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  1. #1
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    rack and pannier recommendations

    i would like some recommendations on rear and front racks, as well as panniers. i'm planning a cross-country ride this summer so something sturdy is key. should i go with steel or aluminum? what about size? i am leaning towards getting steel racks (nitto or IRD) since they are stronger and i just like steel. i know very little about panniers (just ortlieb and baggins). i will be riding solo and i plan on mostly camping so i guess i need something with more capacity. also, where could i purchase such products?

  2. #2
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    I'm surely not the most experience tourer out here, but here is what I have…

    Rear;

    Jandd expedition rack. It is a few inches longer which can help if your chainstays aren't long enough to keep your heel from hitting the pannier. It is aluminum, but I've carried quite a bit of weight on it at times, though not for long distances, 10 miles or so. But I would classify it as near indestructible for normal use. And since I'm not crossing Africa, the welding issue is a moot point for me.

    Arkel GT-54 panniers - There large, durable, have different types of pockets which helps keep thing orderly and easy to get to without emptying the whole bag. They are side load, so things at the bottom of the bag can be had without unloading also. They also have a 36 inch or so tube that you can carry your tent poles and sleeping mat in. The new ones have integrated dry bags.

    Front;

    Jandd Extreme front rack. Same quality/durability as the rear. Has a shelf like a rear rack that comes in handy carrying those extra things from time to time. I mounted my headlight onto the rack in the place where you would mount a reflector. The also have high and low mounting options for the panniers, depending on whether you need ground clearance or handling.

    I will probably purchase the GT-30's, or GT-18's from Arkel in the near future for the front.

    You can get the panniers from Adventure Cycling or Arkel themselves. The racks I got right from Jandd.


    Jon
    Last edited by jfortier; 03-22-06 at 10:41 PM.

  3. #3
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    If the little extra weight of the Arkel products is ont a problem, they sure beat most other panniers for convenience and adaptability. They come with a price however, especially outside Canada (where they are produced). I own a pair of front panniers from them which I have been using for over 12 years and they are still in almost perfect condition... and their newer products seems even better!

    Ortlieb also have a very good reputation being fairly lightweight and waterproof. Some people don't like their attachment system though.

  4. #4
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    blackburn front and rear racks are the way to go if you're getting aluminum, they're the best buy and sturdy. seems most people here like tubus racks otherwise.

    for panniers, if you have time to spare, buy them on ebay - you can find some really good deals.

    on these two topics in particular, i'd recommend doing a few searches within the touring board - i spent a very long time searching and reading what people had said in the past before i bought my panniers and racks, and found it very useful.

  5. #5
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    The Jandd racks are really rugged - I have them on my 970 all-terrain touring setup and am thinking of getting a set for the 520. I really like the shelf they have and the ability to mount the front pans high or low. I use Jandd mtn packs for that bike also, because I like the way they snug the load down and hold it securely. I think Jandd makes really bomber stuff, although I do use Arkels T42/GT30 for the road touring bike since they are more convenient in some ways and I got a really good deal on them.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 43bicis
    i would like some recommendations on rear and front racks, as well as panniers. i'm planning a cross-country ride this summer so something sturdy is key. should i go with steel or aluminum? what about size? i am leaning towards getting steel racks (nitto or IRD) since they are stronger and i just like steel. i know very little about panniers (just ortlieb and baggins). i will be riding solo and i plan on mostly camping so i guess i need something with more capacity. also, where could i purchase such products?
    To be honest, there really is no right or wrong way to do touring. I have used aluminum racks on my bikes forever, I have never broken one - ever! That includes the one that came stock -and is the oldest one I own- on my 1984 Miyata 610 and which I still use to carry stuff back and forth to work. That said, I did outfit my T800 in 2003 with Tubus, mostly because I like the looks. The Tubus is very strong, with a claimed carrying capacity for a Cargo of 45 kg, but only a fool would carry that much stuff!

    As for bags and bag size, buy the smallest ones you think you can get by with. I look at the Arkel stuff but all of the extra pockets and doodads put me off. Every pocket just crys out "Fill me!" and you end up carrying way more stuff than you need. I bought the Ortlieb Front Roller and Rear Rollers for just that reason. They are a single compartment bag. No bells, no whistles, no extra pockets. They are waterproof beyond belief. Put your stuff in the bags, roll them closed and, if you wanted to, you could throw the whole shootin' match in a river and float downstream. In a drenching rain storm, everything stay nice and dry. To keep mine organized, I put all of my clothes in ziplocks before I put them in the bag. It just makes life easier.

