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Old 08-07-08, 11:11 AM   #1
Hot Potato
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Mounting a tail light on a rack

Ok, I am wondering if I am missing something really obvious here.

Lots of bikes have tubular aluminum racks on them. My racks have nothing specific to attach a tail light. All tail lights come with a seat post clamp, and a clip for attaching to clothing or bags. Only two tail lights I have found specifically mention that they attach to a rack: A topeak tail light on a topeak rack with a tail light mount, and a blackburn mars 2 light that says it can attach to a blackburn rack.

No description or picture is given for the blackburn Mars 2 light attachment, other than "no tools required."

Now, I would think that your rear rack would be one of the first places many people would want to install a tail light. Then things on top of your rack will not obstruct the tail light. Yet no info is given about what lights can do this, and how they do it. Does everyone just chuck the seat post mount, head to the hardware store, and rig their own method?

I have three or four blinkie tail lights, none of them attach to a rack. What gives?
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Old 08-07-08, 01:54 PM   #2
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I bought a rear blinker and then realized I could only mount it to my seat post. I put a reflector on my rack and the blinker on the seat post. Maybe I'll try to rig something up though since the blinker would be more effective on the rack I'd say.
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Old 08-07-08, 03:15 PM   #3
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Planet Bike sells a rack-mount bracket so you can attach a blinkie to a rack. However, you need some way to attach the bracket to the rack...
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Old 08-07-08, 03:34 PM   #4
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Planet Bike sells a rack-mount bracket so you can attach a blinkie to a rack. However, you need some way to attach the bracket to the rack...
I think I saw that one. It looked like something that would attach to a topeak rack. But looking at the parts in the picture, I still couldn't see how I could bolt it onto your typical rack without a trip to the hardware store.

I have an email into Blackburn customer support asking about the Mars 2 light and the Blackburn racks.

So now I begin to wonder, is there some reason you shouldn't mount a light to the rack?
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Old 08-07-08, 03:37 PM   #5
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I think I saw that one. It looked like something that would attach to a topeak rack. But looking at the parts in the picture, I still couldn't see how I could bolt it onto your typical rack without a trip to the hardware store.

I have an email into Blackburn customer support asking about the Mars 2 light and the Blackburn racks.

So now I begin to wonder, is there some reason you shouldn't mount a light to the rack?
I've got a Mars 2 and a Delta sport rack. The light bolted on to the rack, and needs to be removed to change the batteries. Fortunately, they last a long time.
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Old 08-07-08, 03:47 PM   #6
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I've got a Mars 2 and a Delta sport rack. The light bolted on to the rack, and needs to be removed to change the batteries. Fortunately, they last a long time.

Ahh, so the Mars 2 has a clamp that can go directly onto the rack's aluminum tubes? Please elaborate! Show Pics if you can? And how do you like the Mars 2? It doesn't seem as fancy as the Mars 3, at least by looking at a picture of it.
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Old 08-07-08, 04:22 PM   #7
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I have the Mars 2.0. It has several mounting options. One is to mount in a regular reflector bracket. Since a lot of racks have the reflector mount, you can put it there if your rack has it.

Oddly enough, I have a Topeak rack on my bike, which has a bracket only for their Topeak light. Even more odd, I mounted still another light instead, the same as the big fat one on the back of 10wheel's bike here:
Best & Brightest battery operated Red TailLight ???
The Mars 2 is an o.k. light; I use it as a blinky, and emergency back-up. The big one really stands out; I highly reccomend. A couple angle brackets and a few minutes, and you could probably make it stick to the rack. I think 10wheel just stuck his to the trunk bag. Good luck.
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Old 08-07-08, 07:46 PM   #8
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Wow. that's a serious tail light in your link!

I have always had Mt bike racks, or racks with a metal tray to attach my angle brackets to. The blackburn EX-1 that the lbs put on my bike at the time of sale is kinda minimalist. Nowhere to use an angle bracket near the back, only way to put a light back there is to buy one that clamps to the rack tubing, rig something up from the hardware store to clamp to the tubing, or fabricate a bar on the back for attaching things. Unless the Mars 2 satisfies me, I see a trip to the hardware store coming.

