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Ever had (or seen) a rack fail catastrophically?

Old 03-22-09, 06:31 PM
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Ever had (or seen) a rack fail catastrophically?

Rack Failure (future search keyword hint)

Again, the site search eludes me, but I think I saw something about this here, or perhaps in the Commuting forum...

Have you ever had a front or rear rack totally fail, or have you ever personally seen this happen to someone else (particularly on a tour)? I mean a structural failure whereby the rack was no-longer able to carry any load. Have you ever been concerned about your rack's capacity to carry the load?

I currently have an el-cheapo Trek rear rack that has done me well for about 8 years maybe, but it was not used for heavy touring. Usually, I'd have a basket of some type attached, and use it for light trips near home. Nowadays, with proper panniers, I've noticed a strange "thunking" noise issuing from the rack whenever I hit a ~2 cm bump/fissure in the road. The load is usually less than 7 kg (15 lbs). I think the rack is rated for about ~10 kg (Closer to 25 lbs). Also, I can feel the bike sway if there's any load in the panniers besides that of the U-Lock...

I intend to replace the rack ASAP (most likely with a Jandd Expedition), but I'm just more than a little curious about others' rack experiences...
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Old 03-22-09, 06:37 PM
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There was a poll over on crazyguyonabike related to racks:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum/poll/?poll_id=31

Part of the poll forum was a question on whether anybody had had a rack failure:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum...hread_id=73399

Neil
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Old 03-22-09, 07:06 PM
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Neil,

Thanks for your post. That's exactly what I'm asking about, and as a matter of fact, I think it probably was THIS (clicky) thread I was thinking of. That is the general type of failure I'm thinking about, and the failure I'm thinking of preventing, or at worst, fixing...

Furthermore, If anyone has had a catastrophic rack failure, what did you do to limp by to the next area where a fix was available?
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Old 03-22-09, 08:20 PM
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We had several rack failures, none catastrophic on our ride across Russia:

My front rack (looks like: https://thelazyrandonneur.blogspot.co...ront-rack.html) broke the right bottom brackets under extended cycling on gravel roads. First time the bottom bracket broke, I switched bottom and top brackets. When the replacement bracket also broke, I swapped back and adjusted things to grab the brackets differently. Herman Veldhuizen had reported the same failure when cycling through Ukraine: https://www.hermanveldhuizen.com/wp/?cat=28

My rear rack (standard blackburn) broke one metal strap holding rack to pivots under the seat post. Duct tape got me by. This was also on the gravel roads.

My cycling partner had welds fail on home-made rack. We readjusted things to rely on alternate welds. This was on heavily potholed roads before we got to gravel.

My brother joined us for eight days, half of it was gravel roads. He hadn't learned to keep checking bolts in case they worked loose so he lost two bolts on his rear blackburn rack. On the eighth day, welds of his blackburn rack failed somewhat dramatically. He went home after that but if he continued, it would have been challenging to continue with that rack without finding a local welder.
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Old 03-22-09, 08:23 PM
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I knew a guy who had a seatpost rack fail. No big surprise as it was completely overloaded. I think he rigged something with duct tape and tree branches, and had his friend carry some stuff until they got to a bike shop.
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Old 03-22-09, 10:54 PM
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Over twenty-three years ago I had a rear Blackburn rack fracture and break off at the rear dropout in Ecuador. I had to sleeve, wire and tape it to finish the tour. Supposedly according to the company they subsequently moved to an improved and hardened aluminum.

I never tried them again and have used Bruce Gordon CroMo tubular racks since then on all of my touring singles and tandems with very durable and satisfactory results to today using the same racks all of this time. Some people complain that they are expensive but I consider them cheap insurance against rack problems.
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Old 03-22-09, 11:41 PM
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Yes, once, although it was hardly catastrophic. One of the welds cracked on my rear rack. I used a combination of crazy glue and dental floss to fix it, and was underway again the same day.
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Old 03-23-09, 02:32 AM
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Hi,

yes I had 3 lowrider crashes: 2 times Blackburn - could be repaired and worked well. 1 time a cheap one. One side was only usefull to transport light voluminous stuff: eg. toilet paper

Thomas
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Old 03-23-09, 08:26 AM
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1980s', Blackburn with a single rack strut, off road touring, bailing wire.

I recall it wasn't catastrophic, but slow motion: The single top strut had broken without me knowing it. I slowed to a stop, and as I dismounted, the rack rotated backwards on the eyelet bolts slowly and hit the ground.

I always pack a little bailing wire in the kit now.

Last edited by Bekologist; 03-23-09 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:37 AM
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re bailing wire (or bailing twine as I call it.)

When I was about 10 a uncle gave me a knife, some string and 20 p.