    When it comes to capacity, don't make the mistake of thinking that because you are going for a longer trip that you need more stuff. Whether you are going for 4 days or 40,000, you need the same amount of stuff. For longer tours you might actually need to carry less stuff then for a short trip. Carry just what you need, don't take extras of just about anything except food (always carry a couple of days extra food because there are places where you just can't find anything). Take some comfort items but don't go overboard. Anything that needs to be charged, leave at home!
    Stuart Black
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    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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  7. #7
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    I Have the Nitto Rear Rack from rivendell. (rivbike.com) I love it. I plan on making my own panniers.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    I've got most of my gear together for my cross-Canada trip this summer. I have yet to ride with it (some stuff is still coming in very soon) but I got the chance to hold some stuff and mount it to my other bikes.

    I just got a Tubus Cargo rear and a Tubus Tara front and I've yet to mount the racks but they are more rigid and beefy than I thought they'd be. I have Old Man Mountain Cold Springs racks for my MTB and the Tubus racks actually seem to be right on for "holding in your hand" strength. I got them from Wayne at thetouringstore.com. I normally don't like calling people so I usually order something with a couple lingering concerns in my mind (usually turn out to be nothing but still, they linger). I heard good things about Wayne so I called to place my order and thought I would just ask him my little nitpicky questions while I was on the line. He answered all my questions, laid all my concerns to rest and was very helpful throughout. Fast shipping and excellent communication, I would actually go out of my way to order from him if I had the chance.

    As for panniers. I have Arkel GT-54's and T-28's that I got from a LBS dealer around here. I got the 54's after having an experience with my friend on a mini tour. I was the mule, so I huffed everything on my bike in one-big-pocket-type panniers, 4 of them. Man, I almost lost it having to dig in that one big pocket for EVERYTHING for both of us. It's amazing how many times you might want something in a pannier (snack bar, lotion, camera, new map, allen key, food, etc) and then mulitply that by two. Frustrating. After that, I promised myself to get something with more pockets- not to carry more stuff but to organize the stuff I did bring. Tool? Pocket X! None of this "go dig for it at the bottom of the front-left pannier" stuff. I have yet to use the panniers, but the mounting system feels top shelf and the pannier itself seems very well built, I can't wait to get them on the road.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    When it comes to capacity, don't make the mistake of thinking that because you are going for a longer trip that you need more stuff. Whether you are going for 4 days or 40,000, you need the same amount of stuff. For longer tours you might actually need to carry less stuff then for a short trip. Carry just what you need, don't take extras of just about anything except food (always carry a couple of days extra food because there are places where you just can't find anything). Take some comfort items but don't go overboard. Anything that needs to be charged, leave at home!
    I have to agree on almost everything here but there is an exception: when your travels bring you to a variety of climates.

  10. #10
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    I used Blackburn lowriders on my bike, and I missed not having the top shelf. I would buy a Jandd or Surly that has flat top shelf, and I probably should get on it before I get caught out again.

    There is quite a range of stuff happening out there, with people going off-road for what seems like years, on trail that only a moutainbike can cross, to people going trans america on smooth roads. I think the smooth touring roads put less stress on a rack than comuting, relative to the weight you take. If you are going on expedition trails or with massive weight, then you probably need some serious gear. I managed with about 7 pounds a panier and another 7 pounds on the rear rack, plus daily food. I could camp anywhere cross country with that stuff.

    It's not exceptional for someone to comute 100 miles a week, and at that pace you do the trans am in a year. People do that year after year without contemplating extreme gear.

  11. #11
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    Hey Cycco, what do you think about the Ortlieb turned my gear into a mildewy mass of garbage threads recently?

