Bicycle Rear Luggage Racks

A sub-page of http://bicycleluggageracks.com

Earth's Independent, Authoritative, and Only Source for Bicycle Luggage Rack Information

(More than you ever wanted to know about Bicycle Luggage Racks)

Last Update: 7 June 2009

 

What's New?

Madison Rack Summit Stainless

Madison Rack Summit Alloy

Raleigh Rear Rack with Spring Clip

Rivendell Nitto Big Back Rack

Topeak Super Tourist DX (two versions, one for disc brakes)

Massload CL-476
NOW AVAILABLE IN U.S.!

Civia

Biria Three Leg

Sources for Reflector Brackets and Long Mounting Brackets

Flash Flag Information

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This is an informational, non-commercial site. No products are sold on this site.

Click to send Broken Link Reports, Comments, Complaints, Compliments, Corrections to Web Master

Please do not send racks for evaluation without first contacting me by e-mail.

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Editor's Choice

Massload CL-476

This is as close to a perfect rack as you're likely to find for under $100. It has an extremely versatile mounting system for attaching to the bicycle, as well as being extremely versatile in terms of how panniers and trunk bags are attached. It has a great reflector/light bracket, and a relatively long platform. The dogleg strut is ideal, both preventing panniers from flopping into the wheel, and allowing bottom hooks to attach without sliding up.

Somewhat bizarrely, the only place to buy this rack in the U.S. is as an accessory from the company selling the LandRider auto-shifting bicycles. $60. They say that it's "champagne color." They also sell the custom trunk bag that can mount on top of this rack without any Velcro or buckles. $45.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Criteria for Inclusion
Rear Rack Design Considerations
Compact Frames and Rear Racks
Long Rear Racks and the Arkel Bug and other wide panniers
Shifting the Rack Further Back for Heel and Thigh Clearance
Keep the Rack Level
Spring Clamps
Rear Rack Specification Summary
Tail Light Mounting on Rear Racks
Extended Seat Stay Brackets
Flash Flags
Conclusion
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Introduction

This site looks at various rear racks that are suitable for use with panniers, and includes many that are suitable for cyclists with big feet, and with bicycles with short frames. I have not used all of these racks. The inclusion of a rack on this site is based on the dimensions and other design characteristics of the rack.

If you know of any racks that I missed, please let me know. Click here to send me an e-mail.

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Criteria for Inclusion

I've gotten some e-mails requesting that specific racks be considered for inclusion on this site. I'm happy to look at any rack that meets the following basic criteria:

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Rear Rack Design Considerations

Materials
As with bicycle frames, the best material for racks is chromium-molybdenum steel tubing (aka "Cro-Mo"). Unfortunately, as with bicycle frames, the trend is to use much less expensive aluminum. There are still some high end racks made out of 4130 Cro-Mo, including ones from Tubus and Robert Beckman, but you'll pay a high price for these racks. For the ultimate in long term durability without paint damage, a couple of manufacturers offer stainless steel racks. For heavily loaded touring the Cro-Mo racks represent a worthwhile expenditure.

That said, the aluminum racks are fine and a well-made aluminum rack will last a very long time. No need to pay the high price for steel unless you're a real purist.

Mounting System to Seat Stays
The better racks have a seat stay mounting system that doesn't require bending of flat brackets to match the seat stays. The brackets should be adjustable in width (to match different widths of seat stays) as well as pivoting up and down (to match different heights of seat stays) and rotating (to match different angles of seat stays).

Seat Stay Bracket Length
The brackets that come with many (or most) racks are too short for a lot of hybrid bicycles. See
Extended Seat Stay Brackets for information on how to solve this problem.

Platform Length
The longer the platform length, the further back panniers can be positioned, increasing heel clearance. However some racks with 33 cm platforms, such as the REI rack, are positioned further back from the seat stays, so the shorter platform is sufficient.

Positioning
Depending on the design, some racks sit further forward or further back when installed. Some racks end up too close to the seat post, with part of the rack under the seat, making it not possible to attach a rack trunk on top of the rack.

Reflector/Light Bracket
Many racks have a mount for a reflector or tail light, though many lack this feature. It can be quite a pain in the butt to add a reflector/light bracket so if you need to be mounting a light to the rack don't buy a rack without this feature. The best racks have a reflector/light bracket under the top platform where the reflector/light isn't sticking out in a way that it'll be easily damaged.

Triangulation
Long struts on a rack increase the side-to-side sway when fully loaded. On a rack with triangulation, one or more of the pairs of struts angle inward. This makes the rack more stable in terms of side to side sway. Struts that cross each other and are welded together also provide triangulation of sorts to reduce sway.

Strut Design
For use with panniers, the "dog leg" rear strut is essential as it prevents the pannier from knocking into the rear wheel when the pannier is mounted toward the rear of the rack. Also, avoid single strut racks. Three struts are preferable for heavy loads (i.e. touring with panniers), while two struts are sufficient for lighter loads.

Spring Clamps
Spring clamps are rather uncommon on racks these days, though they can be useful when carrying a small load.

Side Rail Design
Some racks stack the side rails with the strut bending parallel to the rail in order to increase the strength of the welds (Axiom, Jandd, IRD). Double rails make it difficult or impossible to mount certain types of panniers.

Capacity
The amount of weight that the rack is designed to carry. A fully loaded tourist could easily be carrying 50 pounds (22kg) of gear. Some of these racks can carry considerably more than this.

Weight
The sturdier racks have extra struts which can increase the weight by a couple of hundred grams. The racks that use Cro-Mo are lighter because they are able to use smaller diameter tubing which more than makes up for the difference between the weight of steel and aluminum.

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Compact Frames and Rear Racks

On many short wheelbase bicycles, even riders with smaller feet are having problems with heel clearance when mounting panniers to a rear rack, so it isn't just cyclists with big feet that are experiencing problems. A rack that was perfectly fine on a bicycle with normal frame geometry is often unusable on a bicycle with compact frame geometry. Many bicycle buyers don't understand all the drawbacks of the compact frames and naively fall for the sales pitch of the salespersons. Not to worry! Every time the bicycle industry does something to decontent a product new accessories are brought to the market to solve the problems that the decontenting brings. If buying a new bicycle, it's best to avoid any model with a compact frame unless the rider is very short.

Photo removed at the request of the owner.

Photo showed how crammed items that mount inside the main frame triangle are on a compact frame bicycle. For example, removing the seat tube water bottle is almost impossible because the top of the bottle is almost hitting the top tube.

Avoid compact frame bicycles at all costs.

Don't try this on a Compact Frame! A good example of the compromises of a compact frame bicycle, the Trek Pilot 1.2

Look at the compact frame bicycle above right, and if you know what to look for you can pick out many of the issues with compact frames. To be fair, this specific bicycle is a racing bicycle, not a touring or commuting bicycle, so it'd be rare for anyone to buy one to use in the manner pictured above.

Problems

  1. The water bottle mounted on the seat tube is so close to the top tube that the rider has to yank it out from the side. Forget about a lower down tube bottle on the underside.

  2. You can't use a frame pump, the preferred type of pump for touring and commuting, because it would interfere with the water bottle mounted on the seat tube.

  3. The short chain stays ensure a heel clearance problem for many riders, unless an extended length rear rack is used, or the panniers are mounted far back.

  4. The seat post is extended far further than on a standard geometry bicycle, because of the smaller frame. In fact some newer compact frames have a seat tube that extends well above the top tube.

