Are front panniers really necessary?

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Dave Knott, May 29, 2003.

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  1. Dave Knott

    Dave Knott Guest

    Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major snag...

    Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true. There
    do exist racks that work with front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.

    Of course, I was aware of this from the start. I had originally planned to swap on the rigid fork
    from my old bike. But I have now belatedly realized that it was designed for a different headset
    than my current bike. :(

    This is a shame, since I already have some smaller panniers that I used to have on the rear, but was
    planning to use on the front for this trip.

    So now I'm faced with three choices:
    (1) Do the trip without front panniers and make do with rear panniers and a handlebar bag.
    (2) Buy a new rigid fork and a front pannier rack.
    (3) Use my old fork, along with the headset and stem from my old bike as well.
    (4) Buy a trailer.

    I've pretty much dismissed Option #3 as just too much of a pain in the ass. Option #4 is far too
    expensive.

    So I'm tempted to go with just rear panniers, if only to save the expense and trouble of buying and
    installing a new rigid fork. But since I'm planning a self-supported trip, I expect that the rear
    panniers and handlebar bag will fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot more weight on the
    rear of the bike. So I'm not sure if rear-only is the right way to go.

    Has anyone else done long-distance (multi-week) touring without front panniers? If so, how did it
    work out? Recommend or not?

    Thanks for any advice.

    later, dave
    --
    Dave Knott Graduate Student University of British Columbia [email protected]
     
    Tags:


  2. Peter

    Peter Guest

    Dave Knott wrote:
    > Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major snag...
    ...
    > So now I'm faced with three choices:
    > (1) Do the trip without front panniers and make do with rear panniers and a handlebar bag.
    > (2) Buy a new rigid fork and a front pannier rack.
    > (3) Use my old fork, along with the headset and stem from my old bike as well.
    > (4) Buy a trailer.
    ...
    > Has anyone else done long-distance (multi-week) touring without front panniers? If so, how did it
    > work out? Recommend or not?

    I haven't done any multi-week tours, but have done quite a few that were up to a week long with the
    rear pannier/handlebar bag arrangement. Just got back last week from a self-supported camping tour
    down the coast from SF to Santa Barbara with three other cyclists and all of us used only rear
    panniers. None of us had any problems with the weight distribution or handling characteristics of
    our bikes. I think we may have packed a bit lighter than we would have if we had used more bags but
    we weren't lacking any essentials. I didn't even carry anything on top of the rear rack (sleeping
    bag, pad, and tent all went inside the panniers), so I certainly could have carried more gear if
    required for a longer trip.

    I'd suggest you load up your bike as required with your rear panniers and handlebar bag and go for a
    trial ride near home including climbing and descending a hill. If it feels ok on this ride then go
    ahead and plan to do the tour that way.
     
  3. Tbgibb

    Tbgibb Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, Dave Knott <[email protected]> writes:

    >Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major snag...
    >
    >Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true. There
    >do exist racks that work with front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.

    snip

    If you have the heel clearance (which I count as unlikely) you could try Jaand "Large
    Mountain" panniers.

    If you aren't camping you could get by with normal sized rear panniers.

    Personally I think you are taking the wrong bike for the trip.

    Tom Gibb <[email protected]
     
  4. Mpt

    Mpt Guest

    Why the wrong bike? Just curious.

    "TBGibb" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > In article <[email protected]>, Dave Knott <[email protected]> writes:
    >
    > >Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major
    snag...
    > >
    > >Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true.
    > >There do exist racks that work
    with
    > >front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.
    >
    > snip
    >
    > If you have the heel clearance (which I count as unlikely) you could try
    Jaand
    > "Large Mountain" panniers.
    >
    > If you aren't camping you could get by with normal sized rear panniers.
    >
    > Personally I think you are taking the wrong bike for the trip.
    >
    > Tom Gibb <[email protected]>

    ---
    Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free. Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
    Version: 6.0.483 / Virus Database: 279 - Release Date: 19/05/2003
     
