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Light touring racks & bags

Old 05-03-05, 02:49 PM
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Light touring racks & bags

Hi. It's my first visit to the touring forum here, and I'm really hoping you all wouldn't mind giving me some basic advice. I'm interested in doing more light touring (day trip, credit card type stuff) and am researching what to equip my bike with to carry the small amount of gear I'll have (camera equipment, rain gear, tools, etc.).

I'm thinking I want a rear rack, trunk bag (possibly with tuck-away panniers), and handlebar bag. Problem is, I don't know much about them, so I was hoping to get recommendations of which brands are good (sturdy and built to last) and which online sites carry a good selection.

I'd truly appreciate any advice. Thanks.
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Old 05-03-05, 03:21 PM
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try
www.nashbar.com, www.performancebike.com and www.wallbike.com.

briefly, cheap and easy is one of the nashbar or performance racks with their biggest rack trunk. Wallbike has better and more expensive stuff.

Jandd mountaineering makes really good bags too. i have had one for > 15 yrs without trouble.

bak
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Old 05-03-05, 03:38 PM
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you can also look here
https://www.carradice.co.uk/

the SQR saddle bags are very useful for light touring, I've purchased one myself
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Old 05-03-05, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by bakhurts
try
www.nashbar.com, www.performancebike.com and www.wallbike.com.

briefly, cheap and easy is one of the nashbar or performance racks with their biggest rack trunk. Wallbike has better and more expensive stuff.

Jandd mountaineering makes really good bags too. i have had one for > 15 yrs without trouble.

bak
Thanks. Wallbike.com has quite the site. I checked out Jandd's site and think they may have just what I need. Of course, all of these options have brought up a couple of other questions:
Would there be any pros/cons to using rear panniers instead of a rack bag?
Any idea how the Topeak stuff compares to, say, Jandd?
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Old 05-04-05, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Peek the Geek
Thanks. Wallbike.com has quite the site. I checked out Jandd's site and think they may have just what I need. Of course, all of these options have brought up a couple of other questions:
Would there be any pros/cons to using rear panniers instead of a rack bag?
Any idea how the Topeak stuff compares to, say, Jandd?
Seems like for about $40-50, the Jandd and Old Man Mountain traditional (4 point) rear racks really shine. I love my Jandd Standard, which has carried commuting panniers and last weekend full camping gear off road. The flat top is a nice partial mud guard, since most folks don't use fenders!

You mentioned Topeak. I think they make 4-point racks too. Coincidentally, I posted this rant on another cycling discussion board this afternoon. Someone was asking about "seatpost" mount rear racks, for which Topeak seems to be well known:

...I see no sense at all in seatpost racks for road riding. Really - what's the benefit? By design they are heavier, since the cantilever beam and clamp surface must be larger and stiffer than a traditional 4-point rack (which benefits from a truss structure). And given their higher weight, the seatpost racks also have lower load ratings. So don't stop at the market on the ride home because groceries might exceed its rating. Essentially, any hardware failure will constitute a rack alignment failure - whereas a 4-point rack can successfully be used with only 3 points solidly attached (in a pinch, like on my mtb camping trip last weekend. i forgot loctite for the hardware).

Another issue to consider - many frames (road and mtb) are sized "compact", meaning that the frame is lower and the seat tube longer. Within a certain envelope, the seat tube-to-seat post connection is designed for a person's weight acting downward and slightly to the rear. If you put a seatpost rack on this type of frame, you are exerting a large lever-arm (torque) on your seatpost and seat tube. Perhaps your frame was designed for such an unusual load, especially if an mtb, but more likely you're entering a grey zone where frame failure is possible.

The only reasons I can imagine for getting a seatpost rack, assuming you're a roadie and not on full suspension, are that (1) it's an aesthetics issue and so your personal choice; and (2) you just want to spend money on something new to distract you for a while...

