How you load the panniers and where you place them does have an influence on the stability and handling of your bike. It pays to think about this when preparing for your cycling trip.
The following principles are important for a stable loaded bicycle:
- The lower the center of gravity, the smaller the impact of the load.
- The more central the center of gravity on the bike, the less impact the load has.
- An equal distribution of weight (left/right, front/rear) ensures a bike in balance.
- The luggage must be securely attached with as little play as possible.
How do you translate these principles into practice on your bike?
The following tips are written for classic panniers from Ortlieb or Vaude.
How to attach your bags to the rear carrier?
- If your luggage carrier has 2 parallel horizontal bars, choose the lowest bar to hang your bag.
- Set the top adjustable hooks of your pannier so that you fully use the width of the bar and that your bag moves as much as possible to the center of the bike without bumping into it with your heels when cycling.
- Also, don’t forget to clip the reducers into the hooks if these are too large for the diameter of the rod.
- Finally set the bottom hook so that it grips behind one of the angled tubes of your luggage carrier.
How to attach your bags to the front carrier?
- Set the top adjustable hooks of your bag so that you use the width of the carrier to the maximum and that the center line of your bag (yellow line) is behind the axle of the front wheel (red line). This limits the impact of the load on steering behavior.
- Clip the reducers into the hooks if these are too large for the diameter of the rod.
- Then you set the bottom hook so that it eliminates all play.
How to fill your bags?
- When filling your bag, place the heaviest parts at the bottom.
- Also aim for a +/- equal weight distribution on the bike left/right and front/rear.
- If you are still carrying equipment on top of the bags at the back, keep in mind that there will be additional weight on top when filling the rear bags.
These rules of thumb can be in contradiction with other tips & tricks you read about efficiently organizing your luggage on the bike: e.g., all cooking equipment on the front left, all clothing on the back right, etc
As a bicycle dealer and repairer, I value a bicycle that rides stable. With good preparation before your cycling trip, it is possible to organize your panniers in a balanced way without compromising much on efficiency.