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Old 05-14-07, 02:47 PM   #1
betanzos
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a rack is a rack. Right?

I'm shopping for a rear rack for my LHT. Any recommendations? I liked the surly nice rack until I saw the price tag. I don't understand what makes a rack worth $100 more than another.

To give you an idea of the intended load, two kitty litter buckets and their contents, tent and bag. It should be pretty heavy but not more than 40-60lbs.

please enlighten me.
-Tomas
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Old 05-14-07, 03:04 PM   #2
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Steel racks tend to be more durable than aluminum under load. Also, be sure to get one that will hold your panniers and keeps them away from your heel when you pedal. You should reserve the right to return the rack if it doesn't fit your bike.
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Old 05-14-07, 03:09 PM   #3
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I just spent 200USD on racks so I'm not the one to ask, but the more expensive racks have a few advantages:
steel - they are repairable wherever you may be touring or trekking (pretty crucial if outside of europe or north america. if you plan on touring locally a non-repairable alloy rack would probably do)
carrying capacity - the more expensive racks can generally hold a lot more weight without bending
durability - better quality materials, welding and finish contribute to a longer lasting rack
hardware - the hardware you get with the higher end racks is SO much better than the crap that comes with cheap racks.
versatility - the expensive racks usually have some clever features and deal with alot of problems your bike may have with regards to mounting (ie. suspension, disk brakes etc)


I bought a pair of tubus racks because I plan to tour through the middle east in the future and you would be totally screwed if you needed to buy a new rack to replace a broken one. If your rack is steel there is a welder/brazer/solderer on every corner and they are really good at what they do. The rear rack I bought will also deal with my heel clearance issues, which no other racks, cheap or expensive, could really do.
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Old 05-14-07, 03:19 PM   #4
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Aluminium racks will probably treat you fine but they are more prone to breakage than steel. I currently have Tubus racks, steel, but have also used Blackburn for a lot of years without any problem. If you are touring 3rd world countries, you can always find someone w/ a torch to repair steel. Not so w/ aluminium. Based on manufacturers specs, 60lbs is a lot for an aluminum rack. I think most recommend about 45lbs. My Blackburn carried a lot for many years, probalby about 20,000 miles, and never broke but it was droopy where the pannier hooks attached. If you carry 60lbs expect yours to do the same.

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Old 05-14-07, 03:20 PM   #5
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Shiznaz hit the enter key about the same time. Hence some of the same info again.
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Old 05-14-07, 03:32 PM   #6
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naw, I hit submit ten minutes before you... you're just slow
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Old 05-14-07, 03:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betanzos
I'm shopping for a rear rack for my LHT. Any ###############? I liked the surly nice rack until I saw the price tag. I don't understand what makes a rack worth $100 more than another.

To give you an idea of the intended load, two kitty litter buckets and their contents, tent and bag. It should be pretty heavy but not more than 40-60lbs.

please enlighten me.
-Tomas
Cheap aluminum racks are not nearly as durable as the expedition racks (in aluminum) made by Blackburn and Jandd.

The better steel racks are probably stronger still, but I have heard of them breaking (one example can be found on http://www.mountainbike-expedition-team.de/ (by clicking on 'our bikes' and scrolling down)). However, the breakage occurred during some very heavy-duty touring. (They seem to favor Faiv Hoogar.)

I've used both the Blackburn and Jandd expedition models, loaded pretty heavily, and neither broke. I like the Jandd better, and it seems to be somewhat stronger (though the Blackburn is probably quite strong enough for your use).

These two racks are IMHO good values and good choices in many cases. They are plenty strong for most people, and they cost quite a bit less than the steel racks.

If breakage does happen to occur (highly unlikely, esp. with the Jandd), hose clamps and some kind of splint will usually get you down the road for a while.

Tubus, Bruce Gordon, Surly, and a few others make good but pricey steel racks. Rivendell also sells some very nicely made steel racks.

Last edited by Niles H.; 05-14-07 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 05-14-07, 03:56 PM   #8
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http://www.touringcyclist.com/gear/model_7587.html
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Old 05-14-07, 04:01 PM   #9
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I've been thinking about this recently after reading an article in the Adventure Cycle magazine. Everybody else is spot on with their reasons but I think they are missing one of the most important reasons. Most of the steel high end racks like, for example, the Tubus Cargo are stiffer than an aluminum one. A stiffer rack means that the load sways less and the bike handles better because the tail isn't wagging the dog as much.

