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  1. #1
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Tubus Fly Rack & Ortlieb Panniers: Such a Deal!

    Well, I think it's all done. The last things I needed to do to put the finishing touches on our Calfee Tetra Tandem before doing a final first year wrap up were:

    a. Installing the rear disc and making sure it worked properly; it's been magnificent: check!
    b. Customize and install full coverage mudguards for "use as required"; they've worked out just fine: check!
    c. Finish trimming it out for tours with a rack and luggage: as of tonight, check!

    The rack and luggage arrived today from the UK and I couldn't be more pleased. I started doing my homework on racks and luggage in mid-November and after checking out the usual sources here in the states I decided to see how the pricing was at some of the European Etailers. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled onto the Wiggle site and found the Tubus racks and Ortlieb panniers I'd been looking at priced well below anything I'd found thus far even in light of the strong British Pound.

    So, on November 26th I decided to pull the trigger with Wiggle and ordered up a Tubus Fly rack for 37.58 ($56.01), a Tubus QR Kit for 16.47 ($24.54) as I knew I'd have to monkey around with the rack installation to accommodate our short rear stays and the rear disc and set of Ortlieb Back Roller Plus panniers for 79.65 ($118.72). The icing on the cake was "free shipping" and, as it turned out, no sales tax or duty. My order arrived yesterday, December 1st, which is really amazing.

    Although the photos are pretty awful, you can see the rack and panniers installed on our Calfee in the images attached to this posting. Like most things that I do, the Tubus Fly rack installation is a bit of a customization. In addition to cold-setting the rack to fit around the stays on our tandem, I modified the Tubus QR mounting brackets so that I could use them to position the rack whereby my rear disc would fall into the rack's "crotch". I also had to install a set of fairly wide nylon spacers (they came with the QR kit) to get some extra clearance between the rack and the disc. Finally, I carried over a trick from our Erickson travel tandem for mounting the front rack stay to the tandem whereby an extra seat post clamp is shimmed and trimmed so that it can sit on the seat post and function as an anchor for the rack.

    All said and done, I'm really happy with the installation. I'd thought about buying the Tubus Disco rack that's designed to work with disc-equipped bicycles; however, Wiggle didn't carry that particular model and I just wasn't sure it would work as designed given where the rack mounts are on our Calfee. Therefore, I rolled the dice and hoped that with a little farm-boy engineering I'd be able to get the Fly to work and, well, mission accomplished.

    The Tubus racks and Ortlieb bags are really pricey, even when they're deeply discounted as they were at Wiggle; however, the engineering, materials, fit, and finish are superb.

    Once the weekend rolls around I'll try to take some better photos out doors; however, until then these indoor shots will have to suffice.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 12-03-08 at 06:51 AM. Reason: Change Feb 26 to Nov 26

  2. #2
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Thanks for this. One request though, some more pics showing the detail of how you accomodated the rear disc brake, please!

  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    some more pics showing the detail of how you accomodated the rear disc brake,
    I will, but let me note that under normal circumstances I would have opted to go with and would probably recommend anyone with a rear disc consult with a Tubus dealer before buying their rack. I suspect a dealer would likely recommend using the Tubus Disco rack which is designed to accommodate rear disc installations, with or without one of the additional rack mounting kits. The following is the Fly side-by-side with the Disco:



    I opted to play around with the product drawing for the Fly and made some assumptions on the size and bolt-hole placement on the QR mount kit relative to where the rack mounts are located on our Calfee (see attached photo at bottom of page) before rolling the dice with the Fly rack. For a tandem like a Co-Motion Speedster, I suspect the rack mounts are in a more traditional location which would lend itself better to the Disco's design. Frankly, if I thought the Disco would have bolted up to the frame that's probably the rack I would have used; however, I suspect I would have had to use the QR skewer mount kit and that's why I went with the fly.

    Moreover, to make the Fly rack work I'm not using the QR mount kit the way it was intended (photo at left, below) and, in doing so, have given up a little bit of the QR kit's robust design (i.e., that bracket is at least as strong as any rear drop-out I've ever seen; I burned up a drill bit just enlarging two holes). Note how in the following photo I've got the QR mounting bracket flipped 180* and that I'm using the extension bracket's QR skewer hole as the attachment point for the rack, with one of the two rack attachment points being used to attach the bracket/rack to our tandem's rack mounts.




    Final Note on the Ortliebs: At first I really didn't light up when I saw the Ortlieb panniers. The roll-top design wasn't what I'd expected and they aren't as "tidy" as what I'm used to. However, the more I worked with them the more I began to appreciate how purpose-built they are. The attachment system is very slick and they're definitely built to be waterproof vs. water resistant. Anyway, all said and done, I may pick up a second set of panniers that are a bit smaller and have more access points / pockets for use on day trips and/or make a platform for the Fly rack that will allow me to use our Highlands trunkbag on it for the same purpose. I'm definitely keeping the Ortliebs for future touring, but I'd recommend anyone who hasn't put their hands on a set before attempt to do so before dropping some big coin on them, particularly the ones like ours with the roll-top design and what they're really looking for is an alternative to a trunk bag for day trips. Again, it's a great design once you take time to appreciate it; however, it's really a different approach... at least to me.



