I've been using Xtracycle stuff for about 6 or 7 years now. First with a Freeradical and now with a Big Dummy. I have always used the Freeloaders, but had recently become curious about the P-Racks (aka Adventure Racks) and Panniers.
I poked around online to try to learn a little about other people's experiences with panniers in this system, but I couldn't' find much. So I just bit the bullet and bought them. Since there was a lack of info out there about them, I thought I'd share what I'm learning so far. . .
So far, I think I'm going to like this better than the freeloaders, but there is some compromise. Here are the pros and cons and compromises thus far:
-Versatility: I have a set of Jandd Large Mountain panniers, a set of Jandd economy panniers, and a set of no-name grocery bag panniers. I can use any combo of 1-4 depending on what I'm going to need to carry. And the large Mountain panniers actually hold about as much as what I was typically carrying in freeloaders.
-More passenger friendly: My 5 year old daughter ends up on the back of the Dummy twice in a typical day. She would get frustrated by the fronts of the Freeloaders encroaching on her leg space. With the P-racks, if I'm just running one set of panniers, I can put them farther back and her legs have room in the front.
-Easier to get "naked:" Panniers are easy to remove, so if I want to ride carrying nothing, I don't have to bring bags at all (but I usually do, 'cause why not? . . .), But I always found Freeloaders frustrating when I needed to air up the back tire or lube the chain or adjust the rear derailler, or brakes, etc. It's quick and easy to get the panniers out of the way.
-Better weight management: One thing I've always liked about a longtail is that it's easy to keep loads in front of the rear axle, which really improves handling vs. hanging stuff off of a Blackburn-type rack and letting it wag the back of a short wheelbase bike around. Having a load in 4 panniers instead of 2 Freeloaders lets you be deliberate about putting the heavier stuff in front of the axle and light,but bulky stuff behind.
-It lets me use more Jandd stuff. For reasons I've never quite understood, I've had a Jandd fetish for as long as I can remember. Now I have one more way to indulge that particular quirk.
-Stuff is enclosed by the pannier, no need for a bag-within-a-bag.
- Pannniers don't seem like they'll do weird, bulky, odd-shaped loads as well as Freeloaders did.
- There's no real obvious anchor point for the little S-hook-on-a-bungee that comprises the lower attachment mechanism on many panniers.
-The not-hauling-odd loads things hasn't' been a problem for me so far. Partially because my scavenger days are behind me so I"m less likely to bring home that 18th century hutch that someone has left out on the curb for the trashmans, and partially because I've been able to use the Wideloaders and some straps to achieve what I used to do with the Freeloaders. But when push comes to shove, I typically carry: my backpack/briefcase thingy, my daughter's naptime pillow and blanket for preschool, a pink kitty lunchbox, and a case of fizzy water for my little fridge at my office. Those things work pretty darn well with panniers. Likewise, my typical grocery run actually does better with panniers than with Freeloaders because I don't have to wonder whether my tomatoes are going to roll to freedom, my peanut butter is going to hop out the top on a bump, or if I've hit the magical balance between getting the freeloader straps tight enough to hold everything, but not so tight as to mash my bread.
-So far, I've improvised a workable solution for the bottom anchor point--I've taken nylon climber's cord and made little prusik-style loops around the chainstays that give the pannier's hooks somewhere to hook. So far so good. . .
Anybody else using panniers and have any good tips or tricks?
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