It’s a subject that usually brings forth very strong and passionate opinions in the bicycling world, and can be as taboo to discuss as politics, religion or money.
Yes, of course I’m talking about the never ending subject of the panniers vs trailer debate. Since I’ve never really done a fully loaded bike tour before, it’s a subject I’ve been doing extensive research on recently. The classical bike touring setup is usually two rear panniers, two front panniers and a handlebar bag. To be honest it’s the one I just assumed I would go for too, but lately I’m not so sure. As I was discussing another never ending subject of waterproof or not waterproof bags the other day with a co-worker, he randomly asked me if I had ever considered getting a trailer instead.
For you newbies in the bicycle world, this is a trailer:
To be honest I had considered it before, but for some reason I felt like “real bike tourers” don’t use trailers, almost everyone I had seen pictures of or read about were using panniers. Just the other day I started researching racks that fit the Surly Straggler, and got quite overwhelmed. How should I know what to get? Everyone’s talking about how it’s up to what you prefer, but if you have no previous experience or preference, then what? And don’t even get me started on the panniers, first I was convinced that Ortliebs was the way to go, but then I found Swift Industries and fell in love with the colors and design, but then the Carradice are also pretty good I’ve heard and… yeah, it’s exhausting.
I have been looking into the trailers before as well. There’s a bunch of different brands and designs to choose from, but the most popular one is without a doubt the BOB Yak. It attaches to your rear wheel hub, has a low center of gravity, has great aerodynamics and they can carry a lot of gear (water!!). The negative things I’ve heard about bike trailers are that you need to carry more tools and extra parts, they are not easy to maneuver in some places, and that they can carry too much gear (!!). A bicycle trailer is also good because it takes a lot of strain off the back wheel, so that you don’t risk breaking as many spokes and you don’t need to change the tires quite as often.
The trailer I’ve been looking into is the Maya Bicycle Trailer (the one in the picture above). I really like it because it’s affordable (€229), it has a kickstand that supports your bike as well as the trailer and it can turn into a wheelbarrow for easy transportation off the bike. I also like the idea of being able to get all the gear off my bike in less than 5 seconds and then being able to ride around town without any racks or having to haul around a bunch of things weighing it down.
So right now I’m mostly just confused. Really confused. So I think the solution right now is to keep googling “panniers vs trailers” so that I can get even more confused. Yes, that sounds like a great plan.
If anyone want to shed any light on this subject, please feel free to help me out and drop me a comment with your thoughts.