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Old 10-29-12, 08:21 AM   #1
NikNoid
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Overwhelmed by rack choices

I'm new to this forum and bicycle touring. I've been researching rear racks and have developed analysis-paralysis. My initial tours will likely be hotel tours but I don't want to buy something that won't support a heavier camping load-out.

Tubus looks like the top tier, but I don't want to spend that much cash. There are a bunch of second tier racks but I don't know which ones are quality.

I have a 62cm Surly Cross Check (so shorter chainstay) and size 14 feet.

My key concerns are:
- cost
- heel clearance
- quality

Thanks, Nik.
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Old 10-29-12, 01:56 PM   #2
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I only have 1, Jannd "Expedition". Wide/Long/ not as expensive as Tubus
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Old 10-29-12, 04:13 PM   #3
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Nik, first off I suggest you configure your load carrying according to the size of the load. I've got a 56 cm Cross-Check and have tried various loads and racks. The bike doesn't carry heavy rear biased loads well. It's not a touring bike. That said it can carry a range of loads well if you take advantage of front low riders.

If you're considering a touring payload for two large rear panniers get front low riders and small/med panniers instead with a top of the rear rack bag to take the rest.

If you go with front panniers and rack bag the heel clearance issue is moot, and you'll eliminate the awful handling that comes with a heavy rear load especially with your size 14 ft.

With a front low rider for panniers you can get any cheap rear rack, Topeak would be a very good choice. I tried the rear Topeak and a Tubus Cargo with loaded panniers and the handling was iffy with my size 11. Reducing the load and going with a very narrow Axiom Streamliner made riding with rear panniers acceptable but I'd go for lowriders for touring.

Last edited by LeeG; 10-29-12 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 10-29-12, 04:26 PM   #4
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Topeak Explorer Tubular is fine. Holds up to 55 pounds, $25-ish.
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Old 10-29-12, 06:04 PM   #5
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Nik, first off I suggest you configure your load carrying according to the size of the load. I've got a 56 cm Cross-Check and have tried various loads and racks. The bike doesn't carry heavy rear biased loads well. It's not a touring bike. That said it can carry a range of loads well if you take advantage of front low riders.

If you're considering a touring payload for two large rear panniers get front low riders and small/med panniers instead with a top of the rear rack bag to take the rest.

If you go with front panniers and rack bag the heel clearance issue is moot, and you'll eliminate the awful handling that comes with a heavy rear load especially with your size 14 ft.

With a front low rider for panniers you can get any cheap rear rack, Topeak would be a very good choice. I tried the rear Topeak and a Tubus Cargo with loaded panniers and the handling was iffy with my size 11. Reducing the load and going with a very narrow Axiom Streamliner made riding with rear panniers acceptable but I'd go for lowriders for touring.
+1 - Try a lowrider front rack w/ panniers first. For hotel (credit card) touring, that's all you should need. If you still need more storage room, try a handlebar bag or get one of the inexpensive rear racks mentioned here for a racktop bag.
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Old 10-29-12, 07:57 PM   #6
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Be very overwhelmed:

http://bicycleluggageracks.com/
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Old 10-29-12, 08:56 PM   #7
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If you don't want to spend even Tubus dollars, and that is fair enough, then I would go in the opposite direction, and buy a Blackburn knock-off. There are some of these racks out there that have been beefed up with heavier wire, and given that they were reliable initially, are well up to it today. Racks can be a real weak point in bikes where the miles add up. But most cyclists do not even do a trans-am equivalent, and these racks will hold up to many thousands of miles of not over-loaded use. The other trick is to buy them from a reputable supplier, like MEC whose name is on the product. Places like REI, and Nashbar have done similar.

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Cyclin...cling-rack.jsp

I don't know that the racks pictured have oversize wire, but some I have handled in the store in the past did. Normally these days the wire is sized to the standard 3/8" fittings, which means a huge increase in strength and stiffness over the wire size in the original racks.

