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Thread: I hate panniers

  1. #1
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    I hate panniers

    I am done with them. Used them all last week and hated every minute of it. Either they were hitting my heels, or were slapping the rear tire--could not find a position where they did not hit my feet or hang off the back of the rack. The weight in the rear completed screwed up the handling of my bike, causing me to fall a couple of times. The bike was a bear to get down and up steps. I went back to my large messenger bag today, and was much happier.

  2. #2
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    At least you tried them. I hate them with no real experience to back it up
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    Poorly designed panniers are incredibly annoying to use. Ortlieb panniers work great for me. For commuting, mine pretty much just has a laptop, wallet and keys in it, so the profile is low enough that it doesn't create a lot of drag.

    I don't know why anyone would want to ride with a backpack or messenger bag. They strain the neck and back, limit range of motion and raise the center of gravity. If I didn't want to use panniers, I'd put my things in a backpack or messenger bag and toss that in a front or rear basket.

  4. #4
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    It's personal preference... my backpack has never strained my neck or my back, or limited my range of motion. It raises the center of gravity about as much as a camelbak full of water does when I'm mountain biking. That doesn't seem to bother 99% of the mountain bikers out there who use camelbaks. The issue for me is the bike handling thing. Stuff attached to the bike makes the bike act different. I want to be able to flick the bike around, and I can't do that with stuff attached to it.
    I can't shake my BMX roots, and for me it's always been about having as little stuff as possible attached ot the bike. I'd much rather carry it on my person and keep the bike as unincumbered as possible.
    Taking the singletrack option on the commute would be way less fun with panniers.
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  5. #5
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    I'm trying a Topeak trunk bag with "success". I'm on week 3 now getting used to it.

    I don't like the effect it has on the bike. I don't like the fact that I can't bunnyhop/drop curbs like I could with my backpack. I don't like the fact that I can feel the weight try to move the bike around.

    Still undecided. I miss my Vaude backpack. I enjoy the fact that I have the extra carrying capacity.

  6. #6
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    I hate them both....

    On the rare occasion I acutally need to carry something, I have become a bit of an artist strapping to the bike.....or a I get my pack....

    I have set everything up at work so I don't have to normally transfer anything.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    It's personal preference... my backpack has never strained my neck or my back, or limited my range of motion.
    I suppose this depends on the nature of the commute, the cargo and the riding style. The points regarding the effects of panniers on handling are well taken. Mounting anything big on the bike does make it track a bit more slowly, but for my commute (I have to ride on snow and ice from November to late March), I'll take stability over maneuverability.

    Some additional points in favor of mounting cargo to the bike versus the body: backpacks and messenger bags often have abrasive surfaces that can irritate skin and wear out clothing. They also act as insulators, and can lead to body temperature control problems.

  8. #8
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    Rode with both and prefer the panniers. Its not really anything about the weight on the bike or my person for me. I just prefer not to have something making my back incredibly sweaty. If I could come up with something that would let me wear a messenger, but said messenger was not laying on my back the whole time, then I would try it. Oh well, I'll roll with the heavy bike.

  9. #9
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    I shower at the office so the sweat thing does not bother me. I like having the extra weight attached to me so I have more control over the bike. I'll take manuerveability in traffic over a non-sweaty back anyday. When I am in busy traffic and need to make a split second decision, I need ot know how my bike is going to handle, and not have to worry about the back end washing out or falling over if I come to a quick stop.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    Either they were hitting my heels, or were slapping the rear tire...
    I use panniers all the time, but have had real issues with them bouncing into the rear tire. From now on any rack I buy will have an extra rear brace like this one:



    But the rack on my hardtail doesn't have that rear brace, so to prevent the pannier from flopping I stiffened it with a carbonfibre rotor blade from a model helicopter. Bizarre, but it did the trick.

    So it can be a bit of a kludge to get it working right, but on the way home I hit trails like this (not my video, and I don't spend as much time airborne) without any problems.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    I need ot know how my bike is going to handle, and not have to worry about the back end washing out or falling over if I come to a quick stop.
    If you don't have much stuff with you, it's kind of a non-issue. If you have a lot of stuff in a backpack, your center of gravity during a leaning turn will be higher and more laterally displaced than if the stuff were mounted lower. So, if you have a bunch of stuff in a backpack, it will take less force to tip you over or wash out one of your wheels than if you had it mounted lower. Mounting stuff on your back may allow to change direction a bit faster, but if you have to use more energy to avoid tipping over or losing traction, it may not translate to better overall maneuverability.

