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Old 04-15-03, 12:16 AM   #1
Bring It!
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Front Rack

I have been crawling the web looking at front racks. For the rear, I am settling for my default Trek one right now. Upgrade plans for the Blackburn Expedition.

While front racks are not as easy to find as rear racks, they are definately all quite different from one another.

I have found things from S racks, to low-riders, to over-the-wheel combined racks, to racks with a shelf, similar to a rear rack.

I am wondering what racks you experienced guys have. What are their pros and cons. What configurability do they provide?

I have not yet toured, but I am getting myself in shape to do so. I have a Trek 520 that I use as my all purpose bike. I would love to do loaded touring with it. Also, I load it up with groceries right now, and wouldn't mind having the additional rack to strap more onto it.

Any advice would be great!
Sailing and Cycling make the world go 'round. Quietly Too!
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Old 04-15-03, 08:01 AM   #2
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Originally posted by Sailguy
I am wondering what racks you experienced guys have. What are their pros and cons. What configurability do they provide?

Any advice would be great!
I usually snag the blackburn front rack. I have never used low riders, front or rear. Especially inthe front, the flat part of the rack on the top is valuable space. I usually put my small cookset up there; it was very light, but very awkward in shape so it was best not slipped into a pannier. In addition it was available in a flash when i wanted to have a snack--a bowl of cereal, etc--on the road.

I know the argument about low rides being more stble with weight, but if you are carrying that much weight, especially on your front rack, you are probably carrying too much to begin with.

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Old 04-15-03, 07:18 PM   #3
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When I was on an upright, I used the Blackburn low riders up front. Always had plenty
of storage. I used the front for kitchen and food. The rear had clothes and utilities. Tent
et al went on the top of the rear rack. Front racks makes a huge difference on how the bike
handles, but you get used to it pretty quick. When you ride after settling in for the night and
the bike is free of it's load, it's like a colt frolicking.
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Old 04-15-03, 09:06 PM   #4
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Rear Rack

Some people hate the rear rack, which they find too flexible. I had good success with the Trek rack, once I adjusted the adjustable legs to minimal height; however, it was installed on a 25" frame, which means very short horizontal bars attached to the seatstays.. BTW, I now have a Burley Piccolo trailercycle, which comes with its own sturdy steel rack.

Other contenders: Blackburn EX-2 (if you can find one, because they disappeared 2 years ago), Jandd (some like it very much, while others find it quite flexible -- I never saw one for real), and for the best but also the most expensive: Tubus Cargo. MEC and REI probably have knockoffs of the Blackburn rack.

Front rack
I have a Blackburn Lowrider which works fine, but isn't made anymore. What to look for:
- A lowrider, unless you ride really rough roads, single track, etc. The main advantage of the lowrider is that the panniers are inline with the steering axis. If your bike has the perfect geometry for a tourer, you won't feel any difference in handling with and without front panniers.
- A hoop, or some kind of connection between both sides. It adds to the rigidity of the system.
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Old 04-16-03, 08:56 AM   #5
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I just purchased racks for my new touring bike and struggled with the same issues.

I found the rear-mounted Blackburn Expedition rack at REI for a good price (don't forget to factor in that dividend!). It's rated for 40 pounds.

The front rack eluded me for some time, too. I ended up finding a Blackburn LowRider at a store on Yahoo Shopping by doing a search for it on Google. It was also reasonably priced. Note that this rack will also work with a "normal" rear-type rack mounted on the front of the bike, allowing you more options for cramming gear on the front.

Adventure Cycling Association also sells racks at their on-line store; they have the Old Man Mountain version which has a sturdy reputation but is somewhat pricey.

Good luck and have fun!

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Old 04-16-03, 11:33 PM   #6
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I have a Jandd heavy duty front rack, with a shelf.

I like it because it's rated to twenty-five pounds, because it can mount bags high or low, and because it will act as a pretty good partial front fender. An additional strap-on fender on the down tube is all the additional protection you need.

The shelf is a good place to put an extra rack bag, too, though I don't do that because I've got plenty of room elsewhere.

The shelf's big enough to put a compact sleeping bag there, freeing up the rear rack for something else, or for nothing at all.

I don't like to use the front shelf with anything that requires free straps, though, for fear that the straps will snap and tangle in the wheel. I do know many people who've travelled with bags attached to a front shelf with bungy cords, but I won't do it.
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Old 04-17-03, 02:03 AM   #7
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I have Blackburn front and rear (front is custom lowrider).

My wife has tubus racks front and rear colour coded to her frame (which is green at front to blue at back) and they look really good and are very light (531tube)

they are expensive though
plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

1985 Sandy Gilchrist-Colin Laing built 531c Audax/fast tourer.
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Old 04-20-03, 06:52 PM   #8
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Sherpa racks front and rear from Old Man Mountain! (Disc brakes limit your choices considerably) I like having the front "shelf" too.
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