Backpack vs Pannier

sayek1

Well-Known Member
Location
Glasgow
I normally use a pannier on the way to and from work, but today I decided to try a small rucksack instead - same kit/load. The results were outstanding;

Normally I do the journey (19miles) in anything between 1hr 11min & 1hr 17mins - dependent upon the weather/wind etc. Every journey is a race so I always push a fair bit.

This year the quickest I have managed is 1hr 13min - just getting back into it and not fully fit yet.

Well today, the bike seemed lighter (weather was same as last week). I was standing and pushing very hard up any slight hill (which I dont do with panniers) and the end result was 1hr 7mins.

Not sure about the science, but I will now be binning the pannier and sticking to the rucksack. Maybe its a mixture of drag, wind resistance and balance?

"Sweaty back" is not a problem - the amount I push/sweat means I am soaked even without the pack!!

I am sure someone will provide a more scientific explanation, but panniers are now out for me.
 

Tynan

Veteran
Location
e4
keep us informed, one ride is hardly proof is it?

the weight is still there, drag you might be saving granted
 

Norm

Guest
Depending what you have in the rucksack, try not to fall off too badly.

The journey would take a lot longer in a wheelchair.

(Yeah, I know, it's sensationalist but it helps to make the point :blush: )
 

Davidc

Guru
Location
Somerset UK
A rucksack is a part of you when riding, so its weight is added to yours when you stand on the pedals, giving a greater driving force. Panniers are attached to the frame so they're added to the weight you're pushing against.

The extra work still has to come from your legs, as you have to keep lifting the higher total weight up, so you're not getting anything for nothing.

I did work this problem through some time ago and decided this idea was right, but I'm happy to see a reasoned contradiction, if for no better reason than to justify my preference for sitting on the seat, and using panniers!
 

aberal

Senior Member
Location
Midlothian
I use a Berghaus Freeflow backpack which holds the bag off your back and keeps you dry. I wouldn't try and convince anyone that its the same as not having a bag on your back, but it's the next best thing.
 

slowmotion

Quite dreadful
Location
lost somewhere
Davidc said:
A rucksack is a part of you when riding, so its weight is added to yours when you stand on the pedals, giving a greater driving force. Panniers are attached to the frame so they're added to the weight you're pushing against.

The extra work still has to come from your legs, as you have to keep lifting the higher total weight up, so you're not getting anything for nothing.

I did work this problem through some time ago and decided this idea was right, but I'm happy to see a reasoned contradiction, if for no better reason than to justify my preference for sitting on the seat, and using panniers!
That had me scratching my head for a while :biggrin:

I'm not sure if it is true, but it may be. What I could do is try a little experiment...

1) remove my rack, panniers and contents, and weigh them,

2) put the same weight of lead in my boots,

3) see if my top speed on the flat goes up.

It might, but only if I get out of the saddle, perhaps?

Thanks for your post.
 

l4dva

Über Member
Location
Sunny Brum!
Wouldn't the extra weight on your feet be amplified by the fact that the weight will be rotating around while pedaling - rotating mass effect??

That could amplify the extra weight making it a lot lot harder... I might be wrong though...
 

e-rider

crappy member
Location
South West
I'd have thought that this was a no brainer.

Off roaders use small backpacks (camelbaks) for obvious reasons, but the rest of us should definitely be using panniers.

On short rides the difference might only be a sweaty back but on longer rides and with heavy loads a backpack just isn't an option.
 

GazK

Senior Member
Location
Wiltshire
tundragumski said:
I'd have thought that this was a no brainer.

Off roaders use small backpacks (camelbaks) for obvious reasons, but the rest of us should definitely be using panniers.

On short rides the difference might only be a sweaty back but on longer rides and with heavy loads a backpack just isn't an option.
+1 to that. I used to commute to work (10 miles each way) with a backpack and it didn't bother me. Recently I did 30 with a backpack over towpaths, carrying a Kryptonite New Yorker lock (think heavy). My shoulders were killing me by the end of it.
 
OP
S

sayek1

Well-Known Member
Location
Glasgow
I guess it depends on the load in your pack - I am guessing, but mine is probably no more than 7 to 8 lbs........ small lock, washkit stuff, very small towel, spare kit for journey home (shorts etc as its warmer), tee-shirt, base-layer, wallet, phone, pump etc.

Much more and it would be uncomfortable I am sure. I was looking tonight at bigger backpacks in Evans and decided why bother..... much bigger and it will end up hurting, sending you off balance and defeating the whole object. I'll stick to my 15 or 20 litre pack.

I will keep testing the theory on pack vs panniers and report back in the future.
 

McWobble

Euthermic
Location
Minkowski Space
tundragumski said:
I'd have thought that this was a no brainer.

Off roaders use small backpacks (camelbaks) for obvious reasons, but the rest of us should definitely be using panniers.

On short rides the difference might only be a sweaty back but on longer rides and with heavy loads a backpack just isn't an option.
+2

Backpacks are okay for short distances, but over a few miles or when you need to carry heavy loads, panniers are by far the best option. I'll use a backpack when I cycle in on the Dahon, but it just gives me backache on the Galaxy. It's not just a matter of a sweaty or sore back: because a rucksac is high up, I find it has an adverse effect on handling which is made all the worse if don't use a waist strap to stop it swaying around.

Edit: panniers do cause some drag, so you'll find it quicker without them. But I just view using them as resistance training!
 

MancRider78

Active Member
Location
Manchester
I use panniers and still find it easy to stand and pedal; the sweaty back with a backpack, I have a Karrinmore air flow pack (still mega sweaty back), doesn't make for a comfy ride. As mentioned just my personal preference but 8m one way I would rather be as comfy as possible
 

jimboalee

New Member
Location
Solihull
This is an old nutmeg that has been argued about since year dot.

Backpack. - Adds to bodyweight when you stand on the pedals but also adds to flying mass when you fall in ditch.

Panniers - Are a 'dead weight' on bike but stay on bike when the rider flys into ditch.


PRK, spare tube, wallet, phone etc go in rear pockets or backpack.

4 cans of lager, curry and naan go in panniers.
 
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