Advantages

  1. For a child, a compact frame adult bike offers a road bicycle that can grow with them. The seat post is much longer so it has a wider range of adjustment, and the stem can be extended both up and out if necessary.

  2. The seat is so high up from the frame that loads on top of the rear rack can extend further forward.

Bottom Line

    For most adult riders, avoid compact frames at all costs. If a bicycle store tries to sell you a compact frame bicycle, run, don't walk, to a better store!

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Long Rear Racks and the Arkel Bug and other wide panniers

I started this quest after I bought the Arkel Bug pannier. The Arkel Bug is a very unique pannier, which converts to a backpack. There are very few such designs on the market, in fact I haven't been able to find any other, except the seriously flawed Nashbar design. The Arkel is pretty wide for a pannier, most touring panniers have moved to a narrow and tall design..

I tried using the Arkel Bug on my trusty Blackburn Expedition Rack with less than stellar results. I finally realized that it wasn’t just the rack that was the problem, but that the mounting system on the Arkel Bug is a flawed design, despite all the accolades for Arkel products. There are two problems with the Arkel Bug. First, the mounting system is different from what they use on their other pannier models; on their other models, the hook on the shock cord passes through the users choice of several slots near the bottom of the bag. This allows the hook to attach to the bottom of the rack in area that is not straight down from pannier's center. Second, the back of the pannier does not have a sufficiently stiff stiffener, so the bag tends to flop around and unless the rack has a "dog-leg" style design, the bag flops into the rear wheel when it's windy or you go over bumps. Since I was stuck with this pannier, I undertook a quest to find a good rack for it that would solve all the problems with it.

Ironically, searching for answers to this problem I came across the following post to a forum: "Believe me, I wanted this little BUG! I have the Blackburn Expedition Rear Rack. It is a NORMAL size rack. I would need a LONGER rack, about 15-16 inches on the platform for "The BUG" to work. I know this, cause I went up North (after talking with Arkel people in Canada) and tried it out on My Bike. Longer Rack would cost about 75.00 to 90.00 (depending where I bought it) Arkel Bug was about 125.00."

 

REI 736-733-0011, installed on my commute bike, a 56cm Specialized Sirrus (old version Sirrus road bike, not the current Sirrus hybrid). Bottom trapezoid prevents pack from flopping into the rear wheel. Velleman strobe is mounted on light mount. A longer rear rack would be better, as the pannier still extends well back beyond any vertical support structure. This is prior to shifting the rack further back.

Size 11.5 (46) shoe clears bag by about 1/2".

 

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Shifting the Rack Further Back for Heel Clearance

Since the issue being addressed is the lack of heel clearance, an alternative to a longer rack is to shift a shorter rack a couple of inches further toward the rear. If the rack has a strut that has more than one mounting hole you can securely bolt a section of aluminum or steel flat plate to two of the holes, then drill a hole in the flat plate through which an M5 bolt will attach the plate to the bicycle. You fabricate the plate to the length you need (height shifting is also possible). Of course the seat stay mounting brackets need to be long enough to accommodate shifting the rack further back. Ensure that the plate is thick enough that it won't flex, 0.25" thickness is good, and is thick enough to do tapping of holes. You wouldn't want to shift the rack back more than two inches or so, but often that's all that's necessary to fix heel clearance problems. Just beware that this sort of adapter puts more stress on the eyelets on the bicycle, so you might not want to try this on an aluminum frame bicycle.

As an example, on the REI rack I have, I decided to shift the rack back about 2", to the maximum extension of the seat stay brackets. This involved buying two 2.5" x 1.75" x .25" rectangles of aluminum flat, then drilling appropriately placed holes. You can get fancy and do some tapping of the holes so you don't need nuts where the rack attaches to the plate, but this isn't necessary, as bolts and lock nuts work fine too (in fact lock nuts eliminate the need to use a liquid thread locking compound). Online Metals will cut any width of the aluminum flat that they stock to any length, so you don't even have to worry about doing your own cutting. You can order stainless steel metric Allen head bolts, nuts, and washer from boltdepot. Maybe there is a local source for small quantities of metal and fasteners in your area, but in Silicon Valley there is not.

If your rack only has one mounting hole on the strut then this method probably won't work, as the rack will then have two pivot points (one at the seat stays, one at the strut eyelets) so it won't be securely mounted. The racks that are designed for use on different wheel size bikes usually have at least two mounting holes on the struts. Sometimes the flat part of the strut (the part with the mounting hole) has enough length that you could drill a second hole in it.

Commercial adapter for shifting the Tubus rack a little higher and a little further back. See http://tinyurl.com/y8vrky 1.75" x 2.5" aluminum Rectangle Used on the REI rack to shift rack back by about two inches. Be careful about doing this, especially on an aluminum frame bicycle where the frames and braze-ons are weaker than on steel bicycles. This only works on racks where you have two places to bolt the rectangle to on the strut, because the rectangle must not rotate.

All bolts are M6 stainless steel. Rear bottom hole is tapped, and bolt comes in from behind, but a lock nut could be used instead. I just wanted to try out my metric tap set!

 

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Shifting the Rack Further Back for Thigh Clearance

On a fully loaded rack for touring, items such as sleeping bags and tents are often strapped across the rack and over the panniers. The problem with this sort of arrangement is that often these items are so far forward that your thigh will hit the items with each revolution of the cranks. A longer rack, or a shifted rack, will add thigh clearance. A longer rack will also allow items to be strapped on lengthwise instead of crosswise.

This woman's thigh is hitting the items on top of her rack with each revolution of the cranks. The rack is too short, besides having only a single strut on each side. Thigh clearance is especially important when riding in the nude, as chafing will occur as the nylon rubs against the skin. Nude riding is common in San Francisco. Nice pair of cycling shoes.

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Keep the Rack Level

A common sight is rear racks tilted at ridiculous angles (or only slight angles). Either the rack is being installed on a size of bicycle that it wasn't intended for, or the brackets from the rack to the seat stay eyelets (or clamps) need to be adjusted (some are adjustable by design, some need to be bent to shape). The older Pletscher racks that clamped between the two seat stays, often are installed at an angle because there's really no way to adjust the seat stay mounting position. There is a steel plate available that bolts to the brake bolt, if present, or you can fabricate your own. Often the support brackets supplied with a rack are too short when the rack is installed on a hybrid type bicycle.

I was cycling in France in 2006 and stopped for lunch in a park near Giverny that was full of nude sunbathers and picnickers. I asked for permission to take a picture of this woman's bicycle due to the non-level rear rack, but she insisted on being in the photograph. Maybe she didn't understand what I said in my high school French. Maybe she saw my digital SLR and tripod and thought I was a professional photographer (thanks Canon). Maybe she was mad that I was looking at her bicycle instead of her. Whatever. Pay no attention to her, look only at the rack. Nice basket on the bike too. How did she carry the basket with the wine on the rear rack?

A bicycle for sale on craigslist with a rack installed by someone that didn't bother to do it properly.
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Spring Clamps

Spring clamps used to be standard equipment on rear racks, but nowadays they're pretty rare, especially in the U.S.. Cyclists use an elastic strap when carrying a load directly on the rack without the use of panniers or a rack trunk.

This woman in Spain uses the spring clamp on her rear rack to hold a plastic crate in place. Nude cycling is common in Spain in the warm summer months.