Reading through some of the comments one hears negatives like that the rack is too short, and that it can require some customization to get it on. These problems are typical of racks in general, and of the Blackburn itself. Even the premium racks north of 100 dollars are normally too short. Racks are rarely perfect. Many of the really nice ones are too heavy. But you can get upgrades on the performance that set the standard, without having to spend a lot for it.

Last edited by MassiveD; 10-29-12 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 10-29-12, 11:23 PM   #8
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Top tier for heavy loads is Thorn, whose rear rack weighs 850g and is rated to carry 60kg when attached with 6mm bolts or 40kg with 5mm bolts. You'll probably have to buy a Thorn frame to get support for 6mm bolts, however. The sturdiest Tubus rear rack weighs weighs 610g and is rated to carry 40kg max. Surly rear rack weighs 1110g and is rated to carry 36kg max. Not that it matters to the OP, since he isn't interested in paying top dollar. Of course, the weight ratings are by the manufacturers, so you can't really rely on them for comparisons. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the Thorn rear rack with 6mm bolts is the sturdiest of the 3 rear racks listed. It's also the widest at the top, and has no front lip to get in the way, and thus is best for duffle bags (for foam pads and synthetic sleeping bags and other lightweight but bulky items) attached lengthwise to the top of the rack.

Obviously, 60kg is an enormous load for the rear rack alone. BUT, capacities should be reduced by 50% if traveling on rugged dirt roads with washboarding, which causes thousands of bounces per day, which will destroy racks very quickly if they are too heavily loaded. So now the max capacity of the Thorn racks is only 30kg, which isn't that much for us desert travelers hauling 20L of water, 7kg of food, camping gear for sub-freezing temperatures, a full repair kit including spare tire, etc, even if we split the load between front and rear racks. The Tubus and Surly capacities should also be reduced by 50% for rugged roads, down to 20kg or so, and that isn't much at all.
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Old 10-30-12, 02:31 AM   #9
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A category, sub divide .. Aluminum, solid or tube,?, or steel usually tube is used.

have a material preference?


Trek/Bontrager, and Tubus Logo, are functionally similar, but
the material is different..

I use Front Panniers all the time, around town, so that is a good
1st buy..

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-31-12 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-30-12, 07:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
+1 - Try a lowrider front rack w/ panniers first. For hotel (credit card) touring, that's all you should need. If you still need more storage room, try a handlebar bag or get one of the inexpensive rear racks mentioned here for a racktop bag.
And for someone riding a 62cm frame it'll get weight off the rear wheel. It seems that the frame is just flexible enough(with my 220lbs) that a wide rear rack and far aft pannier position can set up high speed wobblies riding with one hand and for out of the saddle riding it's way wobbly compared to stiffer touring bikes. Fixed the handling problem with a narrow Axiom rack and front mini rack. It's my commuter bike, for any medium weight touring load I'd go straight to low riders and strap dry bags to the Streamliner rear rack.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:16 AM   #11
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Hotel tours (I call that credit card touring) can be done quite well with some of the larger rack top bags that have zip-out small pannier like bags that hang on the sides of the rack. For that you want a rack that has a fairly wide platform. For the light weight for such touring, a cheap rack will probably do quite well.

For loaded touring, I am sold on the racks that mount the panniers slightly lower. I used a Tubus Logo EVO for a two week trip this past July and I am sold on that rack, but that rack has a very narrow platform that would not work well with a racktop bag.

Bottom line - I think you should buy what you need for credit card touring and later buy what you need when you start carrying camping gear. There are some racks that can carry a lot of weight like the Surly Nice rear rack that also has a wide platform, so if you really want to make sure that your one rack will serve all needs, then look for a rack like that.

Since a one night motel stay will cost almost as much as a really good rack, maybe plan on one less night in a motel and use the savings to buy some better gear? For around town, I use a different rack than I use for loaded touring.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 10-30-12 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 10-30-12, 09:45 AM   #12
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Strong. Cheap. Light. Pick two.
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Old 10-30-12, 09:47 AM   #13
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If you have the time to be patient, you might be able to pick up a used good rack on eBay, CrazyGuy, or here. Usually go for about 1/2 of retail and the racks are usually in great condition.