  5. Trailgalore

    Trailgalore Guest

    "Dave Knott" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major
    snag...
    >
    > Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true. There
    > do exist racks that work with front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.
    >
    > Of course, I was aware of this from the start. I had originally planned
    to
    > swap on the rigid fork from my old bike. But I have now belatedly
    realized
    > that it was designed for a different headset than my current bike. :(
    >
    > This is a shame, since I already have some smaller panniers that I used to have on the rear, but
    > was planning to use on the front for this trip.
    >
    > So now I'm faced with three choices:
    > (1) Do the trip without front panniers and make do with rear panniers and
    a
    > handlebar bag.
    > (2) Buy a new rigid fork and a front pannier rack.
    > (3) Use my old fork, along with the headset and stem from my old bike as
    well.
    > (4) Buy a trailer.
    >
    > I've pretty much dismissed Option #3 as just too much of a pain in the
    ass.
    > Option #4 is far too expensive.
    >
    > So I'm tempted to go with just rear panniers, if only to save the expense
    and
    > trouble of buying and installing a new rigid fork. But since I'm planning
    a
    > self-supported trip, I expect that the rear panniers and handlebar bag
    will
    > fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot more weight on the rear of
    the
    > bike. So I'm not sure if rear-only is the right way to go.

    A BOB trailer weights 12 lbs. Used $180 Rear Rack about 570 grams $43 Front Rack 480 grams $38 Rear
    Panniers 4 lbs 10 oz $195 Front Roller Panniers 2 lbs 15 oz $12

    Weight penalty compared is a lot less than 12 lbs. The Bob will probably carry more, which may or
    may not be an advantage. Another consideration is that while the Bob tracks well when riding, it
    is unwieldy in tight quarters.
    . I like panniers less than I like a BOB.
     
  6. On Thu, 29 May 2003, Dave Knott wrote:

    > Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major snag...
    >
    > Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! .... So I'm tempted to go with just rear
    > panniers, if only to save the expense and trouble of buying and installing a new rigid fork. But
    > since I'm planning a self-supported trip, I expect that the rear panniers and handlebar bag will
    > fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot more weight on the rear of the bike. So I'm not sure
    > if rear-only is the right way to go.
    >
    > Has anyone else done long-distance (multi-week) touring without front panniers? If so, how did it
    > work out? Recommend or not?
    >
    I used to do long-distance tours (I think the longest was 2 weeks) with only rear panniers and
    handlebar bag. It is possible if you can keep the weight down. Do a test run with the same weight
    that you plan for the long tour.

    Later (1989 or so) I added small front panniers and it became easier to carry more weight (maybe
    too easy to carry too much weight!). The ride seems more stable.

    Then, a few years ago, I lost the small panniers (they were actually stolen, along with the bike
    they were on!) I went on a 3 or 4 day trip with just large rear panniers. It felt awkward and I
    had a hard time fitting everything in. I immediately bought another pair of small panniers for
    the front.

    My normal touring set-up is a "classic" touring bike, 700x32 tires, Blackburn lowriders on the
    front forks.

    --

    David Dermott , Wolfville Ridge, Nova Scotia, Canada email: [email protected] WWW pages:
    http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/dermott/
     
  7. Tom Kunich

    Tom Kunich Guest

    I'd recommend replacing the fork and getting a front rack. Second get a front rack for the
    suspension fork and lock the fork out if possible.

    While front bags aren't ABSOLUTELY necessary, they really do make the bike handle better.