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Old 08-07-08, 08:59 PM   #9
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Ahh, so the Mars 2 has a clamp that can go directly onto the rack's aluminum tubes? Please elaborate! Show Pics if you can? And how do you like the Mars 2? It doesn't seem as fancy as the Mars 3, at least by looking at a picture of it.
It mounts right to the reflector bracket, and I like it. It's pretty bright and has lights pointing to the side. And it's stayed on much longer than it's predecessor. The two things I don't like about the setup are having to unscrew the mounting screw to remove the light from the bracket to change batteries, and the bag I use has a back pocket that hangs over the light if it's not full or if I don't use the bungy cord on the top of the bag to pull the pocket away from the light.
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Old 08-07-08, 09:31 PM   #10
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There is a "standard" tail light mounting used on many racks. It's two holes spaced apart horizontally. Many of Topeak's fixed racks have this mount.

You need to get a rear light designed for this type of mount. Peter White sells some of them in generator or battery operated.
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Old 08-07-08, 10:19 PM   #11
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But look at the picture:


No reflector bracket, no tail light bracket. Nothing but tubular aluminum. Is there a reflector or tail light mount which clamps onto the rack that can be purchased seperately? Or am I supposed to wander the hardware store and fabricate something?
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Old 08-07-08, 11:32 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
But look at the picture:


No reflector bracket, no tail light bracket. Nothing but tubular aluminum. Is there a reflector or tail light mount which clamps onto the rack that can be purchased seperately? Or am I supposed to wander the hardware store and fabricate something?
If I had that rack, I would drill a hole horizontally through the center of the rear, where the two aluminum rods are welded to eachother, and then I'd just bolt up Planet Bike's rack bracket and plop a BRT-5 in there. The BRT-5 is not only a blinkie, but a legit reflector as well, and it comes with the rack bracket nowdays.


While we're on the topic: I ran into a rack that uses the common metal plate down the middle, and the owner wanted a SuperFlash mounted on it, but there were no holes/brackets/fittings. Solution: I drilled a hole in the metal top plate, then drilled a hole in a piece of wooden dowel that was approximately seatpost-sized, and bolted the dowel vertically to the underside of the metal plate. Then I just mounted the SuperFlash on the dowel, using the seatpost mount.

Last edited by mechBgon; 08-07-08 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 08-08-08, 07:16 AM   #13
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Well, I have all sorts of ideas on how to fabricate a mount. I just have to decide what kinda stuff I want to put back there. PVC, wood, plastic, metal, all could be shaped and attached so that virtually anything could be attached. I even have some ideas on fabricating a platform that can be velcro strapped on and off the rack, letting the lights hang off the back but below the rack, so that an entire array of lights and blinkies can be put on and removed with ease while still letting the rack be used for a trunk bag or panniers. I guess I will design something once I have decided what I am going to use for tail lights.

But I still find it hard to believe that at least one tail light doesn't come with a bracket to clamp onto the tubes of a rack.
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Old 08-08-08, 07:23 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
But look at the picture:


No reflector bracket, no tail light bracket. Nothing but tubular aluminum. Is there a reflector or tail light mount which clamps onto the rack that can be purchased seperately? Or am I supposed to wander the hardware store and fabricate something?
Yes, I know that the rack you bought doesn't have any tail light provisions. But you aren't stuck with that rack. You could get another rack.

Cateye sells clamps for their tail lights for various sized tubing. Maybe they sell one small enough for your rack. If not, you could increase the diameter with a piece of inner tube.

If you plan to use a rack trunk, you can probably clip a tail light to it.

Or, you could go to http://peterwhitecycles.com/taillights-bat.asp and scroll down to the adapters section. The T-bracket looks like it could be made to work with your rack.
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Old 08-08-08, 08:14 AM   #15
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I have thought about the topeak rack. Integral tail light mount, and the trunk bags that slide on seem good. The rack pictured above would look good on my wife's bike, so it wouldn't go to waste.

I am considering an array of tail lights for my morning commute this fall, about 30 minutes of suburban darkness. If I go that route later on, then I will end up fabricating something to hold them all. I was thinking of a bunch of blinkies, some on constant, some on on blink. Or a dinotte with some blinkies added. We'll see.

