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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-07-12, 12:46 PM   #1
sherpa41
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Rack question - double (triple?)- duty commuting/touring/town: rack platforms

I'm not sure whether to post this in the commuting or touring section, but...

I just ordered a Surly Disc Trucker as a dual commuter/tourer. I've already bought or picked out most of the accessories (fenders, lights, panniers, pedals, pump etc...) except racks. I had originally thought the Surly Nice Racks would be good, but after reading on this forum and talking with a couple guys at my LBS have decided to look at something else. I'm leaning Tubus (probably the Logo) for the rear and am trying to decide which front to get, though I've heard great things about the Tara and would like a rack with a connection from left to right side for stability.

For commuting to work and touring, I'll probably only need the lowrider mounts for my new waterproof panniers, maybe a light bag on the rear top platform when camping. However for around town errand-running, picnic-ing, farmers market runs, I think I would want larger platforms for front/rear baskets (?), coolers, and Kubb sets.

So, my question for you is: how useful and necessary are top platforms for your around town use? The Logo has a much smaller platform than the Surly or Tubus Cargo, but my size 13 (48) feet probably want the extra heel clearance it offers panniers. I'll probably get a set of open-topped market panniers (like the Banjo Brothers ones), so maybe I don't need platforms front or rear.

My old commuter when I was in school was a low-end mountain bike with a rack and trunk bag, so I have no experience with more sophisticated systems, but I didn't really like having to carry a messenger bag in addition to what was on my bike.
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Old 06-07-12, 01:07 PM   #2
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Being able to secure awkward single items on the rear rack is very useful. You aren't going to put one 18pack of beer in a pannier. If the cost of the Logo or Cargo is bothering you get a Topeak SuperTourist DX. Perfectly serviceable at less than half the cost. I had a SuperTourist on a couple bikes and it sold me on lower rails. Got a Tubus Cargo but missed the lower rails so I had some brazed on. Sometimes having a milk crate on the back is worthwhile and the only way to do that is with a wide rack.
Nothing wrong with the Surly rear rack if you don't mind an extra lb of rack weight. It's the front rack that's on the heavy side for what it can do.

If you're getting a 700c LHT then low riders are a good idea, if it's a 26" LHT then a OMM front platform might be more desirable. I've transported a lot of things on the front platform. Since you have discs there's no problem moving the panniers back past the fork blades with a platform front rack. I switched out the cantilevers to linear brakes and it makes it easier to shift the panniers back onto the fork blades.
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Old 06-08-12, 12:03 AM   #3
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I like having a platform. I don't use it that often when I'm not touring, but it sure comes in handy when I need it. A platform kind of turns your bike into a truck. Like when I picked up a sheet of aluminum to fabricate custom mounts for my fenders, without a platform my choices would have been to take it home on the bus or via a cab. I had even forgotten my bungees, so I just borrowed a tape gun from the fastener store I was buying the aluminum at and taped the sheet to my front rack!

Obviously pizza and beer are more common loads in town! When I'm touring I use the rear deck to pile my tent, sleeping bag, and pillow, while leaving the front deck clear for food/beer/firewood that might pick up some days.
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Old 06-08-12, 12:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sherpa41 View Post
I'm not sure whether to post this in the commuting or touring section, but...

I just ordered a Surly Disc Trucker as a dual commuter/tourer. I've already bought or picked out most of the accessories (fenders, lights, panniers, pedals, pump etc...) except racks. I had originally thought the Surly Nice Racks would be good, but after reading on this forum and talking with a couple guys at my LBS have decided to look at something else. I'm leaning Tubus (probably the Logo) for the rear and am trying to decide which front to get, though I've heard great things about the Tara and would like a rack with a connection from left to right side for stability.

For commuting to work and touring, I'll probably only need the lowrider mounts for my new waterproof panniers, maybe a light bag on the rear top platform when camping. However for around town errand-running, picnic-ing, farmers market runs, I think I would want larger platforms for front/rear baskets (?), coolers, and Kubb sets.

So, my question for you is: how useful and necessary are top platforms for your around town use? The Logo has a much smaller platform than the Surly or Tubus Cargo, but my size 13 (48) feet probably want the extra heel clearance it offers panniers. I'll probably get a set of open-topped market panniers (like the Banjo Brothers ones), so maybe I don't need platforms front or rear.

