Touring the Right Way
Bicycle Touring is a universal and beloved sport, which has evolved through time into something that is as vast as it is versatile.
Just as versatile are the bike touring racks panniers that a bike rider can use while on their journey.
While it is usually a good idea to secure good bike racks and panniers to your mountain bike or cycle, when planning cycle touring both large or small, there are many different considerations to take into account.
Considerations such as whether you should get front or rear racks, the most appropriate pannier configurations for your bike, the combination of panniers you may want to use for your trip and the equipment you would like to put in your panniers could be completely different. This can depend on the length of time you intend to tour, the terrain, the weight and the frequency you are going to be utilizing both your bike touring racks and panniers.
FRONT AND REAR RACKS?
When you are buying bike racks, one of the most important decisions you are going to make as a cyclist, is whether you should buy bike racks for the front, rear, or maybe both. So, how do you choose?
If you are going for something of a day trip, with moderate to easy terrain, then having a front basket will work well for you, but if you are going for something a bit more rugged, then a front rack will probably be more suitable. Front bike racks are usually easy to attach and detach, although they do not have a very high weight capacity.
Plus, if they are worn for too long a time or used on the wrong terrain, they can affect your balance and your handling, so use with caution. However, if you are looking for an easily accessible front pannier, then a front rack is your best bet.
When looking into bike racks, you have two options.
The first option would be the standard rack, which is higher from the ground and maximizes the amount of gear you can carry, since you have the top space above the wheel, as well as off to either side. Yet, remember to keep the weight capacity sufficient for you.
The second option is low-mount front racks, which are better for balance, because they are closer to the wheel. However, since they are closer to the wheel, you cannot carry as much on them, because there is no ability for items to safely hang next to the wheel.
A few of the popular front racks are the Salsa Down Under Front Mount Rack and the Blackburn Outpost Front Mount Rack, but use your own discretion as well.
Rear bike touring racks, on the other hand are perfect for holding a solid amount of gear on your bike. Since this kind of rack can hold between twenty to fifty pounds, with two supports on each side, it is easy to pack the majority of your gear without having so much of the balance and steering problems that you would have to worry about with front racks.
Additionally, there are some back racks which hold up to eighty pounds, with three support mounting, but it is very rare, unless you are carrying a tent or a large amount of cooking equipment for long, overnight tours that you would need that type of heavy-duty rack.
Some of the best brands for bike touring racks include the Salsa Wonderlust Rear Rack, the Blackburn Outpost Rear Rack and the Blackburn Interlock Rear Rack, but always remember that every bike tour is different, so you are going to want to do your research in order to determine the best rack for you.
Even though the bike rack is important for your journey, the panniers that you chose to take on your tour are just as crucial. If you chose panniers that are too large, you are going to be stuck with too much room and which possibly adds improperly packed useless weight that could be dangerous. However, if you are going on a particularly long trip and you do not have enough room in your panniers to pack the necessary supplies, then you could be in trouble.
For longer trips, the bike rider’s standard is two large panniers over the back wheels and two smaller panniers over the front, but always remember that you are going to want to displace the weight as evenly as you can, without putting too much pressure on your front wheel. If you are able to split the weight in a 60/40 fashion, then you will generally be alright.
A few of the options for panniers include the handlebar bag, the dry-bag and the seat bag.
The handler bag is great for smaller items and attaches to your handlebars. This bag is easily accessible and lightweight, but make sure before you ride that this bag does not affect your ability to steer, work the brakes, or hangs low enough to affect the wheel rotation.
The dry-bag is for keeping items from getting wet. Whether you are bicycling in the rain, or you are just unsure if you will be met with wet terrain on your trip, you should carry a dry-bag with you, especially when going on longer trips. Dry-bags are also useful because their circular security fits rolled-up tents and folded tent poles all together, while keeping the contents safe from not just the rain, but also the sun and other elements.
The seat bag is the pannier that is great for very small valuables and attaches to the bike under the seat. This design is an easy and concealable way to center the weight and keep your tools and snacks protected. This is where most bike riders recommend keeping the essentials.
In addition, there are also many different panniers that are supplied in sets, so you do not have to work out what you need individually.
A few recommended brands for a set or individual panniers are the Axiom Grand Tour Modular Pannier Range, the Axiom Typhoon Pannier Set and the Topeak and Blackburn seat bags and saddle bags.
WHAT TO PACK
When you are biking on a tour, what to pack is extremely dependent on the length of time that you are going. Of course, no matter what, you are going to want to pack plenty of water and a snack, just in case the trip takes longer than you expect.
However, if you are going for the day, make sure that you dress for the weather and pack your meals, as you may not have anywhere to stop along the way. Additionally, if going for any extent of time, you are going to want to bring a few tools, which include a patch kit, just in case you break down.
For camping trips and longer tours, you are going to make sure you bring your camping supplies, water, riding clothes, as well as camping clothes, a good amount of tools to avoid being hindered by a breakdown, toiletries and if you are unsure of the area, bring a water filter.
This is a breakdown of what you will need when you go on a bike tour, but it cannot be stressed enough that every tour is different, so make sure you are prepared for your specific adventure, with the right bike touring racks panniers to get you where you need to go safely and efficiently.
Decide what will be most common bicycle tour that you will be undertaking and the loads and camping equipment you will need for your travel. For day or short trips, go for a lighter weight rack, panniers and packs.
For longer camping trips, ensure you have the pannier capacity for all your gear – don’t forget the faithful bungee to secure those extras on top. Also, make sure you have a suitable bike to take the loads and terrain.
Whatever you decide, bicycle touring is a fantastic and healthy pastime enjoyed by all ages.
Have a great time..