So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

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chrisjones
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So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by chrisjones » Thu May 28, 2020 11:16 pm

Not that I'm complaining; I'm just interested.

I'm a complete novice when it comes to bikepacking

I've been into cycling of one kind or another for most of my life & have done a lot of wild camping too, but never combined the two until now for some reason.

What has struck me is that everywhere I look I see massive seat packs, frame bags & oversized bottle cages to mount to your forks so you can strap dry bags to them.

So why did people move away from racks & panners? Is it purely a weight thing, fashion, or what?

I'm intreagued.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by ScotRoutes » Thu May 28, 2020 11:26 pm

For me it's a mix of reliability and rideability.

I don't mind panniers on a road bike. Surfaces are relatively and the rack gets an easy life. Take that off-road and the weight can shake a rack to bits.

Panniers are also wide. Some of the narrow, heather-lined tracks I ride would grab at the panniers, causing problems..

Of course, the soft bags also pose less restrictions on frame type, so full suspension etc is perfectly possible whereas FS bikes with racks are a bit of an issue - especially if you have nothing to mount them to.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Richpips » Thu May 28, 2020 11:31 pm

A set of 40 litre ortlieb panniers and a tubus rack weigh 2.5KG

My 17litre seat pack, 20 litre bar bag, harness and a frame bag weigh ~750gms.

Same capacity with a weight saving of 1.75KG

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Lazarus » Thu May 28, 2020 11:38 pm

as noted less practical and heavier

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by chrisjones » Thu May 28, 2020 11:47 pm

That's all good stuff- thanks.

Like I said; I'm not a defender of one option or the other, I am just interested to learn why people mover away from using racks & panniers.

It does seem to me that using seat packs & handle bar bags moves the weight of the load up. Do people find that this has any detriment on bike handling?

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by ScotRoutes » Thu May 28, 2020 11:51 pm

I don't see the handling as a problem. Remember, the other part of the equation is TLS- Take Less Stuff. Panniers are more convenient but can tempt you to carry too much. Stick around here and you'll see the lengths (and costs) folk will go to in order to reduce their load by a few grammes. :smile:

Oh - I have a rack and panniers too. They work for the right sort of (road) trip.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Richpips » Fri May 29, 2020 1:42 am

Do people find that this has any detriment on bike handling?
I would say though the load is higher it is more balanced across the whole bike.

I'd certainly rather do hike-a-bike with a bikepacking set up than with panniers.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri May 29, 2020 7:54 am

I see massive seat packs, frame bags & oversized bottle cages to mount to your forks so you can strap dry bags to them.
I'd say you're perhaps not looking hard enough. Plenty of us manage without fork cages or massive seatpacks that stick out well beyond the axle. :wink:


Well packed soft luggage should really improve handling over panniers and should allow you to ride the same terrain that you could / would unloaded. You're not likely to do that with panniers
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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by whitestone » Fri May 29, 2020 8:17 am

The most important point has been missed by the other respondents - you get the chance to buy more kit :-bd

Just what is attached/strapped to a bike depends on the length of ride, the level of (dis)comfort you want and your experience. There are bikes aimed at bikepacking that have racks but they are very much expedition style bikes where you might not have resupply for a week. You'll also see "well loaded" bikes in reports from the American desert states for pretty much the same reasons.

I take less now in winter than I originally did in summer. The shot below is from a three day/two night trip in the Dales, including food, we were using a tent as well. Probably about 15L in capacity spread between the various bags.

Image

Same bike for a three day trip around Kielder Forest over an Xmas/new year with temps down to -7C using bothies, I've a small rucksack in addition to this.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by voodoo_simon » Fri May 29, 2020 8:22 am

Fashion wise, I thought they were coming back in with more people using a mix and match setup, especially the USA market seems to like a pizza rack/pannier front and soft luggage on the rear
Richpips wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 1:42 am
Do people find that this has any detriment on bike handling?
I would say though the load is higher it is more balanced across the whole bike.

I'd certainly rather do hike-a-bike with a bikepacking set up than with panniers.
I concur on the hike a bike with panniers, they’re great on gravel rides and a massive pain once you have to carry or push the bike. Been there, done that...!

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri May 29, 2020 9:20 am

A couple of random thoughts - sorry.

Racks / panniers as we know them NOW have only really been in use since the late 60's yet people have taken their bikes camping since the late 1800's. Soft luggage is more a rediscovery than the revolution as it's sometimes described. However, racks have always existed but they were more of a platform / framework for attaching bags to directly - as you might strap a drybag to a rack now. Sadly, mug dangling is nowt new.

Image


The increased popularity of gravel and even 'roadpacking' is perhaps the driving force behind the interest in panniers and racks. I see manufacturers rethinking things and we'll see more racks like the Salsa minimalist from a few years ago.

