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Discussion Starter #1
I just purchased a multipurpose bike - Jamis Coda with drop bars - for around town, light grocery shopping, commuting and various degrees of touring. I need to get racks and panniers and I would like to spend a reasonable amount to get started, say $100-$150 (for rear rack and panniers). Brands like Tubus, Lone Peak and Ortlieb are a bit over my budget. Nashbar has some racks and bags on sale at very low prices, but I am a bit skeptical of their quality. Maybe I'm wrong to think that though. Can anyone recommend a solid setup that won't break the bank?

Here's some links to the Nashbar stuff...
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?sku=6796
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?sku=15212

Related question - I'm a bit confused about weight distribution. I've read that the weight should be 60 front/40 back, but my instincts are to get a rear rack and panniers until I embark on a longer tour - later this summer - at which time i would get the front setup, plus a handlebar bag. Is my bike going to handle poorly or dangerously with rear panniers only on a grocery run or short tour?

I have a Zephal pump that would be perfect for this bike except that my frame has no pump pegs. When I put the pump under the top tube it fits okay, with a good amount of compression, but as soon as I hit a bump, it is going to fly out and get lost. I've looked at the velcro type straps but it seems to me that without a peg to hold the tightly sprung pump firmly - and vertically - in place, those straps just won't hold it. Under the tt is the only place - that I can see - where it will fit. Any suggestions for alternative mounting systems for this great pump?

Oh yeah, what are your favorite sites, other than rbr and Adventure Cycling, for touring info?

That's a lot of questions... thanks for your help... ;-)
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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I got the Topeak MTX trunk bag with panniers and the QR rack from REI for around $90.00 IIRC (had them a year or so). Been very happy with them for commuting, quick trips to the store, riding around town, etc... Don't know how well they would do with touring, let you know later this year.

http://www.topeak.com/products/bag_011.html

http://www.topeak.com/products/rack_004.html

For the frame pump, how about a large zip tie around the frame and using it as a peg? Might help.
 

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I think you're taking the right approach -- build up your gear step by step, according to your next goal.

I started out doing this years ago, and I'm still on my first set of racks and panniers. This is after more than 15 years of use and at least 40,000 miles (half of that loaded touring). I use a set of REI panniers from around 1990; my wife uses a set of Nashbar ATB Panniers from year 2000. They're both sort of low-end, similar quality, cost less than $100 total (that's 2 sets for 2 people). These are not even close in quality to Ortliebs or Arkels, but then they're about 1/5 the cost.

If I was heading to Patagonia or across the Silk Road, I'd put my money in the top brands. In my opinion, touring North America, you don't need to. You might have an occasional problem (I had to re-string the attachment loop on my wife's panniers on tour last summer), but you have to be prepared for this with any equipment.

Same with the racks. I've always had Blackburns, but my wife uses lesser brands (Nashbar? don't remember). Never had a problem with either.

If you're planning on carrying 80 lbs of gear for three months, get the best equipment now. But if you're gonna start out on short tours, carrying reasonable loads, the two Nashbar items you listed are fine. My criteria for panniers doesn't include "waterproof" because everything is packed in plastic bags anyway -- you'd be foolish not to do this even with Arkels.

You'll find the bike handles much better with the load distributed to the front/back. It's a feeling of "riding on rails", very stable. If you're serious about loaded touring, I'd recommend you get front rack and panniers now. However, lots of people tour with only rear rack/panniers -- obviously saves cost, and it works if you have a light load. For shopping and commuting, not many people load the front. Try it and see if your bike handles OK; some bikes get squirrely or shimmy. Putting more weight on the back usually makes it worse, so pay attention to this before you start on a tour.

(Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend cheaper brands for camping gear, such as tent and sleeping bag. High quality here could affect survivability.)

About the pump: try this. (No picture, it's a plastic clamp-with-a-peg.) Better: get a Topeak Morph pump. It's well worth it, and it fits inside a pack.

I get all my touring info from the BikeForums group :)

-- Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just a quick note of thanks to Mark and Chris.

Chris, REI is having one of their sidewalk sales today, so the timing of your reply couldn't be better. I'll snoop around inside the store to see if they have the Topeak trunk/panniers you're using. They might do the trick...

Mark, Thanks for putting my mind at ease that I don't have to buy the expensive stuff to have a good, and safe, trip. One day i hope to tour around France during le tour, stopping here and there to catch the boys on one of the epic climbs, so maybe an upgrade will be called for. In the meantime, it will be weekend or maybe a weeklong trip along the Cal coast - right out my backdoor. The discussion board you mentioned looks like a wealth of knowledge and experience, so thanks too for that.
 
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