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Can you help with rear racks

Old 01-21-19, 01:16 PM
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rseeker
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Can you help with rear racks

I'm shopping rear racks for the first time (for on the bike, not for the car) and I got a couple things I don't understand ...

1 - With width, does it have to be an exact fit or do the racks bend a little to match the bike's geometry? (Depends on the rack I suppose, steel rack yes, aluminum only a little?)

2 - Racks have disc and non-disc versions. I saw one person suggesting getting the disc version for use with a non-disc bike for the extra room. Is that a hare-brained idea? Neither of my bikes has disc brakes, but buying a disc-compatible rack might be a way to future-proof my purchase.

3 - I've seen several racks with adjustable height. Is this a weakness?

4 - Re panniers, what does a rack need for carrying panniers? Depends on the panniers I suppose. But, many racks have an extra crossbar or two that look meant for panniers. Bontrager BackRack Deluxe or Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX, for example -- while the Blackburn Central does not.

5 - The Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX mounts with a bar that sets it back from the axle. It's so far back it looks like a heavy load might wag the bike. Is this an issue? (I have no plans for touring, but some day I want to be able to carry groceries, which can get heavy.) (I like the design of this one for the vertical struts at the rear, those look good for mounting a couple extra LEDs.)

Thanks in advance, any thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 01-21-19, 01:23 PM
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What bike?
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Old 01-21-19, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
I'm shopping rear racks for the first time (for on the bike, not for the car) and I got a couple things I don't understand ...

1 - With width, does it have to be an exact fit or do the racks bend a little to match the bike's geometry? (Depends on the rack I suppose, steel rack yes, aluminum only a little?)

2 - Racks have disc and non-disc versions. I saw one person suggesting getting the disc version for use with a non-disc bike for the extra room. Is that a hare-brained idea? Neither of my bikes has disc brakes, but buying a disc-compatible rack might be a way to future-proof my purchase.

3 - I've seen several racks with adjustable height. Is this a weakness?

4 - Re panniers, what does a rack need for carrying panniers? Depends on the panniers I suppose. But, many racks have an extra crossbar or two that look meant for panniers. Bontrager BackRack Deluxe or Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX, for example -- while the Blackburn Central does not.

5 - The Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX mounts with a bar that sets it back from the axle. It's so far back it looks like a heavy load might wag the bike. Is this an issue? (I have no plans for touring, but some day I want to be able to carry groceries, which can get heavy.) (I like the design of this one for the vertical struts at the rear, those look good for mounting a couple extra LEDs.)

Thanks in advance, any thoughts are appreciated.

I'm just going to answer #4 from experience--yes, you want the crossbar. Loads shift unpredictably without it, and the weight difference is negligible compared to the rest of the rack and cargo.
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Old 01-21-19, 02:47 PM
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Offer direction to my Local Shop?

I recommend going out to a bike shop with your bike and looking at their offerings .. if it were like the one here , they put them on for you ..








.....

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Old 01-21-19, 02:49 PM
  #5  
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Check out the Bontrager BackRack (various models for different bike types). It ticks most boxes for how a rear rack should be designed. You can find 'em at Trek stores. Occasionally they're discounted online, but the standard price is already lower than most competing brands. I think I paid $39 for mine a few years ago.

I've used a BackRack S for compact frame bikes with sloping top tubes since 2015 on my heavy comfort hybrid/errand bike.
  • It's stiff, sturdy, rated for 55 lbs and handles all of that weight, no problems.
  • I've crashed a couple of times (slow speed) and scraped the anodized aluminum tubes without bending them.
  • The thick tubular struts ensures stability. Many older style racks use twisted flat spring steel struts, which are stable only with short lengths for older style diamond frame bikes with horizontal top tubes. The longer the struts, the less stable those flat metal struts will be.
  • It's designed to be compatible with Bontrager's own easy on/off rack top trunk bags and panniers, and with any conventional pannier that uses hooks over the rack and bungees with hooks for the eyelets near the wheel hub.
  • There are mounts for many brands of rear lights and reflectors. I use a Plant Bike Rack Blinky 5. It's also compatible with the plastic mounts supplied with Cygolite and other brands of taillights.

