My wife and I are occasional cycle tourists. We have mountain bikes and we camp. We wanted the best way to carry all that gear so we bought some BOBs YAKS trailers (www.bobstrailers.com). We’ve done short tours locally and a 2 week trip in Western Australia. We also were without our car for a few months and used pedal power as a replacement. Later we also toured New Zealand and for a variety of reasons chose to use panniers. Now for all those wondering which way to go here’s some pros and cons of each
Look great! A great conversation piece and they seem to make cars give you more room (probably helped by your odd appearance and the big flag.)
Ride easy. You almost forget they are there.
Great for larger items and quick to pack and unpack eg. Doing the weekly shopping
Easier to balance
Takes almost all of the weight off the bike esp. the rear wheel
Totally waterproof with the new roll-top bag
Cost – now about $450 but it would be much the same for top notch panniers
Hard to park – the manual claims you can freepark with a jack-knife type manouvere but this depended a lot on ground surface and weight in the trailer. We also felt it put too much pressure on the trailer especially the pins.
Can be hard to find things inside one big black bag especially if you have top park/hold the bike/trailer
Hard to transport – eg. Planes, buses, cars, trains. This was the main reason we didn’t take them to NZ. We had trouble in WA having ridden one way and wanting to get them back with us on a bus. In the end a local transport company did it for $50 for 2 bikes and 2 YAKS!
Need more room to store at home
You can actually hold more in the panniers we had than in the YAK. The YAK is better for weight (32kg) and big, bulky things but the panniers when we packed can fit more small things in.
Transport – collapse to virtually nothing and you can take them into your tent/room
Easy to find things esp. if you have a system
Fiddly to pack – weight balance and ease of retrieval require you pack well.
A real bugger if transporting the bikes means taking the racks themselves off
Easy to steal
Can get kicked as your pedal or turn
Can move around when you hits bumps
Can get jammed in spokes
Puts a lot of weight on the rear wheel
I hope this helps those trying to chose a solution for their next tour !