  12. #12
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    ^^ but a lot of that weight, while mounted higher on the body, is transferred into the pedals (assuming your feet are weighted in a typical leaning turn), so a good portion of it is actually as low as possible on the bike (BB height).
    I see the advantage to a big slug of a heavy bike in ice and snow though. Again, I think it boils down to personal preference.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^^ but a lot of that weight, while mounted higher on the body, is transferred into the pedals (assuming your feet are weighted in a typical leaning turn), so a good portion of it is actually as low as possible on the bike (BB height).
    I see the advantage to a big slug of a heavy bike in ice and snow though. Again, I think it boils down to personal preference.
    Consider an extreme case, in which the backpack is suspended 10 feet above the rider. Although the rider can technically distribute their weight so that the bike tracks properly, this is always going to require more compensation than it would if the weight is distributed lower. The more weight and the higher up it is, the more the rider has to compensate for rotational inertia. This eats up energy and time, the latter of which is especially important if you want to maneuver quickly in traffic. To put it another way, if nothing is attached to your bike, you can flick the bike around more easily, which may be useful for slight course corrections (e.g., avoiding a piece of glass or a small pothole), but if you actually need to turn or change direction (e.g., change lanes or move around a car), having less weight attached to the bike doesn't matter because both the rider and bike have to change direction.

  14. #14
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    ^ I'm totally with you in concept, but looking at it the other way... put 100 pounds in your front basket and try to handle yourself in traffic
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^^ but a lot of that weight, while mounted higher on the body, is transferred into the pedals (assuming your feet are weighted in a typical leaning turn), so a good portion of it is actually as low as possible on the bike (BB height).
    I see the advantage to a big slug of a heavy bike in ice and snow though. Again, I think it boils down to personal preference.
    You have to think center of gravity...

    Normally located a little below your belly button....

    So if you add a pack say ten pounds with a CG say between your shoulder blades, and you weigh say 180 lbs....

    and the pack CG is 12 inches above your CG....then that would raise the CG by 12 *10/180=0.66 inches

    On the other hand try 45 lbs 14 inch above the CG (winter skiing/camping pack) ...That raises the CG 14*45/180=3.5 inches....

    And from personnal experience 3.5 inches is a big deal....0.66 inches is nothing.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^ I'm totally with you in concept, but looking at it the other way... put 100 pounds in your front basket and try to handle yourself in traffic
    Ha, yeah, this really only applies to the backpack/messenger bag versus pannier debate. A front basket really screws up handling, and mounting anything to the top of the rear rack still makes the center of gravity pretty high. It's also worth noting that mounting panniers to a race or track bike can make it really difficult to keep the thing pointed straight. Seems to work best on something with fairly relaxed geometry.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    You have to think center of gravity...

    Normally located a little below your belly button....

    So if you add a pack say ten pounds with a CG say between your shoulder blades, and you weigh say 180 lbs....

    and the pack CG is 12 inches above your CG....then that would raise the CG by 12 *10/180=0.66 inches

    On the other hand try 45 lbs 14 inch above the CG (winter skiing/camping pack) ...That raises the CG 14*45/180=3.5 inches....

    And from personnal experience 3.5 inches is a big deal....0.66 inches is nothing.
    I'm not sure how the numerical differences in the center of gravity translate to handling. I weigh 125 lbs, and I've found that carrying 20 lbs of groceries on my back makes it pretty difficult to change direction quickly. For me, that represents a ~2 inch increase in the height of my center of gravity.

  18. #18
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    My big deal with backpacks is how they sit on your back. I have to have mine riding pretty low to avoid the "bounce" as I pedal, but then I have to crank it back up when I get off the bike. I noticed that quite a few people I passed on the trail this morning had theirs equally low, or were using messenger bags slung low instead.

    Given that we are often weighted more heavily on the rear wheel than the front, wouldn't it make sense at some point to have panniers on the front instead? As long as that weight didn't result in unintended stoppies of course....

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanselus View Post
    Given that we are often weighted more heavily on the rear wheel than the front, wouldn't it make sense at some point to have panniers on the front instead? As long as that weight didn't result in unintended stoppies of course....
    If you're going to be carrying heavy loads (e.g., touring), it makes sense to distribute the weight as evenly as possible throughout the bike. However, mounting anything on the front fork has a pretty dramatic effect on handling, so there's no need to carry things on the front unless you're carrying a lot of stuff or it is especially convenient (e.g., a handlebar bag or front basket that gives you easy access to stuff while riding).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by datalore View Post
    I'm not sure how the numerical differences in the center of gravity translate to handling. I weigh 125 lbs, and I've found that carrying 20 lbs of groceries on my back makes it pretty difficult to change direction quickly. For me, that represents a ~2 inch increase in the height of my center of gravity.
    Well there you go....

