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Racks - what comments, suggestions, modifications do you have?

Old 04-28-13, 09:02 PM
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Racks - what comments, suggestions, modifications do you have?

I've been looking at some different racks and I think I might make up my own instead of buying them. 2 features I have found that seem to be more helpful are #1 keeping the panniers low = keeps a lower center of gravity, and #2 having a flat spot on the top that allows attachment of top bags/gear with rope, bungees, or bungee netting. I am thinking of incorporating a few other "accessories" as well - such as a light mount.

If you had your dream racks how would they be configured?
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Old 04-28-13, 09:21 PM
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We joke that we include a bicycle with every rack we sell... we favour a double rail design where the panniers can be mounted low and so that any top loaded items do not interfere with them being accessed.

The rack I built for my Pugsley has a 3.5 inch drop which is more for offering ground clearance when needed and we usually build with a 2-3 inch spacing between the horizontal rails.



Materials are 3/8 and 5/16 chromoly tubing that is filet brazed... one could build a rack with a portable torch and MAPP gas but for production work this is too costly as the gas is very expensive when it is purchased in such small quantities.

An oxy/pro set up is not that expensive... the O2 bottle and torch could set you back $300.00 - $400.00 depending on what you choose to purchase.
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Old 04-28-13, 09:26 PM
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I'd definitely use steel and not aluminum. I have been on tour and saw aluminum racks fail, but fortunately I had Bruce Gordon's steel racks. Low center of gravity is good, but be careful not to get too low so that your panniers bottom-out when cornering. I prefer the top-of-the-wheel-level front racks for this reason. My only missing feature would be a quick-mount method of attaching baskets for when I go shopping.
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Old 04-28-13, 09:49 PM
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A rectangular side like a Tubus Cargo or at least a dogleg to keep the back edge of panniers from going into the spokes. This may not be a problem unless you have large feet.
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Old 04-28-13, 09:57 PM
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I haven't done anything weird to mine and they work perfect for my needs. I have Tubus Cosmo rear rack they work fine. I can strap anything on the top flat section, it is a lower center of gravity rack compare to most others, and it has a light mount.
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Old 04-28-13, 11:36 PM
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I added a Braze on to the hoop of my BG low rider, 1st for a battery pack wired light,
now set up with a Paul's made mount to attach a LED handle bar light there , off the handlebars..

rear one I replaced the top front struts, with ones I hand made out of 1/2" square steel tubing..


made that way, not my mod, but the left side of the front Tubus Ergo, Koga's batch,
has its own kickstand, supplementing the frame propstand..

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Old 04-29-13, 04:56 AM
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LIGHT MOUNTS!!!

I have had to cobble a few light mounts onto stock racks over the years. I do like the concept of the lower rail on the rear rack.

FWIW my two stock rack set ups are Jandd Expedition front and rear, the other set is a Bor Yeuh which came stock on my Giant Excursion. Those have built in light mounts, I think they were a Taiwan copy of Nitto.

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Old 04-29-13, 04:58 AM
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Blackburn style fully triangulated struts add a lot of stiffness: the rear-most struts angle inwards.
I find that a dogleg strut is not needed if your pannier has a good mount and stiffening board.
Not really a rack feature, but I like my horizontal stays to be horizontal, minimising length and maximising triangulation. Low eyelet locations such as found on compact frames and GT triple triangle frames require downward angle stays and you loose a lot of stiffness.

Some modern feature-laden panniers have sections of twin tubing that cannot be used with a fully locking hook and they have welded on bits that limit your hook location. Keep it simple and clean.
I'm not a fan of rail systems or solid rack-tops, I prefer an open framework. Do the sharp rails dig into tents and bags ? Rixen and Kaul make an add-on quick release plate for rear baskets if you need this feature but I guess for commuting a rail system could work.
I like a forward raised hoop to stabilise racktop loads and prevent them creeping forward.
I really dislike adjustable length struts, just buy the correct size.
This year I used the rear lamp mount for the first time. It is far better protected against impact than a rear mudguard location and works better with oversized loads compared to a seatpost location. The only thing missing is an internal cable route from the dyno-hub and a way to feed cable along the horizontal stays.
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Old 04-29-13, 06:11 AM
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KC8QVO, Mock up your panniers to whatever rack you're starting with to determine placement and follow the KISS principal. Handy features could be a lamp mount and spare spoke holder. I guess other quality racks are similar, but my Old Man Mountain rack uses a beveled recess that a screw with a cone shaped head fits into it for the main support strut rather than simply rest on the support screw's threads.

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Old 04-29-13, 08:01 AM
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Think about heel clearance. I really like the Tubus Logo EVO for placing the panniers pretty far back.

After you design it but before you build it, think about how it can flex. While I like the looks of the racks that have two vertical sides, They can flex from side to side if the tubing is not robust enough. I found that the Tubus Logo EVO that I bought last summer is very stiff, yet light because the top is quite narrow, it is almost like trying to flex a tetrahedron, resulting in a lot of inherent stiffness in the design. I also have a Surly rear rack, I think the Tubus is stiffer yet weighs much less.

MichaelW (above) pointed out the way that Blackburn stiffened their rack, that is what I am talking about. Make it stiff by design instead of by adding weight. But some have had problems with the Blackburn racks allowing the back lower parts of panniers to hit the wheel if the pannier lacks stiffness. Thus, that may not be the best way to do it unless you have a way to keep the pannier away from the wheel.