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Wire Rope Saddle Clips for all Racks other than the Sakkit and Civia & Nitto

One design flaw of most rear racks, when it comes to attaching panniers, is that the hook can slide along the bottom leg and come off. This is more of a problem when the pannier is mounted toward the rear of the rack. If the rear leg isn't level, then there is no way to attach the hook at all. The solution is to attach a clamp to the tubing of the rack that prevents the hook from sliding back. These clamps come in different sizes. For thinner tubing, the 1/4" is probably the right size, while for thicker aluminum tubing, the 3/8" size is probably the right size. Even with a level dogleg strut, most racks have no stop to keep the hook from sliding. The REI 736-890 has a dogleg strut that's angled slightly up from the rear, which makes a clip unnecessary. The Robert Beckman rack won't need this clamp, as it's properly designed to take this issue into account. I suspect that Robert Beckman actually has gone bicycle touring unlike the designers of most rear racks.

This shows a stainless steel wire rope clamp (1/4") attached to the rack. The 5/16" size would actually be better
but the local Home Depot didn't have it. This prevents the Arkel hook from sliding off when the Bug is mounted
 far back on the rack. These clamps are sold at Home Depot in the area where wire rope is sold.

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Number of Support Struts

The old Pletscher racks had only a single support strut, and the strut pivoted rather than being welded into one position. This was fine for carrying a few books to school, but really was not suitable for heavy loads, but it was convenient for packaging and shipping because it folded flat. Newer racks added a second strut, and were all welded together, which made for a much stronger rack (but one that was more of a pain to ship to stores).  Touring racks typically now have three struts, with the third strut being a dogleg strut that prevents the pannier from hitting the rear wheel. Two structural struts are actually sufficient as long as they are of sufficiently large diameter tubing, and as long as one is triangulated. Some racks use only two struts, and a different method of preventing the panniers from flopping into the wheel (i.e. the Pletscher Master).

I came across this woman in Sweden sunning herself on her old mixte frame bicycle with a Pletscher rack.  She graciously allowed me to take a picture of her bicycle, but insisted on being included in the picture Note the single support strut on the Pletscher rack. The classic Pletscher rack has fallen out of favor in the U.S.. These racks had a a habit of sliding down the seat stays, and a bracket was developed that supported the rack from the brake/fender bolt.

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Racks

Summary

  Length (cm) Weight (g) Capacity (kg) Material Triangulated Strut(s) Adjustable
Height
Reflector Bracket Shiftable Level Dogleg Strut* Street Price
Beckman Sakkit 44.5 ? ? Cro-Mo Yes No Yes No Yes $300
Rivendell Nitto Big Back Rack 34.5 ? ? Cro-Mo No No Yes No Yes $145
Jandd Expedition 41 1000 22 Aluminum No No Yes No Yes $70
Hebie Expedition ? 750 40 Aluminum No Yes Yes Yes Yes 348.00zł 
Tortec Expedition 38 ? 35 Aluminum Yes No Yes No Yes £29.99
Axiom Journey 39 700 39 Aluminum No No Yes No Yes $24
Axiom Odyssée 39 920 ? Aluminum No No Yes No Yes $25
REI 736-733 "Novara Transfer" Rack 33 ? 25 Aluminum No Yes Yes Yes Yes $25
REI 736-890 "Novara Safari" Rack 36 976 25 Aluminum Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $30
Tubus Logo 29 730 40 Cro-Mo Yes No Yes Yes Yes $100
Tubus Cosmo 29 680 30 Stainless Yes No Yes Yes Yes $150
Pletscher Master 39 870 25 Aluminum Yes   Yes Yes Yes 32
IRD Khyber Stainless 41 900 23 Stainless No No Yes No Yes $60
IRD Khyber Aluminum 41 ? 23 Aluminum No No Yes No Yes $43
Zefal Raider 36.5 1600 25 Aluminum Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ?
Topeak Super Tourist DX 41 700/739 25 Aluminum ? No Yes No No $57
Massload CL-476 42 ? 25 Aluminum No Yes Yes No Yes $60
Civia Rear Rack 28 680 18 Aluminum Yes No Yes No No 62
Biria Three Leg 30 820 25 Aluminum Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $27
Pyramid Bicycle Heavy Duty Welded 31 ? ? Aluminum No No Yes No No $22
Bor Yueh BY-324B 32 700 25 Aluminum Yes Yes Yes Yes No $15
Sunlite Multi-Fit 32 570 25 Aluminum Yes Yes Yes No No $15
Old Man Mountain Red Rock 39 600 27 Aluminum No No No No No $80
Madison Rack Summit Alloy 30 ? 30 Aluminum Yes No No No No $80
Madison Rack Summit Stainless 35 ? 30 Aluminum Yes No No No No $40
Raleigh Rear Rack with Spring Clip ? ? ? Aluminum Yes No Yes No Yes $85
Blackburn EX-1 32 703 20 Aluminum Yes No No No No $44
Blackburn EX-2 32 590 20 Aluminum Yes No No No No $45
Bruce Gordon 35 (39 with extension) ? ? Cro-Mo No No Yes No Yes $189
Surly Nice Rack 38 (est) ? ? Cro-Mo No Yes No No Yes $110

*or angled up toward the center strut

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Sakkit by Robert Beckman

http://www.coinet.com/~beckman/racksside.html

Length: 44.5 cm
Capacity:
Unknown
Weight: Unknown
Material: 4130 Cro-Mo
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
No, but not necessary
Bracket Type:
Custom
Shiftable:
No, but not necessary

Specification

Beckman Sakkit

The Rolls Royce of racks. Custom racks that are long enough to properly place panniers, as well as long enough to properly mount loads on top of the rack. Wide dogleg. These racks start at $300. Note the two horizontal tubes near the bottom; the upper tube is ideal for a lower hook to attach in a wide range of locations without being able to slide off. Mount for lights. The pivoting attachment mechanism to the seat stays is a more elegant version of what’s on the REI and Tubus racks. Clearly this rack was designed by someone who actually had done some bicycle touring with panniers!

You send him the necessary measurements (shoe size, chain stay length, frame size, dropout spread, seat stay eyelet distance) and a lot of money. Be really sure that the bike you're ordering the rack for is the bike you'll be keeping for a long time, as these racks are all custom made. I read somewhere that there is a long lead time for these racks.

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Rivendell Nitto Big Back Rack

An exceptionally well designed, strong and beautiful rack. A little shorter than I'd like at 34.5 cm, but it mounts pretty far back so it should work well. They include different shapes and lengths of mounting brackets. You can slide your panniers toward the rear and still have a level area to place the hook where it can't slide off (similar to the Beckman Sakkit rack), but they also have a little hoop (difficult to see) if you want to hook the panniers in the middle of the rack. I wish that they'd left off the front load stop. For a Cro-Mo rack it's not excessively expensive. It comes in two sizes. Order direct from Rivendell.

http://www.rivbike.com/products/list/bags_and_racks?page=2#product=none

Length: 34.5 cm
Capacity:
Unknown, but high.
Weight: Unknown, call Grant Peterson and ask him
Material: Cro-Mo
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type: 
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
No

Specification

Rivendell Nitto Big Back Rack

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Jandd Expedition

http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FREXP

About 16.15” long. Struts are not adjustable height. Wide dogleg. Panniers can be clipped/clamped all the way to the rear of the rack (no double tubing near the rear). Bottom attachment area is very wide so straps/cords can come straight down for proper load positioning, but it would have been nice to have some notches so bottom hook wouldn’t shift position (use a wire-rope clamp to solve this problem). No rear reflector/light bracket, but you could use a small L bracket through the top plate for this purpose. Aluminum platform/fender. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches. Seat stay mounting brackets are not adjustable, except fore to aft, and will have to be bent to fit. Double rails in two places could make it difficult to use certain types of pannier mounts (such as the Arkel system, but at least the rear of the rack doesn't have double rails. Not triangulated. I've received two e-mails regarding the reflector bracket. One person said that the rack does have a reflector bracket, someone else said that it didn't, but Jandd does sell a reflector bracket for it, but it's not as good as the integrated welded on brackets on other racks.