    The back and forth CG can probably move more than the up and down CG, before handling is impacted....

    Side to side CG is of course critical.

  21. #21
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    ^^ See, and when I went touring I pulled a trailer because I still couldn't bring myself to attach stuff to the bike
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^^ See, and when I went touring I pulled a trailer because I still couldn't bring myself to attach stuff to the bike
    Haha, nice. If you use a trailer, don't you have to deal with the extra rolling resistance associated with having an extra pair of wheels? I think that would annoy me.

  23. #23
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    I just love it when engineers or amatuer physicists enter into a discussion and try and spend 30 minutes explaining why what I experience is not physically possible.

  24. #24
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    Honestly I didn't notice any additional rolling resistance that I'd attribute to the trailer... obviously there was resistance, but it was all weight related. It was stable as a rock going downhill too. I used a Bob Yak one-wheeled trailer. I think you could haul it around empty and practically forget it was there. resistance was very low, except what you'd expect from hauling a bunch of weight.

    It did affect the side/side sway when I'd go to stand up on a climb though... took a day or so before I was standing and climbing that way without getting some wobble. You just shift your weight differently...hard to explain. After the tour I was wobbly when I'd stand to climb without the trailer attached.

    Bottom line...carrying a lot of weight is going to affect performance, handling, etc. It's all about which way personally annoys you the least.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    I just love it when engineers or amatuer physicists enter into a discussion and try and spend 30 minutes explaining why what I experience is not physically possible.
    Sensory experience is full of illusions.

  26. #26
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    I use a BOB trailer as well, tried the panniers, the backpack but when you are riding during the summer the backpack can make it really hot and I don't like the way panniers feel on the bike. I use the BOB trailer for grocery runs, going to work and it is great. The only time I have had issues is when I pick up a couple 40 lb bags of salt and there is a learning curve on handling that much weight but I love my BOB trailer.
    Still learning how to keep the rubber side down.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by datalore View Post
    Consider an extreme case, in which the backpack is suspended 10 feet above the rider....
    Where can I get one of these?

    Yesterday I removed my rack from my bike (it's been empty but attached for 6wks) and today it felt nimble and free. Panniers were fine for bikepacking, but I prefer the backpack for commuting.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbigisbudgood View Post
    I'm trying a Topeak trunk bag with "success". I'm on week 3 now getting used to it.

    I don't like the effect it has on the bike. I don't like the fact that I can't bunnyhop/drop curbs like I could with my backpack. I don't like the fact that I can feel the weight try to move the bike around.

    Still undecided. I miss my Vaude backpack. I enjoy the fact that I have the extra carrying capacity.
    Currently have a trunk bag I do like this along with a frame bag as a nice setup and somewhat aero.
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  29. #29
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    Okay, if anybody from the Commuter Board of Commisioners is reading theis thread, please make a motion at the next meeting to excuse CB and V from panier useage.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigV View Post
    I just love it when engineers or amatuer physicists enter into a discussion and try and spend 30 minutes explaining why what I experience is not physically possible.
    Then you came to the right place!

  30. #30
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    I have a physics/ergonomics explanation for why a lot of us find it's easier to handle a bike with a heavy load in a backpack or messenger than in panniers.

    People have pretty heavy torsos. Most of our weight is concentrated there. Add 5 lb to someone's torso, well distributed, and it's barely noticeable. On the other hand, people tend to notice 5 lb weights somewhere far away, like wrist or ankle weights. There are some things I really dislike about carrying a load on my back but it's not something I have a hard time controlling, whether I'm on a bike or on foot, as long as it's reasonably secure. I do notice I corner a little more deliberately if I have enough in my bag, like a big load of groceries and canned goods.

    When I put a load in my panniers, it's pretty far away from my center of mass. It's also pretty far away from the axis about which I rotate the bike when I turn it, or at least the axis I'd like to turn it around. Normally, that's in a fore/aft position relatively close to the bottom bracket. Which happens to be a little back of the rider's center of mass. Which is a nice little coincidence that I think contributes to the ease of handling a bike. Add 20 lb of text books/groceries/whatever to the back of the bike, and the rotational inertia about the preferred axis is a lot higher. Depending on what the load weighs and what the rider weighs, it can feel more like the bike is turning around an axis a little forward of the rear hub. And that feels totally goofy and unpleasant. I've had some "wag the dog" problems myself - once the panniers are moving sideways, they want to keep going, and it can be hard to get them stopped. I had more trouble with some collapsible wire racks I was using for a while, which was too bad - they were very convenient, but I decided the way a load effected my handling was unacceptable, and even empty I could feel the change in the way the bike handled.