He said you should be able to get your self out of most situations with the knife and string, and the 20 p was to call home as a last resort. One of the best presents ever.
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Old 03-23-09, 09:17 AM
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I have had welds fail on two Blackburn EX-2 racks now. The rear dog leg stay where it welds to the top of the rack has broken. Same place on both racks. On closer inspection Blackburn only apply weld to one side of the tubing and a small splodge at that. One of the racks I have had welded up, being aluminium not all welders can do it and do it well. Consequently the rack that has been welded is now strong but does not look so good. The other has a stout elastic band holding the stay in place.My first Blackburn EX-2 rack broke after 4 years of general commuting medium loads. The replacement EX-2 broke after 2.5 months. It isn't a catastrophic failure but shouldn't have happened had Blackburn paid better attention to welding the rack during manufacture. The actual stays are fine. However I'm not impressed and will NEVER BUY BLACKBURN again. Unfortunately I have the low loaders as well which could have been better designed as the tubing on which the panniers mount converges to a point at the front so you either need very thin pannier hooks or to break the join and re-weld with another piece of aluminium in between to space them out a little more. I guess I bought Blackburn because they were cheaper than rivals (Tubus or Tortec) and still looked functional although their durability is poor they are still half the price of Tubus. I like the look of the Surly racks but cannot find a supplier in the UK only US and they are expensive. Maybe I try Topeak, Tortec or Tubus. But you get what you pay for.
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Old 03-23-09, 09:21 AM
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I have had 3 Blackburn clone racks fail – one in a crash, on another a weld broke and on a 3rd a stay snapped in half. Like others here I used splints, wire and duct tape to put it together and it worked for the rest of the tour so about 45 days.
 
Old 03-23-09, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Ariane
I have had welds fail on two Blackburn EX-2 racks now. The rear dog leg stay where it welds to the top of the rack has broken. Same place on both racks. On closer inspection Blackburn only apply weld to one side of the tubing and a small splodge at that. One of the racks I have had welded up, being aluminium not all welders can do it and do it well. Consequently the rack that has been welded is now strong but does not look so good. The other has a stout elastic band holding the stay in place.My first Blackburn EX-2 rack broke after 4 years of general commuting medium loads. The replacement EX-2 broke after 2.5 months. It isn't a catastrophic failure but shouldn't have happened had Blackburn paid better attention to welding the rack during manufacture. The actual stays are fine. However I'm not impressed and will NEVER BUY BLACKBURN again. Unfortunately I have the low loaders as well which could have been better designed as the tubing on which the panniers mount converges to a point at the front so you either need very thin pannier hooks or to break the join and re-weld with another piece of aluminium in between to space them out a little more. I guess I bought Blackburn because they were cheaper than rivals (Tubus or Tortec) and still looked functional although their durability is poor they are still half the price of Tubus. I like the look of the Surly racks but cannot find a supplier in the UK only US and they are expensive. Maybe I try Topeak, Tortec or Tubus. But you get what you pay for.
Being as you are in the uk try this rack, it's steel and seems sturdy to me. I only bought it just before Christmas and have only done one overnight tour with it but the build quality looks much better than blackburn style racks and is cheaper than most other steel racks.
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Old 03-23-09, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by TheBrick
Being as you are in the uk try this rack, it's steel and seems sturdy to me. I only bought it just before Christmas and have only done one overnight tour with it but the build quality looks much better than blackburn style racks and is cheaper than most other steel racks.
Thanks for that Brick. The rack seems ok but my only reservation is that it is stainless steel which means it won't corrode or deteriorate but I always have questions marks with stainless steel where it has to withstand a load. However it is Madison and I lurve their D'Arc collapsible cycling shades which is confidence inspiring. The welds on this one look like that they are more than just dabs. Looking at yours is the welding pretty solid ie are their any tubes that have been only welded on one side? I would now have to fully inspect one before I bought it or any other rack which is what I did with the Blackburn but failed to forsee it failing. I have already been caught. I might just look around for a welding place that specializes in welding aluminium and get my Blackburns welded properly. However in re-welding the existing paint does get discoloured so has to be prepared for respray. The thing about Blackburn is that they use the smaller bore tube 8.5 or 9 mm I think not 10 or 11 mm. I want all my racks front and rear to be the same diameter tubing. I can't really afford to change both rear and front racks at the moment.

Thanks again Brick.

Last edited by Ariane; 03-23-09 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 03-23-09, 10:27 AM
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The bike with that rack on is at my parents house at the moment but from memory it was solid good welds all the way around each joint. Also I think the design lends it's self less to the one sided weld used on Blackburn racks, usually done where two tubes run parallel for a while. I'm visiting my parents on the w/e of the 4th so I'll try to remember to take some pictures of the welds then.

I know what you mean about the Blackburn racks. I had been using one previously and always thought the build quality looked a bit suspect or at least sloppy in it's presentation.

I am no welding expert but I seems to remember you need to be careful re-welding aluminum due to heat treatment e.t.c The re-welded area become very brittle I think, but you'll need to double check that.
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Old 03-23-09, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by TheBrick
re bailing wire (or bailing twine as I call it.)

When I was about 10 a uncle gave me a knife, some string and 20 p.

He said you should be able to get your self out of most situations with the knife and string, and the 20 p was to call home as a last resort. One of the best presents ever.
I overloaded a Plescher rack (old cast aluminum type with the spring clip) on an ill-prepared trip down the west coast in the 70's. It broke in half, but I had a knife to whittle a piece of manzanita and some string to splint it, and it worked fine for another 400 miles. I didn't need a quarter for the phone call. Your uncle was a wise man.
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Old 03-23-09, 04:32 PM
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I once had a Blackburn rack bend when overloaded, by the bigger boys at school jumping on it when it was parked in the bike sheds. I continued to use it to carry my school bag for a few years afterwards, and I think bending at 50kg+ - and still being usable - is not bad for a rack rated 20kg.
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