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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks to those who helped me decide on a set of panniers. I have ordered a pair of Ortlieb Sportpacker Plus (front) panniers and am now turning my attention to a front rack.

    Here is the shortlist:

    Tubus Duo Lowrider -- 52; 490g

    Blackburn Custom Lowrider -- 24; 525g

    I quite like the elegance of the Duo, however, Blackburn is half the price.

    Any thoughts? My favourite is the Surly Nice Front Rack, but at 80, I don't think I can justify it. It has the shelf on top which I think would be handy on occasion, but I doubt I will be carrying a tent or sleeping bag very often.

    Do these racks normally come with the bolts to attach them to the bike?
    Last edited by Lolly Pop; 01-28-06 at 07:10 AM.

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    Have a look at http://www.tubus.net/eng/produkte/lowrider/Duo.php if you haven't done already. I guess you've checked already that your forks have all the necessary eyelets? Also, the Duo needs a specific fork dimension to get the panniers sitting level. If the Duo won't work, the Tara is as good, but doesn't look quite as neat.

    Racks normally come with standard fittings that will work with most bikes.

    Spending a bit extra on a rack is money well spent IMO. Spending a bit extra on panniers isn't IMO. So you've perhaps done this the wrong way round - expensive panniers and now you want a cheapo rack!

    The Blackburn Lowrider is fine. The Tubus is good, certainly better than the Blackburn. Quality and durability are reflected in the price. If you don't have all the fittings and plan to use U-bolts or something then there's little point in investing in a quality rack like the Tubus.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions and the link. I saw the Ergo but think the Duo will suit in my case.


    Quote Originally Posted by amaferanga
    Spending a bit extra on a rack is money well spent IMO. Spending a bit extra on panniers isn't IMO. So you've perhaps done this the wrong way round - expensive panniers and now you want a cheapo rack!
    I didn't say I wanted a cheapo rack. I am simply looking for a good rack that suits my needs. As for panniers, given the volume and frequency of rain where I live, waterproof panniers are the only thing that makes sense to me.


    Quote Originally Posted by amaferanga
    If you don't have all the fittings and plan to use U-bolts or something then there's little point in investing in a quality rack like the Tubus.
    My bike has the necessary brazeons.

    Decisions, decisions. . .

  4. #4
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    If you are a first-time tourist and are not sure that you are going to do a lot of bike touring maybe chose the cheaper rack. If you are planning to do a long tour on your first trip or are going to travel when the road conditions are rough, i.e. gravel roads, cobbles, etc. maybe start with the stronger Tubus. I think front racks with a hoop over the front wheel are inherently stronger, but I own the Blackburn Low-rider you are considering.

    I used some stainless steel capscrews to attach the rack to the mid fork braze-ons (with the caphead on the inside of course) that I picked up at a marine store (5mm x 60 mm I believe). The only issue I had with the rack was that after a few weeks it had rotated a bit (around the braze-on) so that the front had dropped about ~ 1cm and was not level anymore. The little clamp on the diagonal part of the rack that attaches to the fender eyelet had slipped a bit. I carried about 5 kg in each front pannier.
    2006 Lemond Sarthe
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  5. #5
    Tweaker-Tinkerer Lotum's Avatar
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    I went through a similar decision-making process recently. In the end, I chose Tubus Nova for the front and Tubus Cosmo for the rear. These are deluxe stainless steel racks, which is reflected on their elegant looks and highish price.

    The main runners-up were Blackburn Lowrider for the front and Blackburn Expedition 1 for the rear. I very much like the 'inverted U' hoop on the Lowrider (probably invented by Jim Blackburn himself), and was pleased to find in the Nova a stainless-steel rack that incorporates the same idea. I regard it as an important safety feature.

    The Blackburns are by no means 'cheapo' racks. They probably would have served me, too, very well. The stainless-steel Tubuses are more expensive, but they also perhaps have the liability of being somewhat ostentatious.

    The Surly Nice is an interesting design, which may come in handy if you absolutely must maximize your carrying capacity. However, I don't want a platform above the wheel, as that's where my headlight is. I don't want to have the lights on the handlebars, as it's getting crowded enough there already with the cycle computer and the HRM.

