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Trailer vs Panniers?(4 posts)

Trailer vs Panniers?Matno
Apr 7, 2003 4:38 AM
I know this topic has been covered ad nauseum, but I've already checked the archives, and I can't seem to find exactly what I'm looking for...

I'm planning a long ride this summer on the order of 500 miles. Only thing is, we're doing it in 4 days so we won't be taking much gear. Weight will be at a premium since we'll need to be moving as fast as we can to cover 120 miles per day. A friend offered to let us borrow his BOB trailer, and he says it's great, but having used panniers in the past with zero problems, I'm leary of its extra weight. We'll be riding in hilly country (Montana/northern Idaho) and I don't have a triple chainring. Of course, if my brother in law wants to carry ALL the gear on one BOB, I have no problem with that! :^) (Sad thing is, he probably could without falling behind me. I honestly think he could be a very successful pro racer if that were on his list of priorities).

A lot of people seem to think that BOB trailers are great for long tours, but this just doesn't really seem like a "tour." The last time I did a long ride like this I ran into a lot of other people doing the same thing, but the most any of them traveled in a day was about 60 miles. We'll be doing over 100 every day. (Shhhh! Don't tell my butt!) Am I right to think the panniers will work better?
For a light load, panniers.Ray Sachs
Apr 7, 2003 5:48 AM
You didn't say whether you're carrying camping gear or doing more of a credit card tour. Once you get into camping gear, unless you're really really conscious of using super lightweight stuff, it just about doesn't matter whether you use panniers or a trailer. For light loads, though, a trailer is just overkill (and HEAVY overkill at that). I like to go credit card touring with maybe just a bivy sack for emergency camping and I use a big saddlebag or small panniers for this. For fully loaded, I'd use panniers but wouldn't hesitate to use a trailer if one was offered to me.

But I'd use a triple chainring for any of it. If you only have a standard road double, I'd travel as light as you possibly can.

I am camping...Matno
Apr 7, 2003 8:15 AM
I think I'm going to stick with the panniers. But I am "really really conscious of using super lightweight stuff." For example, my sleeping bag, ThermaRest, and tent combined weigh about 5 pounds. Maybe a hair under. (Of course, they cost about twice what my bike did, but that's another story...) My gear really will weigh under 20 lbs for a trip of this length. (I usually get food in the last town before we stop for the night, so the only food I carry at a time is one dinner and one breakfast - and usually only a couple of miles to camp). There are only two of us going (my brother in law and I), and I'm hoping his gear is much heavier than mine... If I had the time, this trip would be a three week affair with several family members involved, but it's just not possible at this point. I only get one week off this summer, and my wife, unfortunately will not be able to ride with us (she wants to, but 4 weeks after having a baby is a bit soon!)

I have a standard double chainring, but my rear cassette is a 12-27, so I should be okay. The last time I did a trip like this (eons ago), it was on a '70 something Bottechia racing bike with 10 gears and all of them high. In fact, I think my lowest gear was a 42/23 or something like that! It wasn't fun on 7 mile graded climbs, but it was doable. I'm in better shape now.

Mostly I'm just trying to convince my brother in law not to bring the BOB because then I won't be able to draft off of him! Personally, I definitely wouldn't want to pull it uphill based on weight alone. (I just looked it up and it weighs almost 14 lbs WITHOUT the heavy PVC coated bag! How does anybody ride uphill with those things?!) The trailer alone is 10% of my body weight! If I were only doing 60-70 miles a day, it wouldn't really be an issue. (I don't even start to get tired until after 60 miles!) But doing twice that makes every pound noticeable. The more I think about it, the more it seems like the BOB would only really make a difference if I were carrying more than 30-40lbs of gear.

Speaking of BOBs, what really cracks me up is that there are people who will actually spend the extra $100 for the 17 lb suspension model. What are they carrying? Eggs? It certainly wouldn't affect the way the bike handles. I'm not sure how they can advertise it as "dramatically extending the possibilities for off-road adventures" since the only thing it does is keep your gear from bouncing around as much. I've ridden offroad with a large child-trailer (full of stuff, not the kid), and I can vouch for the fact that it doesn't matter how big of a bump you hit, you still hardly feel a thing when the trailer goes over it. The vertical motion doesn't make it past the quick release on your rear wheel. Maybe they should make one with horizontal suspension. That would probably have more of an effect on ride quality.
re: Trailer vs Panniers?gtscottie
Apr 7, 2003 7:25 AM
I have a BOB and have done several MTB trips as well as road trips with it. If you are packing camping gear I believe that the BOB is the only way to go. The trailer really is not hard to pull and when you get to camp and unload your gear you have a trailer to haul wood, water or what ever else you may need to make your camp comfortable. I am by no means a strong rider and I did 120 km a day for 3 days packing full camping gear in the Banff area in Canada last year and it wasn't too bad. least I lived through it.