Length: 41 cm
Capacity:
22kg (I suspect that this is very conservative).
Weight: 1000g
Material: 3/8" 6061 aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes (extra cost option)
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable: No

Specification

Jandd Expedition

Reflector Bracket Sold by Jandd


$69 (including shipping) from http://brandscycle.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=2698. Available from very few shops. I did see one at “The Off Ramp” in Mountain View California for $70. This is probably the best off-the-shelf rack for the Arkel bug because of the dogleg rear strut being so far back, and because the rear strut turns into a bottom strut pretty far back.

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Hebie Expedition

http://www.hebie.de/html/en/detail_traeger.php?id=0190_M5

The manufacturer doesn't have the dimensions of this rack, but it definitely looks like it would work well by virtue of the extended lower set of pannier mount rails. Wide dogleg. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches. Not sold in the U.S.. This looks a little similar to the REI rack, with the same mounting system, and similar cross beams on the top platform. You might be able to order this online from a store in Austria, Switzerland, or Germany. It sells for about 70 Euros.

Recessed reflector/light mounting is an excellent feature that helps protect the light from damage.

Length: ?
Capacity:
40kg
Weight: 750g
Material: Anodized 10mm aluminum tubing
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable: Yes

Specification

Hebie Expedition

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Tortec Expedition

http://www.zyro.co.uk/product_list.asp?cat1=rac&cat2=rearrack

Wide dogleg. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches. Not sold in the U.S., but you could order one from the UK for about $47, including shipping (click here). This rack has the light bracket positioned all the way to the rear, unlike the Hebie Expedition. The top plate is 38cm (15") in length. Available in silver and black. Definitely the best deal in a rack of this style, though the Tubus racks are steel while this rack is aluminum.

Apparently Tortec has another rack by the same name that is a totally different design, so be careful if ordering on-line.

Length: 38 cm
Capacity:
35kg
Weight: Unknown, but probably around 750g.
Material: 10mm alloy (aluminum)
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable: No

Specification

Tortec Expedition

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Axiom Journey

This rack comes in two versions. One is disc brake compatible. The top platform is 39 cm (15.4 inches) long. The rear dogleg will prevent panniers without good stiffeners from flopping into the wheel, while the long low level part of the rear leg is ideal for the bottom hook. If the panniers are mounted toward the rear, use a wire rope clamp to keep the hook from sliding off the back. The regular model is only $21. From the pictures, it looks like the disc brake model comes with a mount for a rear light, while the standard model does not, but actually both models come with a removable reflector mount which isn't as nice as an integrated, welded reflector mount. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches. Double rails in two places could make it difficult to use certain types of pannier mounts (such as the Arkel system, but at least the rear of the rack doesn't have double rails. It has a reflector bracket, but not as good as the integrated welded on brackets on other racks.

Length: 39 cm
Capacity:
150 pounds (I suspect that this is a misprint)
Weight: 700g
Material: 6061 T6 aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable: No

Specification

Journey (non-disc)

Axiom Journey (disc)

Regular model see: http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30&action=details&sku=RK6602

Disc brake model see: http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30&action=details&sku=RK6620

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Axiom Odyssée

These racks have a 15.4" top platform, and are designed for use on bicycles with some rear suspension (though they are usable on hardtail bicycles as well). "Fits most 4 bar “Horst-Link” and “URT” suspension designs - Not compatible with - “seatstay dropout pivot” - 4 bar linkage bikes." Available in silver or black. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches.  It has a reflector bracket, but not as good as the integrated welded on brackets on other racks.

Length: 39 cm
Capacity:
Unknown
Weight: 920g
Material: 6061 T6 aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
See photo
Shiftable: Yes

Specification

Axiom Odyssée

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REI 736-733 "Novara Transfer" Rack

Rack that’s on the REI Novara Transfer (http://www.rei.com/product/744802), and the Novara Fusion. The poor man's alternative to the Tubus rack! The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches.

Length: 33 cm
Capacity:
25kg
Material: Not sure. Probably aluminum, given the low price.
Weight: Damn, I forgot to weigh it before I installed it!
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No, but the additional trapezoid, and the attachment method of the struts to the top rails, eliminate sway.
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable: Yes

Specification

REI 736-733 Novara Fusion

REI 736-733 Shifted 2" to the Rear

I was in REI looking for a rear rack, and I pointed to the rack on the Novara Transfer bicycle and told the sales guy, “that’s the kind of rack I’m looking for.” I expected him to tell me to forget it, instead he told me that I could order one as a “spare part” for the Transfer, and he looked up the part number for me. Then I expected the price to be outrageous, but it was only $25 (plus it's dividendable, plus with an REI Visa card you get another 5% off, so it was really only $21.25)

It ships in three pieces; you have to assemble the sides to the top. You order it by taking the number 736-733 to the REI checkout at the store. It is not available form REI.com, though you can call them and order it. Note: This rack may no longer be available because REI no longer sells the Transfer bicycle.

The first time I ordered this rack, it came with no hardware to bolt the sides to the top, so I returned it. The replacement order came without the hardware, as well as coming without the two sides, and the top part was defective as well! The replacement order for that came without the hardware again, despite customer service swearing that they'd check the order prior to shipping. I gave up and went to Home Depot and bought some stainless steel bolts, washers, and lock nuts (I used 10-24 x 1” bolts because to buy metric stainless steel hardware requires ordering it online from Mcmaster).

The mounts to the seat stays are the same as what’s on the Tubus rack. Rather than flat steel, that usually needs to be bent, there are two round struts that can turn (to accommodate seat stays which are usually angled), that can pivot (to angle down to the seat stays), and that can be adjusted side to side (to match different seat stay spacing). The downside of this system on the REI rack is that the mounting rods to the seat stay are too short to use on many hybrid or mountain bikes, and it would be difficult to improvise a replacement, but they are fine for a typical touring bicycle. On many bikes, when I have to mount a rack, I end up fabricating custom mounting hardware from aluminum flat bar because the hardware that comes with the rack isn’t designed for use on hybrid or mountain bikes.

It actually isn’t much longer than standard racks, but it mounts about two inches further back, plus the bottom rail trapezoid is a little further back from the top section. Be sure to use stainless steel bolts and lock nuts, and stainless steel washers for assembly. You need to use SAE 10-24 or metric M5. The bolt length should be about 3/4" for SAE, about 16mm for metric. While this rack is very solid, the workmanship is not the greatest. You can look at the picture above and see that the tubing isn't perfectly straight. At first I thought that the bolt together design would be less rigid than a welded design, but the rack is very rigid when tightly bolted together (again, use lock nuts).

I tried to find out who makes this rack, to no avail. It looks like a rip-off of the Hebie racks out of Germany (http://www.hebie.de/html/en/detail_traeger.php?id=0190_M5).

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REI 736-890 "Novara Safari" Rack

This is the rack from the Novara Safari. The Novara Randonee has the same rack but with longer seat stay rods (the Novara Randonee rack is not in the REI spare parts database for some reason). It costs $30 as a spare part from REI (plus it's dividendable, plus with an REI Visa card you get another 5% off, so it was really only $25.50)! It's 14" long. As with the Novara Transfer rack, REI neglects to include the proper hardware to fasten the sides to the top (a small bag of hardware came with the rack, but it lacked some of the pieces needed). You need six M5x20mm bolts, twelve M5 washers, and six M5 lock nuts (use stainless steel). Don't bother sending it back in the hope you'll get a replacement with the proper hardware, it won't happen (just go buy some hardware).

