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Rear rack/panniers on full-suspension mtn bike?

Old 10-18-21, 04:16 PM
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Redshift96
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Rear rack/panniers on full-suspension mtn bike?

Apologies in advance for my obvious ignorance. I have done the minimal due diligence of 30m of Google and forum searching before posting this.

I'm hoping to start doing some fairly short (2-3 day) bikepacking/camping trips soon, and my only bikes aside from the fleet of lightweight road bikes are dual suspension XC or DH bikes. Among them are three Trek Y-type carbon frame bikes with the URT aluminum rear swingarm. Meaning that that there is no conventional seat tube. There is a short section of the seatpost itself which protrudes below the frame which could be used with a Topeak MTX (or similar) QR clamp-style rear rack, but it only took a few minutes to realize that a rear-suspension bike presents obvious challenges to using rear panniers in practice, even if one figures out how to mount them. It's also clear that a single seat tube/post clamp is hardly a sufficiently secure mounting scheme on it's own, even for a single trunk bag, let alone a set of pans.

I should add that I have both rim brake and disc brake models to choose from... I expect that the rim brake model will present less of a problem with mounting, but... that kinda depends on whether the mounting approach is directed towards the seatpost/frame, or the rear triangle. Either way, it seems obvious that some sort of wire frame straddling the rear tire will be required to keep the bags out of the spokes/chain.

Is this something for which a solution already exists? Or is there some compromise approach that would allow one to load the rear of the bike with some portion of the gear? I suppose I could just replace the rear shock with a solid link for such trips, but does anyone know of an off the shelf product that mounts a pannier rack to a rear supension mtn bike? Or perhaps a rear rack design which could be modified to rely entirely on either the rear URT or the frame/seatpost for all it's attachment points? Or does off road bikepacking inevitably require a hardtail in order to carry more than a minimal load of gear?

I'd really rather not have to add/buy/build yet another bike or two for such journeys until I see how much I like it and figure out which sort of things feel like absolute necessities so I'll know what to look for if I do end up needing (yet another) purpose-specific bike. Yikes. I do already have several second hand panniers which I picked up on the cheap, a pair of XLC waterproof boxes, a pair of smaller soft-sided Voyageur bags, and one nice Lone Peak convertible pan/backpack bag. Hoping I can adapt some or all of these to one rack or another.

I'm not opposed to fabbing up a custom rack of some sort if I have to... but really hoping to save that as a last ditch solution. I have enough machining/fabrication projects waiting for attention as it is.

Many thanks in advance for any feedback or genius suggestions. And again, sorry for any obvious bikepacking-newb oversights here.

PS: Here are a couple of links for reference that show twins of the three Y bikes I'm working with. The first is a Y-33 with a URT with round tubing and provisions for mounting a rear disc. The second and third are earlier model Y-22's which use rectangular section tubing for the URT and V-brakes, with no provision for mounting a disc caliper in the rear.

https://www.cool386.com/y33/y33.htm







https://www.cool386.com/95y22/95y22.html



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Old 10-18-21, 06:35 PM
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Have you done any miles with your test QR setup? How much weight in the panniers? I think most folks will recommend bikepacking gear that does not require racks but which does require a greater expenditure than what you already have.

There are rear racks which clamp to the seatpost and you could probably rig a tighter clamp somehow. Some also have rigid side loops<probably very helpful, which hang down and help support the panniers to keep them froom swinging inward.

Here's one by Topeak.

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Old 10-18-21, 07:11 PM
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I have never owned or used an Old Man Mountain rack, but if my memory is correct some models attached to cantilever brake posts and eylets at the dropout but I think they also have versions that could attach to a skewer if no eylets at the dropout. I am not going to research it, you might want to check out the brand and see if any of their racks might work for you.

But keep in mind a full suspension bike was designed to minimize unsprung weight, and putting a rack in that location defeats that purpose, thus the ride may be somewhat impaired.
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Old 10-18-21, 11:48 PM
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We've been using the Topeak , pricey, Tetra series racks for real mountain bike packing and they work well. Both front and rear models.

The rack that goes on the front needs to have hose clamps to rest on to prevent it sliding down though.
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Old 10-19-21, 06:27 AM
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How light can you pack? If you are willing to go ultralight you could get by witha a seat pack and a bar roll. You could add a little bit of stuff in a very light backpack. I have found I actually like wearing a backpack if I limit it to just a few pounds. A tank bag would carry a few items and be an easy addition. With careful selection of ultralight backpacking gear it could work out pretty easily.

FWIW, you can get by without spending huge amounts on super high tech stuff and still get down to a pretty low base weight and volume.

