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Confused over bike racks

Old 06-11-14, 12:11 AM
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Confused over bike racks

I am looking to put a rear rack on my Trek CrossRip Elite for my daily commute. After doing much research, it appears that the so-called "standard" in the world of touring racks is made by a company called Tubus. Unfortunately, these racks are relatively expensive, although I can justify occasional splurges if the initial expense will pay off in the long-run. A bit about my commute and riding goals for the CrossRip:

COMMUTE: 5 miles roundtrip + occasional stops for groceries/beer after work. The bike will be parked in a secured (and covered) storage space at my workplace, keeping the risk of theft to a minimum.
CLIMATE: Madison, WI. I plan on commuting year-round -- rain, snow or shine.
LOAD: 2 medium-sized rear panniers loaded with a change of work clothes, rain gear, shoes, laptop, 32oz. thermos of coffee, repair kit, U-lock, wallet and cell phone. Haven't decided on panniers yet but am thinking the Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus (not the larger Bike Packer Plus). May occasionally swap one pannier for a dedicated open-top grocery pannier.
OTHER USES FOR BIKE: light cyclocross/fitness use, rails-to-trails/recreational riding with wife, trips to farmer's market downtown Madison, potential light touring over summer weekends in Wisconsin which would involve tent camping (i.e. no cross-country road trips)

I am TOTALLY confused over the massive plethora of choices available in commuting/touring rear racks. As mentioned above, I have read that Tubus is the defacto choice in high-quality racks. Not being able to justify splurging on the titanium or stainless steel models, I have narrowed the Tubus models down to the Cargo Evo, Logo Evo and Vega Evo -- Yes, I have read the descriptions of each at www.thetouringstore.com and am still confused.

As I understand it, the advantage to the Logo Evo is being able to situate the panniers lower upon the rack, therefore freeing the uppermost rack shelf for a secondary load or trunk bag (or work bag or small bag of groceries/6-pack). However, this rack also looks HUGE. Since I have no plans on epic cross-country touring, I'm not sure if this is WAY overkill. I must admit, however, that the option of strapping a grocery load to the top platform is appealing.

Comparing the Cargo Evo and the Vega Evo, I understand that the Vega is far smaller and more compact. However, I am very confused as to the functional differences between the two. Yes, the Cargo has a much larger top platform, but is the top platform in these models even useable to begin with if panniers are strapped to each side? If not, I would think the Vega is the best choice as it is more streamlined (and IMHO, the better looking of the 2). Please correct me if I am wrong here. I also like the more aerodynamic look of the Vega -- especially when riding the bike unloaded for fitness/cyclocross purposes.

Other highly-rated yet much less expensive racks which I am considering include the Axiom Streamliner and Planet Bike K.O.K.O. Perhaps these make more sense since I won't be doing any hardcore touring (although I am worried that Madison winters have the potential to wreak havoc on lower-quality buildsmanship)?

Any advice you can give me on the above racks given my biking needs would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by skulboep; 06-11-14 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 06-11-14, 12:39 AM
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I've only had two racks: a $20 no-name one that was fine for 2 years of 1.5 mile commutes + grocery trips and my current $50 Topeak rack. My guess, from my quick research, is that like most things in the biking world, the tubular racks cost more because they're a few grams lighter, more adjustable, and more durable. If you're going on a long tour, then having reliability in every component counts. For a five mile commute, this shouldn't be an issue.

My one comment on choosing a rack, since this is something I learned after getting my first rack, is that you want support at the very rear for a pannier, unless the pannier has a hard surface. Otherwise it can easily hit the rear wheel. The extra side bar is useful if you want both a trunk bag and side bags - otherwise not so much. You may also want to decide on which panniers first. I use a Topeak trunk bag, which uses their own mounting system built into their racks - hence why I got the rack (it's been great for me thus far).

I'd suggest sticking with a cheaper rack until you decide what is important and what is not. You can always replace it later.
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Old 06-11-14, 06:21 AM
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the ideal commuter rack is
aluminium,
solid rod NOt doubled up ie can rotate a locking mount around the rod.
open frame top, not solid plate
rear lamp bracket
3 legs, fully triangulated
Dogleg struts are only needed for low grade panniers.