It ships in three pieces; you have to assemble the sides to the top. You order it by taking the number 736-890 to the REI checkout at the store. It is not available form REI.com, though you can call them and order it. This rack is manufactured better than the Novara Transfer rack above, and uses thicker diameter (10mm) tubing.

This is an extremely solid, and extremely versatile rack, however the seat stay rods are not long enough for many hybrid bicycles. You could use some of the Tubus accessories at http://tinyurl.com/y8vrky to modify the fit (350mm long seat stay rods are $12 per pair). The seat stay rods on the Tubus are the same diameter as on the Novara Safari, just a tad under 8mm. Alternatively, you could remove the seat stay mounts and attach aluminum flat bar to the holes where the seat stay swivels attach as well as to the seat stays.

The Randonee has the same rack, but the seat stay struts are longer. For some reason REI doesn't have it in their system. The Safari model bicycle is apparently discontinued, but they still have the racks available (or maybe it's because the Safari is discontinued that they're selling off the remaining racks!). I bought four of these racks, as I need to replace some of the poor racks on other bicycles in my family's fleet.

This is probably the best non-custom rack available for touring. The dogleg strut angles slightly up from the rear which will prevent a pannier hook from sliding off the back, it's very strong, and it's highly adjustable. The front load stop is an annoyance though.

I really like the reflector/light bracket on this rack because it's under the platform which helps protect the light from being banged and damaged. Very few racks have this feature.

Length: 36 cm
Capacity:
25kg
Material: Probably aluminum, given the low price. 10mm
Weight: 976g (weighed myself)
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes, sort of. The dogleg strut is angled in then back out where it attaches to the top platform. Also, the way the struts attach to the rack reduces sway. The thick tubing also increases rigidity.
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable: Yes

    

 

Specification

REI 736-890 Novara Safari

Shown on Novara Randonee

Mounting the REI 736-890 to a Bicycle Without Braze-Ons by the Rear Wheel Axle

This rack proved to be especially good for mounting on a bicycle without braze-ons down by the rear wheel axle, always a troublesome problem to overcome. I couldn't use the adapter doohickey that goes on the quick release because of the lawyer lips and disc brake mechanism (plus that adapter is a pain because the rack has no support when you remove the wheel). Rubber coated P clamps don't have enough friction to keep from sliding down (though they are usable on the seat stays for the upper mounts if there are no braze-ons). I tried using steel cable ties, but they were ineffective as well.

What I did was to slightly enlarge two of the holes on the adjustable height mounting bracket and then I inserted a U bolt through the holes and around the seat stay. I covered the top of the U bolt with flexible clear plastic hose, and I covered the mounting bracket with black plastic hose and heat shrinkable tubing. This both protected the paint and provided plenty of friction. This method resulted in a very securely mounted rack. Obviously you want to be careful not to damage the frame, but this mountain bike has a strong steel frame. You'd never do this with carbon fiber, and even with aluminum you want to be very careful to not crush the tubing. I used star nuts, though I should have used plastic insert lock nuts. I could have used flat washers instead of the flat plate that came with the U bolt if I wanted to save a few grams of weight. I had to trim off the ends of the U bolt with a Dremel tool and cutoff wheel because the bolt ends extended out too far. The disc brake cable was kind of tricky, but I stuck two washers behind the little pannier hook mechanism to not crush the cable.

 

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Tubus Logo/Tubus Cosmo

http://www.tubus.net/eng/produkte/hinterradtraeger/cosmo.php

http://www.tubus.net/eng/produkte/hinterradtraeger/logo_expedition.php

The Logo ($100) is Cro-Mo, the Cosmo ($140) is stainless steel.

Logo
Length: 29 cm (upper platform)
Capacity:
40kg (wow!)
Weight: 730g.
Material: Cro-Mo
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts: Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
Yes
$100 at http://www.lickbike.com/productpage.aspx?PART_NUM_SUB='3584-00

Specification

Tubus Logo

Dimensions

 

Cosmo
Length: 29 cm (upper platform)
Capacity: 30kg
Weight: 680g.
Material: Stainless Steel
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts: Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
Yes

Specification Tubus Cosmo

These racks have an middle rail that lets the panniers be positioned further back. They have reflector brackets. However I don’t think that these are positionable far enough back for people with big feet if the panniers are attached to the top platform, as the top platform is only about 29 cm (11.4 inches) long. See http://tinyurl.com/y8vrky for some fit solutions for Tubus that may solve the heel clearance problem, as well as enabling the use of this rack on bicycles with very low mounting points on the seat stays. This rack does not have the annoying, and all too common, angled up load stop platform.

Note that the Tubus seat stay rods can be used on the REI Novara Safari rack.

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Pletscher Master

Pletscher, the original rear rack, has designs for touring. http://www.pletscher.ch/produkt.asp?ID=1&title=Luggage+racks (then click "Master") or see the spec of this rack (in Swiss German) at http://www.pletscher.ch/products/pdf/Master_System.pdf.

Length: 39 cm
Capacity: 25 kg
Weight:
870g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
Yes

 

Pletscher Master

This rack has a 39cm (15.4") long top platform. Like the original Pletscher rack, it has a spring clamp built in. Optional dogleg is very well designed, extending almost all the way to the rear of the platform. Support struts near the bottom are not welded together, but are held together the mounting hardware, so the problem of this weld breaking is eliminated, in fact there are no welds at all on this rack. The pannier support dogleg frame is removable, if you are just using a racktop bag then you don't need to install it. Seat stay mounts are ordered separately, and are available in three different lengths. The load stop at the front folds down. This rack only has two support struts, the dogleg is removable and is only there to prevent panniers from hitting the rear wheel.

Baskets that mount on top of the rack are available.

I did find one U.S. retailer of this rack, see http://www.thorusa.com/pletscher.htm. You should contact them before ordering, because apparently various components of this rack are sold separately, and there are several options. The Pletscher web site states "Pannier/saddlebag side supports (optional)."

Schloss zur Diebstahlsicherung: "Anti-theft device" which appears to refer to a hard luggage rear carrier container.

Fahrradtaschen-Abstützung: "Bicycle bag support" which refers to the large rectangular side support

Verstellbare Strebenendplatten: "Adjustable end plates" which refers to the metal pieces where the struts come together at the bottom. They have a different type available that lets you adjust the height of the rack.

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IRD Khyber

Available in both stainless steel and aluminum. See http://www.interlocracing.com/racks.html. This is a long (41cm), wide 15.4 cm rack. It doesn't appear to be triangulated.  The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches. Double rails in two places could make it difficult to use certain types of pannier mounts (such as the Arkel system, but at least the rear of the rack doesn't have double rails). I saw that Soma Fabrications warns that it doesn't work with their grocery bag style panniers. Available from a few dealers, plus direct from the manufacturer at http://store.interlocracing.com/khalra.html.  It has a reflector bracket, but not as good as the integrated welded on brackets on other racks.

Length: 41 cm
Capacity:
23 kg
Weight:
900g (stainless), no weight given for aluminum
Material: Aluminum or Stainless Steel
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Shiftable:
No

 

IRD Khyber Stainless Steel
(may not be available)

IRD Khyber Aluminum
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Zefal Raider

A good design of the dogleg (level) for use with panniers and an integrated clamp and strap. Unclear if reflector can be removed and replaced with a rear light. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches.