    Something like the Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus would have probably been a better choice for my primary use.




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    Last edited by TandemGeek; 12-03-08 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Added comment on Ortlieb panniers

  4. #4
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Wow, these prices are almost 1/2 of what I paid for a Tubus Vega rack and Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers. Thanks for the tip on the Wiggles site. What I particularly like about the Tubus racks are the attachment rods instead of the "plumber's tape" that most other mfgs use. I now know what the upper hole is for on the rack strut; it's for the QR attachment. I understand your reaction to the Ortlieb design with just one bag and no pockets or compartments. They're the bags to own around here because they are durable and waterproof. For day trips we use just one pannier for extra clothing and stuff. I would prefer a trunk bag, but they are high enough that they interfere with the stoker (they are higher than the seat) and they don't give her the clearance she likes to swing her leg over when mounting the bike. I like the looks of the Arkel bags, but the Ortlieb bags work just fine for our purposes. All of the Ortlieb bags that I see around here are the Classics rather than the Plus - Why did you go for the Plus bags?

  5. #5
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916
    Wow, these prices are almost 1/2 of what I paid for a Tubus Vega rack and Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers.
    Yeah, I was blown away and then doubly shocked when everything arrived on my doorstep in no more time than it normally takes for a domestic Etailer to fulfill an order. I keep waiting for a second bill from customs or some such; however, if memory serves I didn't pay duty when I purchased my HAC4 from another firm in the UK either. We'll see: guys in black suits may still show up at my door demanding some type of tariff or duty.

    I should probably note, Wiggle seems to offer all kinds of discounts for all kinds of different reasons. There was a basic discount on their already low pricing for the rack and the panniers of something like 10%, and then I passed some magic threshold that made me an instant 'Gold' member which garnered another 5% discount plus free shipping. So, there's a huge incentive to be loyal since there's a lot of instant gratification going on vs. some of the 'clubs' that US etailers are using. I'll probably pick up another set of bags... either the Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus or the smaller 'front' roll-up bags. The Arkel stuff has a lot of nice features, but the Ortlieb retention systems and other technical details really add a lot of value to their products. We'll see. Still more homework to do before I pull the trigger again.

    Quote Originally Posted by swc7916
    All of the Ortlieb bags that I see around here are the Classics rather than the Plus - Why did you go for the Plus bags?
    It was a combination of things moreso than just one compelling reason: I like the ligher weight, more pliable nature, non-gloss and non-PVC characteristics of the Cordura outer shell and the QR2 system seemed to be a little more refined / user-friendly than the QR1. That and the "classic" bags just reminded me too much of the roll-up bags we used for paddling and sailing.

    Just a final, parting shot. I've purchased a lot of bicycle stuff over the years from Blackburn, Topeak, and a variety of other manufacturers. However, it's really amazing to see how these German firms have designed, engineered, and fabricated these products. The hollow tubing that makes a Tubus a tubus and the use of watersports technology in the design of the Ortlieb bags is just brilliant in it's simplicty. Nice stuff... but again, not cheap even when you do find it deeply discounted. Of course, the good stuff is expensive for a reason: you buy it once.

  6. #6
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    I have an Ortlieb Bike Shopper. Simple and completely waterproof. Good bag.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Moreover, to make the Fly rack work I'm not using the QR mount kit the way it was intended (photo at left, below) and, in doing so, have given up a little bit of the QR kit's robust design.
    ...

    Anyway, all said and done, I may pick up a second set of panniers that are a bit smaller and have more access points / pockets for use on day trips and/or make a platform for the Fly rack that will allow me to use our Highlands trunkbag on it for the same purpose.
    Did you consider the Tubus Lower Rack Mounting Kit. Wouldn't that achieve the same result or is it too short?

    Ortlieb has two sizes of outside pockets that can connect to their panniers. That may be a solution for items that are needed quickly or often. Their attachment mechanism looks very stable.

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
    Thanks for this. One request though, some more pics showing the detail of how you accomodated the rear disc brake, please!
    This is just a composite view. If you click on the picture it will take you to a Web page where you can open up larger image files by clicking on each of the 7 different photos.


  9. #9
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmac View Post
    Did you consider the Tubus Lower Rack Mounting Kit. Wouldn't that achieve the same result or is it too short?
    I did. However, the extension / lower rack mount kit is basically what Tubus uses on the aforementioned Disco rack. Therefore, I ran into the same problem where -- lacking a pair of mudguard / rack mount eyes above the rear drop-outs -- that extra 'back and up' repositioning of the rack mounting point didn't clear the interference problem.

    Again, it was only after playing around with the design drawing for the fly and comparing it to my frame and the QR mount bracket that a light bulb came on with regard to how I might be able to kluge together a solution that didn't permanently alter the rack or event he QR mounting kit. After all, our tandem also works with rim brakes and with the disc removed I should be able to install the Fly rack directly to my frame with or without the QR adapter.

