybrid bikes that already have mountain bike drive trains with low gearing.

I pulled a trailer around behind my cross bike for the first time this summer on a couple of trips. I preferred it much more on the highway trip (Jasper to Calgary) than off-road (Kettle Valley Rail Trail). On rough roads and singletrack, I really noticed the weight of the trailer behind me, as well as the "trailer whip" when dodging rocks, roots, etc. on the bike. On the highway, I only noticed the trailer on fast descents and when standing to climb hills. Packing was a LOT easier than with panniers, and I was definitely more aerodynamic than with panniers. But those were the only tangible advantages. The weight of my cross bike + trailer + bag was about the same as a heavier touring bike + racks + panniers.

I definitely liked travelling on the cross-bike, however. I think I might put on some lightweight racks and ultralight panniers front and rear and try that combination now for both on-road and off-road trips.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 03:23:13 pm by DarrenBnYYC »

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2014, 05:26:12 pm »
If you decide on a trailer, be sure to check out the Burley Nomad before buying the Bob. They are different.  i use the Nomad, and have been on rides with folks using the Bob.  I would choose the Nomad 2-wheeled option for stability and loading/finding stuff ease. I agree with Staephi about the drafting issue.  I think it is a big deal, esp for me, as I am a real wind wimp! therefore, when not touring alone I'd prob go with panniers, but use ultralite technology.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline canalligators

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2014, 01:05:28 pm »
Single wheeled trailers have maximum speeds specified, and for most riders and machines it is a very good idea.  So if you're planning to descend Washington Pass at the 40 mi/hr that is possible, don't use the BOB or its clones.  Two wheeled trailers do not generally have this restriction.

Also look at the Extrawheel.  I understand (but don't know for sure) that it can safely operate at higher speeds.

We have used both, and have come to mostly prefer panniers.  Our BOB weighs more than the equivalent large pans and rack, so it will take more effort to climb.  It's a good choice in flat land for long trips.  In any case, strive to reduce your load first, then worry about packing after.