    IMHO, high-quality panniers are a good investment. They have to withstand a lot of wear and tear on a tour.

  6. #6
    Videre non videri
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    The Surly racks are pretty much exactly what I want in a set of racks. Too bad they cost about twice as much as is reasonable.

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    Go for the Tubus then!

    I live in Scotland where we too have plenty of rain, but am happier with my Karrimors than my Ortlieb as waterproofness aside, they're just better panniers with better attachments. Take Ortleibs down bumpy roads and those things flap like hell unless you bungee them down (makes the quick attach/detach latches irrelevant as a selling point if you need to unstrap a bungee first). Unfortunately the Ortleib-worshipers must have got to you! Ortleibs have durable attachments, that's about the only good thing they have going for them other than the fact that they're waterproof.

    Lotum - the funny thing with some high quality panniers such as Ortlieb though is that their most durable panniers are not the most expensive ones. The Ortleib 'plus' range is more expensive than the standard, but the facts that they (the plus) are fairly thinly laminated on the inside and the material is thinner mean they're not gonna last as long. But they look nicer. My roller plus panniers delaminated after only a few months of use and picked up a tear all too easily. That's not quality in my eyes. As soon as Ortleibs stop being waterproof they are s**t panniers IMHO!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your input.

    Quote Originally Posted by bccycleguy
    If you are a first-time tourist and are not sure that you are going to do a lot of bike touring maybe chose the cheaper rack. If you are planning to do a long tour on your first trip or are going to travel when the road conditions are rough, i.e. gravel roads, cobbles, etc. maybe start with the stronger Tubus.
    I already have four tours planned this year; the longest is 8 days and the others four to five days each.

    I believe the Surly is an ideal rack as well, CdCf. I like the idea of putting a headlamp on the front of it, as well. But yeah on the price being too high.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amaferanga
    Go for the Tubus then!

    I live in Scotland where we too have plenty of rain, but am happier with my Karrimors than my Ortlieb as waterproofness aside, they're just better panniers with better attachments. Take Ortleibs down bumpy roads and those things flap like hell unless you bungee them down (makes the quick attach/detach latches irrelevant as a selling point if you need to unstrap a bungee first). Unfortunately the Ortleib-worshipers must have got to you! Ortleibs have durable attachments, that's about the only good thing they have going for them other than the fact that they're waterproof.

    Lotum - the funny thing with some high quality panniers such as Ortlieb though is that their most durable panniers are not the most expensive ones. The Ortleib 'plus' range is more expensive than the standard, but the facts that they (the plus) are fairly thinly laminated on the inside and the material is thinner mean they're not gonna last as long. But they look nicer. My roller plus panniers delaminated after only a few months of use and picked up a tear all too easily. That's not quality in my eyes. As soon as Ortleibs stop being waterproof they are s**t panniers IMHO!
    So you know about rain, then?

    Interesting what you say about the fabric not being as durable. The idea of them flopping around is a bit off-putting!

    When your roller plus panniers delaminated, did you return them for a replacement?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Lotum I had a look at the Tubus Nova. Velly nice! Here, it is the same price as the Surly Nice. I hadn't considered the strength advantage of the inverted U, but I think that is worth considering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
    When your roller plus panniers delaminated, did you return them for a replacement?
    Nope, I was mid-tour in Tanzania. Wasn't really an issue then and since they are my front panniers I rarely put anything in there that I need to keep dry. I don't actually know if I got duff panniers or if that is just normal for the plus panniers.

    The panniers don't flop as such since they have a rigid back, but they flap against the rack. Only on rough roads, but I found it unbearable. Also, when they do flap, the bottom attachment can and does come undone so the pannier comes loose. That's the reason I prefer Karrimor panniers, since there is no possibilty of that happening; but then the buggers went bust! That's actually a real shame.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. I don't anticipate being on any rough roads, perhaps the odd cobble here and there but only briefly. Hmmm.