I've thought of testing this by replacing the rack on an old steel frame I have and going for a jaunt but that would mean I'd have to rebuild the bike and I'm just too lazy to do it.
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Old 05-14-07, 05:02 PM   #10
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Thanks all for the very helpful advice. But it has bred another question. This might be directed more appropriately to tubus but the aforementioned link mentions:
Note: Tubus racks, and any other racks constructed of steel or aluminum tube stock, are not compatible with child seats, Wald baskets, or any other accessories that use clamps fastened by nuts and bolts to attach to the rack. The clamps will crush the tube stock. For this type of accessory, use racks made with solid aluminum rod such as Blackburn racks.

Is this too much hardware for steel tubing?

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...oc_id=1841&v=v
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Old 05-14-07, 06:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betanzos
Thanks all for the very helpful advice. But it has bred another question. This might be directed more appropriately to tubus but the aforementioned link mentions:
Note: Tubus racks, and any other racks constructed of steel or aluminum tube stock, are not compatible with child seats, Wald baskets, or any other accessories that use clamps fastened by nuts and bolts to attach to the rack. The clamps will crush the tube stock. For this type of accessory, use racks made with solid aluminum rod such as Blackburn racks.

Is this too much hardware for steel tubing?

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...oc_id=1841&v=v
If you use steel bands or straps (you can cut and bend them from longer stock), it should solve the problem. There is a DIY rack design by Paul Woloshansky, http://www.bicyclinglife.com/HowTo/HeavyDutyRacks.htm
that might contain some helpful information. (Most u-bolts concentrate the stress; the bands or straps of steel distribute the stress over a wider area.)

I took a quick look at the pictures on the CG link. It does not look like a very sound design to me. Just because it is on CG doesn't mean it's a good design. The hooks are bolted to the plastic; the plastic will be stressed every time you go over a bump. It will probably not last as long as you might want it to last, especially with heavier loads. That area (where the hooks attach to the plastic) needs to be strongly reinforced -- this is a high-stress, failure-prone area. Also, flatter hooks would not concentrate the stress the way the ones pictured would.

***
There are some more DIY designs and ideas on kenkifer.com -- he has a link there also.

Last edited by Niles H.; 05-14-07 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 05-14-07, 06:42 PM   #12
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Here are some links that may or may not have some useful information that can be gleaned here and there,

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/bags.htm

http://joesacher.com/touring/pannierbuilding.php

http://cam.ucsd.edu/~spav/play/panniers.html

***
The designer of the Jandd line of panniers said that his first iterations failed at the backplate. He got a lot of returns. Then he switched to a thicker, tougher backplate material to solve the problem. This sort of thing happens a lot -- the first editions (prototypes or first efforts) of a design often turn out to have bugs or flaws.

Some of these (DIY) designs may not have seen a lot of real-world testing yet....

One strategy is to overbuild (to some extend at least).
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Old 05-14-07, 07:15 PM   #13
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I've only seen a couple of racks fail, and I've seen a lot of racks.

The most important thing is the amount of weight you put on the rack. Surly makes a mighty stiff rack, but honestly, I wouldn't ever pack enough gear to come near it's limits.

I'd look at spending money on good lightweight camping gear-- a 20 to 30 pound load works great with quality alu racks like JANDD and Backburn.

Steel racks are better for heavier loads, but are also heavier than the alu racks. And the heavier the load, the harder it is on the bike, the wheels, your knees. Personally, I think Tubus and Surly might be overkill for many of us.
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Old 05-14-07, 09:53 PM   #14
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FWIW, I use the Surly Nice rack on the rear and have no problems. It is probably overkill so therefore it weighs a fair bit. I have discs on my ride so the up and down adjustability was important. Trouble with that though is the rack sits quite high. Disc brakes are great and I wouldnt give 'em up but the do create a bunch of problems. I like the Surly front rack too but didnt go with it, because of the discs.
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Old 05-14-07, 10:16 PM   #15
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The biggest problem with racks failing isn't the racks itself but the nuts and bolts getting loose and falling off. After I put on a rack on my bike and put in the bolts and nuts, I use a drop of gorilla glue to ensure that they will never get loose.
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Old 05-15-07, 08:38 AM   #16
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All I know is that I've used a Blackburn Expedition on the rear and Lowriders on the front for years and have never had a problem. I've carried a lot of weight.
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Old 05-15-07, 08:48 AM   #17
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Ive never had problems with my aluminum racks. I did a self supported with only the stock trek rear rack. All of my gear on that for 3200 miles and no problems at all. Maybe I'm lucky, but I just dont really see any big downside with an aluminum rack.
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Old 05-15-07, 08:54 AM   #18
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All I know is that I've used a Blackburn Expedition on the rear and Lowriders on the front for years and have never had a problem. I've carried a lot of weight.
I used wimpy racks for years without ever having a problem. I hate think what could crunch
an Expedition rack.
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Old 05-15-07, 09:08 AM   #19
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I don't know what metal my cheap rear rack is made of, but one of the welds broke a few years ago after ten plus years of service.

