Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)
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I bought a Tubus Cargo and Tara set to go on my LHT. They're very strong, stable, and were easy to install, and work great with my Ortlieb panniers (make sure you put the right inserts in the clips that go over the rack tube.) However, I wanted to try a front rack with a platform. I was thinking I could carry my water bag there for long, dry stretches of road. I liked the Jandd Extreme, but couldn't see spending more money for another front rack when I already had the Tara. But then Jandd had a big sale, so I went for it. I went for two weeks on the Northern Tier last summer with the Tubus Cargo in back and Jandd Extreme in front.
On my tour I decided to carry a Camelbak, so I never needed to carry my water bag on the front, but it was the perfect place to carry my Big Agnes air mattress. I also used it to bungee miscellaneous stuff.
If you want a really strong, solid set of racks, the Tubus Cargo and Tara are excellent and work well with Ortlieb. If you want a platform front rack, the Jandd Extreme is excellent.
I'm sure there are other excellent racks as well.
Incidently, I also have lots of experience with Blackburn racks - an Expedition in back and Lowriders in front. They worked fine for me - never failed - but I don't think they were as rigid as Tubus or Jandd. They're cheaper though, and I see them on Ebay all the time, often for very low prices.