  13. #13
    Tweaker-Tinkerer Lotum's Avatar
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    Amaferanga, I know about rain, too (and about sleet & snowfall!). When I said that IMHO, high-quality panniers are a good investment, I was just trying to counter your somewhat too generalized sweeping statement. I didn't bother to elaborate, as Lolly Pop had already committed himself. But the "Ortlieb worshippers" at least didn't get to me... I'm a Carradice man, and I'm still convinced that high-quality panniers are a good investment.

  14. #14
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about the Ortleib attachments too much, Lolly, I've gone hellbent for leather down thousands of vertical feet of descent over rattletrap gravel fire roads and the like, it's real tough to pop an Ortleib off the rack! (it can happen, if you don't have the bottom bracket snug up on the rack stay.)

    I haven't checked out the rigidity of the split racks, but I'd pick a front rack with the 'U' framing over the tire, they just seem more solid.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  15. #15
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    no competion Tubus all the way.

  16. #16
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    I've toured for many years using Blackburn racks without a failure. There's also no denying that Tubus racks are excellent. But, I also have to say, that the Surly are indeed very "Nice Racks", in spite of the (high) cost. (Here in the states they can be had for $90 each at Alfred E. Bike). These Surly's are extremely well-made and heavy-duty, and the brazed-on, threaded fitting on the front of the rack is perfect for mounting a light. What I like about the front platform is that I've gotten rid of my handlebar bag and mounted a small-to-medium trunk pack onto the platform, lowering the center of gravity and increasing stability and improving handling tremendously. It also makes the cockpit much less cluttered and open. Front panniers can be mounted high (when extra clearence is needed) and low.

    Here are several pics of the Surley Nice Racks installed front and rear--ready for my 4-month tour beginning May 14.

    I hope this helps and have the tour of your life!

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    Blackburn pretty much invented the bike rack as far as a rack desinged around luggage attachment is concerned. They did design the low rider rack. Funny they have given up trying to sell them over here, they aren't on their site, and when I emailed them about it, they responded as though it was the misty past.

    I used the BB rack front and back on my two week tour, and they are very tough. As well as using the back rack every day for 20 years. That tubus thing is no competition for a Blackburn, because if one was planing a really horrid moonscape like trek, who would pick that question mark thingy.

    If I was buying the gear you are after for my bike here is where I would spend the money:

    - Jandd or Surly front rack with a decent ledge on it. I missed this space more than anything about my rack or bag system. A front mounted light is great because the handlebars are already crammed with stuff.

    - Any reasonable quality rear rack, you can pick them up in bomber qality for about 15 bucks.

    - If the moeny is tight, I would have bought regular bags and used stay dry liners or waterproof stuff sacks. That Otlieb stuff is overpriced and not easy to configure. However if I did have a lot of money I would buy the Otlied to see what the fuss is about. I got about a week of torrentail rain and headwinds on my tour, and nothing in my crap cordura bags got wet. Even if water did get into the bags, most of the stuff in there isn't adversely affected. It would be miserable to go to bed in a wet sleeping bag, but that isn't stored in the bags anyway. Wet clothes would not be fun. I carried so few of them keeping them dry was no problem.

    I know only too well that the UK is different I used to rock climb there. Over here in Canada, people make like they want to call the police if you go climbing on a rainy day. Where I lived in UK if one let the rain stop one, one would never do anything. About 2 years after I left, it rainned every day for over a year in my hometown. So I know you guys are serious about the rain. I still don't see Otliebs being necesarry.

    I am going to look into making bag covers just to make things doubly waterproof. They are really easy to pull on and off.

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    "I quite like the elegance of the Duo"

    I know you would never actually compromise your performance for "elegance", but it is hard not to be influenced. This is, however, the kind of thing one can ponder with computer in hand before setting off. Once you load on your bags you will never see the rack again. In general I try to leave the rack on the bike, and even if you remove them who cares what it looks like. All you will care about is whether they work, or heaven forbid, break.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    I've tried many racks and I've found none better than a Tubus.

    This site has very good prices on Tubus and Ortleib items. Even after shipping they are cheaper than Wiggle. I've ordered from them several times and have never had a problem.

