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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 06-25-14, 02:49 PM   #1
Gromit801
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Rear Racks

We'd like to put rear racks on our bikes, and maybe eventually panniers. What should we be looking for in a rear rack?

Thanks.
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Old 06-25-14, 03:31 PM   #2
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Like everything, define what you want to carry and then look for the rack that fit that bill.

if you want to do full touring or commercial carry, then I would look for max rated capacity on the racks. If it's only commuting, I would look for convenience and durability. You want to put a rear light permanently, what kind of panniers are you interested on, are the panniers compatible with the rack and the bike?

Here is a good place to start looking TheTouringStore.com, Ortlieb Panniers & Packs, Tubus Racks, Lone Peak Packs Good luck!
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Old 06-25-14, 04:38 PM   #3
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I just put the Topeak Explorer bike rack:
Robot Check

Positives:
1. It fits any bag on the back (whether a trunk bag or panniers)
2. It fits Topeak's custom quick release bags on the back
3. It has a solid metal piece in the middle that acts as a partial fender for not spraying water onto my back
4. Has a rear blinky light mount

Negatives:
1. More expensive than cheaper models on amazon
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Old 06-25-14, 05:58 PM   #4
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I second the recommendation for Wayne at The Touring Store. He sells premium equipment at only a slight discount from their premium prices, but his advice is worth its weight in gold.

With panniers, be certain you get a rack with at least three legs. It's not a weight-bearing matter--they keep the panniers from swinging into the spokes.

If you think you might use a trunk bag (riding on top) and panniers simultaneously, I strongly recommend a dual siderail rack. This prevents inteference between the two mounting systems since they each have their own rail. Yes, you can hang panniers and put a trunk bag on top of a single rail rack. I did it for over a year. But it involves a lot of cussing and fussing. Life's too short.

Tubus, Topeak and Trek all make dual siderail racks. There may be others as well. I own a Tubus Cosmo and a Trek Bontrager Backrack Deluxe L. The Tubus is nicer, the Trek is cheaper, but the backs of my panniers are starting to wear flat spots in the metal of the tubing. The Tubus I expect will be in my estate sale. When my panniers finally wear through the tubing walls of the Trek, I'll replace it with another Tubus Cosmo.

Topeak and Trek both have custom quick release bags for their racks. The two systems are incompatible with each other. Paul (above) likes his. I didn't like the bags that came with either system. You're not restricted to the system bags, but the sharp rails on the Topeak seemed like they'd damage the bottom of my trunk bag, so I own a Trek instead of a Topeak. If the Topeak bags work for you, it's a non-issue.
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Old 06-25-14, 06:07 PM   #5
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I liked the to peak quick release system. So that's what I bought. I got a super tourist, with a 2nd set of rails, so I could have a trunk bag/basket and panniers easily.

I'm a noob who asks lots of questions, but I'm finding cycling just ain't that complicated.

If you have a short chain stay id recommend a rack designed for trunk bags though. Wider on top, maybe a to peak or trek/bontrager for the quick release system.
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Old 06-25-14, 09:35 PM   #6
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This will be my next rack - the Blackburn EX-2 from Performance, on sale for $39:



Note the rear extension designed to keep the panniers from flopping into the spokes.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg rearrack.JPG (25.1 KB, 5 views)
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Old 06-26-14, 05:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
Positives:
1. It fits any bag on the back (whether a trunk bag or panniers)
2. It fits Topeak's custom quick release bags on the back
3. It has a solid metal piece in the middle that acts as a partial fender for not spraying water onto my back
4. Has a rear blinky light mount
Negatives:
1. More expensive than cheaper models on amazon
I prefer open-frame tops for lashing over-sized loads. I use fenders to act as fenders.
All quality pannier mounts use locking hooks which encircle the metal rod. It cannot encircle any sections of dual rod, ie 2 rods welded together.

Avoid adjustable height legs, keep it simple and get the correct size to start with.

Last edited by MichaelW; 06-26-14 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 06-26-14, 12:20 PM   #8
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I rigged up a Topeak Explorer Disc rack on my road bike for commuting purposes. It has an extended "loop" on the rear strut tubes to ensure panniers stay away from the wheels. I also got a Topeak trunk bag, and their track quick release system is pretty awesome I must say. I got the trunk bag with fold-out panniers on the sides. Makes taking clothes to work a breeze.

