Bike Touring with a BOB Trailer: Better Your BOB Ride

Check out these tips to maximize your BOB experience:

Bike touring with a BOB Trailer is something to carefully consider, and while we are big BOB fans, there are pros and cons as shown in our last blog post. If you choose to go the BOB route, there are a few things you can do to better your BOB ride.

1.  Inner tube dampening system. BOB is your friend, but as all friends do, sometimes he gets a little too close for comfort, bouncing and swinging around at you. Creating a slight dampening system can help your BOB track better behind you and reduce the swinging and bouncing that can occur when you are riding more bumpy or technical terrain. Take an old inner tube and cut it so it is one strip. Start with one end and wrap it even between the BOB yoke and the trailer, crossing over with even tension on each side. Tie it up and give it a test run. If your BOB doesn’t pivot well or track behind you on corners, you probably have it too tight. If it still swings around too much, you probably have it too loose. Adjust as needed. Read more

Bike Touring Baggage: Bikepacking vs. Panniers vs. B.O.B. Trailers

What is the best bike touring option for you?

So you want to start bike touring. The thought of the open road or trail beckons as you weed through the Internet trying to figure out how you are going to carry all of your stuff. You have several options for bike touring baggage, and it all depends on the type of ride you will be doing, and how comfortable you want to be.

Bikepacking

Bike packing utilizes very lightweight gear and a variety of small bike frame, handlebar or lightweight racks and bags. Bike packing is great for two things: hard core rides in rugged terrain and “credit card” tours—tours where you are sleeping in hotels or eating in restaurants.

Your gear and clothing needs to be very lightweight and packable. It doesn’t allow for much room for food other than trail food. The cool thing about bikepacking is that you have the ability to mountain bike quite well—at least easier than with a trailer or panniers. You are light and fast, but have less creature comforts.

bikepacking


Panniers

Bike panniers are the most traditional form of touring. Panniers are great for long distance international touring, especially if you are going to be flying, taking trains, ferries, or other transportation. They come off easily and stuff away in overhead compartments and bins and don’t have to be boxed up at all. They are best for road or gravel road touring. The more bumpy or technical the ride, the harder it is to ride with panniers.

For practical daily use, there are some downsides. Riding a bike with heavily loaded with panniers can be quite top-heavy and can also have a ton of wind resistance—both crosswind and headwind. Panniers are also harder to pack than a trailer, as you need to pay attention to weighting everything equally and you only have small compartments so you have to be really organized.

Most bike tourists use both front and back panniers to evenly weight the bike. However, we’ve used a B.O.B. Trailer with front panniers only and that can be a nice set-up with good weight distribution.

 

bike with panniers

B.O.B Trailer

Cargo trailers, such as the B.O.B. Trailer have quite a few benefits and a few downsides. The B.O.B. Trailer attaches to the rear wheel, providing a fairly solid attachment point. We caution against trailers that attach to the seat post as this puts stress on the seat post—a spot you don’t want breaking while you are touring.

B.O.B. Trailers are excellent for gravel and dirt road touring and single track touring. The B.O.B. tracks right behind the bike so it works quite well on single track and it is decent in the wind as well. The B.O.B. is also a dream to pack and unpack, as it is basically one big bag. It also allows for a bigger tent or sleeping bag. The weight also entirely behind you and low, so it doesn’t change the bike handling too much.

The downside to the B.O.B. is that it can be a pain to travel with if you are flying or taking other methods of transportation a lot. Depending on where you are, sometimes the B.O.B. is not an issue as we have strapped bikes and B.O.B.s to the tops of chicken busses and they always survived the ride.

Cannondale with BOB Trailer

So, what’s the verdict? It depends.

If you are hard core and entering backcountry singletrack, but planning on spending a night or two, go for the bikepacking.

If you are doing a road tour in Europe, go with panniers.

If you are doing a long distance of gravel roads with camping and no or light civilization go for the B.O.B.

Our preference is the B.O.B. Trailer for several reasons. We like to ride dirt roads and singletrack and the trailer works great for each of these. The B.O.B. is so easy to live out of each day. And we just think riding with a B.O.B. Trailer is just plain fun.