My other hybrid, a '92 model, came with a pair of Corratec racks, the typical old school design with twisted flat steel struts. Adequate but nowhere near as stiff and stable as the Bontrager BackRack. The same loads on this rack -- especially lugging 40 lbs of cat litter and 15-20 lbs of cat food (I adopted my mom's three cats after she died) -- feel a bit wobbly. On the Bontrager BackRack, heavy loads feel much more secure.

There are other brands of comparable racks that also use stiff tubular struts, and I'm sure they're also very good. But they almost always cost more than the Bontrager. Usually I'm a bit wary of brands that are too closely associated with another particular brand or shop (Trek/Bontrager), but in this case the in-store brand is about as good as it gets for the money.

I mostly use it with Nashbar Townie grocery panniers, a simple open top design that hooks across the top of the rack and has bungee cords with hooks to secure the bottom. It's a fairly common design also used by Bontrager, Jandd and others. A conventional paper grocery sack fits perfectly, as do totes designed the same way -- Braum's sells plastic coated vinyl totes that perfectly fit grocery panniers. Any wobble is due to the bungee cord attachment, not the rack.
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Old 01-21-19, 02:54 PM
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What sorts of loads are you contemplating carrying?
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Old 01-21-19, 03:42 PM
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I have an Axiom rack, and it is the best rack I have ever owned. For the first time, my ankles don't clip my panniers. I have big feet and disc brakes, so this was one of the few solutions. One thing about the streamliner is that it narrows at the top, so your panniers splay out a bit, and piling stuff on top becomes more challenging.

Here is how mine looks in situ:







I don't experience any wag or instability, but ideally I would like to have more weight in the front. (The first pic has a sleeping bag and a few other things at the front, but if my fork allowed it, I would have a second set of panniers on the front on some sort of low-rider mount.)

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Old 01-21-19, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BrocLuno View Post
What bike?
A 1992 Trek 720 and a BSO 29er beater.

Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
What sorts of loads are you contemplating carrying?
A week's worth of groceries, and whatever else I can haul (like recycling) that avoids a car trip, or to give me an excuse for riding. Mostly I want to expand my operating envelope and see what develops. (And to carry a lock and cable.)
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Old 01-21-19, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
I'm shopping rear racks for the first time (for on the bike, not for the car) and I got a couple things I don't understand ...

1 - With width, does it have to be an exact fit or do the racks bend a little to match the bike's geometry? (Depends on the rack I suppose, steel rack yes, aluminum only a little?)

2 - Racks have disc and non-disc versions. I saw one person suggesting getting the disc version for use with a non-disc bike for the extra room. Is that a hare-brained idea? Neither of my bikes has disc brakes, but buying a disc-compatible rack might be a way to future-proof my purchase.

3 - I've seen several racks with adjustable height. Is this a weakness?

4 - Re panniers, what does a rack need for carrying panniers? Depends on the panniers I suppose. But, many racks have an extra crossbar or two that look meant for panniers. Bontrager BackRack Deluxe or Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX, for example -- while the Blackburn Central does not.

5 - The Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX mounts with a bar that sets it back from the axle. It's so far back it looks like a heavy load might wag the bike. Is this an issue? (I have no plans for touring, but some day I want to be able to carry groceries, which can get heavy.) (I like the design of this one for the vertical struts at the rear, those look good for mounting a couple extra LEDs.)

Thanks in advance, any thoughts are appreciated.
A lot of it depends on what you're planning on doing with the rack setup. Loaded Touring ? Grocery hauling? Off-road?

1) The rack will have a little bit of flex to it, even the aluminum ones, but width is a variable Best to make sure you're not trying to fit a rack for a narrow tire-touring bike on to an MTB with disks and 'boost' axle spacing.