    As far as my searching has gone they are the cheapest online shop in Europe. They also have an excellent selection.

    http://www.bike-components.de/catalo...oducts_id=1491
    Last edited by Ziemas; 01-29-06 at 07:36 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Excellent! Thanks everyone for the suggestions, and the photos of your bike are just awesome Ted! Wow, lovely.

    The more I look the more I like the Surly. I had contacted Alfred E Bike for shipping costs on the Surly -- about $35 they estimated. At $90 + 35 it makes it cheaper to buy from the states than to purchase from a UK vendor. Not sure about import duties, however.

    That German link has excellent prices, you are right Ziemas.

    Thanks again everyone. I am in no rush here so I will ponder a bit more. lol

  21. #21
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    I wouldn't worry about the Ortleib attachments too much, Lolly, I've gone hellbent for leather down thousands of vertical feet of descent over rattletrap gravel fire roads and the like, it's real tough to pop an Ortleib off the rack! (it can happen, if you don't have the bottom bracket snug up on the rack stay.)

    I haven't checked out the rigidity of the split racks, but I'd pick a front rack with the 'U' framing over the tire, they just seem more solid.
    I too have used Ortleibs for many years and if the bottom bracket is snug then there is little chance of them coming off. I also used Karrimors for about 20 odd years and I find it strange that one can put to one side the fact that they are not waterproof. To pay a large sum of money for panniers and then find enclosed a plastic sack to use in order to keep your contents dry is a bit off-putting to say the least.
    Ortieb make quality panniers and the Classic series would be my choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    That tubus thing is no competition for a Blackburn, because if one was planing a really horrid moonscape like trek, who would pick that question mark thingy.
    That "question mark thingy" is undoubtedly tougher than the Blackburn low-rider. I know someone that cycled london-cape town with the Tubus Duo without problem. They are tough. Tougher and better designed than the Blackburn.

    If I was looking for a good lowrider I'd probably go for the Thorn lowrider - http://www.sjscycles.com/store/vIndex.htm. Note the weight limit of 18kg per side (on asphalt) or 9kg per side on washboard type roads! The Blackburn would crumple under such weights.

  23. #23
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    For my first long tour, I used the Jandd Expedition and liked it, though I did not use the top platform nearly as much as I thought I would - it's pretty heavy, too. Since then, I've used a tubus tara that I borrowed from my brother. It's a great, stong rack.

    If anyone is interested, I am selling a set of the Blackburn Custom lowriders on ebay right now. Nothing wrong with them - the Jannd came my way and I decided to use it, then I got the Tubus, so these have just been collecting dust.

  24. #24
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    Can anyone ring in with an opinion on Old Man Mountain Ultimate Lowrider front racks?

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    Quote Originally Posted by onbike 1939
    I too have used Ortleibs for many years and if the bottom bracket is snug then there is little chance of them coming off. I also used Karrimors for about 20 odd years and I find it strange that one can put to one side the fact that they are not waterproof. To pay a large sum of money for panniers and then find enclosed a plastic sack to use in order to keep your contents dry is a bit off-putting to say the least.
    Ortieb make quality panniers and the Classic series would be my choice.
    I still must disagree about the Ortlieb attachment - my experience is that even when it is snug it can still flip out. The plastic isn't rigid enough.

    On the pannier issue - I'm not quite sure why you'd need waterproof panniers unless you ride in the rain most of the time. I wouldn't be touring if it was raining most of the time, that'd be miserable! A waterproof cover is no different from a waterproof jacket for people. If it's a beautiful sunny day you don't wear a waterproof jacket, but you might carry one around just incase it does rain.

    It makes more sense anyway to pack your stuff in bags to keep things separate, so all you need to do with non-waterproof panniers is use plastic bags. If you put a hole in one of these you can get a new one (for free) and it doesn't render the only real selling point of your espensive (Ortlieb) panniers irrelevant.

    I stand by my assertion that non-waterproof Ortliebs would be crap panniers! The stuff-sack design make them a real pain in the a**e if you need to get something from near the bottom. And its simply not possible to pack everything you might need access to ever at the top. Another issue I have with Ortliebs is that the durable range (the standard, not the plus) have a ridiculous glossy finish.

    Karrimors and Carradice are miles better IMO.

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