Author Topic: Trailer or just panniers?  (Read 2129 times)

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Offline GRMark

Trailer or just panniers?
« on: February 03, 2020, 12:01:18 pm »
I'm finishing up the planning for a ride back to MI using Route 66.  I'm still unsure as to the exact start date but probably around April 1.  This should get me through the desert part with reasonable heat although the possible bad spring weather in TX is a concern.  If only everything could be ideal!  I have been an avid cyclist for years and have done a number of long distance rides but this trip will be solo/packed. I'm thinking about 2 months to get back home to Grand Rapids. 

I'd like some advice on how to pack.  Taking some of the weight off the bike by using a trailer looks to have some advantages but I'd appreciate any advice that might be given.

Thanks in advance!

- Mark -

Offline aggie

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2020, 05:18:32 pm »
If you do a search for trailers vs panniers you will find it depends on the preferences of the rider.  Some like a trailer - some don't.  I have both and I prefer a trailer.  Others do long tours and prefer panniers.  I suggest you try to borrow each to see which one suits you best.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2020, 06:02:07 pm »
If you believe in the wisdom of crowds, I think you'll find that more people use panniers than a trailer for riding on paved roads. It's also usually easier to fly with panniers than fly with a trailer. Some people use a trailer because their bike isn't suitable for panniers. Off-road riders sometimes prefer trailers. Pannier systems are lighter, cheaper, simpler. Trailers can be used with more bikes and have a lower center of gravity.

There are dozens of articles on this subject around the web and easy to find with Google. The ACA has written several articles themselves. Here's one: http://www.adventurecycling.org/default/assets/resources/panniersversustrailer_03.pdf

Offline BikePacker

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2020, 08:21:12 pm »
If you decide to try out Panniers I would encourage you to only employ Panniers that are fully rain proof.

Feb. 4th 'addendum' ~
If you decide to try out a single wheel type Trailer I would encourage you to pack it such that the weight is distributed in compliance with the manufacturer's instructions. 
I think I caused myself to have an accident one time because I think I failed to do so ...
which is to say I think I either packed too much weight or did not distribute the weight in accordance with the instructions. 
Will never know for sure;
however, unexpectedly, a wobbling movement developed between my bike and the trailer which grew to the point that 'we' all went down. 
Was on level/good/dry pavement, no wind, not over 20mph, was not braking or accelerating.  I have no knowledge what caused it.  The trailer was proven brand. 
Have never tried a double wheel - but a double is of little interest to me cause I like to get off the pavement and back on 'at will' and my concern is that it may not be as easy to do so as with a single wheel <<< I may well be wrong on this, as I have never personally tried a double wheel, I have only 'read' that this can be a property of the double wheel type design ...
I would love to see posts form other ACA Forum Posters if this is actually true or not.  I would maybe give the double wheel design a try sometime if others with double wheel experience say that this is not any kind of actual problem.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2020, 08:20:15 am by BikePacker »

Offline hikerjer

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2020, 10:13:57 pm »
As has been mentioned, it's purely a personal preference. I will say that probably 90% of the bike tourers I see are using panniers only, if that says anything.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2020, 01:42:25 pm by hikerjer »

Offline aggie

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2020, 10:47:07 am »
Actually, flying with a trailer is no more difficult than flying with a bicycle.  I have a custom made bag that holds the trailer and some gear.  The bag wasn't very expensive or heavy and I can fold it up and carry it with me to use when I get to my destination.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2020, 05:36:08 pm »
My all time high speed on a bike was while pulling a BOB trailer for what that's worth (46 mph north of Glacier towards Canada). I switched to panniers only because I wanted a new "traditional" touring bike because I could once I could afford more bikes. Personal preference.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2020, 11:30:08 am »
As others have said, totally personal decision and again, as others have said, I would strongly suggest you try both and be sure to load about 35 pounds of evenly distributed "gear" (bricks, some jugs of water, etc.) .

Also, try to imagine what you will be doing on a trip, i.e. if going into a hotel and it is on the second floor, how do you get all the gear up there; parking at a convenience store; stopping/starting on a steep uphill; ride down a steep downhill as fast as you can; ride into a strong headwind; etc. This should give you a fairly good idea as what your preference is.

Tailwinds, John


Offline ray b

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2020, 03:05:32 pm »
I'm finishing up the planning for a ride back to MI using Route 66.  ... I'm thinking about 2 months to get back home to Grand Rapids.  ... Taking some of the weight off the bike by using a trailer looks to have some advantages but I'd appreciate any advice that might be given...
I also have both a trailer and panniers. Agree with all said, but will point out the physics - My Bob weighs about 14 pounds. Even my long trips have gone ultra-lightweight if I have real hills to climb - I don't even own large panniers. Yes, you might set a personal downhill best speed with the extra weight of the trailer, but you'll pay for it on the way back up the next hill.

That said, for leisurely flatland camping, a trailer with up to 70 pounds of payload can't be beat. If you're starting in Texas, you've left most of the climbing to the west. If you go for the trailer, simply make sure you are geared for the Joplin Missouri area.

And have fun.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline canalligators

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2020, 11:07:31 am »
My all time high speed on a bike was while pulling a BOB trailer for what that's worth (46 mph north of Glacier towards Canada). ...

IMO driftless, you either have an exceptionally good towing rig that is well loaded, or you were lucky.

OP, be aware that single wheel trailer manufacturers specify a maximum operating speed, usually around 25 mph.  For most bikes and riders it is a good idea, if not critical, to obey the limit.  A bike-trailer rig can go instable very quickly at high speed.  In my experience, I have a good single bent for trailering, and I won't exceed 30 - and at that, only if I can take the lane and the pavement is good.  Similarly on our bent tandem, I won't exceed 35, with the same criteria.

You probably can get away with higher speed towing an Extrawheel than a BOB or its imitators.  It is tucked in closer and less reactive in maneuvering.

Because a trailer setup is a little heavier (harder to climb with) and the speed restriction on descents, we use our BOB Yak on flat land only.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Trailer or just panniers?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2020, 07:16:35 pm »
Panniers are easily rain-proofed without the cost of expensive Ortlieb brands. Any old panniers are good as long as they are strong enough to carry the load. Industrial strength, contractor trash bags are at Walmart. A roll is about ten dollars. Cut out the corner of one. Fit it around the bag so it hugs tightly top to bottom.  Take it off. Seal the cut side with gorilla tape. Paste a strip of tape high on one side and cut slits where the hooks can go through. There you have a perfectly water-proof pannier where rain is the matter. It looks sharp, too. You can make a similar rain guard for a handlebar bag. Many cyclists prefer a certain stylish appearance to their gear. For them, I suppose, this advice would be ignored. I have always used panniers. A trailer, in my view, is just extra weight, increased chance of mechanical problems and punctured tires, and added expense with no obvious benefit over what I already have. People use trailers. I have read their opinions. They seem to think trailers are great. It's a matter of what you want to use.