Length: 36 cm
Capacity:
25 kg
Weight:
870g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
Yes.

 

Zefal Raider

In the U.S., order from http://www.bikeworldusa.us/Zefal-Safari-III-Rear-Bicycle-Rack/M/B0009OKWIC.htm or order from http://www.xxcycle.com/safari-iii,,en.php for less (though shipping may be more).

An ex-girlfriend once got a ticket for running a red light on the Cinderella Classic century ride. It was the top part of a Tee intersection with a wide shoulder lane. When she mouthed off to the cop, he stopped talking to her and silently issued her a ticket. When she got home and looked closely at the ticket, under "vehicle make and model" the cop had written "10 Speed Zefal," mistaking her pump for the make of bicycle. Not sure how this relates to rear racks, but the Zefal rack reminded me of this story.

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Topeak Super Tourist DX

A pretty good deal for a long rack with a lot of features, including a lower rail if you want to mount panniers lower. Features Topeak's slide mount top which is compatible with some Topeak trunk bags. The mounting brackets look a little funky because they are so close together.

Length: 41 cm
Capacity:
25 kg
Weight:
700g (non-disc) 739g (disc)
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
?
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable:
No.

 

 

Topeak Super Tourist DX (non-disc brake)

Topeak Super Tourist DX (disc brake)

In the U.S., the disc brake model is available from Amazon for $39 with free shipping, see http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ZKHN6Y. I could not find an on-line retailer, in the U.S. for the non-disc brake model. Perhaps a Topeak dealer could order it. You can order it from the UK but you'll pay high shipping. It's rather surprising to see Amazon selling something like this from their own store, rather than from one of their affiliate stores.

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Massload CL-476

Excellent design for touring. One of the longest platforms available, recessed reflector bracket, fully adjustable height and reach. Lower strut mounting holes end up pretty far forward which positions the rack further back on the bicycle than many designs, with rather long seat stay mounts. Panniers mount on lower rail, leaving the platform free for a racktop bag, or to carry tents and sleeping bags without interfering with the panniers.

This rack is sold for $59.95, with free shipping, from an unlikely source. See http://www.landriderbikes.com/accessories_1.asp. They may sell crappy bikes, but at least they sell a good rack! For $44.95 they also sell the rack top bag that is made to clip onto this rack, but I'd pass on that bag and just get a Lone Peak RP700. Yeah, $60 is a lot for a rack that probably costs them $5, but that's life. They say that it's "champagne color," so they may have gotten it in a custom color from Massload.

This rack is gone from the manufacturer's web site, so it may have been discontinued, or it may be a rack not intended to be sold other than to specific customers.

I'm not positive about the length. One source says 15.25" which would be 38.1 cm, one source says 42 cm.

Length: 42 cm
Capacity:
25 kg
Weight:
?
Material: Aluminum 10.2mm
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
Yes

       

 

Massload CL-476. The one sold by Landrider (right) appears to be a different color.

Apparently some shops in the U,K. have this rack. This rack is gone from the manufacturer's web site, but can still be seen at http://web.archive.org/web/20041108130532/http://www.cl-massload.com.tw/products.php?pid=78. There's a thread about this rack at http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?p=130087#130087. Massload makes a lot of the racks used on bicycles that include racks, and they don't have custom designs done for those customers on the web site. I saw some really good racks from them at the Taiwan bike show in March 2008.

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Civia Rear Rack

Wow, someone actually gets it when it comes to a simple way to not have the bottom hooks slide off the bottom rail.  Too many racks provide the only pannier hook mounting point right at the end of the strut that bolts on down by the rear axle. While this rack isn't especially long, it is positioned fairly far back, and comes with long brackets. One of the resellers writes, "Lower and further back pannier positioning provides heel clearance and ride stability." Probably it didn't cost them very much for that W but they're charging a lot for it. I saw one of these racks for sale at Sports Basement, a small chain of REI-like outdoor stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, for $68, ouch!

This rack has a very short platform at only 28cm, but it does sit pretty far back.

Length:  28 cm
Capacity:
18 kg
Weight:
680g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
No

  Civia Rear Rack

 

Civia's web site is http://www.civiacycles.com/civiacomponents.php but provides minimal information. Available at:  http://www.modernbike.com/itemgroup.asp?igpk=2126176856&TID=367 for $62.

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Biria

Inexpensive rack with a level dogleg strut, reflector bracket, adjustable height, and round mounting brackets. The brackets may not be long enough for many bikes so you'd have to order longer ones. Rather short, but it mounts further back than some longer racks, so it may provide sufficient foot clearance.

Length:  30 cm (estimate)
Capacity:
25 kg
Weight:
820g (estimate)
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable: Yes

  Biria Rear Rack

Sold for $27 at http://www.bikemania.biz/Biria_Aluminum_3_Leg_Rear_Bicycle_Rack_p/biria_43531.htm or for $29 with free shipping from http://www.amazon.com/Bike-Aluminum-spring-Black-Biria/dp/B001454768. Reflector is extra cost.

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Pyramid Bicycle Heavy Duty Welded

A basic touring rack in the tradition of the Blackburn Expedition rack, but with a good reflector bracket and a lower price ($22). One of the few racks with a solid platform the whole length of the rack.

Length:  31 cm (estimate)
Capacity:
Unknown
Weight:
Unknown
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable: No

  Pyramid
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Sunlite Multifit

This rack has adjustable height like the Bor-Yueh (but using the method Delta uses on their racks), but the seat stay bracket mounts are different. It's suitable for using a single bracket connected to the rear brake bolt hole, or two brackets to the seat stay braze-ons. No dog-leg strut. Available from Nashbar. I received two of these on September 17, 2008. Now $17 from Nashbar. It includes both seat stay and brake bolt/fender hole mounting brackets, though they are too short for many bikes. See https://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?category=6000112&subcategory=60001079&brand=&sku=24473. You get about 1.5" of height adjustment with the threaded-rod bolts. Nashbar incorrectly identifies this rack as "Sunlight" when it's actually Sunlite. One thing I don't like about this rack is that it sits too far forward, but on the other hand, this is one of the few racks where the included brackets were long enough to reach the seat stays.

Length: 32 cm
Capacity:
25 kg
Weight: 570g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable:
No

     

 

Sun Light Multi-Fit

Installed on a K2 T:Nine Myste. Rack doesn't sit back far enough.
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Blackburn EX-1

Length: 32 cm
Capacity:
20 kg
Weight:
703g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: No
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable: No

Blackburn EX1
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Blackburn EX2
Blackburn came out with the EX2, which adds the dogleg strut to the original Expedition rack, but it's not a long enough rack, and the dogleg strut isn't good for hook attachment due to the angle. A real travesty that the company that was once synonymous with racks hasn't kept up with the times. The weight is very strange since it's listed as being lighter than the EX1

 

Length: 32 cm
Capacity:
>20 kg
Weight:
590g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: No
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable: No

Blackburn EX2
 
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Surly Nice Rack
Their Nice Rack is a nice rack, but at 32 cm it's a bit too short. See http://www.surlybikes.com/parts/nicerack_pop.html. Surly provides almost no data on this rack, but their products are typically very high quality. Surly also makes an excellent cro-mo touring bicycle, the Long Haul Trucker.