Bikepacking is a mindset. Developing that mindset will naturally lead most people down the soft luggage path.

... and look at the offset on these. Nowt new there either :wink:

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Mariner » Fri May 29, 2020 9:56 am

They are not out of fashion per se just not compatible with the TLS/weight weenie school of thought. A bit like wearing socks with sandals its just not done. :shock:
It is noticeable that when you mention racks most people immediately assume you mean panniers rather than just another way to carry a dry bag.
I would happily swap my pendulum style seat pack for a 14l dry sack on a rack. That would put the weight lower on a stable platform over the rear wheel but not held on with bungies oh dear no. X_X

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Fri May 29, 2020 10:04 am

The "over-ladden" appearance of some bikes with soft-luggage is also sometimes because people pack for their fears, chuck in the kitchen sink and just generally overdo it. Not a criticism and I've certainly done so. With practice and familiarity a lot of this can be pared-down.

My mind boggles when folk talk about chairs and taking the means to make the perfect coffee (grinders, aeropresses etc) and all manner of other things that seem crazy. BUT, that's up to them and getting out is to most about enjoyment and not beasting yourself, at least not throughout the whole trip. The variety of kit that might achieve that bit of joy is as wide and deep as the folk that do it.

HYOH :cool:

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by chrisjones » Fri May 29, 2020 10:14 am

Thanks for all the replies people.

From what folks have said, it sounds very much like the type of terrain & length of trip influence the choice of kit.

The increased popularity of 'off road' trips has seen a move towards soft packs which allow a slimline profile & reduced weight. I guess the only thing I do really need to look into is the trend for high capacity seatpacks. They look really unstable to me, but I've never tried one, so can't be sure.

I still can't work out why I've never the combined cycling with minimalist camping though? Brain freeze I guess.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by chrisjones » Fri May 29, 2020 10:16 am

whitestone wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 8:17 am
The shot below is from a three day/two night trip in the Dales, including food, we were using a tent as well. Probably about 15L in capacity spread between the various bags.

Image
Good to see a Solaris being used for bikepacking, as that's what I have!

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by lune ranger » Fri May 29, 2020 10:23 am

Lazarus wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:38 pm
as noted less practical and heavier
Heavier - definitely
Less practical? - I beg to differ. It’s all relative to your needs and the trip you are equipping for.
For a short MTB trip over rough terrain soft bags rule. For most other uses panniers would be more practical.
They are easier to pack - more regular shaped.
They make carrying water easier - they allow access to all your bottle bosses.
They mount and dismount very easily (at least the expensive ones do)
They allow for easier increases in capacity when the need for extra food/water/equipment arises.
You need less individual bags - less faff.
Ortleib bags/similar are very weather proof and don’t have zips to leak or fail.

In the past I did loads of hard/technical riding with panniers - Icelandic interior, Annapurna circuit trek, Lakes, Norway.
It’s perfectly possible. It’s only when carrying is needed you start to have problems. I can push a bike easily with panniers. Maybe easier than with a full frame bag which limits hand positions.

Ultimately fashion has a lot to do with it. I’ve embraced the fashion and like soft bags - I have and use a big selection. But I don’t hesitate to use panniers in the right situation. Horses for courses.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by whitestone » Fri May 29, 2020 10:24 am

chrisjones wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 10:14 am
Thanks for all the replies people.

From what folks have said, it sounds very much like the type of terrain & length of trip influence the choice of kit.

The increased popularity of 'off road' trips has seen a move towards soft packs which allow a slimline profile & reduced weight. I guess the only thing I do really need to look into is the trend for high capacity seatpacks. They look really unstable to me, but I've never tried one, so can't be sure.

I still can't work out why I've never the combined cycling with minimalist camping though? Brain freeze I guess.
High capacity seatpacks - might just be high-volume, light-weight items like sleeping bags or duvets. Without knowing what's packed it's hard to say.
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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri May 29, 2020 10:31 am

High capacity seatpacks - might just be high-volume, light-weight items like sleeping bags or duvets. Without knowing what's packed it's hard to say.
Aye, other seatpacks of a smaller capacity are readily available ... see Bob's pictures.
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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Lazarus » Fri May 29, 2020 10:49 am

@Lune

Only a frame bag affects water bottle access
both my front and rear packs detach like a pannier would
Not sure that rectangle is easier to stuff than tapered bag or tube personally
Fewer - two paniers or a front and rear pack
Better off road - not IME. paniers are noisy and unstable was my experience - tolerable on less rough stuff.
No real difference in pushing i agree

I am sure fashion plays a part [ like 1 x for example]but Bikepacking bags are better to use than panniers.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by whitestone » Fri May 29, 2020 10:51 am

Mariner wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 9:56 am
I would happily swap my pendulum style seat pack for a 14l dry sack on a rack. That would put the weight lower on a stable platform over the rear wheel but not held on with bungies oh dear no. X_X
Cath is fairly short so on 29" wheels she doesn't have a lot of space between saddle and tyre. Fat bike tyres are roughly the same diameter so she uses an Arkel Randonneur seat/seatpost mounted "rack". She doesn't have a big bag on there in this shot but you could fit a 20L bag on there (with restrictions on moving back for descent).

