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Racks/Panniers

Old 01-08-11, 08:50 PM
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Racks/Panniers

Bike: Surly LHT 62cm, 700C 35cm wheels and fenders.

I'm looking for something cheap, if it only lasts me 5000 miles, that's fine. Otherwise I'd go for tubus racks and ortlieb panniers. Also, how can I tell the racks will fit my bike and panniers beforehand?

Rear racks:
Topeak Super Tourist DX rear rack
Blackburn EX-2 Expedition
Axiom Journey (w/ spring maybe)

Front racks:
Blackburn MTF-1
Jandd Extreme
Jandd Low Rack
Axiom Journey DLX Lowrider
Blackburn FL-1 Standard Lo-Rider

Front Panniers:
Nashbar Waterproof Panniers
TAIGA International Bicycle Front Panniers
Pacific Outdoor Equipment LTW Front Pannier

Rear Panniers:
Nashbar ATB Panniers
And get some waterproof covering
Nashbar Waterproof Panniers

Last edited by littlebigbot; 01-08-11 at 09:33 PM. Reason: More Panniers!
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Old 01-08-11, 09:00 PM
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I used an Axoim Journey on my first tour. I was riding a hybrid that was not a good touring bike and was heavily packed. I had some issues with tail wag from the bike. I dont think the problem was the rack because it felt very solid and I was well below the max load stated. I think its a good rack. Skip the water proof panniers and also the rain covers. Just use panniers that have a good mounting system and use trash bags to line the panniers. Super cheap and works better than anything else. I used a Jannd Extreme front rack as well and did not like it much. It would come into contact with the top tube of my bike and eventually bent when the bike fell over, which is inevitable. The top platform on the front rack is nice but not necessary, IMHO.
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Old 01-08-11, 10:02 PM
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This and this have worked just fine for me for 5 years and thousands of miles. I cut off that silly lip on the rear rack so my rack pack will slide up under my seat.

I am pleased with my Axiom non waterproof panniers with covers. Got the Seymore and LaSalle. LaSalle comes with covers. Use them a lot for their visibility factor. Obviously, garbage sacks will keep your stuff dry. Those used in trash compacters are tough and sized about right.
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Old 01-09-11, 12:00 AM
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I have used the Blackburn rear rack and Nashbar waterproof front panniers-- The rack will last a lot longer than 5000 miles. The Nashbar panniers, while not fancy, are fully functional and will do the job. With a little care they will also last a long time.

Nashbar front panniers and loaded Blackburn rack.


Insulated liner I fabricated for the Nashbar front pannier.
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Old 01-09-11, 04:22 AM
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China Blackburn Knock offs , given short term lifespan desire..
Tubus if the durability matters.

Myself I bought Bruce Gordon's racks 20 + years ago they have been fitted to several bike frames..

IE several bikes ..
though several components ,in addition to the racks, migrated.

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-10-11 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 01-09-11, 07:24 AM
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Does anyone have any experience with the Novara Transfer panniers from REI? I was also considering the RackTime DoubleIT panniers. My usage would be for no more than an three or four day tour, travelling lightly (credit card touring - no camping).

I do like the look of the Axiom racks. Thanks for posting those.
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Old 01-09-11, 07:28 AM
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The inexpensive racks and panniers that have worked well for me are; Topeak Explorer rear rack, sturdy and well made, have never used the springie thing, so didn't need it. Blackburn MTF-1 front rack, light weight but sturdy and functional, works well and enables me to strap on a sleeping bag or additional bag up front. Axiom LaSalle, front/rear panniers, well made, very functional with pockets and bungies. Still use these items on one or another bike. I also have the Nashbar Day Trekker that I sometimes use, fits perfectly on the MTF-1, inexpensive and small but great for tools, snacks, rain jacket and pants, etc.
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Old 01-09-11, 08:00 AM
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I used a pair of Nashbar ATB panniers for a week long trip on a front rack. Worked ok. There is no reason that you should not get two pair and use them for both front and rear if you like the size and price. I have seen them for as little as $22 about two years ago when I bought them to over $40 for the pair. I just checked and at current price of $29.99, they are worth the price.

