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Front or rear rack?

Old 11-04-20, 03:22 PM
  #1  
dmitchell
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Front or rear rack?

Since I'm working at home at the moment and for the foreseeable future, I like to ride to my office and back over lunch break.... But at some point hopefully I can resume commuting again, and I will need to carry typical stuff (clothes, lunch, laptop, layers). What is everyone's preference for front or rear rack for a pair of panniers when the need arises for me to carry gear once again? My previous ride had a rear rack, but I just picked up a nice new Surly Bridge Club this summer and it has mountings for a front rack as well.
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Old 11-04-20, 03:46 PM
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My vote is for a rear rack.

Some people say a rear rack overweights the back, making bike handling squirrely.

My normal commute load is around 5-10 pounds (panniers, clothes, shoes, and sometimes lunch). Putting that much on the front is enough to make a bike handle like a pig.

On the other other hand, the Bridge Club has a short rake, which might make handling with a front load better. If you can borrow a rack (perhaps try one at your LBS) and load it up, you can try it and see which one you like best.
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Old 11-04-20, 04:07 PM
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Front is my preference by far. I love to climb out of the saddle and weight on LowRider panniers barely affects how the bike feels when standing. (I've loaded each to 20 pounds.) It does stabilize and slow steering. For year round commuting this can be a real asset. Steering in snow and on ice improves. (My years in Ann Arbor, there were hills I could only get up in winter on my fix gear when I loaded the panniers with books; often just for the weight.) RR tracks are less likely to grab your wheel.

By contrast, if you stand and rock the bike. you have to resist the leverage of the weight in rear panniers with your arms. It's hard and it gets old.
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Old 11-04-20, 04:52 PM
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Another advantage to a front rack: if you are OCD about your cargo, it allows you to always keep an eye on it.

Only disadvantage with a bike like yours: it will slow your steering a bit at very low speeds...But that is almost a non-issue with normal loads. At speed, you won't even feel the weight.
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Old 11-05-20, 09:10 AM
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Here's what I do:
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Old 11-05-20, 09:38 AM
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Most of the bikes I've commuted with take a back rack. It's pretty unnoticeable while riding on the level. But when handling the bike at a walk it's awkward, and two old steel bikes have given me head shake with a top rack case.
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Old 11-05-20, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
That seems like it would be really difficult to get a leg over?
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Old 11-05-20, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
That seems like it would be really difficult to get a leg over?
No worse than a tandem or a kid seat
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Old 11-05-20, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
That seems like it would be really difficult to get a leg over?

I step over the top tube, although every once in a while I forget.
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Old 11-05-20, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I step over the top tube, although every once in a while I forget.
You'd look pro swinging a leg over the handlebars.
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Old 11-05-20, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by bOsscO View Post
You'd look pro swinging a leg over the handlebars.
The other trick is being a pro so you can have 8" of bar drop to make it easy.
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Old 11-05-20, 03:41 PM
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I throw everything in the back of my velomobile.
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Old 11-05-20, 04:13 PM
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Front..yes please, Rear yes please..clearing my home mind, yes please clearing my work mind, yes please..

Carry your crap on whatever end you want they both have their benefits but the most important is to ride yer bike as it's the most important part
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Old 11-05-20, 04:51 PM
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Rear rack. Full stop.
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Old 11-05-20, 08:14 PM
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A rear rack is easier to install. It also doesn't interfere with your headlight but it could interfere with your taillight. I've spent most of my life with rear racks but I think @79pmooney is right that the bike handles better with stuff on the front. I put a front rack and panniers on my racing bike, and I was really impressed.
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Old 11-07-20, 11:54 PM
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Rear Rack!

I think what's been said about front racks and bike steering/feel is correct. However for day to day commuting there is 1 reason rear may be a better choice. Front panniers have to be more thoughtfully balanced.

with a rear rack if you take only 1 pannier some days or dont spend a lot of time balancing the weight, it's not so bad and you quickly adjust.

With a front rack you have to be more careful how you balance things, and taking only 1 pannier some days wouldn't handle very well.

that said, ride what you want!!
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Old 11-08-20, 12:17 AM
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Both....because sometimes you need to stop for groceries on the way home!
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Old 11-08-20, 01:14 AM
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I prefer using the rear rack. Don't like the sluggish steering with a laden front wheel especially when commuting in heavy traffic and have to squeeze between cars and just change direction in a jiffy. Heavy steering is asking for trouble in situations like that. I've loaded my rear rack to 40 lbs without problems.

Also during heavy braking, rear-heavy is more resistant to end-over accidents so might be safer too!

I never worry overloading the rear wheel. I use a pair of wide touring/urban tires (700x35c) and I always ride in a hunched down aero position - so more of my body weight is at the front wheel compared to an upright sitting position.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:30 AM
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A rear rack with a big basket on top is pretty useful. Junk and loose items like jackets etc can go in the basket with a cargo net over the top. You can also get rain covers. Panniers go on the lower bars below the basket. That's what I tour with. Tubus rack with a set of low rider pannier bars below the main deck. For touring I use a light weight wire basket. For commuting I'd say see if you can find an OGK plastic basket from Japan. Those things are super quality and really tough. I have one on my shopping bike, I carried a mate in it the other day from one pub to another pub, he had fairly slim hips so that made things easier for him, wasn't worried about the basket, you can invert it and stand on it.. Also easier because he was counter balanced by the dude on the handlebars, and it was downhill or flat the whole way. Having a loaded basket on the front causes wheel flop, you can counter that with a velo orange steering stabiliser but better to not have the issue in the first place.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Front is my preference by far. I love to climb out of the saddle and weight on LowRider panniers barely affects how the bike feels when standing. (I've loaded each to 20 pounds.) It does stabilize and slow steering. For year round commuting this can be a real asset. Steering in snow and on ice improves. (My years in Ann Arbor, there were hills I could only get up in winter on my fix gear when I loaded the panniers with books; often just for the weight.) RR tracks are less likely to grab your wheel.

By contrast, if you stand and rock the bike. you have to resist the leverage of the weight in rear panniers with your arms. It's hard and it gets old.
I also climb / acclerate / power out of the saddle a lot with both empty or heavily-laden bike. I only use rear rack which is sometimes loaded with 40 lbs and never had problems pedaling out of the saddle.

Out of the saddle movements will naturally rock the bike - if the bike is light and not carrying heavy cargo. But if the bike is heavy with cargo, your hips will rock instead of the bike. I never had problems in such situation. The effort is just the same. No need to rock the bike if it doesn't want you to because it's heavy. Don't force it and you'll find it's just as easy.
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Old 11-08-20, 12:40 PM
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Front panniers are susceptible to crosswinds. When they are bad, they fight to steer your bike the wrong way.
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