2) Disk / Non Disk. I wouldn't worry about 'future-proofing' your rack, unless you plan on switching bikes sooner rather than later. Racks are kind of like fenders that way, get a setup that works well for the current bike; it's often easier to just install a new one to the new bike rather than refit the old one.


3: adjustable height. Depends on the rack and what you're planning to do with it. Anything where the height is set by a through-bolt rather than an clamp is preferable. If you're planning on heavy loads for lots of time / varied terrain, than one-piece will be stronger. Unless it's a very inexpensive rack, adjustable height wouldn't be a deal-breaker.

4/5) Panniers Any rack with extra cross bars and 'loops' below the 'deck' will be better for dedicated pannier usage than the simple 'V' struts on a basic rack.
Also depends on the kind of panniers you want to carry, and what you're using them for. Small, slim bags for commuting? Loaded unsupported back-country touring? Carrying grocery bags?
As to CG, moving the bags back can help with pedal / foot clearance. All bags, when loaded will make the bike tail-heavy, Unless you're carrying triple-digit loads, you won't be popping accidental wheelies just because the bags are set back a couple inches. You, the rider are a much bigger contributor to the center of gravity than the bags.
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Old 01-21-19, 04:47 PM
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Really does depend on your bike. Length of chainstays and whether it has eyelets will determine possibilities to mount a rack. A bike shop can help you decide what's possible. Tube diameter another consideration for what pannier will fit on properly although many of those are more adjustable for that nowadays.
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Old 01-21-19, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
A 1992 Trek 720 and a BSO 29er beater.

A week's worth of groceries, and whatever else I can haul (like recycling) that avoids a car trip, or to give me an excuse for riding. Mostly I want to expand my operating envelope and see what develops. (And to carry a lock and cable.)
I'd get a rack for each bike. Switching a rack back and forth between a 26" bike and a 29er would be a pain in the butt.
Get a basic rack and a set of 'shopping panniers' or baskets for the beater to use for grocery runs. The kinds of bags and baskets that are useful for that kind of work aren't much good for 'exploring' and even touring bags come up a little short when you try to fill them with groceries. Having a dedicated 'Grocery Getter' will work better than rigging and re-rigging an single bike, or trying to create an 'all-in-one' solution.

For longer recreational rides and exploring, Small panniers or a rack trunk will do nicely. Depends on how much stuff you want to bring with you.

You don't have to go super-expensive. I've had pretty good luck over the years with standard 'MTB' style racks. I have a Blackburn and a Nashbar that have been more than satisfactory over the years. Your Trek should be a no-brainer to find a rack for .
Keep an eye on your local CL, too. There are a lot of people who bought a bag set and used it once or not at all, and are tired of looking at it in their closet.
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Old 01-21-19, 05:11 PM
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These are the ones on the radar.

The Bontrager BackRack that @canklecat described (probably go for the size L in my case): https://www.atlantatrek.com/product/...l-154669-1.htm

The Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX: https://axiomgear.com/products/racks...iner-29er-dlx/

Ibera RA4 https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ibera-Bike-...4/183443350542

Lumintrail Cargo Rack https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lumintrail-Adjustable-Bicycle-Rear-Frame-Mounted-Cargo-Rack-for-Non-Disc-Bikes/132334621206

And still going through Blackburn's offerings.
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Old 01-21-19, 05:24 PM
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Trek 720 is covered pretty well here: Multi-Track

Look down that thread. Some 720's with racks about 3/4 of the way down.

Looks like your bike has eyelets in the upper seat stays. You should be good to go with a lot of rear racks
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Old 01-21-19, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
I'm shopping rear racks for the first time (for on the bike, not for the car) and I got a couple things I don't understand ...

1 - With width, does it have to be an exact fit or do the racks bend a little to match the bike's geometry? (Depends on the rack I suppose, steel rack yes, aluminum only a little?)