The other day I used the cargo net I got from Amazon as a combo deal, when I ordered the rack and trunk bag, for the first time to strap one of my kid's trailer wheels to the top of the trunk bag so I could haul it up to the bike shop to make sure I got the right tubes for them.
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Old 06-26-14, 12:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
I prefer open-frame tops for lashing over-sized loads. I use fenders to act as fenders.
I don't want to deal with the hassles of fenders, and I'm a fair weather rider anyways, so it's nice to have the rack act like a fender on the rear wheel, since I'm going to have a rack anyways it's additional functionality that I find convenient. Haven't see any drawbacks from it, if I wanted to lash something to the rack it would also be nice for helping keep it from rubbing against the wheel.
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Old 06-26-14, 02:04 PM   #10
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Lots of good info, thank you all.
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Old 06-26-14, 06:06 PM   #11
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Light over-sized loads such as bulk toilet tissue need lashing down in both directions. Nothing rubs on the tyre.
Heavy over-sized loads such as bags of mortar need an additional temp wide platform, some 1/2" ply, which I wire down to the open frame.
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Old 06-26-14, 06:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Light over-sized loads such as bulk toilet tissue need lashing down in both directions. Nothing rubs on the tyre.
Heavy over-sized loads such as bags of mortar need an additional temp wide platform, some 1/2" ply, which I wire down to the open frame.
I'm sure I could continue to respond and we could go back and forth for several pages, but in general I've found have a cover to be useful as a semi-fender for fair weather commuting, and never found it to be a drawback. They always leave room on the sides for attaching panniers or lashing stuff down, though I don't really lash much down and I suspect the OP doesn't either.
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Old 06-26-14, 09:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Light over-sized loads such as bulk toilet tissue need lashing down in both directions. Nothing rubs on the tyre.
Heavy over-sized loads such as bags of mortar need an additional temp wide platform, some 1/2" ply, which I wire down to the open frame.
holy crap bags of mortar?? Hope they're not more than about 20 pounds or so.
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Old 06-26-14, 10:45 PM   #14
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holy crap bags of mortar?? Hope they're not more than about 20 pounds or so.
You don't carry bags of mortar on your commute to fill potholes??? Get with it. I can usually get by with a single roll of TP per ride, so no need to carry in bulk.
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Old 06-27-14, 03:25 AM   #15
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You don't carry bags of mortar on your commute to fill potholes??? Get with it. I can usually get by with a single roll of TP per ride, so no need to carry in bulk.
Just occasional DIY duties. 10K/22lbs about the limit.
that stuff goes in the trailer now, but a good rack (not an expensive one) can cope with amazing loads.
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Old 06-27-14, 06:52 AM   #16
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Note the rear extension designed to keep the panniers from flopping into the spokes.

My panniers don't flop. I've never seen this with the three sets I've owned. They have all had a stiff backing as part of the bag. You only need two legs on the rack to keep the pannier on it's side of the rack.

J.
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Old 06-27-14, 09:34 AM   #17
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They have all had a stiff backing as part of the bag. You only need two legs on the rack to keep the pannier on it's side of the rack.
Yes, some do, but many don't.

I learned the hard way about panniers in the spokes using a two-legged rack (a Delta) and two different models of Nashbar panniers--the Daytrekker, and the Townie Basket.

OTOH, my high-end panniers--Ortleib Sport Packers and Arkel Shoppers--could probably get by with only a single-legged rack.

Are you able to reliably predict which panniers the OP will buy?

I'm not, so I recommend three-legged racks.
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Old 06-27-14, 10:21 AM   #18
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What should we be looking for in a rear rack?
a Bike Shop ... there you can test fit them over the back of your bike, In Person.

Knowing little bypassing the local business turns it into a guessing game.
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Old 06-27-14, 10:37 AM   #19
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Yes, some do, but many don't.

I learned the hard way about panniers in the spokes using a two-legged rack (a Delta) and two different models of Nashbar panniers--the Daytrekker, and the Townie Basket.

OTOH, my high-end panniers--Ortleib Sport Packers and Arkel Shoppers--could probably get by with only a single-legged rack.

Are you able to reliably predict which panniers the OP will buy?

I'm not, so I recommend three-legged racks.

Probably not, but I think the qualification would be important rather than suggesting what could be overkill on a rack. I think it's assuming a lot otherwise to say that if one is using panniers one must have only a three legged rack.

I guess I don't know of any one legged racks. I also would doubt that any one legged rack (presuming they exist) would have the load capacity for commuting, didn't you mean a two legged rack? For the sake of clarity, I would "define" a three legged rack to be like your Cosmos and a two legged one to be like a Tubus Fly or a Vega.

I know you are a long time commuter and have a lot of experience with that but in the many thousands of miles of touring I've done, I've found no issues with two legged racks with quality panniers from three different manufacturers. So I think the instructive thing here is that one needs to look at the combination of panniers and rack as a whole instead of piecemeal. Personally, I would never buy a pannier that was not firm sided or had some substantial mechanism on the wheel side to keep the bag from the spokes regardless of how many legs my rack had. It just strikes me as an opportunity for injury no matter what.


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Old 06-29-14, 05:32 PM   #20
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Old 06-29-14, 05:33 PM   #21
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a Bike Shop ... there you can test fit them over the back of your bike, In Person.

Knowing little bypassing the local business turns it into a guessing game.
If we had a local bike shop that was worth a damn, who's word we could trust, we'd have gone there.
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Old 07-05-14, 03:36 AM   #22
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If we had a local bike shop that was worth a damn, who's word we could trust, we'd have gone there.
If you don't have a super small budget, just design your own on paper & have someone weld it up for you. I am happy with my OEM breezer rack, but at some point it will be replaced by custom mounting system.

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