Author Topic: Panniers vs. BOB?  (Read 10570 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.

Offline SprocketWeasel

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2014, 01:36:54 am »
Don't Crash with a Trailer!

I travel with a BOB, connected to a Specialized hybrid bike. I have done all my trips (on and off road) this way. So I can only comment on my experience with this rig.  Yes, I continue to travel this way.

I foolishly tried to out run two large dogs bounding toward me.  After 250 yards they could sense I was tiring.  Despite my speed, at 30 MPH.  With a second wind, the larger dog caught up to me.  My only defense was squirting him with my water bottle.  Then came the "perfect storm".  To exact my aim, taking my eyes off the road, I swerved toward the oncoming lane.  Right then, was the worst time to realize, I had never been this fast, with this much weight and hopelessly trying correct my course!  It happened.  I was a tangled heap in the middle of the road (thank God for no cars).  My rig jackknifed to the point the trailer, on one side, ripped off from the rear skewer.  To my disbelief, nothing broke.  I could put it back together.  Fortunately, I came away with only road rash.  But those dogs...they stopped.  Before they returned to their porch.  I swear, they smiled!             
Cheers, SprocketWeasel

Offline DaveB

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2014, 06:43:38 pm »
It will be interesting to see how long this thread goes.  Panniers vs Trailer has the same potential for heated discussion and disagreement as Shimano vs Campy and "whats the best chain lube?" questions.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2014, 06:03:06 pm »
It will be interesting to see how long this thread goes.  Panniers vs Trailer has the same potential for heated discussion and disagreement as Shimano vs Campy and "whats the best chain lube?" questions.
+1 Unless you've got plenty of space trailers present the problem of finding somewhere to put it when you ain't using it.

Offline aggie

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2014, 01:41:07 pm »
I have both the BOB and the Burley Nomad.  On the BOB the "speed limit" (25 mph) is posted on a decal near the wheel.  On the Nomad the speed limit is listed in the owners manual.  It states"... a maximum of 15 mph (24 km/h) on smooth roads and 5 mph (8km/h) or less when turning or on uneven roads."   So on this two wheeled trailer there is a "speed limit" and it is less than the BOB. 

I've exceeded 40 mph going downhill with the BOB with not problems and I've done several tours with the BOB with no problems.  For around town errands I prefer the Nomad because of its weight limit.  Not sure if I'll use the Nomad for a tour.

I prefer to use a trailer for tours.  It is a matter of personal preference.  Like most things people will have their own opinions as to which option works best for them.   

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Panniers vs. BOB?
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2014, 12:51:31 am »
Interesting about the speed limits.  I've gone up to 45 mph in a fully loaded Nomad with no problems and have often gone over 30. 
May the wind be at your back!