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How much 'rackage' is too much?

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How much 'rackage' is too much?

Old 03-19-13, 10:28 AM
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Slussman
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How much 'rackage' is too much?

Hey there guys, I'm building a light to medium load touring bike and I was wondering what you guys think about front racks? The bike will primarily be a city bike/commuter most of the time but will be used for at least a few week long trips this summer. I can't decide on whether to get low-rider pannier mounts, a 6-pack rack, or just nothing at all on the front.

Also, I'm not sure what to look for quality wise. I'm on a college student's budget so I can't splurge for Tubus or anything like that but I don't want to get something that will just break or bend right away.

I just don't want to go crazy and get a front rack, and then discover I never really use it... So your guys' opinions would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
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Old 03-19-13, 10:29 AM
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Oh and the front fork is a Surly LHT fork with all the mounts I could ever dream of! lol
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Old 03-19-13, 10:45 AM
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As I understand it, use of a front rack is more about balancing the load than cargo capacity. In fact, some riders prefer using a front rack and no rear rack if they are carrying a lighter load.
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Old 03-19-13, 10:49 AM
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You can always emove the front rack when not in use. I take mine off unless I am carrying a load on it.
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Old 03-19-13, 10:57 AM
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It's more important to spend money on a good rear rack where the weight is carried.

The problem you'll find with cheaper racks on the rear is that while they may well be strong enough to carry the load they may not be stiff enough to do so without sway. That's why the Tubus racks are so solid. They are extremely rigid which prevents the bike from shimmying and swaying at high speed which can be a problem if you have a lighter more flexible rack.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:12 AM
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Depending on how much I am carrying and whether the bike allows it, I actually sometimes would prefer using front panniers only. I did the PCH with front panniers and only the tent on the rear rack.

Also I will mention that as has been said they can easily come off when not on tour. In fact many front racks will need to come off to carry the bike on many car racks.

For lower cost rack there are plenty on the market that are inexpensive and work fine. I like the Blackburn EX-1 and some of the Axiom models for the back and the Nashbar low rider for the front. Those can all be found quite cheaply and I have used them happily for a lot of miles of touring.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:19 AM
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The 2 bikes I use Most have front racks, 1 has repeated use , fetching Groceries, in All 4 panniers, if needed.

the other one I never got a rear rack for, at all ..

Low riding front loads increase the stability nicely..


if you can fit everything in 4 panniers, nothing on the back rack, top
the bike should handle fine on the road..
its the loose weird stuff on top of the rear rack you would avoid ..

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Old 03-19-13, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
It's more important to spend money on a good rear rack where the weight is carried.

The problem you'll find with cheaper racks on the rear is that while they may well be strong enough to carry the load they may not be stiff enough to do so without sway. That's why the Tubus racks are so solid. They are extremely rigid which prevents the bike from shimmying and swaying at high speed which can be a problem if you have a lighter more flexible rack.
I second the notion of stiff racks. But if you are going fairly light consider the Nashbar Front Rack, at $10.00 it is hardly a budget buster. It is rated at 15 pounds, but my experience says it is happier with 8 to 10 max. I strap a REI soft lunchbox cooler on it and am good to go. With a small handlebar bag and the cooler upfront, and panniers on a Tubus rack in the rear my bike balances well, and I tour on a much shorter wheel base cyclocross frame when compared to the LHT's wb.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:56 AM
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I made a commitment to carry less on my bike for various reasons so I gave away my front rack, front panniers, and handlebar bag. It worked for me.
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Old 03-19-13, 01:30 PM
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Are there any affordable stiff rear racks? I seem to have trouble finding steel racks that aren't UBER (heh germans) expensive.
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Old 03-19-13, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Slussman View Post
Are there any affordable stiff rear racks? I seem to have trouble finding steel racks that aren't UBER (heh germans) expensive.
Maybe try the Blackburn Expedition rack. It's AL but reasonably sturdy. It's not a Tubus though.
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Old 03-19-13, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Western Flyer View Post
But if you are going fairly light consider the Nashbar Front Rack, at $10.00 it is hardly a budget buster.
I have used that rack a couple ways and like it quite well. One way was as a way to mount the handlebar bag with no bracket. I was bale to take out the stiffeners in the bag when mounted this way.

I have also used it as a mini rear rack when going super light. I has a small bar roll, a few pounds in a backpack, and a few pounds on the rack. Base weight was something like 11 pounds including cooking and camping stuff and it was very pleasant travelling that light.
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Old 03-19-13, 01:49 PM
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I would say this was about right ... sorry, couldn't resist
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Old 03-19-13, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I would say this was about right ... sorry, couldn't resist
LoL... You beat me to it. I was going to say that if they get in the way of reaching for the handlebars, you need a reduction.
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Old 03-19-13, 01:59 PM
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And as a serious answer, I'm with the folks who would go with a front rack first, then rear of more is needed.
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Old 03-19-13, 02:11 PM
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Personally have a good half dozen front and rear racks that were installed and tested with a variety of loads.
Specialized Six-Pack front rack
OMM Cold Spring front rack
Axiom low rider front racks
Specialized Rear Rack
OMM Cold Spring rear rack
Axiom Journey rear rack
Velec rear double tier rack

Have used these on a variety of bikes with various sized Arkel and Voyager bags, various Seal Line Dry Bags and /or a couple hard-shell cases and a handlebar bag in various combinations. If I had only one choice - I'd drop the rear bags and go with just front panniers and a bar bag. The bike tracks better and the weight distribution is easier on the rear axle - which already carries most of your own weight. It may not be ideal aerodynamically, but anyone worried about aerodynamics while cycletouring probably needs their priorities reaccessed anyway. A car is faster, more aerodynamic and has a higher load limit - not to mention a greater range between stops.

