Author Topic: panniers in front or rear?  (Read 4079 times)

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Offline magno_michael

panniers in front or rear?
« on: March 28, 2008, 06:13:11 pm »
I'm returning to riding after a multi year hiatus, and intend to start doing some local, 4-5 day ultralight (20-30 lbs)self supporting touring.  I'm in the process of outfitting my Diamondback Maravista, and I'm thinking that I can get by with only one set of panniers.  My question is:  as far as balance and handling goes, is it better to put the panniers in the rear or front.  I've read conflicting reports and would appreciate any input or personal experience.

Offline freightbike

panniers in front or rear?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2008, 01:08:38 am »
Kind of depends. You can switch back and forth if you have both racks. Front panniers are great for really heavy stuff as long as there is no wiggling on the racks. If the panniers are some what aerodynamic the wind won't be too much of a problem. You can mount them in back for days when the headwinds are brutal. One problem with front rack panniers is the heavy feel of the handle bars. Front racks were really developed to even out weight distribution for heavy touring. Making the front wheel carry more weight so the rear wheel, which naturaly carries more body weight plus deals with torque forces is less prone to spoke breakage. Plus front panniers could be mounted lower helping with center of gravity issues. I'd carry my five pounds of bike tools and spare parts down low in my front lowriders.

May the wind at your back always smell like home.

This message was edited by freightbike on 3-28-08 @ 9:09 PM
May the wind at your back always smell like home.

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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panniers in front or rear?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2008, 01:47:02 am »
I used rear panniers for a number of years, mostly for off-road "bikepacking" where I had a front shock on my MTB, before OMM came out with their racks. We did 350 Km in NW Russia with 40 lbs. on the rear with no probems. (Makes it real easy to do a wheelie, though.)

Interestingly, most of the Russians we rode with only used rear panniers. They are big on a one-piece, U-shaped pack, which most of the bike club seemed to have. You can see one at

I have front and rear sets now, but for mountain bike camping, I still go with rear bags.

Ride safe,

St. Brendan's Travelers Bicycle Missions Team
2WX: The Two-Wheeled Explorer
"St. Louis to the Western Sea if nothing prevents."--John Ordway, Corps of Discovery

Offline DaveB

panniers in front or rear?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2008, 02:40:10 pm »
I've done multi-day credit-card tours carrying the size load you mention (ca 20 pounds) using a pair of small rear paniers and a rack top bag.  The bike handled fine with no instability or other problems.  

The combination of front and rear panniers, as noted above, is intended for really heavy loads (40 pounds and up) to let you distribute the weight so it all isn't at one end of the bike.  For the load you want to take, this shouldn't be needed.