I agree with the points above about making it possible to put a light on it that was designed for seatpost mounting.
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Old 04-29-13, 05:26 PM
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Pannier rails about 2" below platform height. Platform right above fenders, a lot of racks are too high for no reason. I got a Tubus Cargo and had lower rails added. I like the aluminum rear racks that have a plate platform. The Tubus Cosmo is a neat design because the rear tail light is protected. If you ever have to pick up a bike and put it into a truck bed the end of the rack bangs into things.

I don't get why Tubus Cargo and Cosmo have two angled sections sticking up from the front of the rear rack. It would be better if it had a joined section for easier strapping like most rear racks.

Last edited by LeeG; 04-29-13 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:08 AM
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Being a sometime liberal user of bungees, I find a lot of racks don't have a good place to seat the hook. The same is true for panniers that use a hook to secure them as well. My ideal rack would have at least two spots on each side (each lower corner) for a hook to nestle. I see "at least" beacause a cross bar somewhere in the middle of the rack would be very helpful too, in order to get the proper tension or to reach with larger loads.

The aforementioned light mount is a must for me as well, as is heel clearance.

I prefer a platform, but would like for it to be wood.

On some bikes I've had trouble with the issue arms reaching where I need to attach them. Some flexibility here is a requirement of my dream rack.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 04-30-13 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
I added a Braze on to the hoop of my BG low rider, 1st for a battery pack wired light,
now set up with a Paul's made mount to attach a LED handle bar light there , off the handlebars..

rear one I replaced the top front struts, with ones I hand made out of 1/2" square steel tubing..


made that way, not my mod, but the left side of the front Tubus Ergo, Koga's batch,
has its own kickstand, supplementing the frame propstand
..
I spotted this feature on the Tubus, didn't know about the Koga (thanks!), thought it was pretty neat. I think it'd be a cool option.
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Old 04-30-13, 10:41 AM
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they ordered a lot of racks from Tubus theirs have a small steel plate to bolt through..
added before powder-coating.

now the Tubus Company has a retrofit piece, of their own . top of its mount is the bike's fork eyelet..
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Old 04-30-13, 11:22 AM
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Love our Tubus Cosmo. Tubus has super long optional front stays that are aluminum rod and can be bent to route around stuff. I've never used bungees since losing a load off a rack in Belgium. I cover the top of our Cosmo with ribbed rubber stair tread material for extra traction and less wear on bags.
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Old 04-30-13, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
I've been looking at some different racks and I think I might make up my own instead of buying them. 2 features I have found that seem to be more helpful are #1 keeping the panniers low = keeps a lower center of gravity, and #2 having a flat spot on the top that allows attachment of top bags/gear with rope, bungees, or bungee netting. I am thinking of incorporating a few other "accessories" as well - such as a light mount. If you had your dream racks how would they be configured?
KC; Is this what you are referring to as the dual rail?

This one is an Ibera 4 or 5. It was only $31 on Amazon and I bought it to proof my new touring bike, expecting to replace it later with the perfect one. Its made out of 10.5mm AL tubing which works good with most racks spec'd for 10mm or 11mm. It seems stiffer and better featured than I had expected. I have panniers on the lower rails now and a rackpac on the platform. The lashup with brainless. /K
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Old 04-30-13, 01:09 PM
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Be careful when buying a rack, you don't want a cheap rack while touring, they have been known to break at the welds under the stress of carrying a load and bouncing down a road. I read a bunch of books and internet sites before I opted for the Tubus line of racks, they seem to be the most favored of all the racks by the more experienced touring crowd. I prefer to learn from others rather then learning as I go so I can eliminate a lot of problems when touring, and there is a wealth of information on the net about how to tour.

However having said that if you're on a budget the Topeak Explorer and Super Tourist racks are all rated for 55 pounds and are very well made for the price.

Keep in mind something though, if a rack is rated for 55 pounds do not think you can load that up with 55 pounds of gear and be fine, load racks up to about 66 to no more then 70% of their total rated capacity. This is because the rack rated weight doesn't take into consideration the bouncing while traveling which on the down force could make a 55 pound rack hit 75 to 85 pounds of stress on the rack. Supposedly Tubus rates their racks for that bounce stress, but I still wouldn't want to test it while miles from somewhere trying to do a tour so I never load it with more then 35 pounds.

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Old 04-30-13, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO
I've been looking at some different racks and I think I might make up my own instead of buying them. 2 features I have found that seem to be more helpful are #1 keeping the panniers low = keeps a lower center of gravity, and #2 having a flat spot on the top that allows attachment of top bags/gear with rope, bungees, or bungee netting. I am thinking of incorporating a few other "accessories" as well - such as a light mount.
I have only ridden with mid-height mounted panniers. Higher than low riders, but noit as high as possible. No handling problems, and they afford extra clearence for curbs and unpaved surfaces. My original set was from Robert Beckman. The front had a platform and a light mount. When they were stolen, I went with the Nitto Big series from Rivendell. Large rear platform that allows me to strap my tent parallel to the bike. No pannier interference, and the load is centered over the wheel. The front has an ample platform and a light mount. On the heavier side and not cheap, but I don't care. They are what I wanted. And they are gorgeous.
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