Author Topic: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?  (Read 10967 times)

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Offline tombrogan

Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« on: March 17, 2011, 08:58:55 pm »
Lets say that all your stuff will fit in 2 rear panniers such as the Ortlieb Back-Rollers. Is there any advantage of using 4 smaller panniers such as 4 Front-Rollers to distribute the weight more evenly between the front and rear wheel?

Offline knolltop

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Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 10:01:12 pm »
Bike balance is a reason.  Bike will handle better with weight distributed front & rear.

Strain on your rear wheel is a reason.  Strain can lead to broken spokes and/or premature fatigue of your rim and/or wear of your tires.  These potential problems will be lessened with weight distributed front & rear.
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Offline John Nelson

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2011, 10:02:09 pm »
Depends on the bike. In most cases, however, the bike will handle better with more evenly distributed weight. Also, distributing the weight will put less weight on the rear wheel, reducing the potential for wheel problems. Also, four panniers will make it easier for you to organize your gear. Finally, and probably most importantly, if the center of the weight on the rear is behind the rear hub, the front wheel will tend to come off the ground, or have so little weight on it that steering may be imprecise. Even if the center of the weight is centered on the rear hub or even slightly in front of it, it will still unweight the front wheel when climbing hills.

Having said all that, many people successfully tour with only rear panniers. I would not.

Offline rvklassen

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2011, 08:19:01 am »
2 panniers is going to be lighter, no matter how you cut it.  If you need 60 l of space, and distribute that over 4 panniers, it's going to weigh more than 2 panniers of the same total capacity. 

That said, an advantage not listed is the ability to dedicate one front pannier to food.  This allows you to a) vary the quantity of food you're carrying according to the distance to the next supply; b) protect that pannier and only that one from wildlife - squirrels, chipmunks, racoons, bears - depending on where you're riding.

Weight in front panniers (on low riders) tends to increase the stability of the bike, whereas weight in rear panniers tends to be neutral.  Probably because the weight is higher.   We've been known to ride with only front panniers, although it looks a bit odd.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2011, 09:27:55 am »
I agree with all above. We use the Ortlieb Roller Classic*(Waterproof) and like that you can roll them down to fit your load or keep them open when going shopping for long or bulky items. I would not go with 4 smaller pannniers. Even through there will be more weight, with the larger panniers, in the rear or adding two smaller ones in the front, you will limit yourself for future trips. Have you taken your bike out with just the two larger panniers? I will bet that it will handle fine if you keep the heaviest items as low as possible. I would make sure you weigh each pannier and take it down a windy downhill. The other option is you can explore a trailer, instread of panniers, or there is a trailer that holds two large panniers. There was one advertised recently , for sale, in the ACO Classifieds(*Plus material is better and more durable)

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 01:20:25 am »
I did a week long tour with two panniers once.  Front panniers on low rider racks.  When you sit on your bike, a vast majority of the weight is on the rear wheel.  So its best to get as much weight as possible to the front low rider panniers.  Low rider racks and panniers help stabilize steering.  But long ago people toured with just rear panniers and seemed to do fine.

Offline bikermike

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 04:52:04 pm »
how about 2 bags in front and a rolled bag or big stuff sack on your back rack. that might equate to 3-3.5 bags and will be marginally more aerodynamic and weight centered than the back bags.

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 11:45:19 pm »
If I am on my mountain bike, I usually use two rear bags. We rode MTBs across NW Russia that way, and our hosts used a large, pannier/pack shaped like an upside-down "U", like these:
 
(Photo courtesy of Vladimir Pashkov, Petrozavodsk Bicycle Travel Club.)

Road bikes merit all four, for the previously mentioned balance factor, and if I am solo tripping, it gives me a bit more packing space. If I know I am staying in a hostel or bunkhouse, I can usually get by with rear panniers only.

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« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 11:47:44 pm by TwoWheeledExplorer »
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Offline tonymason

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2011, 12:29:59 am »
I am one who thinks less is more so I'd go with just rear panniers. One way to help balance the load and take weight off the back end is putting heavy items in a handle bar bag and/or attaching items such as sleeping pads to your handle bars.

Offline rvklassen

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2011, 09:15:04 am »
One way to help balance the load and take weight off the back end is putting heavy items in a handle bar bag and/or attaching items such as sleeping pads to your handle bars.
Whereas putting weight in low-rider mounted front panniers increases the stability of the bike, putting weight in a handle bar bag reduces the stability of the bike.  Handlebar bags are nice for holding things you want to have easy access to, and for acting as a "purse" to remove from the bike and take with you into a store.  Not for holding heavy items.

FredHiltz

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Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 10:25:40 am »
I agree. My tourer gets really wobbly and hard to maneuver quickly with any substantial weight in the handlebar bag.

Fred

Offline PeteJack

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2011, 08:55:03 pm »
I agree with all of the above and will add that front panniers can give you a more comfortable, consequently less fatiguing, ride. It's surprising how they damp down vibration in your bars.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Any advantage of using 4 vs 2 panniers?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2011, 10:50:11 pm »
Again, bikes differ so much that you can't generalize. I notice absolutely nothing different in handling with a large handlebar bag on my bike.