The Specialized Six-Pack is designed to go to the corner store. It won't keep panniers out of your spokes, and the load rating isn't high enough for panniers anyway.

The OMM were the most expensive and not all that rigid once loaded to their limit, although the front was better than the rear.

The Axiom rear rack was the least expensive, has the highest load rating and was the most rigid when loaded. The front was also good but I saw no real advantage of a low-rider over a platform rack, particularly since several front platform racks have supplementary rails so you can pick a mounting height for the panniers.

One of the things that was interested in testing was downhill stability at 50kph with loaded panniers on smooth roads. I'll take the load up front any day. On rough roads I'd suggest keeping the speed down anyway - both in the interests of control and for the reduced stresses on the racks, axles and pannier contents. I like to have fun, but no destination or trip I plan has ever been more fun when treated like a race-course.

Last edited by Burton; 03-19-13 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 03-19-13, 02:21 PM
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I've got a Nitto front rack (6-pack style) as well as a Tubus Tara front pannier rack, but don't find either of them very useful for commuting and daily use. I keep the Nitto rack on my touring bike all the time because it's handy for emergencies and it's also a good spot to clamp my front headlight, but I generally don't like the way my bike rides with the Nitto rack loaded. For loaded touring, however, I have found that the Tara pannier racks were necessary to distribute weight properly on my bike. I don't keep the Tara rack on my bike all the time, but just install it for loaded trips.
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Old 03-19-13, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I would say this was about right ... sorry, couldn't resist
Thats a lot to carry around! I'm afraid the ultralight touring crowd would never approve of anything not obviously anorexic ...
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Old 03-19-13, 02:30 PM
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Too much is when you can't control the bike. For light to medium touring I'd try two methods, small panniers or no panniers. Small panniers might do fine on the rear. I've got a CrossCheck and found narrow Axiom Streamliner rack with smaller Ortlieb panniers was better than a wide platform rack. Once the weight approached two six packs it handled better with weight forward. For no panniers a small front rack, rear platform rack would work well.
This Velo-orange rack has worked well

http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...ront-rack.html

for the Cross-Check this rack is great for heavy loads like an 18pack of beer, it handles better up front than back. While low riders are more stable I've been able to mount Ortlieb up front on the steel platform rack.


since yr on a budget I'd get a ToPeak rear platform rack and a Nashbar six pack front rack and no panniers.

Last edited by LeeG; 03-19-13 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 03-19-13, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
It's more important to spend money on a good rear rack where the weight is carried.

The problem you'll find with cheaper racks on the rear is that while they may well be strong enough to carry the load they may not be stiff enough to do so without sway. That's why the Tubus racks are so solid. They are extremely rigid which prevents the bike from shimmying and swaying at high speed which can be a problem if you have a lighter more flexible rack.
My impression is that unless your using a 40yr old cheap Pletscher rack the biggest variable is how big the load is, how it's secured and whether the frame can handle a rear load well.
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Old 03-19-13, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
OMM Cold Spring front rack




The OMM were the most expensive and not all that rigid once loaded to their limit, although the front was better than the rear.

The Axiom rear rack was the least expensive, has the highest load rating and was the most rigid when loaded. The front was also good but I saw no real advantage of a low-rider over a platform rack, particularly since several front platform racks have supplementary rails so you can pick a mounting height for the panniers.

.
What I did with the OMM Sherpa front rack on a 26" wheel LHT is secure it at the mid fork mounts and the cantilever bosses with the entire axle mount hardware removed so that it sat on the upper eyelets on the fork ends. It's a very solid set up.
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Old 03-19-13, 04:19 PM
  #22  
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I use full racks on all of my touring bikes, quite often I use just the front panniers and put a couple of things on the back rack. IIRC the rear wheel of the bike is already carrying 70% of the total load BEFORE you start adding bags and cargo. There are a lot of good racks out there. Currently I have Bor Yeuh and Jandd Expedition racks on my main tour bikes.

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Old 03-19-13, 04:44 PM
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I don't own a front rack and pannier set (spendy), but when I've ridden them I've really liked how they help balance the load and keep the weight low.
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Old 03-19-13, 05:51 PM
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built my own front rack when I first got back into riding but found it more of a nuisance than a benefit. also, being homemade it was less than bullet proof
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Old 03-19-13, 06:45 PM
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I love having front racks on my bikes. On my touring rig it is necessary for me to carry the amount of gear that I use when bike camping. I really like a rack with a deck for touring, I try and leave that space clear (just have panniers mounted up front) so that I can pick up food from farmers roadside stands or a six pack of beer at the last store before the campground, or even some firewood. I do just fine with some pretty heavy loads of front, but YMMV.

The bike I use for a commuter turned out to be much more suited to having a front rack than a rear. This was a departure for me, just having a rack up front, I used to wonder about the guys I'd see commuting who had their loads up front, but I find that it works just fine. I lot of the time I'll have one fairly heavy pannier hanging off the front for my ~7 miles each way commute through a hilly city. I've even carried one large size Ortlieb crammed completely full of donated books on that commute - no problems, although it was a bit fatiguing for one arm.

The rack I have up front doesn't have a solid deck, but there are crossbars so I can still balance a load up here when I need to. I'm actually considering adding a wood deck to it though, as I do miss having a solid deck.

Sorry, I can't really recommend an inexpensive rack. I shelled out a lot of dough for a Nitto Campee/Rivendell Big Front Rack for my commuter and my tourer has an Old Man Mountain Cold Springs rack. Both great racks, I believe the Cold Springs model has been superseded by a newer one now though. Neither are what you'd describe as economical choices. If you are really pinched for cash though I've seen people mount inexpensive rear racks on the front.
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