If you don't want to go that route and want/need to carry more volume/weight how about just using a trailer?
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Old 10-19-21, 08:39 AM
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Prior to getting rack mounts added, I used Tubus Rack Adapters on my Moots soft tail. They are far stronger than P-clamps. You probably canít load them up with 80 lbs of gear but for loads up to 20 lbs they should be strong enough. You can use any rack with them.



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Old 10-21-21, 04:32 PM
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Thanks All !!

Thanks for all the great replies, all. Super helpful. Responses and a couple of additional q's below:

Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Have you done any miles with your test QR setup?
So far... that would be zero. Hence the total newb questions. Sorry. Really looking forward to it though. Maybe I should go for a day trip ride with all the gear before actually overnighting with it. That seems like a beyond obvious move now that I think of it. Thank you !!

Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
How much weight in the panniers?
No idea yet. If I use backpacking as the typical model, probably way too much initially. Lol.

Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
I think most folks will recommend bikepacking gear that does not require racks but which does require a greater expenditure than what you already have.
I'm not familiar with rackless packs... how would that work? I'll consult the oracle...

Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
There are rear racks which clamp to the seatpost and you could probably rig a tighter clamp somehow. Some also have rigid side loops<probably very helpful, which hang down and help support the panniers to keep them from swinging inward.

Here's one by Topeak.
That is pretty much what I was imagining... I have similar Topeak seatclamp-type rack, but had not seen those clip-on siderail pieces on their site or elsewhere. Thanks very much. More websearching ahead. I cant imagine using this setup without any additional anchor points aside from the seatpost clamp though. But it's an excellent starting point which would allow the use of the rack I already have. Thank you 1!

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have never owned or used an Old Man Mountain rack, but if my memory is correct some models attached to cantilever brake posts and eyelets at the dropout but I think they also have versions that could attach to a skewer if no eylets at the dropout. I am not going to research it, you might want to check out the brand and see if any of their racks might work for you.
Sounds like the Tubus approach below... seems like a more secure approach to mount to the rear triangle than the seatpost, despite the drawback you point out below.

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
But keep in mind a full suspension bike was designed to minimize unsprung weight, and putting a rack in that location defeats that purpose, thus the ride may be somewhat impaired.
Yes, a really good point that hadn't occurred to me. If I can devise a reasonably robust scheme to mount to the front frame instead, I'll likely go that route for exactly this reason. Imagining the difference in the ride between having all the gear sprung along with the rider versus the load adding to the unsprung total does sound less than ideal, to say the least. Thanks much for pointing this out.

Originally Posted by Sorcerer View Post
We've been using the Topeak , pricey, Tetra series racks for real mountain bike packing and they work well. Both front and rear models.

The rack that goes on the front needs to have hose clamps to rest on to prevent it sliding down though.
I'm going to try to avoid using a front rack if I can avoid it, initially anyway. If I can't avoid it, I may add one later. Haven't seen the Tetra series, I'm off to look it up right now.

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
How light can you pack? If you are willing to go ultralight you could get by with a a seat pack and a bar roll. You could add a little bit of stuff in a very light backpack. I have found I actually like wearing a backpack if I limit it to just a few pounds. A tank bag would carry a few items and be an easy addition. With careful selection of ultralight backpacking gear it could work out pretty easily.

FWIW, you can get by without spending huge amounts on super high tech stuff and still get down to a pretty low base weight and volume.

If you don't want to go that route and want/need to carry more volume/weight how about just using a trailer?
Thanks for the great questions, totally on point. However it's yet to be seen how much gear I'll need for local outings, and what sort of weight totals I can pare down to. Tent and sleeping bag, along with food and water appear to be the bulkiest of the load... not sure if I could get all that on the bike without at least one pannier, but it's sure worth a shot. I'm definitely not throwing money at this challenge, at least not until I have some experience to guide any bigger ticket purchases.

Hadn't considered a trailer for off-road, but I wouldn't be opposed. At least not for tamer mostly-fire-road type outings.

Thank you !

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Prior to getting rack mounts added, I used Tubus Rack Adapters on my Moots soft tail. They are far stronger than P-clamps. You probably can’t load them up with 80 lbs of gear but for loads up to 20 lbs they should be strong enough. You can use any rack with them.
Excellent suggestion, I'm going to go look them up! Any thoughts on your ride quality with a significant load added to the rear triangle?
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Old 10-21-21, 09:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Redshift96 View Post
Thanks for the great questions, totally on point. However it's yet to be seen how much gear I'll need for local outings, and what sort of weight totals I can pare down to. Tent and sleeping bag, along with food and water appear to be the bulkiest of the load... not sure if I could get all that on the bike without at least one pannier, but it's sure worth a shot. I'm definitely not throwing money at this challenge, at least not until I have some experience to guide any bigger ticket purchases.