A friend of mine bought panniers that either did not fit his rack or had a heal clearance problem. Hhe managed to remove one of the hooks on each pannier and drilled new holes in the pannier for the hooks to make them fit.

You indicated you would prefer Ortliebs. I think the best price on the classic front rollers or classic back rollers is from ProBikeKit.com That is where I got my front rollers from. My credit card charged me a couple percent for currency conversion. With shipping from Europe it takes longer but if the price is right, ... ...
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Old 01-09-11, 09:04 AM
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I like the Topeak Super Tourist DX with lower rails. I had a chance to use one for awhile on a 700c LHT with a Cargo on another bike and liked being able to remove/install panniers without changing items strapped on the rack unlike the plain platform racks. Only question was that the pannier supports were 3/4" or so outboard of the verticals so the top of the panniers kind of bent down. Not exactly a deal breaker just noticed it. I liked the lower rail feature so much I had a lower bar brazed on the Cargo, I should have got a Cosmo.

The Axioms with the Tubus like seat-stay attachments which protrude lower than the flat strap seat stay attachment and appears to allow more flexing than Tubus or the flat ss strap type. I have an Axiom streamliner on a Cross-check and used ss. straps as it doesn't interfere with the fender as much.

$.02 would be to go with lowrider types on the 700c LHT where you can mount the panniers back in line with the fork. The front platform type exacerbate the LHTs inherent wheel flop.

I started using 3/16" bungies strapped around the bottom of the rack over the panniers and onto the top to compress them when empty when riding to work and shopping but stuck with it when loaded up because it helped to reduce the wobbling of contents.
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Old 01-09-11, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by littlebigbot
I'm looking for something cheap, if it only lasts me 5000 miles, that's fine. Otherwise I'd go for tubus racks and ortlieb panniers.
My Nashbar waterproofs have a lot more than 5000 miles on them and are still like new.

Blackburn EX-2 Expedition - Not sure about the EX-2, but I have been very happy with my EX1

For the front Nashbar and Performance both have a nice low rider clone. The one I got from Performance has larger diameter tubing and I like it better, but both are cheap, work well, and should last a long time.

For both front and rear I like the Nashbar or Performance waterproofs quite well. Our's are holding up well. I didn't like the Nashbar MTB panniers nearly as well, but my two companions on the TA wanted a few pockets so they each took one of the MTB panniers and one of the waterproofs on front. I found the MTB panniers tended to be kind of floppy and get into the spokes, but a stick and a couple cable ties resolved that for the remainder of the trip.
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Old 01-09-11, 09:54 PM
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Well, I have used cheap stuff and I've used good stuff. The good stuff is better, but the cheap stuff does still work.

First racks: I have broken both a cheaper Vetta, and a Blackburn. Both broke at the welds on tours, but with a couple of zip ties and some duct tape they were repairable to finish the tours with minimal trouble but frequent checks. Because the pannier weight is basically dead weight with minimal suspension, every bump puts a pretty good shock on the rack and lesser ones eventually fatigue and break. Still if your weight is not too high even cheap racks will get you by for a tour or two at least if not more. I now use an Old Man Mountain front and a Burley Mooserack rear. The OMM speaks for itself as a top performer in any book. My rear Mooserack cost $30 bucks and is made of welded heavy gauge chrome moly steel. It is designed to pull a piccolo Trail-a-Bike with up to a 90 pound "child" on it. The thing is heavy, but indestructable and cheap. You can get them used on eBay for $25 bucks now days. I tour on a tandem with about 35-40 pounds of gear on the rear Moose Rack AND a 45 pound kid on a TAB hooked to the rack and ride on bumpy trails with still no problems. The rack is rather heavy but probably the strongest available, and cheaper than anything else on the market.

