- Touring

Touring Bike Cargo Systems Considered

If you are considering touring by bicycle then you know that your Cargo System is an essential equipment component. So, what should you learn about bicycle cargo gear; well, there are many different types, but you should be careful which set-up you choose. Loading too much on the front wheels can cause problems in steering at slow speeds and even high-speed wobbles going downhill on a bumpy surface, which you will encounter along the way somewhere if there are any hills at all. Some touring riders have complained that they catch the cross wind and make things quite difficult if not dangerous.

Handlebar cargo systems are nice, as they can be used to hold maps, instructions and easy to get to food supplies like bananas, fig bars, power bars and other high-calorie, high-carb nutritional foods, but a word to the wise, don’t overload these cargo bags, it can make steering tough and cause you to take a spill. How do you suppose I know that? Ouch. Most of the handlebar cargo packs are now much smaller, probably for safety and they are fine if you do not overload them. Try to find the most aerodynamic design to cut down on your relative wind footprint to reduce drag.

Rear mounted bags are not a bad option, but keep the load low using panniers. You see, if your gear gets too high, then your load can shift and drag against the bike or worse make you top heavy and threaten to topple you and ruin your whole day. You can put a small bag on top of your pannier platform, which will also prevent water from “rooster tailing” behind you as you drive through puddles or in the rain. At high speeds the dirty road water will shoot right onto your back, making for quite an irritating ride, but with a small pack on top of the pannier platform this problem is solved. Still be aware that you need water proof cargo units, otherwise everything you take with you will be soggy, moldy and wet.

It is difficult to keep any load in place on a bumpy road, in high-winds or on high-speed down-hills. It’s better to over secure your load, than risk cargo failure. Before you start and at any breaking point, double check your load. If you are going to camp out in the open then take the lightest possible sleeping bag and have it ride directly behind you so that you can block the wind otherwise there is virtually no chance of it staying where you want it to be during a 100 plus mile leg. One bit of advice for those who choose the pannier systems, make sure your system secures both to the seat post or frame on the top and the rear axle frame assembly on the bottom. Why?

Well, because most of the pannier units can hold a lot of weight, 25-35 lbs, but if your system only connects to your seat post and it is made of carbon composite, it may break, it’s happened to me before, so head that warning. Additionally, if you have a carbon composite seat post and wish to run with a pannier cargo system, then change out that seat post for an alloy post, for about $100 you can get a stronger alloy seat post which weighs about the same amount anyway. Perhaps you will consider this when purchasing your cargo system.