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Bob or panniers on tour with my cross bike?(5 posts)

Bob or panniers on tour with my cross bike?charlieben
Jan 26, 2003 8:33 PM
This is not exactly a cross question, but I am going on a tour with my cross bike and wanted to know if anyone has experience and feedback on what to go with, two rear panniers or a Bob trailer? Thanks!
re: Bob or panniers on tour with my cross bike?lookin for help
Jan 27, 2003 6:45 AM
We recently did a tour -me with the bob and my wife with the panniers. While I like each of them and they have there pros and cons. The BOB allowed me to pack quite a bit more for one. I think the biggest thing for me was the fact that when getting from point a to point b was done for the day you could simply unhook the bob and your bike was relieved of your load immediately. we were doing a rail trail... pretty much straight line riding not alot of hills. When we got off the trail onto roads and had to deal with some long down hills I think I would have deifnitely felt better with the panniers. I wonder if you could install a break on that little rear tire.
re: Bob or panniers on tour with my cross bike?adventurefind
Jan 27, 2003 7:35 AM
I have both. The BOB allows for transporting different things panniers can't. I have carried bike frames, wheelsets, and other crap in the BOB. It tracks perfectly behind you. The only thing about it though is that when you get a flat on it, you better have the right tube...and think about it, it's another hub to deal with.

With panniers, they are conventional, and they turn any bike into a very utilitarian bike. The limits come with the racks available and the design for the frame. But most cross frames are compatible with standard pannier racks.

The cool thing about racks and panniers (I have the best, Vaude panniers) is that your bike is much more stable on downhills, and you're limited from collecting unnecessary stuff that will weight you down.
Cross - v - Touring bikeflyweight
Jan 27, 2003 3:04 PM
The biggest problem with putting a rack and panniers on a cross bike is that the chain and seat stays are not heavy enough for a typical touring load. Cross bikes use lighter gauge tubing to keep the weight down and make for a more comfortable ride. Touring bikes use heavier tubing to resist the fish tail effect that's caused by panniers.

One option you haven't considered is front panniers. Front mounted panniers sit much closer to the ground which means your bike won't feel nearly as top heavy as it does with rear panniers. They handle MUCH better than a rear set. Problem is hardly any cross frames have forks with rack mounts. You can get a nice steel touring fork (the one that comes with the SOMA Double Cross works great) and use that. Switching forks isn't as hard as it sounds. Make sure the touring fork and your regular fork have matching headsets (actually you only need the lower race that mounts on the fork crown) and brakes. To switch you just undo the stem and top cap, slide the old fork out, slide the new fork in, tighten everything up and reattach the straddle cable. Even with the cost of an extra set of brakes and an extra headset this is still cheaper than a Bob trailer.
Used both, usually prefer BOBGlowBoy
Jan 28, 2003 12:53 PM
I'd concur with pretty much all of the above. I've used both setups on-road and off. Each has its advantages, but I think for a lot of uses BOB is preferable.

If you absolutely want the lightest setup possible, the pannier option is better - assuming you can make everything fit in just 2 panniers (either front-only or rear-only, your choice). A rack and empty panniers is about 10 pounds lighter than a BOB and its cargo bag, plus the smaller size forces you to fit everything into a smaller space. The other big advantage is that even with really quality equipment (say, Ortliebs, which I have and love), a rack and 2 panniers is cheaper than a trailer. Downside is that if you're carrying even very lightweight camping gear, it's REALLY pushing it to fit all that stuff into 2 panniers, and if you can't make that work then the panniers' weight and price advantages pretty much disappear.

Having done both, I prefer using the trailer. In fact, I just did a camping trip with mine a couple weekends ago. I don't mind the extra few pounds because the bike handles SO much better than with panniers. (At least compared to rear panniers - I haven't tried the front-only arrangement). My experience is with mountain bikes and touring bikes, so on a lightweight short-chainstay cross or racing bike the advantage would be even greater. BOB can also carry a lot more stuff than 2 panniers, so it's a lot less limiting. Finally, I also have had a lot of problems in the past with rack and/or pannier hardware coming loose or breaking in the field. The trailer seems like it should have fewer such problems, though mine is only a year old so only time will tell.

I assume you're talking about road touring, but just in case you plan on taking a trailer off-road, I will give you a word of caution. The owner's manual says it's "very off-road capable". Yes that is true, BUT the change in weight distribution means the front tire has a lot less gripping ability relative to all the weight in back. No problem on firm surfaces, but on loose or slippery terrain it is not that hard for the front tire to wash out on you. If that happens, you WILL jackknife the trailer and you WILL damage it at the point where it attaches to your bike. This happened to me last year - fortunately I was able to limp BOB back home and it only cost $20 to get BOB repaired - but I've definitely learned my lesson. I will happily take BOB touring on pavement and on dirt roads, but not on technical singletrack.

- Dan