Bob Trailer or Extrawheel on Tour Divide?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Sep 17, 2012 3:46 AM Last Post By: pq
Sep 9, 2012 6:32 PM
Bob Trailer or Extrawheel on Tour Divide?Hello,
My uncle and I are seriously considering a ride down the Tour Divide next summer (down the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains from Banff to the Mexican border, mostly on dirt or gravel roads with some single track). So one of the questions we have to ask is gear.
My uncle already had a hardtail bike he really likes that doesn't take a rack (though I suppose Old Man Mountain would have something?), so he will probably go with a trailer. I have a road touring bike with panniers that I really like, but I am wondering if for this ride I should also get a hardtail and maybe a trailer. If anyone haa experience riding the Tour Divide, or any offroad touring with a rigid bike and/or panniers, I would appreciate feedback as to how that went and any pointers should I got that route.
As for trailers, I understand that the most popular is the Bob Ibex, which does look quite indestructible and is built for single-track. One concern I have read about it, though, is that it becomes tempting to pack too much (unnecessary) gear, which we would want to avoid. That said, I don't think that we want to be ultralight either.
I've also been reading very good reviews of the Extrawheel cycle, which carries panniers (which is a plus for me as I already have them). The other benefits being it is lighter, easier to pack/store/carry, can be used as a spare wheel, and it doesn't carry quite as much as a Bob. I am wondering, however, if it would be durable enough for the Divide. Again, does anyone have experience with the Extrawheel on long, offroad tours, or in comparison to the Bob?
Sep 10, 2012 3:07 AM
1Never ridden the great divide, but have done a lot of off road touring.
I always use panniers on a beefy 26" wheeled tourer, and the only problems I've had are:
1. Using large panniers on a front low rider caused grounding problems on rutted trails
2. Crappy Ortlieb fixings weren't up to the rough terrain.
3. Too much weight on the back and not enough on the front made steep climbs difficult.
I've used a Yak Bob too. It worked very well on narrow trails and had surprisingly little effect on the handling of the bike, but I ditched it because of the weight and because it reduces your braking power (more weight you have to stop, but the weight doesn't increase grip unlike panniers which help keep your wheels on the ground.)
A trailer may make sense for your friend with the mountain bike, but if you have a tourer which is beefy enough for the job, I'd stick with panniers. The panniers might cause a few problems with width on narrow trails which single wheeled trailers would avoid, but as I understand it there's very little of that on the great divide - it's mostly wider tracks made for vehicles.
Sep 10, 2012 12:27 PM
2Check out Cass Gilbert's bikepacking setup. He uses a frame pack from Porcelain Rocket in Victoria, BC. The advantage is that the weight is better distributed on your bike. I was just about to spring for one myself then saw that he has discontinued these until next year to take a break. I would also like to try axing the front panniers and just strap the light but large stuff like sleeping bag and thermarest to the front rack. The less storage space you have the less stuff you take.
Sep 13, 2012 2:26 PM
3Ah yes, I'd forgotten about frame bags - they're a very good option. You could try Revelate Design in Alaska - his stuff is mostly custom and there's a waiting list, but the quality and design is just amazing.
Sep 16, 2012 5:18 PM
4Thanks for the responses!
I'm still interested in the experiences of anyone who has used an Extrawheel, but thanks for the links to the bike packs. I had heard of them but was leery about how much they could carry. Now I'm starting to think that a bike pack and panniers could be a good possibility, with the weight being more evenly distributed, rather than being all or mostly on the back.
Sep 17, 2012 3:41 AM
5Using a frame bag would enable you to use smaller panniers, which will help on narrow or rutted trails and is probably what I'd do in your situation.
I met a woman in Tajikistan who was using an extrawheel - as I recall she was impressed and because it used the same wheel size as her bike it reduced the spares she needed to carry. It coped with rough terrain better than a small wheeled trailer, but the usual trailer issues still applied - as I recall she was going to ditch it and go back to panniers. She also said it was sensitive to loading - you needed to get the weight distribution right, which isn't so important with panniers mounted on your bike.
Sep 17, 2012 3:46 AM
6I forgot to mention, this also depends what you want from your ride. If you want your bike to feel as much like a mountain bike as possible, a trailer will deliver that. Off roading with panniers is a completely different experience - your bike becomes an unweildy lumbering beast, although it makes it extremely stable on rocky/loose trails. So you have to think about whether you're prepared to pay the weight penalty to have something that feels more like a mountain bike on the descents and on singletrack. My view is that it isn't worth it because there's so little of that sort of riding on the GD. Most of the time you'll be grinding up mountain passes on trails made for vehicles, and panniers/frame bags will be best for that.
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