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  1. #1
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    Which rack and panniers

    I'm getting a little fed up with the sweaty back syndrome on my 12 mile each way commute from carrying my work clothes and stuff in a backpack, so I've decided to invest in a rack and a single pannier for my Kona Jake the Snake. I have quite a few questions though...

    Been considering Tubus racks, but not sure which to go for, their stainless steel rack costs a third more than their other steel racks but it'd be more durable and corrosion resistant. Also, are the fixings universal for all makes of bike that have the lugs/thread braze-ons as part of the frame, like my Kona has? Are there any possible screw/thread incompatibilities?

    I've been considering Ortlieb rack-mountable bags, like the Back Roller, but I'd only need one, rather than a pair, for my stuff. Alternatively I've been considering a backpack that can be rack-mounted, like the Ortlieb Vario, for those times when I'm using the bag for short trips on my other (folding) bike which cant' take panniers. Are such convertible bags worth considering, given that they cost loads more?

    Basically I'd looking for feedback and advice from any others out there who have a rack and panniers on their road/commuter bikes to help me choose the right rack and luggage combo.

    TIA

  2. #2
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    For the rack, I'd recommend anything that has loops to keep the panniers out of the rear wheel. I have an Axiom Journey rack, it's fantastic.

    Most bikes will have standard rack bosses, and the rack should be adjustable to fit slight variations.

    As far as bags, you pretty much can't go wrong with anything Ortlieb makes, it's high-end stuff.

  3. #3
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    Tubus are expedition-grade and may be overkill but they work with just about any standard bike and pannier. Your Kona has standard rack fittings.
    Ortleib is similar Tutonic expedition-grade kit and good stuff.
    Good quality panniers have solid internal stiffeneing so don't need the dog-leg strut. Lower grade panniers can wobble around when heavily loaded and strike the wheel, hence the need for a dogleg strut.

    Rixen and kaul do a quick-release rack-top fitting for any standard rack for a wide variety of rack-top luggage.
    Topeak MTX have a proprietry racktop fitting but I think it gets in the way of the general purpose use of the rack.

  4. #4
    Senior Member gunner65's Avatar
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    I like my Ortleibs but I got a really good deal on them on CL.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Tubus Rack, Ortlieb Rollup closed Panniers.

  6. #6
    a.k.a., Point Five Dude Surrealdeal's Avatar
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    Easy answer? Whatever you can afford! I am using an old blackburn mtn rack and some 20 year old Cannondale panniers that I scored off CL. The setup is perfectly serviceable and cost me under $50. Would I like a Tubus and some Ortliebs? Yes, of course. If the components in my current setup do not prove to be durable I may need to replace them, or as I save up I will replace them in due course and pass on my old stuff through CL to the next guy.

    The point I guess is that while the high end stuff is nice to have, don't let it stop you from getting started today. It's not like you're riding with a full load through Mozambique or something - Some of that cheaper stuff is perfectly good for short-range light load commuter riding.

    Now go shopping and have fun!
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  7. #7
    Old, but not really wise CptjohnC's Avatar
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    Let me somewhat echo the above. I've got six months and near enough to 1200 miles as not to worry about it on my Topeak Explorer and some cheap 'house brand' type panniers. Both seem to be holding up just fine, though I've chosen to replace the hooks on my panniers with some much nicer (and heavier) items from Jandd Mountaineering. This was not strictly necessary, as 3 of the 4 hooks were in fine shape (the 4th, however, had gone AWOL while riding on the rutted, rocky towpath, and my homemade replacement wasn't really cutting it. I replaced the hooks and the hardware with some more secure stuff while I was at it). I look at Ortliebs and regret not getting a pair when I saw them on clearance at Best Buy many months ago.

