B.O.B. Yak Plus versus Ibex versus Panniers

Trailers versus Panniers

Based upon my online research, the trailer versus pannier debate will rage on forever. Panniers have the advantage of not requiring you to worry about a trailer. Trailers have the advantage of reducing your frontal area (and therefore wind drag), and in theory don’t require wheels nor frame as beefy as those needed to haul gear in panniers.

Both panniers and trailers can negatively affect handling. The degree to which they do, and the respective solutions, seem to vary tremendously by usage patterns. Overloading a trailer, particularly while putting most of the weight forward, is sure to cause handling trouble. Similarly, a heavy, low-slung rear pannier can badly disrupt handling.

Ultimately, there is no clear winner on any objective, universal, technical basis. It seems to be a personal decision, based upon one’s intended usage. Therefore, since I really don’t see any reason to own yet another bicycle solely for mid-weight touring, I will be buying a BOB trailer and attaching it to my carbon-framed, triple-chainring roadbike.

Now the question becomes, which trailer to purchase?

The Trailers

BOB makes two trailers, the Ibex and the Yak.

BOB Ibex trailer   BOB Yak trailer

The Ibex offers 3″ of adjustable, damped suspension travel, weighs 3.5 pounds more, is silver instead of black, and costs an extra $70.

Nomenclature

The only difference between the base and the “PLUS” models is the inclusion of the yellow, roll-top BOB bag (“DRY SAK” dry bag). The “28” versions are for 28″ wheels, 29″ mountain bikes, and 700cc road bikes with full-wrap fenders.

Specifications

This section lists the specifications for each, as reported on the BOB website. All differences are listed in bold.

Ibex:

  • MSRP: $369, $399 for PLUS model with “DRY SAK” bag.
  • Suspension: 3″, adjustable
  • Weight: 17 Lbs (7.7 kgs)
  • Capacity: 70 Lbs (32 kgs)
  • Wheel: 28 spoke, aluminum rim, cartridge bearings, 16 x 2.125″ tire
  • Cargo area: approx 25″ x 16″ x 18″ (64cm x 41cm x 46cm)
  • Included: quick release attachment system with spare attachment pin, bungee, flag, fender, reflectors
  • Color: gray?

Yak:

  • MSRP: $299, $329 for PLUS model with “DRY SAK” bag.
  • Suspension: none
  • Weight: 13.5 Lbs (6.1 kgs)
  • Capacity: 70 Lbs (32 kgs)
  • Wheel: 28 spoke, aluminum rim, cartridge bearings, 16 x 1.75″ tire
  • Cargo area: approx 25″ x 16″ x 18″ (64cm x 41cm x 46cm)
  • Included: quick release attachment system with spare attachment pin, spider bungee, flag, fender, reflectors
  • Color: black

Additional Information

This page provides far better photos of the Ibex than does their website. Also — again, unlike the website — it explains exactly how the shock absorber is “adjustable”. You can move the lower mounting point for different leverage, and you can increase the spring preload. Additionally, their Yak page shows exactly how the trailers mount to the bicycle.

Which to Choose?

The Internets

This guy used a BOB Ibex behind a hard-tail mountain bike on the Great Divide Route and has generally very positive things to say about it.

This thread compares the Yak to the Ibex. Several references are made to high-speed weaving and instability with the unsuspended Yak, which is said to be absent from the suspended Ibex, but some also say that this is simply due to improper loading.

My Decision

It sounds like the Ibex may reduce the chance of handling problems, particularly at high speeds. Since the downside is 3.5 pounds, and since I don’t believe that 3.5 pounds of rolling weight will be noticeable, I intend to purchase a BOB Ibex.

I will probably replace the 2.125″ Ibex tire with a 1.75″ slick, since I think rolling resistance is more likely to be felt than the absolute weight difference.

Followup

I bought the BOB Ibex and, sadly, decided that it sucks. I will be returning it next weekend. More details later.

About Jeff Fitzsimons

Jeff Fitzsimons is a software engineer in the California Bay Area. Technical specialties include C++, Win32, and multithreading. Personal interests include rock climbing, cycling, motorcycles, and photography.
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