    I actually still prefer to have a load in my panniers. I adjust to the change in handling okay, and my panniers have stabilizer straps and whatnot, so the contents don't go flying around. They also attach to my rack pretty securely, so they don't fly around as a unit. And now that I have two stays from my rack to my seatstays, instead of one, the rack moves around less too. Basically, everything is pretty secure and moves as a unit, so I don't have things going every which way and storing up energy by deforming things that will spring back. I don't think the issue is just weight, or changing the direction a weight is traveling in. Then none of us would ride with backpacks either. I think it's things that keep moving, move unpredictably, or are in locations that make them harder to control.

    A friend of mine had a bike with 440mm chainstays as his goal for a while. This is pretty long - it moves the rear wheel back, so the lateral forces from the rear wheel have a longer lever arm to work with than the load in the panniers, reducing tail whip problems. Honestly I'm not sure if this really works or not, but he's happy. By contrast, that brand's raciest bike has 405mm chainstays. While that's not that big a difference over the total length of the chainstay, I suspect that the center of mass of a load in panniers placed far enough back to avoid heel strike is close enough in the fore/aft axis to the rear hub that the 35mm change counts a lot.

    Normally, this is where I go back through my post and try to make it legible. But I have some other stuff I need to take care of now. Suffice it to say that this engineer/amateur physicist thinks there are some real problems with bike handling caused by panniers. On the bike I have set up with a rack, which is a mid-80s 12-speed and doesn't have chainstays as short as some contemporary bikes, it's not bad enough to stop me from using them if I'm riding far. But like I said - I've mitigated some of the problems to where the setup is more acceptable to me than the alternative.
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  31. #31
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    I use a BOB Trailer as well. It rocks. Just don't try to make a sharp right turn up a steep hill at speed with it loaded with cooler/ice/beer. A backpack is fine also and lets you hop stuff. Never tried panniers and since I have other options I probably never will.

  32. #32
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    my son's 1x1 has both front and rear surly racks, and we do both on- and off-road xc-style touring, carrying our own "real" food/ drinks/ jackets/ spare tubes/ tools, etc. on the panniers

    usually, i just attach the panniers at the front rack (deuter rack pack uni's which are cheap and effective), and though it makes the front end heavy, i don't get any complaints from him

    makes me feel guilty, though, making him carry all that stuff
    biker boy

  33. #33
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    Extrawheel...

    I am seriously considering the EXTRAWHEEL for commuting in the spring, might make good use of my small fleet of bikes... What can I say, I'm afraid of commitment....

    Can't post a link yet, but a google search will work!

    Cheers

    Dave

  34. #34
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    Either they were hitting my heels, or were slapping the rear tire
    You need a suitable rack.

    The weight in the rear completed screwed up the handling of my bike, causing me to fall a couple of times.
    How much weight did you have in there? I routinely cram up to 25 pounds of grocieries into my rear panniers and trunk bag, and sometimes use front panniers as well, but even at ~75 pounds loaded weight, the bike drives fine and certainly isn't prone to crashing. It's no fun to carry up the stairs, I agree but I use the divide-and-conquer approach if necessary.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by f1junkie View Post
    I am seriously considering the EXTRAWHEEL for commuting in the spring, might make good use of my small fleet of bikes... What can I say, I'm afraid of commitment....

    Can't post a link yet, but a google search will work!

    Cheers

    Dave
    If you get one, please start a nw thread for a little review. Most of us have used or have read volumes of comments and/or reviews about panniers, trunk bags, Bobs, and two wheel trailers, but XtraWheels are kind of elusive for some reason. They look to have some very unique traits, and I sure wouldn`t mind a nice review.

  36. #36
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    It's OK, being a singlespeeder, I hate all superfluous attachments to my bike. I hate having the lights strapped on when it's not dark, I hate having a rack on unless I'm touring/camping. I tried being a "good little commuter" with a brooks saddle, albatross bars, gears, bar end shifters, racks and panniers, but I just felt like it wasn't for me. I even like the looks of bikes like that! I use a backpack or messenger bag for the most part, though panniers come in handy when you need them.

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