2 - Racks have disc and non-disc versions. I saw one person suggesting getting the disc version for use with a non-disc bike for the extra room. Is that a hare-brained idea? Neither of my bikes has disc brakes, but buying a disc-compatible rack might be a way to future-proof my purchase.

3 - I've seen several racks with adjustable height. Is this a weakness?

4 - Re panniers, what does a rack need for carrying panniers? Depends on the panniers I suppose. But, many racks have an extra crossbar or two that look meant for panniers. Bontrager BackRack Deluxe or Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX, for example -- while the Blackburn Central does not.

5 - The Axiom Streamliner 29er DLX mounts with a bar that sets it back from the axle. It's so far back it looks like a heavy load might wag the bike. Is this an issue? (I have no plans for touring, but some day I want to be able to carry groceries, which can get heavy.) (I like the design of this one for the vertical struts at the rear, those look good for mounting a couple extra LEDs.)

Thanks in advance, any thoughts are appreciated.
  1. ​​​​​​You have to look at three things for fit: ​Is it for 26" or 700c wheels? Is it compatible with disk brakes? Does it have a single horizontal strut to connect to a brake bride, or two struts to connect to seat stays?
  2. I'm using a Tubus Cargo EVO on my Cannondale Quick CX with disk brakes. The rack is not specifically designed for disk brakes. It depends on the bike whether or not a disk-specific rack is necessary.
  3. I have an older adjustable height rack. It works fine but I don't use it anymore; it's heavier than it needs to be because of the telescoping vertical struts, and probably weaker. I don't see an advantage -- buy the rack that fits.
  4. Better quality panniers come with easier to use fasteners often. Look at Ortlieb's panniers. They all pretty much drop onto the rack, and lift off by pulling a handle that releases the clips.
  5. Whether you need set-back depends more on the length of your chainstays and the size of your feet. The goal is to have zero possibility for contact between your heel and the pannier. My Synapse has a shorter chainstay, and I clear the bag by about 1/4th inch. My Quick has a longer chainstay, and there's no way my size 12.5(US) foot would ever touch the bag.
You left off several other considerations:

What the rack is made of. Steel vs aluminum. Aluminum tends to be cheaper and usually a little lighter. But the Tubus line of racks defy the weight issue; the Tubus Fly Evo and Tubus Vega Evo, and Tubus Disco Evo are all lighter than most decent quality aluminum racks, and stronger.

Do you need a plate of metal at the top? People who use trunks often prefer racks that have a flat piece of metal at the top. I use panniers. To me the metal adds useless windage and weight. The Tubus racks don't have this. And with the Tubus Cargo you can still put a trunk on top -- it has enough crossbar support to make it be ok.

Do you need a light duty or heavy duty rack? On my Synapse I have a light weight occasional-use Tubus Fly Evo. On my hybrid I have a bullet proof Tubus Cargo Evo. The latter is heavier, but not unjustifiably.

If you are going to use the bike as a utility bike, and if it accepts racks, I'd suggest the Tubus Cargo Evo. If you intend to use it only occasionally with panniers, maybe the Vega or Fly.
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Old 01-21-19, 07:25 PM
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I kind of like the plate on top. Even with the pannier I can strap something on there I might pick up on my way home or use my trunk bag on a non commute ride.
I have a variety, old Blackburn and vetta, planet bike, axiom, and one trek branded (that one has adjustable stays at the drop out connection maybe an inch.
Never had any issues mounting them, but I'm a pretty good fabricator. I did have to make a spacer to offset at the seat stay mount on my 91 trek 400 when I upgraded the drive train to 6600 Ultegra to clear the DP brake arm.
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Old 01-21-19, 10:56 PM
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I got the Axiom for about $35 on Amazon. At that price, you can try it, and if it isn't good enough, you haven't squandered your life savings.
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Old 01-21-19, 11:36 PM
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  1. Width, there is some flex with racks, even with aluminum. As others have said, get close if you can, but I wouldn't worry about it too much.
    .
  2. Disc... NO!!! This actually won't future proof you at all. Vintage disc calapers were mounted on top of the seatstays. This meant that racks had to be designed to fit around the calipers.

