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Old 06-19-06, 05:11 PM   #1
grasshutmedia
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One Rack: Front or Back?

I've read that when using both front and rear bike racks, more weight should be in the front. If I am getting just one rack for light touring, does this mean it should be a front mount? If it matters, I am a 225lb Clydesdale riding a compact frame road bike (i.e. lot of pressure on the back wheel already).

Thanks, all.
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Old 06-19-06, 07:02 PM   #2
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Front it is, so long as it's a low-mount rack. It might also be smart on a high-mount traditional rack, but I don't know about that. Most front racks don't have as high a load rating as rear racks, but if you're light touring then 20-25 pounds should be fine.
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Old 06-21-06, 09:19 AM   #3
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Is it standard to put the rack on the front when only using one rack, or is the fact that I am a Clydesdale part of the reason? Since I posted this thread, I've seen pix of folk with racks and panniers on the rear only. Maybe that's for "marketing" sake.

Thanks.
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Old 06-21-06, 10:09 AM   #4
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I've bought into the logic of front rack only...but now i am reconsidering, at least on the bike with a short stem. I'm still evaluating: the bike is a bit twitchy to begin with, now with the a one side pannier up front, I'm not sure.
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Old 06-21-06, 10:11 AM   #5
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Short stem? As in road bikes with compact geometry (like my Trek Pilot)?
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Old 06-21-06, 12:13 PM   #6
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Well my machine is a strange 29nr mtb geometry, but the stem itself is 90mm I believe...it could be that I am just not used to it, esp with one mid-weight pannier hanging.
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Old 06-21-06, 12:18 PM   #7
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depends on how much you want to carry wieght wise?
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Old 06-21-06, 01:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by grasshutmedia
Is it standard to put the rack on the front when only using one rack, or is the fact that I am a Clydesdale part of the reason? Since I posted this thread, I've seen pix of folk with racks and panniers on the rear only. Maybe that's for "marketing" sake.

Thanks.
The 'standard' is to put the load on the back but it's not necessarily the best. A rear wheel is inherently weaker than a front wheel because of the dish. Also, a large heavy load over the back wheel tends to make the bike more difficult to handle because the load is above the center of gravity of the bike and cantilevered over that weaker wheel. I find a heavy rear load tends to make the bike way to light in the front end and makes the steering feel 'off', like the front wheel isn't touching the ground. This feeling of a vague front end happens to me when I use a trailer also.

Since you sit higher than the center of gravity of the bike and are loaded towards the back of the bike also, putting up to 60% of a 50 lb touring load on the front wheel makes the bike feel more balanced in its handling. The steering feels more connected to the ground than when you have just a rear load.

That said, you have to balance the load from side to side also. I would never try to use just a single pannier on a front lowrider (sorry Lala ), the handling would just be too goofy. I've lost one of the bags up front on a rough road and it was all I could do to keep the bike from crashing.

But...having a rear rack is nice because you have a deck for carrying large, light bulky stuff like tents, sleeping bags, coats, etc.
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Old 06-21-06, 01:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by grasshutmedia
Short stem? As in road bikes with compact geometry (like my Trek Pilot)?
She means how far out the stem is from the steerer on the fork. 90mm isn't that short (I've seen shorter) but a longer stem (110mm or 120mm) has more leverage on the fork steer and makes steering easier because you have a longer lever arm with which to make steering changes.

I think Lala's problem has more to do with carrying the load on only one side than with the stem or fork. If I were going to carry only one bag, I'd do it on the rear wheel.
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Old 06-21-06, 02:54 PM   #10
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I agreed with all that Cycco, and:

There isn't one correct answer to this question.

The standard is a rear rack. Someone wrote an article decades ago, probably to promote lowriders which were an oddball format back then, and came up with some tripe on why lowriders and front placement were better. Obviously low CG and a better weight distribution is orthodox, and a comon objective, in say, sports cars. This has now become gospel amoung techies, but the main problem with the theory is the effect of front racks on steering and road feel. It takes quite a lot of gear before I even notice the presence of a rear rack load. A camera is enough to make it'self felt on a front rack (not negatively). For light loads I always use a rear panier. Actually a heavy front load can suppress a lot of raod shock and that is high on my list.

Individual bike geometry makes a difference for instance the rear rack placement will have a lot to do with whether the rear rack weights or unweights the front of the bike. Trail will have a lot to do with how a bike handles with a load up front. Some bikes love front weight and others are dangerous with it. Some of this can be dealt with through custom racks, but that isn't an option most will embrace.

http://kogswell.com/testPR.pdf

There are also convenience issues as far as what happens to a loaded front wheel when you try to park, which may explain the front rack kickstand:

http://slbike.com/e/index.html Under accessories.
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Old 06-21-06, 07:42 PM   #11
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Ok. If I may try to summarize what I think has been suggested here: Best to avoid a single bag, whether mounting front or rear. Balance is good. If the load is decently light, a front rack/double pannier setup will work. But might not hurt to mount a rear rack as well for a tent/sleeping gear.

I'm just looking to tour solo and self supported for a three day ride on crushed limestone/occasional pavement and want to make sure I get the right set up.
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Old 06-22-06, 09:14 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by grasshutmedia
Ok. If I may try to summarize what I think has been suggested here: Best to avoid a single bag, whether mounting front or rear. Balance is good. If the load is decently light, a front rack/double pannier setup will work. But might not hurt to mount a rear rack as well for a tent/sleeping gear.

I'm just looking to tour solo and self supported for a three day ride on crushed limestone/occasional pavement and want to make sure I get the right set up.
Well summarized. A single rear bag isn't as bad as a single front, however.
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