My blackburn clone works well but lacks a lamp bracket

Adjustable rack legs are for adjustable bikes. My rear triangle is fixed not adjustable.

Last edited by MichaelW; 06-11-14 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 06-11-14, 07:07 AM
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I put a Planet Bike Koko on my newly built up commuter. Can't speak to durability yet, but I like everything about it so far. Plenty beefy, but not heavy. Leaves plenty of room for heel clearance. Two sets of seat stay bars included for attachment, one pair straight, the other flared out, so compatible with a wide range of seat stay braze ons (and in addition to the two sets of bars, there are slotted and bolt tightened adjustment pieces on the rack itself that hold the bars). The racks also have a "loop" that extends toward the back of the wheel instead of just a straight support angled directly to the dropout eyelets. This effectively ensures that nopart of a pannier will bang against the spokes, even when the panniers are mounted as far back on the rack as possible. Lastly, the rack has a rectangular drilled plate on the back for mounting a tail light. I think it's a very fine rack for the price.
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Old 06-11-14, 07:18 AM
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Since it's a Trek, I'd tend to think the Bontrager rack would fit.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:28 AM
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I really like Delta racks. They are smaller and light weight but pretty strong. The Delta Sherpa rack is rated for about 50lbs. I wouldn't want to carry more than 50lbs anyways! I have them on my commuter and touring bikes. I have seen them on sale for ~$20 at Nashbar or Performance.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:33 AM
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Tubus are the high end ,super durable touring racks. Not what you need. Look at blackburn, bontrager or planet bike.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:45 AM
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Take the bike to your favorite bike shop and ask them to put on a rack for you. Saves a lot of trouble installing it, they'll probably save you money over the Tubus racks, and you can take it back if anything ever goes wrong.

If you insist on mail ordering something, my Tubus Cargo is doing great. I guess the Cargo Evo is the next version.

Whatever you get, make sure you can attach your panniers to the rack. My daughter got racks with flat bracing, and had a hard time getting the panniers (which were going to lock around the rack tubes) to fit.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:52 AM
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Tubus is high-end stuff, like Nitto. Figure out what you want first before you splurge.

One big thing to consider: how far back will you need to mount the panniers to avoid heel strike? Many basic racks (stays shaped like a triangle) will hold the panniers too close to the pedals. The "D" shape of the Tubus Cargo and Evo give you more space to move the panniers back.

Get panniers with good attachments, the Ortlieb-style clips are easy to use.

I'd advise you to spend the money on good panniers, and try out cheap racks with design similar to the Tubus Cargo or Evo.
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Old 06-11-14, 09:01 AM
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I read somewhere that the Racktime racks are sort of generic equivalents of the Tubus racks. They are definitely less expensive. I've been thinking about a Racktime Addit, which positions the panniers on lower rails than the platform surface.
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Old 06-11-14, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo
Tubus are the high end ,super durable touring racks. Not what you need. Look at blackburn, bontrager or planet bike.
I would think those would be good enough. I could totally see spending a few extra bucks on better racks if you are on a long unsupported tour. You would want an extra margin of safety built in for such a ride as it would be beyond a buzzkill to have a rack fail out in the middle of nowhere. Not to say it wouldn't suck to have a rack fail on a 5 mile commute, but I don't think it is especially likely.

Though I haven't commuted, I have used Axiom, Bor Yueh, Bontrager, and Planet Bike racks on various bikes I have owned. Except for minor cosmetics on the Bor Yueh, they all work perfectly and are all still in use on my family's bikes.

I don't commute daily through bad weather, but I would think initially, the thing to spend a few extra bucks on would be panniers.
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Old 06-11-14, 09:12 AM
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I have Tubus Cargo and Planet Bike KOKO racks. Tubus racks are simply the best and worth the investment if you carry a lot of weight and/or plan to do any loaded touring at some point. They are relatively light weight because they are constructed of hollow steel tubing, but also very strong. A key advantage of the Cargo, compared to many racks (including KOKO), is the large platform -- which is important if using a racktop bag. Many rear racks do not have a sufficiently large or properly shaped top platform to adequately support racktop bags.