My advice is to ensure the racks and packs mate well. Some racks mate to certain bags better than others.
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Old 10-30-12, 10:33 AM   #14
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Top tier for heavy loads is Thorn, whose rear rack weighs 850g and is rated to carry 60kg when attached with 6mm bolts or 40kg with 5mm bolts. You'll probably have to buy a Thorn frame to get support for 6mm bolts, however. The sturdiest Tubus rear rack weighs weighs 610g and is rated to carry 40kg max. Surly rear rack weighs 1110g and is rated to carry 36kg max. Not that it matters to the OP, since he isn't interested in paying top dollar. Of course, the weight ratings are by the manufacturers, so you can't really rely on them for comparisons. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the Thorn rear rack with 6mm bolts is the sturdiest of the 3 rear racks listed. It's also the widest at the top, and has no front lip to get in the way, and thus is best for duffle bags (for foam pads and synthetic sleeping bags and other lightweight but bulky items) attached lengthwise to the top of the rack.

Obviously, 60kg is an enormous load for the rear rack alone. BUT, capacities should be reduced by 50% if traveling on rugged dirt roads with washboarding, which causes thousands of bounces per day, which will destroy racks very quickly if they are too heavily loaded. So now the max capacity of the Thorn racks is only 30kg, which isn't that much for us desert travelers hauling 20L of water, 7kg of food, camping gear for sub-freezing temperatures, a full repair kit including spare tire, etc, even if we split the load between front and rear racks. The Tubus and Surly capacities should also be reduced by 50% for rugged roads, down to 20kg or so, and that isn't much at all.
just FYS (for your statistics), but the TUBUS airy weights 233g and supports 30kg (or more than 100x its weight). titanium.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:31 PM   #15
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Wow! I've been off-line thanks to Hurricane Sandy; but I'm catching up. My take away so far is:
- consider low ride front racks b/c a 210 lbs. man on a 62cm bike already loads the rear wheel heavily. However the bike does feel balance for and aft when I ride it unloaded.
- longer rear racks will allow me to shift panniers rear-ward to help clear my heels but amplify the rear loading problem.

@robo, thanks for the link that is a nice collection of rack stats.
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Old 10-30-12, 09:55 PM   #16
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Besides the terrific durability and stability, the thing I like most about my SS Tubus is the SS. It looks perfect all the time. Two positives about rear rack only: lighter weight and less wind resistance. Both are very noticeable. As far as handling goes, try carrying less weight. Not too hard to get the whole load down to 20, including rack and panniers.
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Old 10-30-12, 10:24 PM   #17
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We've toured with a number of different racks....Tubus Cargo, Surly Nice Racks, Velo-Orange racks, Jannd Expedition and in the end they all worked fine...

I would say the best value per buck are Axiom racks (sub $40). We are using their racks at the moment and have been really happy with them. Inexpensive and they have tubular stays so they aren't all floppy as well as high weight ratings....and if they do break, you're not out $200 for a Tubus.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by NikNoid View Post
I'm new to this forum and bicycle touring. I've been researching rear racks and have developed analysis-paralysis. My initial tours will likely be hotel tours but I don't want to buy something that won't support a heavier camping load-out.

Tubus looks like the top tier, but I don't want to spend that much cash. There are a bunch of second tier racks but I don't know which ones are quality.

I have a 62cm Surly Cross Check (so shorter chainstay) and size 14 feet.

My key concerns are:
- cost
- heel clearance
- quality

Thanks, Nik.
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Old 10-30-12, 10:40 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Besides the terrific durability and stability, the thing I like most about my SS Tubus is the SS. It looks perfect all the time. Two positives about rear rack only: lighter weight and less wind resistance. Both are very noticeable. As far as handling goes, try carrying less weight. Not too hard to get the whole load down to 20, including rack and panniers.
Rear rack only also adds somewhat to visibility. Nothing like a large hind end to get someone's attention. (I think there's a rap song about that, but I would likely get banned if I linked to the video.)