I crazy-glued the tubes together, wrapped the area in dental floss, and added a schmere of crazy glue over the floss. It held together fine. A year or so later, a bike mechanic reinforced the area with two inexpensive metal clamps. Six years later, the rack is holding together fine.
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Old 05-17-07, 04:53 AM   #20
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i'm looking pretty serously at the tubus racks to replace the stock rack that comes with the new 520. utterly terrible design as it doesn't even have the sort of "rear extension" that i've seen on the rack on the 520e meaning that it's pretty much a v-shape down to the hub meaning if you don't pack enough in then there's every chance that any sideways movement will result in a nice bash ont he spokes.
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Old 05-17-07, 05:03 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clipperton
i'm looking pretty serously at the tubus racks to replace the stock rack that comes with the new 520. utterly terrible design as it doesn't even have the sort of "rear extension" that i've seen on the rack on the 520e meaning that it's pretty much a v-shape down to the hub meaning if you don't pack enough in then there's every chance that any sideways movement will result in a nice bash ont he spokes.
+1, riding with cargo creates a different balance with the bicycle. For myself, in order to make certain climbs I have to stand on the pedals and ride out of the saddle. When I do, I tend to rock the bicycle slightly. Having a rack with enough surface area to hold the pannier firmly (I use bungee cords to keep the pannier tight against the rack) will help keep balance in this situation.
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Old 05-17-07, 05:17 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by georgiaboy
+1, riding with cargo creates a different balance with the bicycle. For myself, in order to make certain climbs I have to stand on the pedals and ride out of the saddle. When I do, I tend to rock the bicycle slightly. Having a rack with enough surface area to hold the pannier firmly (I use bungee cords to keep the pannier tight against the rack) will help keep balance in this situation.
one of the tihngs i've noticed is that as i frequently have to pack both work clothes and school books if i pack the school books on the inside (rack side) of the bag then the flat surface they create stops any spoke bashing - once there's no books inside it's russian roulette.

on the bungee cords (if we're thinking of the same things - called "occy straps" in australia) front, just saw something last night that probably deserves it's own thread (and will get one in just a second) about a new invention to replace them with a safer alternative. doing a search now.....

check this bad boy out - watch the video if you're so inclined....



http://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s1917574.htm
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Old 05-17-07, 06:01 AM   #23
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Hopefully this isn't a hijack and adds the discussion: I thought I'd be lucky because I've found a few Blackburn three-legged racks at garage sales for cheap, but when I tried to fit them on a frame with 135mm rear spacing, they were far too narrow.

Are the current Jandd and Blackburn racks built for modern 135 mm spacing?

Also, are the Jandd and Blackburn designed to mount outside the eyelets, or inside? All of the Tubus racks seem to mount to the outside of the eyelets (the higher end racks appear to give more detailed specs). There is no way I could mount the racks inside on my current frame without interfering with the high gear cog and chain.

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Old 05-17-07, 07:25 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JunkYardBike
Hopefully this isn't a hijack and adds the discussion: I thought I'd be lucky because I've found a few Blackburn three-legged racks at garage sales for cheap, but when I tried to fit them on a frame with 135mm rear spacing, they were far to narrow.

Are the current Jandd and Blackburn racks built for modern 135 mm spacing?

Also, are the Jandd and Blackburn designed to mount outside the eyelets, or inside? All of the Tubus racks seem to mount to the outside of the eyelets (the higher end racks appear to give more detailed specs). There is no way I could mount the racks inside on my current frame without interfering with the high gear cog and chain.
Mount outside the eyelets.

Most racks can flex to fit just about any width of frame. Just attach one side and then muscle the other into place. If you have a tandem width rear, you might want to be a little more careful
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Old 05-17-07, 08:58 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Mount outside the eyelets.

Most racks can flex to fit just about any width of frame. Just attach one side and then muscle the other into place. If you have a tandem width rear, you might want to be a little more careful
My only concern is that the rack ends are splayed at the point at which they affix to the eyelets, far from flush. There's about 1 mm of empty space at the bottom. I'd feel comfortable with it as a luggage rack only, but it will also double as a child seat rack...I'm a little concerned that this arrangement will stress the screw unevenly.
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