The PB KOKO is an excellent value for the money, less than half the price of a Tubus Cargo. Although not as strong, it still rated sufficient to carry 50-60 lbs of gear. It is easy to install and very adjustable (like the Tubus). The top platform is an inch or so narrower than the Cargo and tapers toward the front, making it harder to support a racktop bag although still doable. Some rear racks do NOT have a platform large enough to carry a racktop bag.

In short, get the Tubus Cargo if you have the money and want a high quality rack that should last forever and capable of using for touring. If your needs are less demanding and costs are important, there are any number of less expensive racks that should suffice.
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Old 06-11-14, 05:17 PM
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Hey everyone, thanks for all the incredibly helpful rack insight. Based on everyone's responses and after further assessing my rack needs, I think that the Tubus line is likely overkill. Since I will be riding with 2 medium-sized panniers for commuting (Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus), I doubt that I would ever need to mount a large trunk bag. Plus, since I also plan on using the bike for fitness/light cyclocross, I desire a rack which is unobtrusive and streamlined. After reading numerous online reviews and comparing specs of different racks, I narrowed my choices down to:

- TorTec Ultralight ($40)
- Planet Bike KOKO cargo rack ($38)
- Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX ($40)

However, I was unable to find a US distributor for TorTec. All online dealers I found wanted to charge an arm and a leg for shipping from the UK (well over $25). That leaves the KOKO and Streamliner. I like the form-factor of the Streamliner, but am a little leery of the flimsy-looking pieces of metal which attach to the seatstays:



The KOKO receives excellent reviews and is priced right, although is a little more obtrusive-looking than I would like (size is nearly identical to a Tubus Cargo Evo I believe). Any additional advice on these 2 racks or any recommendations for a sturdy yet more streamlined rack? Thanks!

P.S. - Random question: does anyone know how the bottom portion of the Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus attaches to the rack (such that it's not flopping around on bumpy trails/pavement)? Should I be taking this mounting system into account on any of the racks I'm considering? I don't want the panniers potentially getting caught in the wheels (not sure if this is even possible).
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Old 06-11-14, 06:11 PM
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I've used my Ortleib Front Roller Classic panniers on my PB KOKO rack and they fit fine. I think all Ortleibs use the same system of attachment. They have an L-shaped tab that you adjust so it slides around one of the upright tubes. It keeps the panniers very secure. I rode with mine on a cross bike on an unpaved trail recently with no problems.

Does your frame have rack and fender mounts for attaching the rack? If not, you might want to get the Axiom, which appears to be designed to fit frames without mounts.
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Old 06-11-14, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Giant Doofus
I read somewhere that the Racktime racks are sort of generic equivalents of the Tubus racks. They are definitely less expensive. I've been thinking about a Racktime Addit, which positions the panniers on lower rails than the platform surface.
I believe that Racktime racks are made by Tubus. Racktime is their line of aluminum racks (Tubus are steel or titanium). Racktime are good racks for the price.
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Old 06-11-14, 06:16 PM
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Tubus racks are great. They are extremely light and strong. If you don't ever plan to carry larger loads or tour they may be overkill for you. You could get a less expensive rack. It may not be as strong, carry as much weight, and may even be heavier depending on what you get. For short commuting it would probably work fine though.

If you do want to invest on a good Tubus rack, but not sure which one to get, try emailing or calling Wayne at the touring store. He is EXTREMELY knowledgeable and helpful on picking the right rack for you.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel
Does your frame have rack and fender mounts for attaching the rack? If not, you might want to get the Axiom, which appears to be designed to fit frames without mounts.
My bike (2014 Trek CrossRip Elite) does have built-in rack and fender mounts, so the Axiom doesn't buy me any flexibility there. I prefer a design which attaches directly at the bike's mounts (such as the KOKO)...I just wish the KOKO was a little less bulky.
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Old 06-11-14, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mstraus
Tubus racks are great. They are extremely light and strong. If you don't ever plan to carry larger loads or tour they may be overkill for you. You could get a less expensive rack. It may not be as strong, carry as much weight, and may even be heavier depending on what you get. For short commuting it would probably work fine though.