On Panniers: I had a cheap pair of Performance panniers that did not even last until the start of my first tour, but I repaired them with needle and thread (and some duct tape) and lined them with garbage bags and used them on a very rainy 10 day tour with no issues. Not ideal, but certainly serviceable. I had some waterproof covers for them, but they were not worth the trouble. The covers do not cover the back of the pannier (where all of the water sprays from your wheels), and they blow off and you forget them when you stop to get something and they are a pain every step of the way. I now considered them just for show and of little real value; the garbage bags inside were what worked well. I now have a set of Ortleib rear rollers that are great for keeping everything dry, but the top-load-only style is a bit of a pain when you need something at the bottom (which is always where what you need is, isn't it?). For front panniers I have the best thing in the world, a set of large fully waterproof hardshell panniers made out of large plastic kitty litter pails. I made them from a pair of recycled plastic pails (from my cat-loving sister) and about six bucks in hardware. Having used everything from the cheapest to the best, I can tell you that these hardshell kitty litter pail panniers are "the cat's meow" (pun intended) and there is nothing better available at any price. If you search online for something like "making kitty litter pail bike panniers" you can find several options for making them. I made my own style a little different from the online versions and I covered mine with white self-adhesive vinyl shelf liner paper so I did not advertise "Tidy Cats" en route, but they all are pretty similar. They also double as seats when camping, and if you set them up so they are level with the top of the rack when mounted, they make a great big flat place to attach a big bundle of firewood from a convenience store near where you plan to camp! Everything about them is great and I like them far better than my Ortliebs (though I still use both, Ortliebs in back and Tidy Cats in front). Because I have these in front, I tend to pack lighter bulky stuff in them like sleeping bags, fleece jackets, rain gear, etc. and when we stop to grab something it takes no more than a second to pop open the plastic lid and grab what I need (no buckles, straps, zippers, etc.). I also can access them on the front while still straddling the bike, and they are a great place to put soft things like bread or rolls, and also ideal to tuck delicate fruit like apples which you can nestle in between the folds of a sleeping bag for perfect protection. It may be my imagination, but the only issue I have had with my Tidy Cats panniers is I think I have seen some cats eyeing us with evil intent...

Keep the rubber side down!

Last edited by dwmckee; 01-10-11 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 01-10-11, 02:52 PM
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Here is a picture of kitty litter panniers

Picture of litter pail panniers
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Old 01-10-11, 03:28 PM
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This, which I just saw on the Commuting forum, seems germane to the topic here. Not as cheap as dirt, but a damn good deal on Ortliebs. If I had $80 extra bucks kicking around, I'd jump on this, but all my $'s tied up in an LHT build at the moment.
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Old 01-10-11, 05:23 PM
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Thanks, EKW for that link to Bestbuy. Never would have thought to check them out.

I'm prepping for my first tour for this summer (early July) - a short three day, credit card tour on GAP. I'm going to pack light - no camping gear. Do you think the Ortlieb front panniers, loaded on a rear rack would be sufficient? I'm thinking I'll have a change of riding clothes, a single set of "off-the-bike" clothing, plus a pair of sandals. I'd also pack rain gear, toiletry kit, tools, spare tubes, extra water bottle (or two), and trail snack/energy food.

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Old 01-10-11, 06:31 PM
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I've used the Nashbar waterproof rear panniers for a few years now on a number of short tours and also general utility trips (grocery store and other shopping). They're holding up well and still look new. I did encounter a problem when using them on one of my bikes with a rack that doesn't have a support arm very far back - a couple times one of the panniers swung inward and hit the spokes of the rear wheel. Since then I only use them with a rack where the rearmost support strut extends farther back.

They're very basic - just one large compartment and non-locking hooks. But they seem to hold up ok and have quite a bit of carrying capacity.
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Old 01-10-11, 08:20 PM
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I used the nashbar waterproof front panniers for a year. I'll echo the last fellow and say they seem durable enough. They have a sort of double closure - you roll it like a dry bag, then pull a waterproof hood over that. The space under the hood is nice for sticking extra water bottles, as it keeps them from sweating on your dry stuff.

