Do you have an opinion about panniers versus a B.O.B. Yak for long, self-supported bike touring? I ride a Gold Rush Replica LWB recumbent and planning a solo coast-to-coast ride. David Portland, Oregon
For my touring bike, a Bob Jackson Special Tourist, I prefer to pull a B.O.B. (aka Beast of Burden) Yak Plus, a trailer that costs $289 with custom-fit bag (www.bobtrailers.com). That is not to say I regard the trailer as a perfect solution compared with panniers, so here's how I weigh the pros and cons on each:
Pros: More aerodynamic. Easier to pack, especially for bulky items such as tents. Takes load off bike frame and tires, reducing breakdowns and flats.
Cons: Adds a level of mechanical complexity. Can make for some weird bike-handling, especially for first-time users. Can't stand up in pedals (not an issue for a recumbent, obviously).
Pros: Balance load nicely, front to rear. Mechanically simple. Cons: Packing and unpacking more complicated. Place frame and tires under greater stress and increase rolling resistance. More wind drag.
Cost is about the same, with a set of good-quality panniers such as Ortliebs or Jandds running about the same as a Yak. I still use panniers, usually small ones on a back rack where I stash lightweight items such as clothing.
My question would be how the bike handles with a trailer. If that's an issue, you'd definitely want to figure out a way to borrow a Yak, load it with 30 to 40 pounds, and take it for a spin. You might find that it really screws up the balance and tracking of your Gold Rush, especially when stopping. But then again, maybe not.
Anyway, good luck with your tour plans. That should be quite a trip!