Author Topic: bike feel with 4 loaded panniers?  (Read 6062 times)

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Offline crutter

bike feel with 4 loaded panniers?
« on: August 20, 2004, 09:36:32 pm »
I am heading out on my first solo tour in a few days and I have one question that I cannot seem to find the answer to.  When I have all four of my panniers loaded up on my bike, how should the ride feel?  
It seems a bit shakey, is this normal?  Are my panniers not loaded correctly?  is the weight not distributed evenly?

Thanks in advance to any responders.


  • Guest
bike feel with 4 loaded panniers?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2004, 12:32:38 pm »
Hi Crutter. The common wisdom says 60% weight low in front, 40% in back, and no more than 5 lb. in a handlbar bag. Start there and adjust to taste. If all bag attachments are firm and the headset is not loose, the bike will not feel shaky.

It will feel different, so the rider may be shaky for the first mile or two. The bike becomes much more stable. In other words, it handles like a truck or a tandem. You need to start a turn a little sooner, and may over-correct if you start it late and try to force it. Then you over-correct that correction, and so on. Hence the shakes. (This is so common in flight instruction that we even have a name for it: pilot-induced oscillation.

I have probably made this sound worse than it is. Relax and put in a five-mile practice ride where you can safely fool around with abrupt turns and stops. Then you will be fine.

On the other hand, the stability is great for descending. You will probably feel more comfortable at speed, once used to the dynamics.

Get ready for another new feeling: a wonderful sense of freedom.


Offline dombrosk

bike feel with 4 loaded panniers?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2004, 11:22:54 pm »
Your message brought back VIVID memories of my first solo loaded tour, just a few months ago.  My wife was watching as I road nervously down our street and wondered how on earth I'd make it to my campground that night.
FIRST, having ridden a thousand or so miles now with four loaded panniers, let me give the comforting news that it gets better, much better.  I actually prefer riding loaded now, the bike feels more stable, especially on fast descents.
SECOND, for me, at least, what I've found is that the load amplifies my movements on the bike, and that the shaking that I felt that first morning back in June was largely self-created.  Riding with loaded panniers requires a much lighter touch for me.  
THIRD, my bike gets much more stable above 6 or 7 mph, although, oddly, I can climb a hill, peddling at a steady cadence, right down to 4 mph.
FOURTH, congratulations on setting out on this adventure!  My journal for that first tour notes that for the first few miles I was sure my bike was about to fall apart, that after 5 miles I was starting to figure it out, and that after 20 miles the bike felt completely natural.
FINALLY, I find that I need to be more "intentional" with loaded panniers.  Mounting the bike, starting out from an intersection, shifting early before the hill gets steep, all these things require thought at first but will become second nature, just like "riding a bike."
Sometimes I think a loaded bike needs a new name, it handles and rides so differently.  And it's GREAT!
Happy trails!