panniers v trailer - trailers

Trailers are great.

After a while you don’t tend to notice it hanging off the back of the bike.

If you need an argument there’s always the question whether bikes with trailers are marginally better in handling as they have more weight off the bike itself and have a lower centre of gravity.

One thing that doesn’t require an argument is the possibility to really load them up for a long trip.

This can, of course, cause a major problem. Got the space? Fill it up.

For any of the long distance tracks a trailer by itself is unlikely to have enough capacity for self sufficiency. 20 litres of water and food for a couple of weeks is already over the recommended weight limit. Rear panniers, or for some, front panniers, can help with the space required.

There are a few types around.

Single wheel trailers are better for the rough stuff. They come in two main styles: the Extrawheel type where you have the same size wheel as the bike and add an extra set of panniers; and the Bob type which has a small, ie 16”, wheel at the rear.

The Extrawheel works well if you prefer rifling through panniers for things and is considerably more compact than the Bob.

The Bob, in a number of variations, also works well on the road but requires a different set of spares for a breakdown, eg punctures, tyre replacement. Due to the small wheel size the 16” tyre whizzing around tends to wear out quickly. Replacements can be found in most towns in toy shops, KMart and of course bike shops but as they are primarily for the small size of BMX bikes the quality is typically poor and it’s worth taking a spare.

Two wheel trailers are not recommended for a couple of reasons. On sealed roads one wheel is often falling off a narrow shoulder. Off road the wheels accentuate any corrugations and double the chance of whacking into a rock or other obstacle.

Single wheel trailers are better than 2 wheelers on single track and on the rougher off roads as the trailer wheel tends to follow the line of the bike wheels. This helps when steering around parts best avoided.

Trailers are probably better on single track than having front panniers. You can see where you are going rather better.

The major disadvantage, providing you don’t mind being stared at while on the road, is that panniers are considerably easier to handle if for some reason you need to travel by public transport. That trailer is then a major impediment.