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by lune ranger » Fri May 29, 2020 11:27 am

I didn’t say panniers outperform soft bags off road but the contention that you can’t off road with panniers is a nonsense.
In very tight undergrowth or deep ruts you definitely have problems but in the majority of situations that you can pedal panniers are ok.
It’s hard to carry a bike with panniers and these days I wouldn’t try - it can be done though - and many have done it. Thorong La with 2x panniers and a bar bag took a lot of determination but it probably would with soft bags as well.
Yes they may rattle, in the same way a saddle bag may sway about madly - neither situation is guaranteed though and good packing/ set up stops both.
The real benefit of soft bags in my opinion is that they are best when they are small. Since switching i’ve really honed my gear to the minimum and that’s a benefit in all riding situations.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by jameso » Fri May 29, 2020 12:05 pm

It might be that bikepacking gear simply fits almost any bike, racks don't.

I think there's an element of user understanding in all this too. There's a number of people over-packing lightweight bikepacking bags and in the end, as you say, simply having more weight high up that can have a detrimental effect on handling imo. There's also some who use panniers yet carry little gear and could use bikepacking gear equally well.

Ease of access influences it I expect, bikepacking gear usually isn't fast/easy access as it's designed more for low weight and moving fast where you stop less. There's certainly times when I prefer a bag that's easier to get stuff in and out of and how I pack can even influence how I travel. eg I like bar bags where I can grab a camera, wallet or a book easily. Other times I'm not interested in stopping to use either.

How much you care about weight overall might influence it. If I pack 4-5kgs in total on my bike I want my luggage to be well under 1kg total (it is, maybe 600g). If I pack 12kgs I don't really care about adding a kilo of rack and pannier set. Yet some will pack >12kgs into bikepacking gear for a 'normal conditions' trip - that's the misaligned use that some could question. But questioning it is only in theory, a lot of it comes from just using what you have and that's all good. Trial and error with minimal bags/kit set ups is a kind of nerdiness and expense many don't want to get into, can't say I blame them, as much as I love it myself..

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Fri May 29, 2020 12:15 pm

I think there's an element of user understanding in all this too. There's a number of people over-packing lightweight bikepacking bags and in the end, as you say, simply having more weight high up that can have a detrimental effect on handling imo. There's also some who use panniers yet carry little gear and could use bikepacking gear equally well.
Very true James and I think some manufacturers have been guilty of fueling that to a degree. I'm sure some people see pictures of what I might consider to be a 'bikepacking bike' yet don't fully appreciate or understand that packing in such a way requires something different ftom the user.
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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by Richpips » Fri May 29, 2020 12:25 pm

Ease of access influences it I expect, bikepacking gear usually isn't fast/easy access as it's designed more for low weight and moving fast where you stop less. There's certainly times when I prefer a bag that's easier to get stuff in and out of and how I pack can even influence how I travel. eg I like bar bags where I can grab a camera, wallet or a book easily.
Yep, I've just bought a Carradice bar bag and saddlebag that are easy to get things in and out of. I can take the extra weight of the bags over the time spent trying to cram stuff into and extricate stuff from bikepacking bags.

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Re: So: why are racks & panners out of fashion?

Post by jameso » Fri May 29, 2020 12:29 pm

Bearbonesnorm wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 12:15 pm
I think there's an element of user understanding in all this too. There's a number of people over-packing lightweight bikepacking bags and in the end, as you say, simply having more weight high up that can have a detrimental effect on handling imo. There's also some who use panniers yet carry little gear and could use bikepacking gear equally well.
Very true James and I think some manufacturers have been guilty of fueling that to a degree. I'm sure some people see pictures of what I might consider to be a 'bikepacking bike' yet don't fully appreciate or understand that packing in such a way requires something different ftom the user.
It's probably with bike manufacturers as well as bag brands - not many bikes now are really capable of taking panniers properly and fewer shops stock and sell panniers and racks well. There's not many at the level of Cycle Heaven / Spa / Hewitts / St John Street cycles. Bikepacking is easier for the whole industry and like a few things that are easier for the industry it's not necessarily better for the customer/riders.

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