I currently have four panniers (two front, two rear) on my touring bike and plan to purchase a new touring bike which comes with front suspension forks. Is it possible and if so, safe to add front panniers to a front suspension fork?

  • Yes. It's been covered here before so I'll try to find you a link. I seem to remember that there's an old man mountain rack that might work.
    – Chris H
    Aug 31, 2017 at 6:48
  • Anyway, I would by no means attach a rack with panniers to the lower part of the fork because it will add mass to the moving masses and alter the spring and damping function of the fork.
    – Carel
    Aug 31, 2017 at 11:02
  • @Carel it's easy to consider a situation in which a fork designed for lots of singletrack descents with rocks and tree routes is used for rough touring on forest trails. It might not be the best choice, but it would work; you'd just use up some of the over-spec and waste a little effort but it would be more comfortable than a rigid fork
    – Chris H
    Aug 31, 2017 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Whether it's possible or not, it's a bad idea.

With any suspended system, there's sprung weight and unsprung weight. Sprung weight is the weight carried by the suspension system, and unsprung weight is the weight that's "downstream" of the suspension system (the wheels, etc). In any suspended system, the goal is to maximize the weight that is sprung, and minimize the weight that is unsprung.

When you go over a bump, your unsprung mass gets pushed up, then recoils and goes down, and this cycle repeats until the energy in the system has been damped out (vocabulary aside: although we casually refer to suspension as "shock absorbers", real shock absorbers only damp out the recoil, not the initial impact). Adding unsprung mass makes that recoil much harder to damp out. If you put, say, 2 kg of rack + bag on your front forks, and another 7 kg of load, you're exceeding what the front suspension was designed to handle by a factor of 4 or so. Not so much in terms of the initial shock (which I imagine can be many Gs) but in terms of absorbing recoil.

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