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Old 05-21-08, 10:18 PM   #1
MIN 
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why choose a front rack vs rear?

any compelling reasons, one way or another?
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Old 05-21-08, 10:24 PM   #2
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any compelling reasons, one way or another?
front rack with bag makes it easy to fetch items while on your bike without stopping. front racks can also be used for mounting lights and keeping them from taking up handlebar/dahsboard space used by cyclometers and/or aerobars.

front racks, if mounted on bikes without a lot of fork rake can also increase wheel flop and can adversely affect handling. Front rack bags also don't hold quite as much as rear bags.

a rear rack allows for a larger surface for bags and/or items secured to the rack via bungie. They do not affect bike handling (though some will contend that a rear rack will make the bike sway more when climbing out of the saddle) Still it's difficult to fetch items from a rear rack bag while riding.
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Old 05-21-08, 10:27 PM   #3
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I have never ridden with front racks. Does bike handling degrade more relative to a rear mounted rack?
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Old 05-22-08, 07:46 AM   #4
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I have never ridden with front racks. Does bike handling degrade more relative to a rear mounted rack?
in my experience, the racks by themselves don't alter handling much at all. It all depends on what sort of load you're carrying.

A front rack loaded with just a rack bag makes it somewhat difficult for me to ride no-hands, as the bike gets increasingly twitchier, especially when I'm tired.

A rear rack with a rack bag doesn't affect my handling much at all, though it does perhaps make my bike sway a little more when I'm climbing out of the saddle. A rear rack bag also supposedly adds drag with crosswinds, but I don't have any of my VBQ's handy for reference.

A rear rack with panniers is definitely more difficult for me to climb on, and I mostly spin when my bike is loaded as such. Rear panniers also add more drag in headwinds.

A front rack with panniers also makes the bike a little harder to control, but the weight is mounted low, and centered, so the effect is not as pronounced as with rear panniers. You don't get heel strike issues with front panniers but they are a little trickier to load and unload if your bike does not have a kickstand.

So, in summary, it really depends on what you plan on carrying. Loaded touring? you'll proably want both anyway. Commuting with grocery errands? I'd go with a rear rack and panniers. Supported touring or randonneuring? If your fork is built for it, I'd give the front rack with handlebar bag combo a shot. Otherwise, I would actually go with a large saddlebag and some really small pouch/bag up front, like a Bento box and/or mapcase on the handlebars.
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Old 05-22-08, 11:38 AM   #5
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I have never ridden with front racks. Does bike handling degrade more relative to a rear mounted rack?
In my experience, quite the opposite. For example, on my old commuter/tourer, carrying a commuting load in front mounted panniers made the handling solid as a rock. Putting the same load (in the same bags, even) on a rear rack made it shimmy like a hula dancer. In 30+ years of riding, I have yet to ride a bike that handled better with a rear load than with a front load. (Many have handled better with NO load, but that's a different story.)

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Old 05-22-08, 12:04 PM   #6
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In my experience, quite the opposite. For example, on my old commuter/tourer, carrying a commuting load in front mounted panniers made the handling solid as a rock. Putting the same load (in the same bags, even) on a rear rack made it shimmy like a hula dancer. In 30+ years of riding, I have yet to ride a bike that handled better with a rear load than with a front load. (Many have handled better with NO load, but that's a different story.)
I've only ever tried front panniers on my old Trek 520, and I found there that the bike was definitely more 'solid' then when I had rear panniers on, but I never encountered shimmying Twith either front or rear by themselves.

The main thing that I disliked about front panniers was a tendency to make the fork shift, and thus throw off the balance of the bike if I was rummaging around while stopped. That became less of a concern after added a kickstand to the bike.
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Old 05-22-08, 10:40 PM   #7
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I agree that a front bag -- meaning a handlebar bag, not low-mounted panniers -- is convenient when you need something while riding. It's also a great place to put your map or route slip.

My experience has been that a handlebar bag degrades the handling of modern bicycles. I'm not sure that I'd put up with it on a bike not designed for it. A lot of folks do, though...
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Old 05-22-08, 11:08 PM   #8
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I think my Cross Check handles better with a low rider front rack and panniers than without.
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