    About 5 years ago, the calipers were mostly moved below the seatstays, and the distinction between disc and non-disc is largely irrelevant. Just get a rack that is more or less wide enough.
    .
  3. I don't know. Adjustable height is probably OK, but may not be necessary.
    .
  4. For panniers, I like a rack that has some rear support for the pannier. Some kind of bar, or extra loop to the rear. Otherwise, most racks should work with panniers. There are some specialized panniers like Beckman that require their proprietary racks.
    .
  5. I'm still hunting for the perfect rack design. My general rule is the panniers should sit behind the seat stays. So, I usually have my panniers sitting as far back on the rack as they will go.

    On the other hand, perhaps one could effectively move the rack back, and the panniers forward.

    Still, I like "triangles" for strength, and those streamliners just don't look right for me.
    .
  6. I really like the plate on top of my racks. Not all have it. But, it makes a basic splashguard (I usually don't have fenders on my bikes), and also protects from having stuff falling down onto the tire.

I'm still trying to figure out how to fix the tail wagging the dog issue. I think there is flex in the bike, flex in the rack, and flex in the panniers. It was also suggested to try distributing load between rear and front.

I have significantly less flex in the Coda than in the Colnago, but as I started loading it up, I did feel a little flex with it.

You can see my general rule of keep the rear triangle clear, panniers behind the seatstays (to avoid heel strike). In general, the panniers are quite far back on my racks. Which means, one might be better off with a rack that was further back, and the panniers in the middle of the rack. I prefer panniers that are square on the back, and tapered on the front, but apparently manufacturers are moving away from that, and moving towards symmetrical panniers.



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Old 01-22-19, 05:55 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
A week's worth of groceries, and whatever else I can haul (like recycling) that avoids a car trip, or to give me an excuse for riding. Mostly I want to expand my operating envelope and see what develops. (And to carry a lock and cable.)
You must eat like a bird. I'd look into a trailer like a B.O.B. Yak if you want to haul that much stuff.
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Old 01-22-19, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
  1. ​​​​​​You have to look at three things for fit: ​Is it for 26" or 700c wheels? Is it compatible with disk brakes? Does it have a single horizontal strut to connect to a brake bride, or two struts to connect to seat stays?
  2. I'm using a Tubus Cargo EVO on my Cannondale Quick CX with disk brakes. The rack is not specifically designed for disk brakes. It depends on the bike whether or not a disk-specific rack is necessary.
  3. I have an older adjustable height rack. It works fine but I don't use it anymore; it's heavier than it needs to be because of the telescoping vertical struts, and probably weaker. I don't see an advantage -- buy the rack that fits.
  4. Better quality panniers come with easier to use fasteners often. Look at Ortlieb's panniers. They all pretty much drop onto the rack, and lift off by pulling a handle that releases the clips.
  5. Whether you need set-back depends more on the length of your chainstays and the size of your feet. The goal is to have zero possibility for contact between your heel and the pannier. My Synapse has a shorter chainstay, and I clear the bag by about 1/4th inch. My Quick has a longer chainstay, and there's no way my size 12.5(US) foot would ever touch the bag.
You left off several other considerations:

What the rack is made of. Steel vs aluminum. Aluminum tends to be cheaper and usually a little lighter. But the Tubus line of racks defy the weight issue; the Tubus Fly Evo and Tubus Vega Evo, and Tubus Disco Evo are all lighter than most decent quality aluminum racks, and stronger.

Do you need a plate of metal at the top? People who use trunks often prefer racks that have a flat piece of metal at the top. I use panniers. To me the metal adds useless windage and weight. The Tubus racks don't have this. And with the Tubus Cargo you can still put a trunk on top -- it has enough crossbar support to make it be ok.