If you do want to invest on a good Tubus rack, but not sure which one to get, try emailing or calling Wayne at the touring store. He is EXTREMELY knowledgeable and helpful on picking the right rack for you.
While I would love a Tubus, I don't feel like I'll benefit from the full capabilities of their product (since my commute is relatively short and since I don't plan on extensive touring). I would prefer to allocate more funds towards a high-quality set of panniers. I do plan on buying a set of Ortleib Sport Packer Pros through Wayne...his website has already been very helpful.
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Old 06-12-14, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by skulboep
I narrowed my choices down to:

- TorTec Ultralight ($40)
- Planet Bike KOKO cargo rack ($38)
- Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX ($40)
I like the form-factor of the Streamliner, but am a little leery of the flimsy-looking pieces of metal which attach to the seatstays:
The KOKO receives excellent reviews and is priced right, although is a little more obtrusive-looking than I would like (size is nearly identical to a Tubus Cargo Evo I believe). Any additional advice on these 2 racks or any recommendations for a sturdy yet more streamlined rack? Thanks!

how the bottom portion of the Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus attaches to the rack
Your disc bike does NOT need a disc rack.
the flimsy-looking pieces of metal which attach to the seatstays are an optional brake-hole thing for racebikes. It is a narrow rack also designed for short chainstays.

See also topeak-explorer
I don't like the MTX rails, I prefer a clean, open top for strapping oversized loads..
the front raised loop can be used for stuffing in the curved end of a shackle lock. Some racks block his with a top-plate
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Old 06-12-14, 01:46 AM
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I have a Axiom Journey MK2 that i bought from ebay for $32. It fits my hybrid with disc brakes with no issues. It came with 2 sets of mounting brackets. I think it's a very well made rack that feels solid and looks great, but it's a little narrow which i do actually prefer. I use a Bushwacker rack bag on it and i easily carry a gallon of water bottle every day that fits in the bag.
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Old 06-12-14, 03:40 AM
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Tubus is too much for day-to-day commuting. It would likely last for a lifetime of commuting without issue. The bike would fail first.

One could argue that the Ortliebs are as well but based on the BF forum responses, they seem to have a lifespan of about 10 years of daily commuting, which is quite good for a "bag."
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Old 06-12-14, 06:39 AM
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Any rack is going to be up to the job. You aren't asking much of it. A Tubus rack would last a lifetime but is expensive. Less expensive aluminum racks will last almost as long. I would suggest, however, that you choose a rack with a similar mounting system to the Tubus or Planet Bike K.O.K.O. The rack stays on the Tubus style rack allow for more adjustability and easier mounting on the bike than racks like the Blackburn type with flat stays.
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Old 06-12-14, 06:44 AM
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Congratulations on narrowing your choices. That's always an important step. As for the KOKO looking obtrusive... yes, it does, but it looks obtrusive because it's solid and because it has the swept out backside that's one of your criterium. Sometimes function just has to come before form.
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Old 06-12-14, 06:48 AM
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I have used this rack for 6 years on one of my bikes and it has been great. Like it for the price, quality and carrying capacity.

Originally Posted by slowpacer
I have a Axiom Journey MK2 that i bought from ebay for $32. It fits my hybrid with disc brakes with no issues. It came with 2 sets of mounting brackets. I think it's a very well made rack that feels solid and looks great, but it's a little narrow which i do actually prefer. I use a Bushwacker rack bag on it and i easily carry a gallon of water bottle every day that fits in the bag.
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Old 06-12-14, 07:35 AM
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Planet Bike Eco Rack is good. I have it on two of my bikes. carries anything i've needed to carry for commuting over the last 3 years
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