((forgive me for cut and pasting my own rant. that's probably as bad as laughing at my own jokes. LOL))
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Old 05-04-05, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Peek the Geek
Thanks. Wallbike.com has quite the site. I checked out Jandd's site and think they may have just what I need. Of course, all of these options have brought up a couple of other questions:
Would there be any pros/cons to using rear panniers instead of a rack bag?
Any idea how the Topeak stuff compares to, say, Jandd?
IMHO Panniers are classy - rack trunks are not - due to the old adage "form follows function". Panniers lower the weight, and so the bike will handle better. Even standing still, your bike is less likely to fall off balance with panniers. You can find some nice "commuter" size panniers (not full touring size) that work really well for day rides and such. Try EBay if you're on a budget...

btw - The Jandd "economy" pannier is one of the simplest, most handsome small panniers I've seen. Very clean lines, bomb proof construction, and a nice big reflective strip along the side. It would complement the finest of bicycles...
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Old 05-04-05, 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Peek the Geek
I'm interested in doing more light touring (day trip, credit card type stuff) )..
I wouldn't bother with a frame rack or panniers unless you plan on camping and cooking. If you're going to do motels/bungalows/inns, try taking next to nothing. Get a big saddle bag, maybe a frame bag (fits into the triangular frame of your bike), some large waterbottle and stuff them with your gear.

Maybe, I'm mistaken about your intention: do you mean "light" touring, or "ultra-light" touring?

Ultra-light touring is absolute minimum with the guideline being that your bike (loaded) feels almost exactly the same way it does when you go out for a regular training ride (so don't even take a handlebar bag; it changes the steering characteristics). This way, on tour you're as light, fast, and nimble as when you're just pedaling around your home route. And if you have a serious mechanical problem, you should be willing to suck it up and walk/hitchike.

It's more for the serious roadie *** tourer ... or aging geezers (yours truly) who have just a tad more money than brawn.

Also, as you get older, you realize you need less stuff, and life is really a ride after all and the less baggage you have, the more enjoyable the journey.

And what do you do if the unthinkable happens ... well, life does that all the time, doesn't it? Why be surprised?
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Old 05-04-05, 03:22 AM
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For lightweight day-touring, a significant proportion of your load is the luggage system itself. Look for a good load/weight ratio.
The Carradice SQR is very good. Tubus Fly rack with small panniers is another good solution.
Seatpost-mounted rack with a rack-top bag has one of the worst load/weight ratios.
Carradice also do a really neat bar bag for additional stuff.
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Old 05-04-05, 09:11 AM
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Wow. Thanks for all of the great advice so far. As to the questions about "ultra-light" touring and only using frame packs or saddlebags, since I will be carrying camera equipment (SLR, lenses, tripod, etc.) that's not really an option, even though many of my rides will only be day rides. I need room for this stuff, as well as carriers that offer at least some padding/protection for my fragile gear.

Which brings to mind another point... The stability/look of panniers do appeal to me, but would they offer my camera as much protection as a trunk bag would? And would the 1500-2000 cubic inch capacity be overkill for my cargo needs?

Thanks again, by the way, for the advice.
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Old 05-04-05, 09:17 AM
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I like the Jannd rear racks. You can get those at performancebikes.com. For lightweight bags, you can get the Performance Transit panniers. They're not too big, not too small.

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Old 05-04-05, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by ispoke
The only reasons I can imagine for getting a seatpost rack, assuming you're a roadie and not on full suspension, are that (1) it's an aesthetics issue and so your personal choice; and (2) you just want to spend money on something new to distract you for a while...

((forgive me for cut and pasting my own rant. that's probably as bad as laughing at my own jokes. LOL))
No problem. Rant away. Yeah, I had already kind of dismissed the seatpost rack idea, as I had ridden a friend's bike that had one and it seemed more top-heavy than a regular rack. Plus I don't have a whole lot of extra seatpost showing, so it probably wouldn't work real well anyway. Besides, I've got rack braze-ons, why not use 'em?
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Old 05-04-05, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by mooncricket
I wouldn't bother with a frame rack or panniers unless you plan on camping and cooking. If you're going to do motels/bungalows/inns, try taking next to nothing. Get a big saddle bag, maybe a frame bag (fits into the triangular frame of your bike), some large waterbottle and stuff them with your gear.

