Racks for commuter bikes - designs and cheapest online sources?
I am looking for a rack for my commuter bike. Can anyone tell me where I might find information on the various designs, and were I can find the best prices online? I've seen racks that have pouches down alongside the rear tire, and also ones that site above the wheel. I'm not sure what the advantages/disadvantages are of those different designs.
I will be carrying a laptop and sometimes a book or two and some papers. I might also want to throw some lunch and/or a change of clothes or whatever in there. I would want something that isn't too "jarring" to my laptop - not sure if that is possible or not.
Are you talking about racks to hold panniers and trunk bags?
I went with Ortlieb panniers because they are waterproof. Their racks are nice too. Check out www.thetouringstore.com Call and talk with the owner. He is very nice!
+1 on Ortlieb panniers. The are expensive but excellent.
I use mine with a cheap (under $30) rear rack.
There are lots of options with regard to both racks and panniers, both front & rear racks, and various manufacturers of both. Shop around and find what is best for you. I tried for a while commuting with a couple of different rack top bags, but found I needed the capacity of full panniers (bags that hang off the sides of the rear rack). I went with Ortliebs to get the best and be done with it. YMMV.
-Panniers are those bags (what you called "side pouches") that hang on the side of either a front or rear rack. Most opt for the rear. The price will vary according to quality and attachment system.
-Rack trunk or trunk bag are those soft sided bags that mount to the top of a rear rack. Some of these have fold down mini-panniers, some have a bellows that allow for the main compartment to expand up, some will do both, and others won't expand at all. Some will feature some kind of Quick Release system, but you have to match the brand of bag to the rack. Topeak bag works with Topeak rack, but not an Avenir rack.
-Seat post racks attach to you guessed it, the seat post. Mixed reviews on their design, but most will agree that for your application, you shouldn't even consider one.
-Heel Strike is when the backs of your feet hit the panniers when you pedal. The bike's geometry plays a major factor in how you will carry your load.
Then you get to the rear rack itself. Their design will vary by their intended purpose. Some work best with just panniers, some with trunk bags, some can do either one, and others can do both at once.
As far as the best place to figure out the different designs, visit Amazon.
Most people will recommend you go with a rack and pannier for your load. You might get more helpful advice if you could state a budget, either ball park or hard limit, as well as make/model of your bike.
Make sure your bike has threaded eyelets at the top of the seat-stays and at the bottom near the rear axle.
If you have a rear disc brake, the eyelets may be obstructed and you will need a special disc style of rack.
If you have eyelets, you need a standard bolt-on rear rack. These used to be fairly standard but modern design means that many have compatibility issues with particular pannier bags.
Features to look for include:
One set of legs angled inwards for triangulation
An open frame top
Clear space to hook the locking style of pannier mounts: these need a single circular rod or tube of metal (diameter doesnt matter, they come with spacers) BUT they wont fit onto two rods welded alongside each other. You need the rod or tube with clear sections free of cross bracing, tabs or other obstructions.
The top can be a solid plate or open framework. i prefer open style.
At the rear is the ideal location for a lighting bracket.
Some racks feature special rails to fit their bags only. I prefer more standard mounting styles.
Pannier bags need to be
-made of tough material with good stiffening,
-a modern, locking, quick-release mount (not hook and elastic, velcro )
- Heel cutout profile. A rectangular bag may have the mounting rail tilted for heel clearance.
They come in zip, flap or rolltop styles. Zips eventually break, Flaptops can be overloaded, rolltops are the most waterproof.
Some people like lots of organiser pouches, I prefer one main compartment and one external pocket.