However, in the case of the OP, the downsides of rear-only likely outweigh the upsides. He will have to mount his panniers very far aft to clear his heels, especially if he wears anything with a heel cushion to ride in (I wear size 15, so I have a bit of experience with heel clearance issues). That behind-the-axle loading will seriously destabilize the bike, especially going up or down hills.

Maybe the best solution is one of the rack top bags recommended by Tourist in MSN with the idea that capacity can be added with low-riders in the future.
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Old 10-31-12, 07:30 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NikNoid View Post
Wow! I've been off-line thanks to Hurricane Sandy; but I'm catching up. My take away so far is:
- consider low ride front racks b/c a 210 lbs. man on a 62cm bike already loads the rear wheel heavily. However the bike does feel balance for and aft when I ride it unloaded.
- longer rear racks will allow me to shift panniers rear-ward to help clear my heels but amplify the rear loading problem.

@robo, thanks for the link that is a nice collection of rack stats.
The bike IS balanced fore aft unloaded, it's a cyclocross bike that handles well being tossed around and shifting body weight back when descending rough terrain. Once you toss 25lbs behind the rear axle or far outboard things get funky. The type of panniers you get can address heel strike instead of relying on a long rear rack.
I can't find the Axiom Streeamliner DLX on their website but it still looks available elsewhere.
I tried a Topeak Super Tourist, Tubus Cargo, Tubus Logo and Axiom StreamLinerDLX on the Cross-Check and like the StreamlinerDLX the best. It's the old Streamliner not the Road or disc version with the forward cantilevered piece at the bottom.

http://www.treefortbikes.com/product...FUid4AoduDsA9w

It mounts straight down without the cantilever business of the existing Streamliner series. I had to use conventional flat ss. straps for the seat stay mounts in order to clear the fenders since the stock fittings hang so low. This rack feeis stiffer than a Tubus Cargo that costs 5 times as much. The distance between the rack and seat stays is very close so it's solid. Get some Ortlieb Front Panniers and you can mount them fairly far back for light loads and if you want to carry a heavier load carry them on low riders with tent or whatever on the rear rack.

Or... You may find that one of these frame bags can carry all you need for hotel touring.


https://www.revelatedesigns.com/inde...g&CategoryID=1

https://www.revelatedesigns.com/inde...=1&ProductID=5

I bet the large Tangle frame bag is all you'd need for hotel touring

I'm also using this rack in the front for heavy loads like an 24 pack of beer, it can also take panniers like the Ortliebs where the hooks can be adjusted. The Cross-Check can handle heavy loads on the front wheel with less deleterious handling than the rear, I don't think it's just because it forces you to keep both hands on the bars as much as the weight is closer to your control than off the rear wheel.

http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...ront-rack.html

Last edited by LeeG; 11-01-12 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 10-31-12, 12:21 PM   #20
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just FYS (for your statistics), but the TUBUS airy weights 233g and supports 30kg (or more than 100x its weight). titanium.
That would be 15kg on rugged roads and even that is dubious. What is needed in a rack is stiffness, not static strength. A rack which flexes is much more likely to break than one which is stiff. Or the attachment bolts will break from all the flexing. A thin titanium tube can be half the weight but the same strength as a thicker steel tube, but the titanium tube will not have the same stiffness as the thicker steel tube. Also, titanium will lose much of its strength if impurities are introduced, either during smelting or welding. For aviation purposes, titanium is also accompanied by a bill of provenance, stating who the smelter was and then there are all sorts of quality control checks during welding. Doubtful whether this sort of quality-control is done with bicycle racks (or titanium bicycles, for that matter). Anything cheap made of titanium (Tubus racks are cheap by aviation standards) can be assumed to be made with titanium that was rejected by the aviation industry. Junk titanium, in other words. Fine for solid objects like tent stakes, sporks and whatnot and also for objects with non-critical welds, such as the spot weld for attaching a handle to a camping pot, but dubious for something like racks and bicycles.