  12. #12
    Snow trekkie seawhip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakboy
    I Have the Nitto Rear Rack from rivendell. (rivbike.com) I love it. I plan on making my own panniers.
    when you do, please share your plans, methods, etc.
    "We do not remember days ... we remember moments." -- cesare pavese

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magictofu
    I have to agree on almost everything here but there is an exception: when your travels bring you to a variety of climates.
    I don't consider cold weather clothes to be extra. In Colorado, you have to be prepared for temperature of from 105F to -20F, sometimes on the same ride! Last summer, my daughter and I made the mistake of thinking that since we had only hit temps of over 100F from Missoula, MT to The Dalles, OR, we weren't going to need our cold weather gear, so we shipped it home. Big mistake! Astoria is damned cold So from now on, I will huck the cold weather stuff from here to Timbuktu.

    The extra stuff I was thinking was nonessentials (for me) like ipods, GPS, laptops, suit and tie (yes I have seen that in list of stuff you should carry), cell phones, Gameboys, wine, laundry soap, TV, stereo, sailboard, canoe, a fully loaded Fleetwood Expedition with masseuse, trainer, personal chef and on board super model/soul companion, or a whole bunch of other stuff.

    Keep it simple. If you don't use it in the first week, think seriously about getting rid of it. Keep the super model, however. She might come in handy

    THAWACKKKKK! (the sound of my wife hitting me upside the head)
    Stuart Black
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    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
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  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Hey Cycco, what do you think about the Ortlieb turned my gear into a mildewy mass of garbage threads recently?
    I didn't have any kinds of problem with them when I first used them in 2003. That was in the Midwest but then I didn't have that much rain either, maybe 4 days out of 22. I went in September and it was rather dry. I didn't have problems with them this summer in the Northwest either but we had only one day of drizzle. I haven't had much experience with them in really wet climates but I think it just takes a little packing discipline.

    I never put clothes or towels or anything wet in them. I leave stuff out to dry at night after I cook and clean up. After washing the dishes, I dry everything and put it back in its own bag. I usually leave the top of the Ortlieb bag open (don't roll it down tight) at night so that anything inside will dry out. I usually hang my riding clothes for the day up on a line or on the bike overnight. If they aren't dry in the morning - because of rain or morning dew, etc - I put them on my sleeping bag on the back rack and let them dry out during the day. Even then I pack everything in separate bags (one set of clothes for each day in each bag) before I put them back in the panniers. And absolutely nothing goes in even damp!

    That may seem like a hassle but I've pack stuff this way even before I got waterproof bags. It just helps me stay organized. I have one bag (right front) for cooking stuff, one bag (left front) for foodstuff, one bag (right rear) for ride clothes, and one bag (left rear) for rain gear, cold weather gear, street clothes/sleeping clothes, towels, toiletries, etc. Sometimes the rain gear rides in the front, if the weather is threatening. (I'm not OCP. Really, I'm not!)
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  15. #15
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I'll add 3 things
    1. I love my Arkel's because you can get stuff from the bottom without pulling out the stuff on top
    2. Anything waterproof will get wet when things spill or get damp, so a little air is good
    3. Everyone has their own preferences, so choose yours

  16. #16
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    +1 for the Arkel GT-54s. I bought a pair last year and used them on a tour through Wisconsin . Excellent bags. Their organizational benefits cannot be lauded enough. Liked 'em so much I even bought a pair of TT-38s for the front this year. Although you didn't mention it in your post, I would recommend a handlebar bag too. I didn't have one last year and found myself wishing I had one to throw in my camera, sunscreen, map, wallet, etc.
    Happy Touring, CC

  17. #17
    LHT Commuter wsexson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    It's not exceptional for someone to comute 100 miles a week, and at that pace you do the trans am in a year. People do that year after year without contemplating extreme gear.
    I commute 100 - 175 miles a week. You're right, I don't need extreme gear. I am never more than 25 miles from home, though. If I were 1000 miles from home and who knows how far from the nearest city I would feel more comfortable with gear a little more "extreme".

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC Rider
    +1 for the Arkel GT-54s. I bought a pair last year and used them on a tour through Wisconsin . Excellent bags. Their organizational benefits cannot be lauded enough. Liked 'em so much I even bought a pair of TT-38s for the front this year. Although you didn't mention it in your post, I would recommend a handlebar bag too. I didn't have one last year and found myself wishing I had one to throw in my camera, sunscreen, map, wallet, etc.
    Happy Touring, CC
    Duh! I forgot about my handlebar bag, Large Arkel of course, which is always on the bike so its easy to forget about I guess. It comes in handy for the above reasons and acts as a map displayer and I keep snacks in it.


    Jon

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