Length: 32 cm
Capacity:
kg
Weight:
Not specified
Material: Cro-Mo
Reflector Bracket:  Not specified
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
No

Surly Nice Rack Rear
 
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Bruce Gordon http://www.bgcycles.com/racks.html
Beautiful, extremely high quality racks, made out of 4130 Cro-Mo, and they work well on non-compact frame bicycles with panniers that aren't too wide. Bruce Gordon does offer an optional rack extension on his racks, which extends the length by 4", but this extension can't be used for mounting panniers, it's mainly for being able to mount longer loads on the top. Pretty ridiculous reflector/light mounting system sticking it way out there. The problem with this rack is that the basic platform is too short especially when combined with mounting rather far forward.

Length: 35 cm without extension, 39 cm with extension
Capacity: kg
Weight:
Not specified
Material: Cro-Mo
Reflector Bracket:  Yes, but poorly designed
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable:
No

Bruce Gordon Rear Rack with Optional Extension

I saw Bruce Gordon at Interbike 2008 in Las Vegas. He was in a booth with TwoFish.

Bruce Gordon frame from Taiwan with front and rear racks attached
 (men in background are not Bruce Gordon) 

Gordon wants to Expand Production with his Taiwan-
Built, Lower-Cost Frames, and is looking for investors.

As Robert Beckman writes,One quick way to recognize that an experienced bicycle tourist didn’t design your racks is to take a look at how the platforms of the racks are designed. Typically, rack platforms are a mess. Lowriding racks lack a platform. Many racks have platforms that are way too short (like rear Gordon racks) or have raised ends that encourage the unwise practice of placing gear across the top of the rack. Some racks, most notably Gordon racks, leave huge gaps over the wheel (up to eight inches in their rear rack and ten in their front high-mount rack).” That said, I'm sure that Bruce Gordon could weld you up a rack to whatever specifications you need, but he'd probably discourage the longer racks because loads that are too far back make the bicycle unstable. I saw Bruce Gordon at Interbike in Las Vegas on September 24th 2008. He's now importing frames from Taiwan in order to be able to offer his great touring bicycles at lower price point. He's also looking for investors in the company, as any expansion will require an infusion of capital.

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Old Man Mountain Red Rock

http://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/RackPages/RearRacks.html

I took this rack out because they don't offer a reflector bracket, then I thought I should include it again since you can probably use the Jandd reflector bracket in a pinch, and it does have a rather unique mounting system for the brackets which mount to the V brake bosses (or to the seat stays with band clamps). This keeps the mounting struts out of the way of brake cables and calipers.

About 15.25” long. Issue in terms of being able to attach bottom hook to a position other than at the junction of the struts—it can be worked around with a wire rope clamp (paint it black). Not as good as the Jandd Expedition, and more expensive. This rack is sold by Arkel as a good rack for larger panniers and increased heel clearance. The shape of the dogleg will support panniers but it isn't going to be easy to hook to the dogleg due to the angle. The angled up front of the platform (load stop) is an annoyance if you're carrying long loads that could otherwise be moved forward a couple if inches. The attachments to the seat stays come out from the struts, rather than from the platform, reducing the sturdiness of the attachment system. Double rails in two places could make it difficult to use certain types of pannier mounts (such as the Arkel system, but at least the rear of the rack doesn't have double rails. Struts are not triangulated.

Now that the Massload CL-476 is available for $60, this rack has limited appeal.

Length: 39 cm
Capacity:
27kg
Weight: 600g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: No
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width.

Specification

Old Man Mountain Red Rock

 
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Madison Rack Summit

Well-designed rack, other than the lack of a reflector mount. the bolt-on bottom foot eliminates a major point of failure on welded racks. Order on-line from the U.K. for about $40 plus shipping for the aluminum version, about $85 for the stainless steel. Apparently a rack from Massload out of Taiwan.

Length: ? cm
Capacity:
30 kg/35kg
Weight:
Not specified
Material: Aluminum/stainless steel
Reflector Bracket:  No
Triangulated Struts:
Yes
Adjustable Height:
No
Bracket Type:
Three-way Adjustable Round Tubes
Shiftable:
Yes, kind of.

  
Madison Rack Summit
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Raleigh Rear Rack with Spring Clip

Well-designed rack with a level dogleg strut for easy pannier hooking. Order on-line from the U.K. for about $32 plus shipping.

Length: Unknown
Capacity:
Unknown
Weight:
Unknown
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
No
Adjustable Height:
Yes
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width (other than flipping them or bending them)

Specification

Raleigh Rear Rack

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Inexpensive Good Racks for People with Small Feet or for Use with Narrow Panniers

Bor Yueh BY-324B
Smaller Sized Dog Leg Rear Rack

If you're only using small, narrow panniers, or if you have small feet, you may not need the extended heel clearance offered by these other racks. Nashbar sells the Bor Yueh BY-324B rack for $15. I initially believed that this rack was longer than it actually is, because the manufacturer's description stated that it was 40cm long. They may have been including the length of the seat stay brackets in this measurement. If necessary, this rack can be mounted much higher to increase clearance, though this is not recommended with heavy loads.

I put one of these racks on an old Univega suspension-less mountain bike ($25 on craigslist) which I converted into a pseudo-hybrid. I attached the Blackburn Mars 2.0 tail light directly to the light bracket, and a Flash Flag to the side of the rack (see photo). Unfortunately, as on many racks, the mounting hardware to the seat stays is not nearly long enough for most smaller frames, so I made some mounting hardware out of aluminum flat bar (see photo). The good thing is that the rack has those long slots for attaching the mounting brackets, so you get a lot of leeway in the fabrication (the brackets I made could have been made shorter). I also installed one on a Schwinn Sierra GS (small), again with custom mounting brackets.  Unlike racks where the flat mounting brackets have a 90 degree twist to mount to the flat plate of the rack, the Bor Yueh can use untwisted brackets so it's a lot easier to make your own.

This rack is a good candidate for shifting using the method detailed above, but it sits far back enough even without shifting.

This rack is no longer available from Nashbar. They have a similar Bor Yueh rack that lacks the reflector bracket.

This is a rather light-duty rack, and isn't suitable for long tours with 25 kg of panniers, no matter what the spec says. But for a rack trunk, or other light use it's fine. See http://www.cycletrack.net/parts/saddle/thread10.html for a report of a Bor-Yueh failure when used with heavy loads. 8mm aluminum tubing rather than the 10mm used on most other racks.

Length: 32 cm
Capacity:
25kg
Weight: 700g
Material: Aluminum
Reflector Bracket: Yes
Triangulated Struts:
Yes (difficult to see in photo, but I checked the rack since I have one)
Adjustable Height: Yes
Bracket Type:
Flat brackets, adjustable reach, non-adjustable width, bend to adjust height.
Shiftable:
Yes

 

Bor Yueh BY-342B

Installed with Rear Light and Flash Flag
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Trek 520 Rack—An Example of What Not to Buy

Someone suggested that I show the Trek 520 rack (the rack that is on Trek's 520 bicycle) as an example of what to avoid in a rack for touring. Indeed, Trek outdid themselves in putting a rack totally unsuitable for touring on their alleged touring bicycle.

Trek 520 Rack

So what's wrong with this rack? First of all, touring racks should always have three struts for stiffness and strength. Second, the rear strut should be a “dogleg” strut because this keeps panniers from hitting the wheel. Third, the struts should meet very close to the threaded mounting hole by the rear axle. Fourth, you should never have double tubing at any point along the side rails, as many pannier mounting systems won’t work with double tubing (i.e. the Arkel mount). Fifth, there should not be a load stop at the front of the rack (though Trek is hardly alone in this). Sixth, if positioning panniers toward the rear, there is no place to attach the bottom hook of the pannier's shock cord without bringing it down at at about a 40 degree angle. On the plus side, It does appear to be a rather long rack.