    Quote Originally Posted by rmac View Post
    Ortlieb has two sizes of outside pockets that can connect to their panniers. That may be a solution for items that are needed quickly or often. Their attachment mechanism looks very stable.
    I've seen those and I'm really not looking to add anymore storage capacity; 80 liters is more than enough. I'm also not keep on punching any more holes in my Ortliebs so, at least at present, I think if I do anything it will involve a second set of smaller volume, day-trip / sport panniers.

    However, thanks for the suggestions, just the same.

  10. #10
    sch
    sch is offline
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    Our Macchiato has a weird rear triange that has a cylindrical shell protruding
    over a 40-60D arc above the QR. There is a tapped hole that is sort of
    accessible from a rear approach if you bend a single down stay on the rack
    but a double down stay such as the tubus would require a standoff, which is
    what we used last spring on a few weekend overniters. The M is elsewhere
    so no photos for now and it seems CoMotion has somewhat redesigned the
    rear triangle on current year M to be more traditional.
    There are a couple of british sites that have rather amazing prices by US
    standards: one that comes to mind is www.probikekit.com Ship fast and
    cheap, like Performance. We got some Michelin Pro2 for $33 in 25mm before
    they were superceded by Pro3. (postpaid at the time!! fall '07)

    Patched the link I hope.. Just checked and they are selling Michelin Pro3 23mm
    for $31 postpaid to US in 6 colors, something you will never find in the US.
    Last edited by sch; 12-05-08 at 03:20 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    I've seen those and I'm really not looking to add anymore storage capacity; 80 liters is more than enough. I'm also not keep on punching any more holes in my Ortliebs so, at least at present, I think if I do anything it will involve a second set of smaller volume, day-trip / sport panniers.
    We use the Arkel Bug for day trips. It has plenty of pockets and is fairly sturdy. It converts to a backpack when off the bike. Only problem is that it costs as much as both the Ortlieb panniers.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    This is just a composite view. If you click on the picture it will take you to a Web page where you can open up larger image files by clicking on each of the 7 different photos.
    Looking at these photos again, with a lot of vibration (since there is only one screw attached to the rack and one screw attached to the dropout) couldn't the part with the enlongated hole slip behind the rack? This would cause the rack to slip down and forward and perhaps interfere with the brake arm.

  13. #13
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmac View Post
    Looking at these photos again, with a lot of vibration (since there is only one screw attached to the rack and one screw attached to the dropout) couldn't the part with the enlongated hole slip behind the rack? This would cause the rack to slip down and forward and perhaps interfere with the brake arm.
    Anything is possible. However, nylon lock nuts tend to be very resistant to vibration.

    That said, I'd already thought about this and have three mitigation strategies:

    1. Add a small strut to join the upper mounting hole on the Fly rack to the bolt that attaches the rack to the frame triangulating the mounting bracket and rack.

    2. Just fabricate a different mounting bracket to connect the rack to the frame that ties into both of the mounting holes on the Fly rack.

    3. Stop screwing around with the Fly rack, get the Tubus Disco rack and combine it with the quick release mount.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Anything is possible. However, nylon lock nuts tend to be very resistant to vibration.

    That said, I'd already thought about this and have three mitigation strategies:

    1. Add a small strut to join the upper mounting hole on the Fly rack to the bolt that attaches the rack to the frame triangulating the mounting bracket and rack.

    2. Just fabricate a different mounting bracket to connect the rack to the frame that ties into both of the mounting holes on the Fly rack.

    3. Stop screwing around with the Fly rack, get the Tubus Disco rack and combine it with the quick release mount.
    My mistake. If you also put a spacer on the outside, between the bolt head and the rack, the spacer will abut the rack preventing the bracket from rotating down.

  15. #15
    TWilkins
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    I have the same Tubus rack on my commuter and it's mounted the exact same way at the rear as yours to give me clearance for the rear disk. I only wish I had gotten the same bargain you did! In it's first life, mine was on my Giant OCR-C to carry my trunk bag when I was using that bike for commuting. I went with it because of the QR option necessary for the CF frame, and the multitude of mounting options (I used a p-clip around the seat post instead of your more elegant solution). What impressed me about the Tubus was it's flexibility. They make several options for the front strut and rear mounts that can be configured for just about anything you need from it.

    At some point, I'll probably replace it with something different on the commuter because it's so skinny that my trunk bag tends to lean to one side or the other if I don't bungie it down. A hard-bottomed trunk bag would solve that problem, but I'm such a skinflint that my preference is to use what I own until it breaks or wears out and I've not taken the time to search out a suitable material to re-inforce the bottom of mine.
    Tracy Wilkins
    2011 Trek Madone 5.2
    2005 Burley Duet Tandem
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    www.springfieldcyclist.com

  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twilkins9076 View Post
    A hard-bottomed trunk bag would solve that problem.
    Just make your own "hard bottom" mounting plate and attach it to the bottom of your trunk bag or the top of your rack. I would think a simple piece of hard plastic would fit the bill.... and be cheap.

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