Hadn't considered a trailer for off-road, but I wouldn't be opposed. At least not for tamer mostly-fire-road type outings.
Iíve off-road toured with trailers and Iím not a huge fan. They are cumbersome at best and they can have an negative effect on handlingÖthey push in corners and lift the rear wheel on steep downhills.

A better way to go if you are going to go off-road is to use bikepacking bags. Thatís what they are designed for. Look at Revelate Design, Oveja Negra, or other places for them. They can be a bit expensive but they are incredibly rugged and durable. There are cheaper optionsÖRock Bros, Moose Treks, and othersÖwhich arenít as durable but are serviceable.

Excellent suggestion, I'm going to go look them up! Any thoughts on your ride quality with a significant load added to the rear triangle?
I donít carry much load on the rear while bike packing. Hereís 3 configurations I use from different trips.






The second one is where I used a set of very small panniers that only carried food items (mostly freeze-dried meals). Total load on the triangle was probably less then 5 lbs and diminished with each nightís camp. The fork leg racks are convenient but in the third picture, I did a whole lot of bushwhacking and the fork leg bags were a drag, both figuratively and literally. I put a hole in one of them while dragging it over rocks.

Although expensive, you might consider an Aeroe Spider Rack or Thule Pack-n-Pedal or something else like it. Bikepacking gear is changing and developing rapidly new stuff is showing up all the time. Almost all of it is far better than a seatpost rack.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:21 PM
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For the front, Zefel makes the low rider rack which comes with hardware for forks without mounts. Works very well with the rim brake mounts which I see you have.
The seat post mounted racks work well, but mount it high enough where it does not hit the tire when the rear suspension bottoms out and max weight is usually 10 kg. I do not use traditional panniers for the rear, just a duffel bag with a number of bungees holding it in place
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Old 10-22-21, 11:08 PM
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I want to respond to the question about how different set-ups affect the ride. My response comes from years of bike camping trips, with 90% of them on mountain bike terrain.

First thing I would say is not to rule out panniers and things attached to fork legs, but there are negative aspects to this, one of which is described above:

They can snag on stuff. Sometimes worse, when you have to get of and push up hill the panniers get in the way on the side.

But if you can't deal with that kind of hardship, maybe you should pick easier things to do.

Or carry less gear, and take what you can fit using the inline style of bike packing.

​​​​​​In the case of putting the weight of bags on the rear triangle and on the lower suspension fork stanchions (traditional suspension forks) the weight rides low and is very good. The weight of the gear isn't suspended, but the rider is. Obviously it really helps a lot to have the bags packed nice and snug and the attachment points secure, because they are violently shaken. We find there is no need to make the suspension more firm by increasing air pressures.

Using panniers and fork mounts there is a great capacity to carry gear. Plus they are easy to pack and unload.

Some of the main drawbacks to the huge seat bags are: They have limited capacity. They can sway. When they are heavy they change the bike handling a lot. They usually don't work with seat droppers (one of the reasons we use a rear rack). If you don't need a seat dropper, these seat packs are a great option.

The handlebar rolls and bags can foul the cables and scrub the front tire. If something comes loose from the handlebar it could cause a crash. If the load is heavy up there, it is not good for handling.

On the other hand this is a logical place to carry something.

The frame itself is a great place to carry stuff too, and should be used. When it is too wide it hits the legs. But the weight is in the best place. Typical suspension mountain bikes don't have room for much of anything in the frame though.

By the way, tent poles can be strapped to a straight top tube, or perhaps a down tube (there are some tents that have smaller poles.

I usually bring a hydration pack, but I often strap it on the the top of the rear rack.Some people carry quite a bit in a pack, but I think that's not good because you carry it twice that way.

When we camp we like to bring luxury things like cooking gear, musical instruments, a tent, games, and lanterns. Fast and light packers leave this stuff behind.

Used to use a BOB trailer a lot..These work well. I will use a trailer sometimes. When I drank, it would carry beer to camp easily.
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Old 11-01-21, 04:14 PM
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Again, huge thanks for all the suggestions and feedback. Hugely appreciated. It's going to take me a little while to research all the options, but a lot less time thanks to you all sharing your experiences.

Also, beer transportation capacity is an extremely important consideration. Thanks for that.
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Old 11-01-21, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Redshift96 View Post
...
Also, beer transportation capacity is an extremely important consideration. Thanks for that.
You are supposed to use the dehydrated stuff.

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