I got rid of mine because they just don't mix with a Tubus Tara front rack, and I'm hardly going to replace a $100 front rack to accommodate $20 panniers. Every time I hit a serious bump they'd fly off, which made for some pretty tense riding. My mountain bike has a Topeak DX rear rack, and the Nashbar attachment system works fine with that. Just got to make sure the whatever rack you pick has a stable spot at the bottom to hold the hook.
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Old 01-11-11, 09:34 AM
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I have a Jandd Extreme on my 62cm LHT. I don't consider it cheap. I think it's the best front rack for me that money can buy. It's solid, rigid, and has a platform (which is why I bought it.) And I got it on one of Jandd's yearly sales.

I used a Blackburn Expedition rear rack on my old tourer for many years and several tours. It's not as rigid as my Tubus (or my wife's Jandd) but it did the job and it's light. I don't think it's liable to break either; it seems plenty strong.

I bought some Nashbar Waterproof rear panniers for my son. The tour never happened, so I can't report on how they worked on the road. They seem like what they are: low-cost panniers that will carry a lot, not leak, and do the job for awhile. I don't think theyll last as long as my Ortliebs, however, based on how they seem to be constructed.
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Old 01-11-11, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4
Thanks, EKW for that link to Bestbuy. Never would have thought to check them out.

I'm prepping for my first tour for this summer (early July) - a short three day, credit card tour on GAP. I'm going to pack light - no camping gear. Do you think the Ortlieb front panniers, loaded on a rear rack would be sufficient? I'm thinking I'll have a change of riding clothes, a single set of "off-the-bike" clothing, plus a pair of sandals. I'd also pack rain gear, toiletry kit, tools, spare tubes, extra water bottle (or two), and trail snack/energy food.
I wouldn't have thought to look there, either. I hope they go on sale like that again. That's a crazy markdown from regular retail.

According to their website, the volume for the Ortlieb back rollers is 2440 cu. in. That's almost exactly the same volume I have in my current set of panniers - Axiom Lasalles. While I haven't been touring with them yet, I can say that the back rollers w/ their statec volume seem like they would be mor ethan sufficient for the load you have in mind. The front rollers w/ 1/2 to 2/3 the capacity of the bigger bags would be so-so, but seems like it would probably be enough. Especially since with no camping gear you could throw your sandlas in a plastic bag and bungee them to the rack.
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Old 01-11-11, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4
Thanks, EKW for that link to Bestbuy. Never would have thought to check them out.

I'm prepping for my first tour for this summer (early July) - a short three day, credit card tour on GAP. I'm going to pack light - no camping gear. Do you think the Ortlieb front panniers, loaded on a rear rack would be sufficient? I'm thinking I'll have a change of riding clothes, a single set of "off-the-bike" clothing, plus a pair of sandals. I'd also pack rain gear, toiletry kit, tools, spare tubes, extra water bottle (or two), and trail snack/energy food.
I'm planning for a 3.5 week CC tour this summer and have been trying to figure out what sized bags I'll need. The other day, I got everything together that I think I'll take (packing very light) and it all fit very compactly in a backpack that has about a 2000 ci capacity (or lower). As such, I'm planning on using 2000 ci panniers on the back and a mid sized handlebar bag. The other option would be to use 2500 ci panniers on the back an no handlebar bag. I would rather err on the side of a bit extra space. Shoes/sandals are bulky and take up precious space, so one option is to tie them to the top of the rack and put in a dry bag if it's wet out.
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Old 01-11-11, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
I have a Jandd Extreme on my 62cm LHT. I don't consider it cheap. I think it's the best front rack for me that money can buy. It's solid, rigid, and has a platform (which is why I bought it.)
I have a Beckman front rack and bought it for the large front platform. It's rated to carry items up to 22" in length. When I had a Nortface Slickrock tent, that's where it went. A few years ago I was able to bungee a large bundle of firewood to it and ride a few miles back to camp. I will never go with a front rack that does not have a platform if I can help it.
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Old 01-11-11, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by EKW in DC
The front rollers w/ 1/2 to 2/3 the capacity of the bigger bags would be so-so, but seems like it would probably be enough. Especially since with no camping gear you could throw your sandlas in a plastic bag and bungee them to the rack.
Thanks for your thoughts. That's good advice about just bungeeing the sandals. I think you are correct - the front panniers would be so-so, size-wise. For not much more money, I can get the bigger bags and not worry at all about space. To me, the weight difference is not worth the worry.