Do you need a light duty or heavy duty rack? On my Synapse I have a light weight occasional-use Tubus Fly Evo. On my hybrid I have a bullet proof Tubus Cargo Evo. The latter is heavier, but not unjustifiably.

If you are going to use the bike as a utility bike, and if it accepts racks, I'd suggest the Tubus Cargo Evo. If you intend to use it only occasionally with panniers, maybe the Vega or Fly.
I too faced these questions when I bought my rack last fall. I wanted a solid, yet relatively lightweight rack for my Bianchi Volpe. I was NOT going to do loaded touring, but really wanted a place for a small racktop bag and ‘possibly’ accommodate a small set of panniers for group day rides. I did NOT want any universal fit racks (they are not, especially with your bike after you have tried to make it fit). I did not want any hinged stays (except for the seat stay mount rods, but a solid rear triangle. The seat stay rods had to be round and not flat. I wanted light as possible, because I did not want the bike to feel dead.

I spoke to manufacturers and shops both online an in person, as well as touring folks and riders I met. Many had favorites, but more importantly they had advice for ‘gotchas’.

I bought the Tubus Vega Evo, a light and very narrow, but with 2 fixing rods (440g) tubular chrome-moly rack made in Germany. It is solid like it was brazed to the bike. One thing I was told by manufacturers and shops (and many users) was do not bend a rack more than 6mm. The Tubus is optimized for 135mm rear non-disc systems, I have 130 road system, so I used the 6mm spacers for a perfect match. Tubus offers racks for disc and non-disc bikes as well as fat bikes. It is a solid rear triangle. I am very pleased. It is easy to remove and if careful will not shift its settings.

Now for the potential gotchas:
Check clearances: I had one issue only. I was planning on using a longer M5 bolt with a nut on the inside of the dropout eye to prevent it coming loose. I found that it was a no go on the cassette side and the chain hit the nut when on the 12T small cog. The fix: a shorter M 5 bolt with blue LocTite on the cassette side. It is also a good idea to run all fixing bolts into the bosses or dropout eyes before attaching the rack. The bolt for the seat stay bosses would have bottomed out on my bike but the thickness of the tie rod would have prevented contact, I used a slightly shorter bolt so when the rack is removed, the screw would not bottom out.

During install tighten nothing until all bolts are in place. That will allow adjustment to get the rack bed horizontal and make sure everything is aligned. I was told by users that if the rack stay was not flat on the boss to bend it slightly in a vice so as to not overstress the boss on the stay. I was lucky it was perfect, but Tubus does sell replacement stays with various offsets and lengths if you are a hard fitment. Lastly LocTite all bolts, (with Blue NOT red LocTite) Check tightness after the first short ride.

Last edited by Bill in VA; 01-22-19 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 01-22-19, 06:27 PM
  #20  
rseeker
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
You must eat like a bird. I'd look into a trailer like a B.O.B. Yak if you want to haul that much stuff.
Hehe, my waistline says otherwise. But yeah, it would be tough to pack a week's worth now that I think about it.
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Old 01-22-19, 06:42 PM
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CliffordK
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
A week's worth of groceries, and whatever else I can haul (like recycling) that avoids a car trip, or to give me an excuse for riding. Mostly I want to expand my operating envelope and see what develops. (And to carry a lock and cable.)
You must eat like a bird. I'd look into a trailer like a B.O.B. Yak if you want to haul that much stuff.
A rack and panniers can be handy for a lot of loads. I have a "trunk bag" that is capable of carrying a pizza box (or several frozen pizzas). Sorry, no brand on the panniers... yes, I do enjoy experimenting. But, there are similar commercially made bags available.



I have a kid's trailer that I use whenever I need a little extra capacity. It is handy to snag and run. A lot of what I carry gets stuffed into a backpack.

There are several different trailer designs from the BOB to the Kid's trailers to the Burley Travoy to various small cargo trailers to the large heavy-duty cargo trailers.
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Old 01-23-19, 05:52 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
A rack and panniers can be handy for a lot of loads.
I know all about large loads.

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