Of course the Trek 520 is really no longer a touring bicycle for other reasons that we won’t get into here, but jeez, even REI didn’t cheap out on the rack for their touring bicycle. The 520 is not an inexpensive bicycle, so including such a crappy rack is inexcusable. Trek should just drop the 520 model completely and put it out of it's misery.

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Tail Light Mounting on Rear Racks

All of these racks include a way to attach a rear reflector or tail light. Most high end tail light manufacturers have adopted the same mounting standard used on reflectors, of one threaded stud that goes through one hole, and one raised protrusion that goes through a second hole that prevents the tail light from turning.

Choose a good LED flasher if riding at night. Ensure that the flasher you choose has both rear and side pointing LEDs. The two best rear LED lights both work with these racks. One is the Blackburn Mars 2.0 ($12 at REI). The other is the Cateye LD1000, available at Nashbar for $30. For maximum visibility use a Xenon strobe on the rear rack, those xenon strobes are much better than LED flashers in terms of visibility (including daytime visibility), but they use more power, and the bulb doesn't last as long as LEDs.

I've made light brackets for racks that lack them and they are a kludge that's best avoided. It's usually not just a simple L bracket. Since the bends are sharp, you can't use aluminum flat bar. It ends up being bolted on through the top plate, if there is a top plate, or bent around the rear rail if there is no top plate. Something so simple to include on a rack should be included. And of course not many people want to make everything such a big project.

Reflector Bracket that Works with Many Racks without top plates. Buy it for about $3 in most U.K. Bicycle Shops. Not available in the U.S. as far as I know. Talk about insanity.

http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/product.asp?pf_id=15494

Reflector Bracket that Works with Many Racks with top plates. Buy it for $1.50 from Jandd. If you make your own, note the need for three bends—it's not a simple L bracket.

http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=RG-RM

 

Blackburn Mars 2.0 Cateye LD1000 Night Sun Xenon Strobe Velleman 12V Xenon Strobe

 

  

I came across this scene in Denmark. These women forgot their clothes, but at least they remembered to install rear lights on their racks. Nude bicycling is apparently quite common in Denmark during the warmer summer months, and the police look the other wayor not.

For more information on lighting visit  Bicycle Lighting Systems

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Extended Seat Stay Brackets or "It does not fit, you must fabricate!"

On many hybrid bicycles and kid's bicycles the seat stay braze-ons for rear racks are too far away for the rack for the included brackets to be usable. I've fabricated many long brackets out of aluminum flat bar to enable a rack to fit a bicycle. Sometimes I make two brackets and mount to the braze-ons on the seat stays (see photo, below left), and sometimes I use a single bracket that mounts to the hole for fender mounts/caliper brake mounts (see photo below center and below right) often with tricky bends to clear the brake cable (sometimes the bracket must go under the brake cable). Fabrication consists of cutting the aluminum with a hacksaw, filing the ends smooth with a metal file, drilling holes for the mounting bolts, then bending to shape (try to use gentle bends because aluminum isn't very tolerant of sharp bends). Does anyone but me think that it's strange than manufacturers are not including a set of brackets that make these racks usable on more bicycles? When you read the reviews of racks you inevitably see complaints about the brackets being too short. What some people do is simply tilt the rack forward until the brackets reach the braze-ons, but this is a terrible solution. How many people are going to go through the trouble that I go through?!

Note that often the seat stay mounting brackets will interfere with the operation of the brakes, hitting either the brake cable or the caliper. Using a single bracket to the fender mount/caliper brake mount can often solve this problem. It's not quite as sturdy as using two mounting brackets, but for many loads it'll be sufficient. Cover it with black heat shrink tubing for black racks.

Two Flat Brackets on old Univega Mountain Bike with the Bor-Yueh BY-342B

One bent bracket under brake wire, on child's 24" wheel Diamondback bicycle One bent bracket over brake set on my daughter's 15" frame Specialized Expedition Hybrid Curved bracket over brake set, covered with black heat-shrink tubing on my son's 12" frame Jamis Ranger XR "Tween" Bicycle.

 

Center Bracket sold for Dimension Rack, Could Also be Used with Any Rack that Has a Center Set of Holes in the Top Platform (or Drill Your Own Holes

 

Jandd makes some 16" long rack brackets that they sell for $8 (8" are shown in the picture and are $5, the 16" are $8). These should work with any rack that uses flat brackets that mount to the top plate of the rack (Topeak Super Tourist DX, IRD Khyber, Sunlite Multi-fit) but not with the Bor Yueh where the flat brackets don't mount to the top plate. Yeah, spending $8 for mounting brackets for a rack that costs $15 is kind of crazy, but hey, Jandd was smart enough to fabricate these babies.

http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FEXT

If you're not into metal fabrication, I recommend the REI 736-890 "Novara Safari" Rack along with the purchase of extended length Tubus mounting stays (350mm/13.5") from http://tinyurl.com/y8vrky.

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 Flash Flags

You may have noticed some orange flags attached to some of the racks in the pictures above. I saw the Flash Flag and thought it was a great idea. I now use them on my whole family's fleet of bicycles. It's amazing to see the way drivers react to this simple triangle of reflective material sticking out to the side; you can see them veer in a wide arc around you. The ones I bought had a little rubber spacer that allows mounting to the rear rack side rails (typically 8-10mm tubing), though they don't mention it on their web site any more so maybe you have to make your own spacer. See http://www.flashback.ca/bicycle.html to order. I've broken a couple of these, and have had the flag slide off the shaft as well, so you may want to modify it in some way so the flag can't slide off, i.e. drill a small hole in the end and stick in a small plastic cable tie loop.

The following is from their web site:

Flash Flag
Tested in Britain, Europe, the U.S.A. and Canada. Proven to get an extra body width of safe-riding room. The Flash Flag works on a spring to attract maximum attention, clips down out of the way when not in use and can be modified to attach to a child’s bicycle seat. The clamp will not scratch finishes. Fits 15mm and 16mm seat stays.
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Conclusion

While the custom made Robert Beckman racks are clearly the best design, there is still no ideal off-the shelf rear rack. An ideal rack would have the following features:

  1. Minimum of 16” platform length

  2. No double tubing for the last inch so Arkel type clamps could be placed all the way back

  3. Reflector/light bracket

  4. Adjustable strut height

  5. Pivot type attachment hardware to the seat stays, such as used by Tubus, Robert Beckman, and what’s on the REI rack

  6. Long level area on rear dog-leg strut before it angles up to the platform area, to give wide adjustability for bottom hook/strap

  7. Multiple positions for bottom hook/strap, with detents or holes in a plate, or a design with a captive bottom rail like the Robert Beckman design

  8. Triangulation

  9. No wide gaps in top platform

  10. Flat, with no load stop, or a flip up load stop

  11. Tig-welded from Cro-Mo

My personal choice would be the Massload CL-476 for $60. I really like the separate mounting lower mounting rails for panniers which a) position the panniers far enough back to avoid heel clearance issues, and b) don't interfere with mounting stuff on top of the rack. It also has one of the best reflector/light brackets of any rack, and it has a very versatile mounting system with adjustable height, and adjustable (both width and length) seat stay brackets.

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Other Bicycle Related Web Sites by Me

Bicycle Lighting SystemsEarth's #1 Source for Information on Bicycle Lighting

Bicycle Coffee SystemsEarth's Leading Authority on Conveying Coffee by Bicycle—Since 1996

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