    "Dave Knott" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a
    major snag...
    >
    > Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true. There
    > do exist racks that
    work with
    > front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.
    >
    > Of course, I was aware of this from the start. I had originally
    planned to
    > swap on the rigid fork from my old bike. But I have now belatedly
    realized
    > that it was designed for a different headset than my current bike.
    :(
    >
    > This is a shame, since I already have some smaller panniers that I
    used to
    > have on the rear, but was planning to use on the front for this
    trip.
    >
    > So now I'm faced with three choices:
    > (1) Do the trip without front panniers and make do with rear
    panniers and a
    > handlebar bag.
    > (2) Buy a new rigid fork and a front pannier rack.
    > (3) Use my old fork, along with the headset and stem from my old
    bike as well.
    > (4) Buy a trailer.
    >
    > I've pretty much dismissed Option #3 as just too much of a pain in
    the ass.
    > Option #4 is far too expensive.
    >
    > So I'm tempted to go with just rear panniers, if only to save the
    expense and
    > trouble of buying and installing a new rigid fork. But since I'm
    planning a
    > self-supported trip, I expect that the rear panniers and handlebar
    bag will
    > fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot more weight on the
    rear of the
    > bike. So I'm not sure if rear-only is the right way to go.
    >
    > Has anyone else done long-distance (multi-week) touring without
    front
    > panniers? If so, how did it work out? Recommend or not?
    >
    >
    > Thanks for any advice.
    >
    > later, dave
    > --
    > Dave Knott Graduate Student University of British Columbia [email protected]
     
  8. Dave M Wyman

    Dave M Wyman Guest

    Trailgalore wrote:

    >I like panniers less than I like a BOB.<

    I'll second the BOB option. I'm spoiled by my BOB - I'll probably never go back to panniers.

    Dave
     
  9. Will S .

    Will S . Guest

    Another option that no one has mentioned is a backpack. I just returned from a week long trip using
    only a backpack and a top bag for my rear rack. I don't recommend carrying too much stuff in the
    pack, especially for long distances, but it can be a good solution for carrying light weight space
    eaters like jackets and clothing.
     
  10. "TBGibb" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Because you are intending to ride across the USA which has a very good
    network
    > of roads. Front suspension will be extra weight (OK that is a marginal
    issue
    > when touring) and extra complexity (which is NOT a marginal issue) in
    riding
    > situations that don't require suspension. And front suspension
    complicates the
    > issue of front panniers, which make weight distribution much simpler and
    add
    > carrying capacity for those longer reaches between food and, most
    importantly,
    > water.
    >

    That's the bike the OP has, and he has mentioned several times that expense is an issue. People have
    crossed the country with penny farthings on dirt roads. You can do it on a modern mtb with front
    suspension.
     
  11. TBGibb wrote:

    > Because you are intending to ride across the USA which has a very good network of roads. Front
    > suspension will be extra weight (OK that is a marginal issue when touring) and extra complexity
    > (which is NOT a marginal issue) in riding situations that don't require suspension. And front
    > suspension complicates the issue of front panniers, which make weight distribution much simpler
    > and add carrying capacity for those longer reaches between food and, most importantly, water.

    Everyone I've ever talked to that had front suspension on a tour said it was a great idea. It
    really helps take all the extra jolts out of those cracks and potholes in the road. I'm tempted to
    give it a try.

    >
    > In article <b3yBa.4000$Q%[email protected]>, "MPT" <[email protected]> writes:
    >
    > >Why the wrong bike? Just curious.
    > >
    > >"TBGibb" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > >> In article <[email protected]>, Dave Knott <[email protected]> writes:
    > >>
    > >> >Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major
    > >snag...
    > >> >
    > >> >Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true.
    > >> >There do exist racks that work
    > >with
    > >> >front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.
    > >>
    > >> snip
    > >>
    > >> If you have the heel clearance (which I count as unlikely) you could try
    > >Jaand
    > >> "Large Mountain" panniers.
    > >>
    > >> If you aren't camping you could get by with normal sized rear panniers.
    > >>
    > >> Personally I think you are taking the wrong bike for the trip.
    > >>
    >
    > Tom Gibb <[email protected]>

    --
    **********************************************
    Chuck Anderson • Boulder, CO http://www.CycleTourist.com Tolerance is recognizing that other people
    have different ideals and needs than you. Compromise is acting on that knowledge.
    ***********************************************************
     
  12. Dave Knott wrote:

    > Still planning my big west coast adventure, and I've run into a major snag...
    >
    > Front pannier racks do not work with suspension forks! Well, okay, that's not strictly true. There
    > do exist racks that work with front suspension, but they're hard to find, and very expensive.
    >
    > Of course, I was aware of this from the start. I had originally planned to swap on the rigid fork
    > from my old bike. But I have now belatedly realized that it was designed for a different headset
    > than my current bike. :(
    >
    > This is a shame, since I already have some smaller panniers that I used to have on the rear, but
    > was planning to use on the front for this trip.