My old commuter when I was in school was a low-end mountain bike with a rack and trunk bag, so I have no experience with more sophisticated systems, but I didn't really like having to carry a messenger bag in addition to what was on my bike.
Top platforms aren't very useful to me at all when I'm commuting; the panniers work just fine. But the top platform does no harm, either, and I've found it to be pretty useful for touring, for strapping down things that you'll need for longer trips, like sleeping bags. The only racks I've used for the last several years are Jandd Expedition racks. They're a little longer than most racks and very sturdy. They're also not ultra-light, but if you're already carrying around 20 lbs of other stuff, what's another 8 ounces?
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Old 06-08-12, 01:34 AM   #5
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I only ever use top part for comuting. Backpack, strapped, on my back when I stop. Easy, safe, practical.
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Old 06-08-12, 05:29 AM   #6
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I have a LHT and use a tubus duo in the front. my wife has a tara on her Soma Saga.

here's the best pic i have of the duo [i know ]


DSC_1137 by bendertj, on Flickr

despite not having the crossbar connection that the tara has, this rack setup is incredibly stable - at least as much as the tara. I got this because when commuting i'm often using bus bike racks and i figured the tara cross bar would make the support arm on the racks more difficult to use.

the duo attaches to both the inside and outside of the fork legs on the LHT - that's why you don't need the cross bar for extra stability. my wife's Saga doesn't have the inside braze-ons so that's why she went with that rack.

for the rear, i got a jandd expedition and kinda wish i'd have dropped the added money on a tubus. they're quality.

and to answer your question - i use the top of the rear rack touring but never commuting.

pic fully loaded:

Touring setup with dog trailer by bendertj, on Flickr
and while i'm at it, the soma:

Abby's Soma Saga Touring Bike by bendertj, on Flickr

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Old 06-08-12, 06:09 AM   #7
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I would recommend the Tubus Cargo rack. The LHT has such long chain stays that I can't believe heel clearance would be a problem, and the larger top could be handy at times. For commuting, you might eventually find that a rack-top bag works better, or may occasionally need to carry packages to the Post Office, etc. The Cargo is a great rack and will hold a lot of weight, plus it's very adjustable. Tubus has a new version of it but I'm not sure what all the distinctions are.

Here's a photo of a Cargo rack on my Bob Jackson World Tour (with Nitto mini rack in front).
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Old 06-08-12, 07:02 AM   #8
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I find myself pretty well served with a Tubus Cargo rear rack and a Nitto M12 front rack. I am usually carrying a front Acorn bag, but not panniers. When I need to put on the panniers I swap out the Nitto M12 for a modified Jack Taylor rack. I like a front top surface for my Acorn bag and air mattress when I am touring. Another front combination that works on my Salsa Vaya, which has disk brakes and fork mounts for a low rider rack is both a Nitto M18 rack which mounts to the fork crown and low rider mounts and Tubus Tara low rider rack.
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Old 06-08-12, 08:19 AM   #9
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I use the top deck for all sorts of things. Seems that it doesn't hurt anything to have it if you need it, especially if you want a bike that can do pretty much anything.

BTW, I have the Topeak Super Tourist on my LHT and even with size 12+ feet and HUGE Ortlieb panniers (converted motorcycle panniers) I get no heel strike.
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Old 06-08-12, 08:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
I only ever use top part for comuting. Backpack, strapped, on my back when I stop. Easy, safe, practical.
Same here. I use rack top bags for commuting and seldom use panniers so the rack top is important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I would recommend the Tubus Cargo rack. The LHT has such long chain stays that I can't believe heel clearance would be a problem, and the larger top could be handy at times. For commuting, you might eventually find that a rack-top bag works better, or may occasionally need to carry packages to the Post Office, etc. The Cargo is a great rack and will hold a lot of weight, plus it's very adjustable. Tubus has a new version of it but I'm not sure what all the distinctions are.
I have a Tubus Cargo and a Vega. The Vega has a narrow top and it make mounting a rack bag much more difficult. Cheap velco versions tend to get floppy on it because the top doesn't support the sides of the bag. I've solved this problem by going to an Ortlieb Bike Box but that's not a cheap solution.

If you are looking for low riders, sherpa41, you can't go wrong with the Tubus Tara. I have several loaded tours on mine...just got back from a 1200 mile tour of the Appalachia area...and I've never had a single problem with them. The Tara and Cargo are outstanding racks. Here's the bike naked



and dressed

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Old 06-08-12, 09:29 AM   #11
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Here is my commuting set up vs. touring set up. The trunk bag on platform is more aerodynamic and just enough room, leaving shoes, jacket and umbrella at work.