Maybe, I'm mistaken about your intention: do you mean "light" touring, or "ultra-light" touring?
Well, it'll mostly be ultra-light, though chances of bringing it up a notch down the road aren't remote, since I already do a fair amount of camping and some backpacking. But regardless of the trip, I'll almost always need room for my camera equipment, so a rear rack is a bare minimum for me.
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Old 05-04-05, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
I like the Jannd rear racks. You can get those at performancebikes.com. For lightweight bags, you can get the Performance Transit panniers. They're not too big, not too small.

Koffee
Koffee,

What are your opinions of the Performance Transit bags? I've been less than pleased with most of the house brand stuff I've bought in the past (Performance, Nashbar, Pricepoint, etc.), though I will say that Performance's stuff is better than the others (except their Spin Doctor pedal wrench crumpled like a candy wrapper the first time I used it).
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Old 05-04-05, 09:31 AM
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The transits are pretty ok. I mean, it has lots of pockets, which doesn't work well for me. I like having a roomy interior, but some people that don't mind the pockets are cool with them.

I think they're efficient, spiffy bags.

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Old 05-04-05, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Peek the Geek
Wow. Thanks for all of the great advice so far. As to the questions about "ultra-light" touring and only using frame packs or saddlebags, since I will be carrying camera equipment (SLR, lenses, tripod, etc.) that's not really an option, even though many of my rides will only be day rides. I need room for this stuff, as well as carriers that offer at least some padding/protection for my fragile gear.

Which brings to mind another point... The stability/look of panniers do appeal to me, but would they offer my camera as much protection as a trunk bag would? And would the 1500-2000 cubic inch capacity be overkill for my cargo needs?
There is no way I would carry an SLR body and lenses in panniers - too diifficult to protect from vibration and bumps, and difficult to gain access to when you see that great wildlife or human interest shot. I like to carry my main camera/lens in a front handlebar bag, along with wallet, suncreen etc - all readily available in a hurry, and easy to remove when going into a cafe. The safest place for additional lenses would be in a rear trunk bag padded with high density foam on the bottom. A small Gitzo tripod would also strap nicely on top of that bag, or to one side.
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Old 05-04-05, 02:02 PM
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This Carradice Nelson Longflap worked great for a weekend of light touring in cool conditions that required warm clothes.
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Old 05-04-05, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnroads
There is no way I would carry an SLR body and lenses in panniers - too diifficult to protect from vibration and bumps, and difficult to gain access to when you see that great wildlife or human interest shot. I like to carry my main camera/lens in a front handlebar bag, along with wallet, suncreen etc - all readily available in a hurry, and easy to remove when going into a cafe. The safest place for additional lenses would be in a rear trunk bag padded with high density foam on the bottom. A small Gitzo tripod would also strap nicely on top of that bag, or to one side.
It's good to get an opinion from someone who carries an SLR and equipment. I'm really thinking a rear trunk bag is a good starting point for me. I hadn't thought about the convenience a handlebar bag would add, though. You make a good point.

I think I've got the info I came for and can shop more wisely than I may have before. Thanks for everyone's input.
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Old 05-04-05, 09:27 PM
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sounds like mtnroads knows what he's talking about

i put a laptop into a rack trunk and the motherboard turned to mush after 300 miles
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Old 05-04-05, 11:39 PM
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I've carried my SLR in an insulated trunk bag as well. I added some padding from a closed-cell matress. Now I carry it in a photo bag strapped on top of the rack. Tripod is strapped on the bag's side. You can see the legs sticking out on this picture (never mind the dirty laundry). I don't think panniers would be such a bad place. Carefully packed, it might be even better but I don't want to have to pack carefully everytime I need it and in case of a crash, I think it's better on top of the rack.
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