Bike Radar Includes Robert Axle Project as News Item

Bike Radar is Cycling’s Premier News Site

We are happy to see the Robert Axle Project on Bike Radar, one of largest cycling news and reviews website. But we might even more happy that we got to exchange emails with @angryasian! Angry Asian is the Technical Editor for Bike Radar and virtually a household name with people who ride bikes.

Read the news item here:

Robert Axle Adapts Thru-Axles to Trailers and Trainers

 

bike radar robert axle review

Near Death in New Mexico

Monsoon season on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

I’ve done some things that others might classify as “adventurous”, but I can only count a very small number of times that I thought I might die. Mountain bike touring Central New Mexico was one of those times.

We were riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route one summer and we picked up our buddy Jerry in southern Colorado. He was going to ride the last three weeks of our tour with us until we reached the Mexican border. We were in New Mexico in August – Southwest Monsoon season – so every day was a race to stay dry. New Mexico was also one of the more rigorous states to ride through, with consistently high elevation of 8,000-10,000 feet, rough road conditions, long distances between civilization, and scarce water supply.

great divide mountain bike route new mexico

Not many people around in these parts. Notice the pre-evil “happy clouds”.

Our last major stop was Cuba, New Mexico and the ride out from Cuba was much how you would expect New Mexico to be – desert, cacti, red rocks and dry arroyos. The two days after leaving Cuba was filled with arroyo crossings, at the time dry, but nowhere we wanted to be in a rainstorm.

The second day was one of those days when trail magic happens. We had ridden about half of our mileage for the day, about 25 miles, when we saw little bits of clouds peppering the sky. Jerry and I started singing rain songs, which always torched Chris. But there was nothing else to do but ride, look for quick cover, and hope that we could outrun the storms.

Within a matter of an hour, the fluffy Bob Ross “happy clouds” turned into angry satanic formations and the huge lightning and thundering rainstorm converged upon us, right over our heads. Fortunately we were in a high spot, so we knew we wouldn’t get washed away in a flood. The downside…we were in a high spot. Not a single tree for miles and miles, but a sea of sagebrush that offered no protection from anything.

With the quick telepathy that happens with the people you ride with for hours on end, we all together got off our bikes and jumped in the very shallow depression on the side of the road. Chris pulled out the ever-faithful blue tarp and we hunkered down. Me, my husband, and one of our best friends shoulder to shoulder under the blue glow of the tarp. Funny things went through my head, as I tried desperately to remember what to do in a lightning storm. Stick together? Spread apart? Lay down flat? Crouch low on one foot? No good answers came up.

New Mexico mud on mountain bikes

Never, ever try to ride in New Mexican mud. It is a complete disaster.

It rained hard while we counted the space between lightning strikes and thunder booms. Jerry would poke his head out of the tarp and yell “three seconds and getting closer!” – an indication of how quickly the lightning was headed our way. Pretty soon we had a river flowing under our feet, and the bikes and BOB Trailers were starting to sink into the mud.

It was one of those moments when I knew that my mom would be really disappointed to hear that I died doing something really stupid (sorry, Mom.) Just when we thought we were toast, literally, we heard a rumbling noise. I threw the tarp off to see a black, shiny brand new Chevy king cab pick-up truck in front of us. The passenger couldn’t even get the window down quickly enough before we loaded our stuff into the back and were on our way to the nearest town, Grants, New Mexico. The poor unsuspecting young couple was out scouting for elk and came across us shabby trio. We didn’t care. The truck was warm and dry.

Within the hour we were dropped off in a Wal-Mart parking lot to dry our stuff. Wal-Mart can be a very beautiful thing on a bike tour. They have Red Vines and salami and Coke and all kinds of caloric wonders for bike tourists.

The sky was blue and it was just another beautiful day to ride bikes. You gotta take good luck when it comes your way.

–Katy B.

Wal-Mart Grants New Mexico

Hooray for Wal-Mart!