eBike Commuting: Front vs Rear Only Pannier at high speeds


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8:56 AM
Jul 30, 2020
I just picked up an eBike (Trek Crossrip+) that is a speed pedelec, class 3 assist up to 28mph. In my initial commutes, I sustain 22+ mph speeds for most of my commute outside of traffic lights / intersections. There are multiple climbs on my commute. 16 miles, ~600 ft elevation - all smooth paved road.

It came with a rear rack, and I'll be converting my existing bike packing bags setup to a dedicated pannier setup.

I was thinking of buying Ortlieb Back Roller Classics, which are sold as a pair, and 20L each. I can fit all of my commuting gear (clothes, laptop, multiple meals, ebike charger, etc) in a single 20L bag and the total weight is somewhere ~15lbs.

However it had me thinking whether I should use a front or rear pannier and the pros and cons of each. In my situation, the bike itself is 46lbs base weight and it would be great to remove the rear rack and put one of the front for weight distribution and possibly better battery life.

But if I go with the rear 1 bag setup, it will probably be better for aerodynamic drag at that speed vs 2 bags up front? The difference in aero is crazy at these speeds!

Also, if I do use just one bag on the rear...should I put it on the non drive side of bike to balance weight, or on the drive side (right) to be out of the way of passing cars / traffic?
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For the aerodynamic reasons you mentioned, I wouldn't put any panniers up front unless your rear rack and panniers cannot accommodate your gear.

I use NO rack or panniers in the front. I have all of my stuff in two rear panniers of similar weight. My average commute speed is 29 mph.

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Not sure what vadimhellbike is running, but zombie-ebikes.com lists a 1500W rearhub motor.

That should get even that monster movin'!
I run front panniers on my e-cargo bike (kids go on the back) and IMO if you're just going to have one, front is better than rear. Weight distribution and steering are better (again IMO) with the weight on the front, carried nice and low.

Capacity is an issue, of course. If you need to carry a ton of stuff, do both!