Originally Posted by SBRDude
I'm planning for a 3.5 week CC tour this summer and have been trying to figure out what sized bags I'll need. The other day, I got everything together that I think I'll take (packing very light) and it all fit very compactly in a backpack that has about a 2000 ci capacity (or lower). As such, I'm planning on using 2000 ci panniers on the back and a mid sized handlebar bag. The other option would be to use 2500 ci panniers on the back an no handlebar bag. I would rather err on the side of a bit extra space. Shoes/sandals are bulky and take up precious space, so one option is to tie them to the top of the rack and put in a dry bag if it's wet out.
I think I need to do exactly what you did, and lay everything out and see how tight I can pack it. I'm leaning toward the extra bit of space, though. The bags would be good for packing lunch and swimming stuff for my wife and daughter for next summer (dads are the pack animals of the world!).

Thanks for all of your advice.

What's everyone think of the foldit rack that bestbuy.com has? They should be compatible with the Ortlieb stuff, right? Same company.
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Old 01-11-11, 11:35 PM
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Do you think the Ortlieb front panniers, loaded on a rear rack would be sufficient? I'm thinking I'll have a change of riding clothes, a single set of "off-the-bike" clothing, plus a pair
My wife used a pair of Ortlieb Front Packer Plus's on a 74 day trip aross the US. Her sleeping bag, and pad are on top the rack. I carried the tent , and some of the other camping gear, but she was still pretty self contained. However, she did get a set of full sized Back Packer Plus's when she saw some on sale. We are planning a 4 month tour next summer, and she wanted to take a netbook and more than one change of street clothes.

A long answer to a short question--Yes, they should be more than sufficient for what you have described.

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Old 01-12-11, 12:28 AM
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i used jandd expedition rear rack and they held up nicely.

i know the jandd expedition front rack does not fit the surly lht 56cm, but the 62 might have the clearance. you can find someone who can weld aluminum to chop the corners off the front rack that hits the diagonal lower tube (the tube that holds 2 water bottles) reverse them and weld them back... or use a hammer, whatever turns your wheels...

but i think they are damn good racks.

for the front, make sure they are beefy, the front wheel moves about a lot, and if they are not nicely welded, they can crack.

best!
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Old 01-13-11, 04:44 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by littlebigbot
The MTF-1 Rack is solid.

If you like the Pacific Outdoor panniers, these are less expensive, especially if you get email fliers with 30% off from Sierra Trading Post--Seattle Sports Fastpack Pannier - Waterproof:

https://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,...aterproof.html

With coupon, they are priced at $20.96 each.

Another option, Sierra Trading Post has these waterproof panniers for $27.96 with coupon-- Seattle Sports Rain Rider Pannier:

https://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,...r-Pannier.html

Last edited by bwgride; 01-13-11 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 01-13-11, 08:12 AM
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For rear panniers, if you get larger panniers than you really need, you have the capacity if:
- you decide to carry some extra water bottles or
- if you buy some extra bread for a picnic lunch or
- if you get the urge to buy a six pack or
- etc.

The front Ortliebs at 25L are a good size for one reason - it forces you to avoid putting too much weight on the front rack.

If you really are considering that small of a set of panniers for the rear for credit card touring, you might also consider getting one of the rack trunks that have zip out mini panniers. I think the combination is even larger volume than the front Ortliebs and they are quite light. They also work well around town as a normal rack trunk when you do not need the extra volume you get with the panniers.
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