    I did my first three tours (Seattle to San Francisco - Boulder to Minneapolis and Seattle to
    Boulder) with the rear pannier - handlebar bag setup. That was solo and completely self supported
    (tent and sleeping bag).

    I toured with my daughter later, and bought front panniers to carry some of her weight (a repeat
    Seattle to San Francisco). I then used the front and rear panniers in Europe for 3 months.

    I find the rear only setup easier to handle when riding. The front panniers make the front wheel
    have more inertia (term.?) to overcome when turning, and more momentum once it starts.

    It is much easier for me to ride no handed with only rear panniers than in full dress.

    Don't worry about it. Go with rear panniers, only.

    The front ones just make you carry too much stuff.

    I use Madden Buzzard Panniers on the rear - 3,000 cubic inches - and then bungee the tent, pad, and
    sleeping bag on top of the rear rack and panniers.

    --
    **********************************************
    Chuck Anderson • Boulder, CO http://www.CycleTourist.com Tolerance is recognizing that other people
    have different ideals and needs than you. Compromise is acting on that knowledge.
    ***********************************************************
     
  13. Tom Kunich wrote:

    > I'd recommend replacing the fork and getting a front rack. Second get a front rack for the
    > suspension fork and lock the fork out if possible.
    >
    > While front bags aren't ABSOLUTELY necessary, they really do make the bike handle better.

    I have found this to be subjective. There are many people that believe one way or the other (based
    on experience).

    And it is the opposite for me. I find the rear-only setup more stable in all conditions (downhill -
    curves - slow - fast) ...... until I get off the bike, that is. Then the rear weight makes the front
    wheel want to almost float off the ground. You have to lean your bike carefully or the front wheel
    turns and the whole bike comes crashing down - - - or you can get a kickstand and a brake-chuck, as
    I did years ago.)

    --
    **********************************************
    Chuck Anderson • Boulder, CO http://www.CycleTourist.com Tolerance is recognizing that other people
    have different ideals and needs than you. Compromise is acting on that knowledge.
    ***********************************************************
     
  14. Dave Knott

    Dave Knott Guest

    Dave Knott (that's me!) <[email protected]> wrote:
    > So I'm tempted to go with just rear panniers, if only to save the expense and trouble of buying
    > and installing a new rigid fork. But since I'm planning a self-supported trip, I expect that the
    > rear panniers and handlebar bag will fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot more weight on
    > the rear of the bike. So I'm not sure if rear-only is the right way to go.

    Thanks to everyone for their advice!

    Having given it some thought, I've now decided to swap a rigid fork onto my bike.

    The main reason is that I already have some smaller panniers that should fit on the front. It would
    be a shame to waste all that carrying volume. This will hopefully allow me to purchase smaller rear
    panniers. Getting better front-back weight distribution should be nice too.

    My one concern is that the smaller panniers were originally designed for the rear, so they're shaped
    differently, and have a large rear pouch. But I don't think that will prevent them from working on
    the front.

    I can get a used rigid fork for $20Cdn and a low-rider front rack for $18Cdn, so it should be fairly
    inexpensive. In fact, I'll be able to save money, since I can get 43L rear panniers for at least
    $50Cdn cheaper than 56L ones. I might even be able to avoid buying a handlebar bag now (although I
    might still get one for convenience)

    later, dave
    --
    Dave Knott Graduate Student University of British Columbia [email protected]
     