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Old 06-09-12, 06:37 AM   #12
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I have a Topeak Super Tourist DX, the one with the dropped side bars. Topeak also has a variety of trunk bags and a couple of spacious rack top baskets that snap into the track that would work well for commuting and shopping.
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Old 06-09-12, 09:21 AM   #13
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here's a link for some good info on racks................you'll have to scroll up

http://nordicgroup.us/bicycleluggage..._736-733-0011_
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Old 06-11-12, 08:01 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the replies, everyone. I had been leaning Tubus Logo, now I might be leaning Cargo. Will I miss not having low mounting rails for panniers? I can't find the dimensions online but it seems the cargo might be a little longer (?) and it's certainly wider. From the few pictures posted I don't think I'll have problems with heel strike. (FYI - 64 cm Trucker, size 13 (48) shoes).

I still haven't found the perfect (for me) front rack. Maybe the combination of a Tubus Tara and a Nitto front rack will work. The Jandd Extreme Front Rack might be close, though. I do want the ability to strap random stuff on there for around town...
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Old 06-11-12, 09:11 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sherpa41 View Post
Thanks for all the replies, everyone. I had been leaning Tubus Logo, now I might be leaning Cargo. Will I miss not having low mounting rails for panniers? I can't find the dimensions online but it seems the cargo might be a little longer (?) and it's certainly wider. From the few pictures posted I don't think I'll have problems with heel strike. (FYI - 64 cm Trucker, size 13 (48) shoes).

I still haven't found the perfect (for me) front rack. Maybe the combination of a Tubus Tara and a Nitto front rack will work. The Jandd Extreme Front Rack might be close, though. I do want the ability to strap random stuff on there for around town...
I tour by bicycle a lot and have never found the need for the front deck on a rack. Low riders do an adequate job of carrying the weight of the panniers and anything I need to put on a deck (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, wet laundry, etc.) is adequately handled by the rear deck. I did use front decks when I did mountain bike touring but I've moved from panniers to trailers to bike packing for mountain bike adventures...mostly due to the configuration of today's suspension bikes that don't lend themselves to racks in the first place.
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Old 06-11-12, 09:19 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I tour by bicycle a lot and have never found the need for the front deck on a rack. Low riders do an adequate job of carrying the weight of the panniers and anything I need to put on a deck (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, wet laundry, etc.) is adequately handled by the rear deck. I did use front decks when I did mountain bike touring but I've moved from panniers to trailers to bike packing for mountain bike adventures...mostly due to the configuration of today's suspension bikes that don't lend themselves to racks in the first place.
I am coming to the same conclusion myself. My touring bike has a Nitto M12 rack and I rarely ever use it. The size is too small to hold much gear, and carrying stuff on it seems to influence handling of my bike and blocks my view of the front tire. I recently bought a Tubus Tara front rack with Ortlieb Front Roller Classic panniers, and that combination carries a lot more gear with little effect on handling and better weight distribution if carrying a rear load.
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Old 06-11-12, 09:41 AM   #17
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Low riders are great for riding on roads and well maintained trails. High rider OMM Sherpa racks are nice for off road trails, where having the front panniers a little higher allows clearance for weeds, tall grass, branches, ruts and rocks. For singletrack bikepacking, a handlebar bag and drybag cages probably work best up front.
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Old 06-11-12, 09:52 AM   #18
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I tour and commute and tool around town on a Vaya with a rack and at least one pannier, most of the time.

To answer the specific question: The platform is useful. I keep a cargo net stretched over it for whatever comes up that needs hauling. The platform keeps stringy things like helmet straps from dangling through the rack and rubbing the tire, it makes it simpler to carry a few small items without opening/repacking a pannier and it keeps crud from being flung up my back.
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Old 06-11-12, 12:54 PM   #19
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I find top platforms front and back to be extremely useful - especially in back if you have a rack with dual rails. Baskets like these from Wald make them more useful, and with zip ties/hose clamps/velcro straps are easy enough to put on and take off when you need to. I have a Tubus Cosmo along with a Wald basket on the back of one of my regular commuting/touring bikes, and a Nitto rack with platform up front that sometimes has a basket on it as well - I can carry two panniers worth of groceries, a twelve pack in the basket on top of the rear rack, and a loaf of bread, the newspaper, and a bottle of wine in the basket up front.
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