The Tubus Airy is also too small to use Ortlieb back-roller plus pannier, and too small for my rack bag. Obviously, you can save weight by making something very small. All things being equal, a bike for a child is much lighter weight than a bike for an adult. And?

Finally, people worry to much about corrosion on bike racks and not enough about abrasion. Those Ortlieb panniers will eventually abrade the metal due to constant rubbing, whether the metal is steel, titanium or aluminum. In other words, I would expect to replace a rack every 50,000 miles or so of hard use (that would be 10 years at my rate of dirt road touring). The need to replace racks eventually due to abrasion is a very good reason NOT to get a Silk road bike, which has the rack as an integral part of the frame.

Last edited by revelo; 10-31-12 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 10-31-12, 07:26 PM   #21
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Don't be too overwhelmed. I have a Blackburn EX-1, had it for 4 years, groceries, loaded tours, as much firewood as can handle in a cargo net, 2 medium pumpkins, gravel roads, singletrack. Its fine. Remember this: whatever rack you choose will still only be held on by two stainless steel M5 bolts. Working in a shop for 9 years, I have seen only 2 racks break in a heavy commuting area, and these were rugged commuters carrying books and everything else on only the cheapest racks, probably doubling the weight listed.
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Old 11-01-12, 08:51 AM   #22
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I bit the bullet and bought a Tubus Cargo for my touring bike and don't regret it. You can buy Tubus racks much cheaper on-line from British shops such as Wiggle or Probikekit, often with free shipping. I also have some cheaper racks, but here are the Tubus advantages:

-- Very strong and well made with high weight loads.
-- Relatively light weight, particularly considering the strength.
-- Designed with adaptability to fit just about any frame.
-- Fit Ortlieb panniers perfectly, which are also topnotch.

That said, I recently bought a Planet Bike Koko rack for commuting, and it is an excellent value for the money (about $30). It won't hold as much weight as the Tubus and is heavier, but a very solid rack for the money. For loaded touring, however, I would spend the extra money on a Tubus.
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Old 11-01-12, 08:54 PM   #23
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Tubus is also available at good prices from cyclocamping.com. An excellent rack, but not at the level of the more expensive (especially with shipping) Thorn rack for truly heavy loads.
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Old 11-01-12, 09:42 PM   #24
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That would be 15kg on rugged roads and even that is dubious. What is needed in a rack is stiffness, not static strength. A rack which flexes is much more likely to break than one which is stiff. Or the attachment bolts will break from all the flexing. A thin titanium tube can be half the weight but the same strength as a thicker steel tube, but the titanium tube will not have the same stiffness as the thicker steel tube.
I'm not sure where you get this notion that the stated weight limit of the rack is only for loads on an even surface, let alone that you have to halve it for dirt. I've used a bunch of racks and found their ratings to be very conservative. I've ridden on racks (all 180 pounds of me) that were rated for 40 pounds.

I've only broken one rack, and that was rated for fifteen pounds. I had it loaded up with maybe 40 pounds of groceries, and was taking a single-track shortcut back from the store. It wasn't the first time I had done that either.

I think you're being overly conservative with your estimations; I would have no trouble trusting an Airy with 30 kg on rough roads. I would feel pretty confident in it's strength even if it were overloaded.

As far as rack stiffness and strength, stiffness is usually in proportion to a tubes outer diameter, rather than wall thickness. That was why Blackburn made the move to tubular aluminium racks (and why so many people followed them.
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Old 11-01-12, 09:55 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
...I would have no trouble trusting an Airy with 30 kg on rough roads. I would feel pretty confident in it's strength even if it were overloaded. ...
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Though who knows, maybe the Airy is strong simply because it is so small. Too small for Ortlieb rear back roller plus panniers (according to cyclocamping.com) and also too small for my rack bag. Small size is sufficient reason for me to rule it out.
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