  15. Peter Storey

    Peter Storey Guest

    Dave Knott <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Dave Knott (that's me!) <[email protected]> wrote:
    > > So I'm tempted to go with just rear panniers, if only to save the expense and trouble of buying
    > > and installing a new rigid fork. But since I'm planning a self-supported trip, I expect that the
    > > rear panniers and handlebar bag will fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot more weight
    > > on the rear of the bike. So I'm not sure if rear-only is the right way to go.
    >
    > Thanks to everyone for their advice!
    >
    > Having given it some thought, I've now decided to swap a rigid fork onto my bike.
    >
    > The main reason is that I already have some smaller panniers that should fit on the front. It
    > would be a shame to waste all that carrying volume. This will hopefully allow me to purchase
    > smaller rear panniers. Getting better front-back weight distribution should be nice too.
    >
    > My one concern is that the smaller panniers were originally designed for the rear, so they're
    > shaped differently, and have a large rear pouch. But I don't think that will prevent them from
    > working on the front.
    >
    > I can get a used rigid fork for $20Cdn and a low-rider front rack for $18Cdn, so it should be
    > fairly inexpensive. In fact, I'll be able to save money, since I can get 43L rear panniers for at
    > least $50Cdn cheaper than 56L ones. I might even be able to avoid buying a handlebar bag now
    > (although I might still get one for convenience)
    >
    > later, dave

    Whatever works for you. Sounds like a plan!

    Another approach that no one mentioned is front panniers without the need for a front rack. I've
    never used the Carradice Limpets, but I'm told they work quite well. See
    http://www.wallbike.com/carradice/limpet.html.

    Peter Storey
     
  16. Tonto

    Tonto Guest

    I did a 3 week trip last year in France <http://homepage.eircom.net/~IrlBiker/index.htm> with rear
    panniers and handlebar bag; I have a front suspension that won't take standard front panniers except
    those from old man mountain which I intend to get. The ride last year was unstable and not worth the
    weeks of "riding on the edge". You should do a trial run by packing the rear panniers and handlebar
    bag and taking a mini-tour. However if you are going to do this be sure to pack all of the items
    that you would them be taking on the longer trip. I did a "trial run" by packing the pannier bags
    full of clothing items but this was not the same load as I eventually ended up bringing with me -
    hence different wright distribution issues. It was only when I got off the ferry in france and got
    on the bike that I realised that the bike was far from stable. Trying to keep a badly balanced bike
    straight in a crosswind is a nightmare on a busy road..

    [email protected] (Peter Storey) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > Dave Knott <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > > Dave Knott (that's me!) <[email protected]> wrote:
    > > > So I'm tempted to go with just rear panniers, if only to save the expense and trouble of
    > > > buying and installing a new rigid fork. But since I'm planning a self-supported trip, I expect
    > > > that the rear panniers and handlebar bag will fill up quickly. Plus, this method puts a lot
    > > > more weight on the rear of the bike. So I'm not sure if rear-only is the right way to go.
    > >
    > > Thanks to everyone for their advice!
    > >
    > > Having given it some thought, I've now decided to swap a rigid fork onto my bike.
    > >
    > > The main reason is that I already have some smaller panniers that should fit on the front. It
    > > would be a shame to waste all that carrying volume. This will hopefully allow me to purchase
    > > smaller rear panniers. Getting better front-back weight distribution should be nice too.
    > >
    > > My one concern is that the smaller panniers were originally designed for the rear, so they're
    > > shaped differently, and have a large rear pouch. But I don't think that will prevent them from
    > > working on the front.
    > >
    > > I can get a used rigid fork for $20Cdn and a low-rider front rack for $18Cdn, so it should be
    > > fairly inexpensive. In fact, I'll be able to save money, since I can get 43L rear panniers for
    > > at least $50Cdn cheaper than 56L ones. I might even be able to avoid buying a handlebar bag now
    > > (although I might still get one for convenience)
    > >
    > > later, dave
    >
    >
    > Whatever works for you. Sounds like a plan!
    >
    > Another approach that no one mentioned is front panniers without the need for a front rack. I've
    > never used the Carradice Limpets, but I'm told they work quite well. See
    > http://www.wallbike.com/carradice/limpet.html.
    >
    > Peter Storey
     
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