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Author Topic: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers  (Read 9881 times)

On Two Wheels

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Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
« on: February 03, 2010, 09:08:51 AM »
Members, I offer up for open debate the subject of bicycle trailers and their usefulness as a part of the touring kit.

Supposed to be able to carry 50kg of gear.

Does anyone have experiences using these?

I can see them being quite handy for just moving things locally but what about when you have to pack all your gear up and move hundreds of miles.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 10:24:40 AM by Stephane »
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petervanglabbeek

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Re: Bike Trailers - Debate
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2010, 03:18:51 PM »
I did one tour with a borrowed Bob yak 8 years ago. I was clearly faster than my friends in the downhills, so I guess it is more aerodynamic than panniers.
Packing is faster, because you have just one big bag to throw all your stuff in, but it was more difficult to organize and find things later.
We did this tour mostly on pavement, but still my special quick release (that comes with the Bob) got bend by the forces. I don't think it would have survived the roads I cycled later in my touring career.
Another minor problem was that it was always difficult to park my bike somewhere.

I don't know the trailer in the picture, but I notice it has two wheels. I would not take a trailer with two wheels on a tour. When you are going fast and one wheel hits a rock, it turns over. For moving stuff locally I think it is good.

Maybe the bob yak has improved. I met quite some people traveling with one and they where usually happy about it. I myself prefer my panniers.

peter
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Stephane

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Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2010, 08:59:13 PM »
    VS.


    Note: www.traveladventures.org is the exclusive proprietor of the image of the man and the loaded bicycle in Kathmandu (first picture above)

    On Two Wheels, thank you for opening this debate. I hope you don't mind that I changed the title of this post.

    This is an old and classic debate: Panniers vs. trailers. It is a hard choice to make and a very personal one.  Some people prefer panniers; other prefer trailers.  I will compare the pros and cons by assuming that we are comparing good quality panniers (Ortlieb, Pacific Outdoor Equipment, Vaude, etc.) set on good quality racks (Tubus) vs. good quality trailers (BOB, Burley, etc.) with good quality dry bags (Ortlieb, BOB, MSR, etc.). One should note that pros and cons might vary from 1-wheel and 2-wheel trailers (but this is another debate entirely).

    PANNIERS

    Pros:

    - Overall, the pannier system is lighter (2 racks and 2 panniers weigh less than a trailer and a dry bag)
    - Are more compact than a trailer
    - 2 panniers and a rack are cheaper than 1 trailer and a dry bag
    - Cause less drag and less rolling resistance
    - Allow the separation of gear into 2 to 4 bags (and usually a 5th dry bag on top of the rear rack)[/li][/list]
    - It is easier to find what you are looking for because your things are separated into several bags as opposed to one bag
    - It is possible to carry more gear (volume-wise) if you use 4 panniers
    - Are accessible while riding
    - Easy to carry (to your tent, to your room, up stairs, over a fence, across a river, etc).
    - Are mechanically simpler, therefore more reliable
    - Require little to no maintenance
    - Usually cause less broken spokes

    Cons:

    - Need to be well-organized in order to retrieve things easily and to balance the weight between the left and right sides
    - Require sturdy racks
    - Cause more rapid wear of tires
    - Raise the center of gravity
    - Are less aerodynamic
    - Cause the ride to be more readily affected by side winds
    - Make the bicycle very heavy, which affects the balance
    - Need to be taken off when fixing a flat, adjusting derailleur, cleaning the chain, etc.

    TRAILERS

    Pros:

    - Can come in handy to carry heavy/bulky items around camp (wood, ice, groceries, case of beer, etc.)
    - Depending on the design, at the campsite, it can be used as a piece of furniture (table, seat, etc.)
    - Can be attached to almost any frame
    - Are a good option for tandems
    - Are better suited to the carrying of longer or larger items
    - Are easier to pack
    - The large opening of the dry bag allows for easy access
    - Take the weight off the bike
    - Has a lower center of gravity, making for an easier ride  
    - Much less stress on the rear hub
    - Because the bike does not require racks, it is lighter once the trailer is removed, allowing for an easier ride around town or camp
    - Don’t get in the way of the feet/pedals during the ride (although a properly-designed touring bike should not have this problem with panniers)

    Cons:

    - Trailers add momentum to a bike, especially downhill, which can be dangerous in case of a sudden emergency stop
    - Might take longer to get used to riding with a trailer
    - Bike and trailer can shimmy, which can be dangerous, especially at high speeds (BOB recommends not accelerating in excess of 24 mph / 40 km/h)
    - Can be a real hassle to carry aboard airplanes, buses, trains, etc.
    - You might need to carry extra tools and extra spares
    - Spares for 20” wheels (or worse, 16”) can be hard to find
    - The bike/trailer system takes a lot of room lengthwise
    - Are more troublesome to park, move around, and move backwards
    - Are arguably heavier
    - Allow one to carry less volume (unless 2 front panniers are also used in conjunction with the trailer)
    - Broken parts can be a real problem, especially in remote areas
    - Broken spokes are more common
    - Need a lot of room for storage
    - Suffer on bad roads, especially in the long-run
    - If front panniers are not used, it can be inconvenient to have to open the big dry bag in order to grab things during the day
    - It is almost impossible to ride off the saddle, especially with a one-wheel trailer
    - 2-wheel trailers add extra problems. You end up with 3 tracks instead of one, which causes much more drag. It is also harder to avoid potholes and other obstacles.
    « Last Edit: February 05, 2010, 12:59:19 AM by Stephane »
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    Ablejack

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #3 on: March 27, 2010, 01:06:20 AM »
    Trailers are ugly.

    City Bike Tallinn

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #4 on: April 13, 2010, 12:20:40 PM »
    Hello

    We here far Eastern Europe try also to invent things. We have regular self-guided tours and roughly 30 pairs of panniers (we have 120) bikes and most of our customers like panniers (Germans, British and Central Europe folks).
    I love for short trips also panniers, I travel light 10-15 kg to carry.
    With Panniers is also easy to repack. Going to overnight place, one pannier off and second fits only things I need to observe the surroundings.
    For longer travel I have tried Trailer. And first time this year we try to offer for our customers Bike and Camp product. Last year we bought from 2 travelers (Australians) quite a lot gear, added some of our own and voilà! Now we have Camp trailer for cyclists, fully equipped. You can come to Estonia, on a bike trip literally two hands in a pocket. We can rent you bike and all gear.
    The trailer contains: equipment for 2, tent, 2 self-inflating mattresses, sleeping bags, 2 chairs, gas stove, cutlery, torch and rain cover. Pretty much everything you need. You just hook it behind and go. And the start price is 24 dollars a day. We even worked out some routes with free camping grounds, so you can ride and enjoy.
    And in autumn we will summarize, were there anyone interested!!! ???
    « Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 10:26:12 AM by Stephane »

    woollypigs

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #5 on: April 18, 2010, 07:57:44 AM »
    Only done one tour with a one wheel trailer (like the BOB) and a couple with panniers.

    Not sure which is the best if you are just thinking about the riding the bicycle part. I was on a fixed bicycle with my trailer and like panniers takes a wee bit of time to get used to riding. The main thing with both if you haven't done either before is that the bicycle moves and falls over much easier than unloaded with panniers or trailer.

    Trailer : well everything is in one place in one big water proof bag, take some time to learn to pack it down right. Bit of a pain to get on a train or over a wall or steps. You will get more load space but more weight to carry around.

    Panniers : I think the best part is that the bicycle is more evenly loaded, you have one bag (handle bar bag) for your important bits. You can split your wet and dry stuff etc. Easier to move around on a train that is if you can lift the fully loaded bicycle which my partner can't.

    I really don't know which is the best, it depends on how much you want to carry and where you are going. Yes the argument that you will have fewer spokes to worry about but then you have more weight on the rear wheel if you are not carrying the trailer etc.

    Though I did managed to move house with a trailer which I'm sure I couldn't have done with my panniers. http://www.woollypigs.com/2007/12/bike-move/

    biciclown

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #6 on: May 01, 2010, 05:51:35 AM »
    With a trailer,go inside some populated cities like Lagos or Teheran or Kolkata must be a crazy experience.
    I guess there are useful for carry extra water or winter gear but...., give me panniers.
    Thailand    (56 countries)71,934 kms and 5 years No stop
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    hartleymartin

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #7 on: June 01, 2010, 12:18:47 AM »
    There is merit to the use of panniers and there is merit to the use of a trailer. For one thing, a trailer lets you immediately unhitch your load, whilst panniers need to be un-packed. It would also be good for runs where a lot of water needs to be carried - there are limitations to what is practical to carry in the way of water on a bicycle frame.

