If you have a modern bike it most likely has a high trail front end geometry that’s not designed to carry a front only or front biased load. That’s not a problem if you carry your cargo on a rear rack, but if you want to do brevets with access to your cargo on the go you need it in a handlebar bag or perhaps you want to add a porteur rack to the front of your bike and carry heavy items there you’ll be fighting your bike. This is because high trail bikes have a lot of wheel flop so when you have weight up front it makes the wheel veer from side to side with poor stability.
If your fork is carbon, aluminum or really burly straight steel tubing you can’t do much about it. You’ll have to get a custom fork made. However, if you have a classic curved steel fork like the Surly LHT or Cross Check you can have your fork re-raked at a modest cost. This involves bending the fork to add more curve which lowers the bike’s trail. Since the bend also reduces the axle to crown height of the fork the head tube angle will steepen as well which also will lower the bike’s trail.
It follows that if you steepen the head tube you will also steepen the seat tube so there is a limit to how much of a change you can make.
The 58cm 700c LHT has 72mm of trail compared to 30-40mm of trail for a typical front loading randonneur bike.
David at the Ready to Ride Blog tried to re-rake his Rivendell Atlantis’s fork and eventually got a custom fork made for that bike to get the low trail geometry he was after:
Note: that the problem he had bending the Atlantis’ stock fork relates to the canti posts hitting the bending apparatus and may not be an issue if the builder’s apparatus is different to the one used in this case.
I think Sharon would find it easier to ride her new Surly Cross Check with a low trail geometry and her gear strapped to a PR rack on the front of the bike. I’d also like to try my LHT with a lower trail fork – say in the 45mm range. Nothing life threatening, but it would make an interesting and relatively low cost project.