Originally Posted by NYYankeeGirl
a bike rack for the rear of my bicycle, to carry bags/groceries on occasion.
If you're going to carry any sort of panniers, like grocery panniers, skip all the fashionable racks and go directly to a rack with three legs on each side. These are designed to keep your panniers out of your spokes. I learned this the hard way when I bought a sporty-looking model and nearly fell in front of a bus when the panniers jammed into the spokes.
Something like this, the Topeak SuperTourist
See how that third leg in the rear goes back before turning up? That's to keep the back of the pannier from swinging into the spokes.
If you plan to use a trunk bag at the same time as panniers, dual side-rails makes it a lot easier since the panniers then have their own rail to hang from. It saves a lot of cussing and fussing when trying to mount everything from only one side-rail.
This is the Topeak SuperTourist DX
Both these racks have brackets for permanently mounting a taillight. Screwed right to the rack, it's one less thing to worry about being stolen or falling off on a bump. Two of the best blinkies on the market, the PlanetBike SuperFlash and the CatEye LD-1100 will screw right to that mount. TIP: Mount the taillight to the rack before installing the rack on the bike.
You haven't asked yet, but the nicest grocery panniers money can buy are the Arkel Shoppers
. Yes, they're expensive. But after struggling for four years with lesser grocery panniers, I've found them to be just about perfect.
I particularly like the Cam-Lock hook system for hanging them. When they're full of groceries, it's a real godsend to be able to mount them back on the bike easily. One hand works the Cam-Lock, while the other holds the bag handles. They just drop right on the rail and lock in place.
The drawstring closure on the top is a super feature. It lets me overpack the pannier a bit without my bread falling off the top on the ride home. I like the internal change purse too. I keep my grocery money separate from my pocket money, and it's a great place to store it, along with my Shopper's Club cards and any coupons I'll need.
I ride to the store with them folded up, open them in the grocery cart, and fill them as I shop. When they're full, I'm done. I empty them on to the belt, and the cashier fills them back up. Then I just hang them back on the bike, and ride home. TIP: Leave room on the top of one for your lock.