    I ride a Kona Dew Drop and had no trouble mounting the Topeak. I also have/had other racks on a couple of my other bikes, and similarly had no issues, so I believe the hardware is fairly standardized, in terms of nuts and bolts. Obviously, frame geometry affects fit, so there is definitely some playing required to get things fitted to your specific frame, which means bending the bracket-things on the low/middle end racks. Tubus has a different system that looks fabulous, though I've not tried it.

    If you have the cash, and want to put it to the good stuff, then by all means get the Tubus and the Ortliebs. I'm confident you won't regret it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gunner65's Avatar
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    Just to clarify I have those fancy ortleibs riding on some house brand rack I paid 15 bucks for. I saw no need in an expensive rack for my Craigslist ortleib score.

  9. #9
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    I think any decent rack should work fine. I have an older Axiom Odyssee on my commuter. The Topeak Explorer rack usually gets high reviews as well.

    As far as panniers go it is really up to you. The Nashbar house brand seems to be pretty good band for your buck. I have the Axiom Kootenays but have rarely used them. I have a milk crate attached to my rack so I can throw my back pack or groceries in it.

    It sounds like you want something you can take on and off and carry around with you. Perhaps attaching a rear basket to toss your back pack into would work fine. Another option would be the Wald carrying baskets and dump your back pack into that.
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  10. #10
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    I have a disc-specific version of this Topeak rack. The lower set of horizontal bars not only gets the bag (and corresponding center of gravity) lower, but also leaves the top of the rack clear for a trunk bag, etc. I also have one of Topeak's trunk bags that integrates with the rack and it's a pretty slick setup.

    I have a single pannier, the Arkel Commuter. I can't say enough good thinks about Arkel and their products. They are truly top-notch. My bag is over 3 years old and I am a 4-season rider. The bag still looks and works like new. Arkel has a UK link on their website so hopefully you can find their products locally. They also have two bags that convert to backpacks, the Switchback and the Bug. If my bag ever wears out (or I find some disposable income) I'm definitely getting the Bug.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  11. #11
    Senior Member littlefoot's Avatar
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    I have a Blackburn Mtn Rack, pretty much bomb proof, and cheap. Tubus are nice, another option could be NITTO or Surly if they still make that rack. Personally I like NITTO, If i were going to buy new racks. I have a waterproof pannier from NASHBAR it's good enough for commutes for me. Came across these other day,http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___52355. Look decent and not bad price, Lonepeak makes nice bags as well.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    Tubus are expedition-grade and may be overkill
    Given the cost of Tubus racks, I did think that and tend to agree with you. Probably a cheaper aluminium rack is more in line with my needs.

  13. #13
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    I have been happy with the Topeak Super Tourist disc version (I don't have disc brakes but thought I might get a new bike in the future that could support it). Good for commuting. Not Tubus - quality or price.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    I think any decent rack should work fine. I have an older Axiom Odyssee on my commuter. The Topeak Explorer rack usually gets high reviews as well.

    As far as panniers go it is really up to you. The Nashbar house brand seems to be pretty good band for your buck. I have the Axiom Kootenays but have rarely used them. I have a milk crate attached to my rack so I can throw my back pack or groceries in it.

    It sounds like you want something you can take on and off and carry around with you. Perhaps attaching a rear basket to toss your back pack into would work fine. Another option would be the Wald carrying baskets and dump your back pack into that.
    Not to hi jack but I like your idea. I love my back pack but also hate the sweaty back. I think I will try your idea. Thanks

  15. #15
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    The Topeak Super Tourist DX and Tortec Expedition racks really appeal to me and I'm now also looking at Arkel bags, the Commuter and Bug look pretty good and they can also be used as backpacvks when needed.

    Thanks to all for you feedback

  16. #16
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    Hmmm, the Arkel bags are quite expensive and don't appear to be water proof unless I shell out an extra 17 on a rain cover. I'm now thinking that the Ortlieb bags are a better bet as their cheaper and waterrpoof "out of the box"

  17. #17
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    The Topeak Super Tourist DX and Tortec Expedition racks really appeal to me and I'm now also looking at Arkel bags, the Commuter and Bug look pretty good and they can also be used as backpacvks when needed.