But that link is excellent! Yes, that T baracket does look like it would work, I wonder if it is long enough? I will give them a call. Thanks! BF comes through again.
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Old 08-08-08, 08:59 AM   #16
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Ahh, so the Mars 2 has a clamp that can go directly onto the rack's aluminum tubes? Please elaborate! Show Pics if you can? And how do you like the Mars 2? It doesn't seem as fancy as the Mars 3, at least by looking at a picture of it.
Sure I can get pics, what did you want to see? There really isn't much to it, the light bolts on to the rack just like a reflector.
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Old 08-08-08, 09:57 AM   #17
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no pics needed anymore, but thanks! I had hoped it just clamped to the aluminum tubes. Since I have no reflector mount.. yet... the Mars 2 won't solve my problem. The above pictured t-bracket will fix me up though. Then I can use the Mars 2, or any of the planet bike blinkies I already have with the Planet Bike rack adapter. Problem solved!
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Old 08-08-08, 02:15 PM   #18
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no pics needed anymore, but thanks! I had hoped it just clamped to the aluminum tubes. Since I have no reflector mount.. yet... the Mars 2 won't solve my problem. The above pictured t-bracket will fix me up though. Then I can use the Mars 2, or any of the planet bike blinkies I already have with the Planet Bike rack adapter. Problem solved!
I think Jerry Garcia's idea about too much of everything is just enough applies to lights, and the more you have the better off you are. That adapter looks like it would work for mounting several lights - load 'em up and stand out!
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Old 08-13-08, 12:06 PM   #19
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Good thread for a rant. Whatever happened to standards ...
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Old 08-16-08, 08:36 AM   #20
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My blinker had a belt clip and also a seat post mount. I slipped the belt clip over the license plate holder on my rack and used a tie to give it from slipping off.
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Old 08-16-08, 09:09 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
But look at the picture:


No reflector bracket, no tail light bracket. Nothing but tubular aluminum. Is there a reflector or tail light mount which clamps onto the rack that can be purchased seperately? Or am I supposed to wander the hardware store and fabricate something?
That exact rack did come with the factory included bracket that wraps around the rear bars and is drilled for a standard reflector two hole mount. The picture does not tell the whole story. I would be surprised if they stopped including the reflector bracket. I bet they still do.
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Old 08-16-08, 09:22 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Hot Potato View Post
But look at the picture:


No reflector bracket, no tail light bracket. Nothing but tubular aluminum. Is there a reflector or tail light mount which clamps onto the rack that can be purchased seperately? Or am I supposed to wander the hardware store and fabricate something?
The EX-1 Comes with a reflector bracket.
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Old 08-16-08, 09:35 AM   #23
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Well, I guess the lbs was just too lazy to put it on when I bought the bike? But if my memory is correct, all three of the racks on the wall did not have any tail ligt mounts. Hmmmm.

I ordered the t bracket from peter white, but before it came, I found a topeak mtx rack with tail light mount at a good price at a different lbs. They also offered a good deal on a mtx trunk bag, so I decided to switch over. But the blackburn rack won't go to waste, It would look good on my wife's bike.
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Old 08-16-08, 09:26 PM   #24
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The EX-1 Comes with a reflector bracket.

Yes, but it's made of fairly thin aluminium. It'd definitely designed for a standard issue bicycle reflector. It is probably OK for a light taillight, especially if your streets are potholefree, but if you install a Cateye TL-LD1100 and ride in the streets of Montréal, I'm sure it will fall within 30 minutes.
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Old 08-17-08, 08:31 AM   #25
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Well, I guess the lbs was just too lazy to put it on when I bought the bike? But if my memory is correct, all three of the racks on the wall did not have any tail ligt mounts. Hmmmm.

I ordered the t bracket from peter white, but before it came, I found a topeak mtx rack with tail light mount at a good price at a different lbs. They also offered a good deal on a mtx trunk bag, so I decided to switch over. But the blackburn rack won't go to waste, It would look good on my wife's bike.
The included bracket comes in a small parts bag with the other brackets, and nuts, and bolts. If one opens the bag before putting the rack onto a bike the other small parts might get lost. Also bolting a reflector through the bracket is what holds the bracket in place. Without a reflector it won't stay on.
You typically need the reflector that comes off that bike.

The only good way to do it is to leave the bracket off until the rack is going on a bike. They do get lost or forgotten sometimes.
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