Thursday, May 13, 2010

Decisions , decisions

I'm not the best packer,  and decided that I wanted more space than just the two rear panniers. Space to carry extra water so I can spend more days out of town. And not have to hunt for space to chuck in some road side fruit or veges, or a few books.  I've got to have space!

Okay, I'm also a hoarder and manage to pick up all sorts of things from the side of the road on the basis that they may be Useful at some point. The danger with more space is that it gives me more space to keep stuff that really should have been left where it was on the side of the road. So far up the coast I had to ditch stuff several times after picking up items that I thought would be useful. But roadside stuff is so good value when its free :)

I've spent a lot of time hunting about reading reviews and travel blogs, and weighing up what I want to do - and the pros and cons of panniers , trailers (single or double wheel and even four wheeled using 20" or 26" wheels), and long bikes (Xtracycle, Surly Big Dummy, Yuba Mundo)

Panniers - my rear panniers are large, my MTB frame is short, so there wasn't room there to do anything. For front panniers, I'd need to work out an attachment.  I also wanted to raise the handle bars - and decided the best way was to change the front fork. The current fork was made for me before disk brakes were common and is short. Changing the fork to a Surly Instigator fork would give me a minimum of 4cm and up to 10cm of rise. Surlys fork doesn't have pannier mounts, and in any case I wanted the panniers to be mounted higher.  (I'd had problems with low hanging panniers on deeply rutted dirt roads.) Front panniers would stop the front wheel lift tendency when riding up hill with the back rack is loaded.  So this was an option.

Ruled out multi wheel trailers - their not for single track. Can't imagine riding with one down some of the dirt roads I've been on.

Wasn't that happy with single wheel trailers. The mounting might have been a problem - the back dropout is crowded enough on the left with the rack, mudguards, Rohloff gear mech and torsion arm. Wasn't happy with stationary handling either. There often isn't a tree handy, and its tricky enough balancing the bike with panniers against the plastic road posts. The Extrawheel trailer did look good though.

Long bikes all had oodles of space and generous weight limits.  One down side was its more of a change. You can leave a trailer or panniers behind - but you can't leave the tail end of your bike behind.

I liked the idea of the Xtracycle - but some reviewers reported frame flex with larger loads.  I'm not sure of the longevity of my existing aluminium MTB with the Xtracycle loaded up on it. And I'd still need to raise the front end.

Big Dummy looked promising  - some reviews reported flex on this with the heavier loads on this also. Besides the frame and fork, you also need to either build or buy a Xtracycle kit to carry any load, you can't carry anything on the Big Dummy without some racks mounted on it. This pushes up the frames base weight (and price).

Google and you'll find that there are plenty of people that use the Xtracycle and Big Dummy for touring.

Yuba Mundo: The frame is ready to carry load - tie panniers on or sit gear on the rack. And it looks super strong. All reviewers reported it as 100% rock solid, even when loaded to the max or more. However, the most common downside to some people was the weight.  (Note the Mundo has been on a diet from V1 to the current V3 model).

Compared to the Surly Big Dummy, the Mundo V3 is slightly heavier. But only slightly.

Mundo       :  frame and fork 10.5kg, with the sideloaders 12kg.
Big Dummy:  frame and fork   7.1kg      with wideloaders  10.76kg
Difference:       difference of    3.4kg, or   with sideloaders   1.24kg.

But wait! That 3.4kg for frame and fork compare isn't the fully story. Actually to compare frame and fork - I think you need to add the Xtracycle Pannier Kit or the Cargo Van Kit to the Big Dummy frame to be a valid compare. To allow you to carry something on the Big Dummy. Both kits are aluminium and weigh in at 3.175kg - so the Mundo is only a 225grams heavier for an all steel frame at the just frame and fork stage.

Compared to the Big Dummy, the weight isn't an issue.

The Muno is steel, with the sideloaders being CrMo.
The Big Dummy is CrMo, with the wideloaders being aluminium.

I know planes are made out of aluminium, and my current MTB is aluminium, but, I do like steel.

After a few emails to the owner Benjamin Sarrazin at, and a quick call I ordered a Yuba Mundo.

Now to wait until it arrives.