    Thanks to all for you feedback
    As far as racks, the Tortec Expedition rack is the way to go, IMHO. I'm in Mexico and had TWO of these delivered a couple of months ago from the U.K. since they're not available in North America. First, they are built with 10 mm aluminum railings instead of 8mm (sturdier and won't rust.) They have an extra long platform (to avoid heel strike) with extra side support (to avoid larger panniers from hitting your wheel.) Also, you have the convenience of extra set of lower railings to have your panniers positioned lower and closer to the rear axle for more stability. There are just ++ signs all over this rack. I'm loving mine.

    Here's a pic on one of my bikes:
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 05-17-11 at 09:33 AM.
    Handcrafted panniers and bags for the discerning cyclist


  18. #18
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    ^^^

    I just ordered a Tortec tour ultralight from the UK for my crosscheck. If you don't mind my asking, what size are your wheels? Your rack looks rather high above your wheel.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    ^^^

    I just ordered a Tortec tour ultralight from the UK for my crosscheck. If you don't mind my asking, what size are your wheels? Your rack looks rather high above your wheel.
    700c wheels. I'd agree that it's rather high above the wheels. I believe they designed it this way to give the user plenty of fender clearance which is an issue with many other racks. The good news is that they give you almost another inch above the current holes to drill more holes and have the rack sit lower. The side railings where most of the pannier weight should go anyway are two inches lower than the top railings.
    Handcrafted panniers and bags for the discerning cyclist


  20. #20
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    ^^^

    I just ordered a Tortec tour ultralight from the UK for my crosscheck. If you don't mind my asking, what size are your wheels? Your rack looks rather high above your wheel.
    where did you order this from?

    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    As far as racks, the Tortec Expedition rack is the way to go, IMHO. I'm in Mexico and had TWO of these delivered a couple of months ago from the U.K. since they're not available in North America. First, they are built with 10 mm aluminum railings instead of 8mm (sturdier and won't rust.) They have an extra long platform (to avoid heel strike) with extra side support (to avoid larger panniers from hitting your wheel.) Also, you have the convenience of extra set of lower railings to have your panniers positioned lower and closer to the rear axle for more stability. There are just ++ signs all over this rack. I'm loving mine.
    Nice rack

    I stopped off at a bike shop on my way home today and tried the Tortec and Topeak racks I mentioned on my bike and found that the side-supports interfere with my bike's mudguard struts

    I might be able to bend them out of the way of the rack but it's hassle and it might not work

    I might haveto look for a different style of rack unless anyone has any suggestions?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by giskard View Post
    tried the Tortec and Topeak racks I mentioned on my bike and found that the side-supports interfere with my bike's mudguard struts

    I might be able to bend them out of the way of the rack but it's hassle and it might not work

    I might haveto look for a different style of rack unless anyone has any suggestions?
    Did you try the disc version of the Topeak?

  23. #23
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by she View Post
    Not to hi jack but I like your idea. I love my back pack but also hate the sweaty back. I think I will try your idea. Thanks
    Not really my idea. I'm sure I stole it from another poster (who stole it from another poster, Who stole it from..., etc.etc.etc.). I simply had a milk crate lying around and actually attached it using some bungee cords I found lying in the street. Zip ties would also work.

    I commute places where I don't like the idea of leaving a bag on my bike. Once I put the crate on I realized how versatile it could be and started grocery shopping with it.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 531phile View Post
    where did you order this from?
    Evans Cycles, but they have them at Wiggle too.

    Edit: Link to Tortec racks at Evans
    Last edited by jeffpoulin; 05-17-11 at 01:30 PM.

  25. #25
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    No need to spend $100+ on a rack. Topeak makes very good racks. The previously mentioned Topeak Super Tourist DX is a very good rack with wide sides to properly support panniers and lower rail for hanging them. I have two - the disc brake version - and I they're very strong too.

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