    On the other hand, a trailer is more stuff to carry, particularly if it is a 2-wheel trailer, can create a fair bit of drag, and tempts you to pack more than you need. It's also a hassle if you are going on narrow roads - having three tyre trails makes things difficult on country roads, and forces you to ride in the main carriageway more so than if you were riding with panniers.

    I was going to convert a $100 kiddy-trailer into a cargo trailer, but they can be had for $150 in some places these days (Australian Dollars) And the advantage is that this is cheaper than a rack and panniers. Disadvantage, if the trailer breaks... that's a heck of a lot of stuff to try and carry to your destination...

    DwarvenChef

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #8 on: September 22, 2010, 01:14:07 PM »
    For our first tour, my wife and I are splitting the difference. I'm going to set up with a BoB and my wife will set up with panniers. With all the hook ups to swap back and forth we can swap out as needed and so forth. I'm a cook and by nature I like to have a well supplied "kitchen" at hand for what ever our planned needs will be. I'm still trying to sneak in my cast iron dutch oven (just shoot me)...

    I like posts like this as I can see what reasons many people have for ether one and I can pick out the pieces of each statement that may or may not work for me :) Keep it up :)

    davidkrischer

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #9 on: October 03, 2010, 07:31:19 PM »
    i'm new to this website and touring in general. i'm considering a tour across USA. i think i've selected a bike for touring(surley LHT) but having trouble deciding panniers vs. trailer.  I'm not a particularly strong rider and often need to ride off saddle on steep hills.  some posts mention this being difficult or near impossible with a trailer.  other posts mention that getting up hills is more difficult with trailers.  if both are true it will be panniers for me.  do others agree with these thoughts? any add'l comments?

    also is there a large advantage riding west to east instead of other way round?

    petervanglabbeek

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #10 on: October 04, 2010, 03:33:06 AM »
    i manage to ride off saddle both with a trailer and with panniers. You have to get used to it, the rhythm is different from climbing without lugguage. Make sure you have very light gears. (a 32 or 34 as biggest ring on your cassette). in my opinion the trailer is more airodynamic. But if you are more than one person on the trip, nobody can go in your slipstream. I prefer packing panniers, and they seem more waterproof.
    Peter
    Peter van Glabbeek

    On Two Wheels

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 03:52:31 AM »
    Here is my bike / trailer rig


    and having just past a major milestone


    you can rest assured that I have had my fair share of hills, and in some cases mountains to climb, but not once have I had to ride off saddle to climb them. Yes, I have had to get off and push on occasion but not ride off saddle.

    I drop into the lowest gear and just pedal. If I only move at 4 miles an hour so what? Is there a rush to get where you need to be? Remember generally going up at 4 miles an hour means you will be coming down at 24 - 30 miles an hour.

    There was one small hill  ;) in turkey that took me all day to get to the top of, so I camped up over night, then the next morning it was about 35 miles later that I had to even consider putting any effort into pedaling because it was nearly all down hill.

    Had no major problems with the trailer whatsoever, but the gutter side tyre has taken more than its fair share of puntures, but that is a small price to pay considering the wheel is running in all the roadside debris all the time. Oh, and if it means anything? I'm still on the original trailer tyres, even though it is weighing in at 28kg all inclusive.
    You may say that I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one.
    I hope someday you'll join us, And we can cycle the world as one.

    Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.
    No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man.
    Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world...

    Stephane

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 07:25:42 AM »
    Hey, nice ride!  ;)
    Congrats for the milestone! Keep up and thank you for sharing.
    Stephane
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    unanyoenafrica

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    Re: Bicycle Touring: Panniers vs. Trailers
    « Reply #13 on: December 01, 2010, 09:42:58 AM »
    Hi!
    hey, we are on a tour now, Africa, Asia and Europe. Until now we didn't need front panniers or trailer because for 2 years it was summer for us, but now we are in Europe, cold winter, and we needed to find how to carry the extra-bagagge.
    We are touring with mountain bikes, with front suspension, and it was difficoult and expensive to find a "panniers-carrier" for suspension bikes.
    We have tried BOB, but is heavy and impossible to put on a transport or airoplanes...
    Finally we founded what for us is the ideal solution:
    EXTRAWHEEL, as the word says, is a 3rth weel, same diameter as the other 2, only 2kg heavy, and really very independent on movements. Ah, and for the airoplaines, it fits perfect on the bike box!

    If you need more info you can see how it works on our website
    www.getjealous.com/isidro

    we really recfomende it!

    Isi and Zaida

    Africa, Asia and Europe on a bycicle