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Since I’ve rode a bicycle, I always had a bicycle rear rack attached to my bike.
Starting from my first days on a bike, throughout my youth, and until recent days, a rear rack is attached to my bicycle.
Some of my friends are asking me for the reason why I insist of having the best bicycle rack attached to my bike. They are saying that a mountain bike should be as light possible, and with a “sporty” look… Nothing being attached to it (except, maybe, a bicycle GPS). To their view, a rear rack can only be attached to a touring bicycle or to a city bicycle.
I am a very practical person, and for me the main reason for having a bicycle rear rack, even on a mountain bike, is a practical one.
But first, let’s start by asking some basic questions:
Tip: Always secure the load on your rear rack.
Even a rear rack with a broad surface might not be as stable as you'd prefer. If your load falls off your rear rack, it might cause your whole bicycle to go off-balance and topple over, especially if it is heavy.
Make sure your load is always tightly secured with wire or bungee cords. If your rear rack has a grid design, that will make it even easier to secure the load.
What is a Bicycle Rear Rack?
Rear bicycle racks are typically steel frameworks that are mounted on the rear part of bicycles. They are designed to hold "cycling equipment" or personal goods while riding a bicycle. The equipment can be stored inside a bag or strapped directly to the bicycle rear rack with camping trips.
Who Need a Bicycle Rear Rack?
One can find several uses for a bicycle rear rack:
- During a bicycle trip: For folks who are planning a self-supported bicycle touring trip such as our bicycle trip in Japan and our Rhine River tour, a rear rack is a must-have. During the long ride we are carrying with us lots of personal items, as well as cycling equipment, and a rear rack is an ideal place to hold that stuff.
It should not have a dramatic effect on your balance while riding, and if loaded properly your equipment will not interfere with your legs while cycling. Some touring bikers have only a single rack, while others are using two bicycle racks: one in the rear, and one in the front. This allows them to carry more stuff (believe me - we need this storage space: if you don't believe me you are invited to read about bicycle touring preparation).
Splitting the load on both front and rear racks enhances safety by helping balance out the load on the bicycle a little better.
- On a day-to-day commuting by bicycle, or while riding your bicycle in the city: There are many bicycle riding types. I like a real mountain biking, but I also use my mountain bike to go shopping and to carry back home stuff that I buy. Holding my shopping bag while cycling is not a good idea at all. Attaching it to the bicycle handle bar is not a great idea either, as it might have a negative effect on the balance while riding.
A bicycle rear rack is the ideal solution to carry stuff. You can attach a bag to the rack, or carry items attached with camping trips directly to the rack.
Take a look:
Types of Bicycle Rear Racks
There are three major types of racks: the difference between them is by the way they are attached to the bicycle:
- Rear racks that are attached both to the seat stay and to the axis of the bicycle rear hub (or near the rear axle). These racks are designed for bicycles that do not have a rear suspension. They are typically very strong and can carry high load.
- Build-in racks: Some bicycle types already equipped with rear racks: the rear bicycle rack is part of their frame, and of their design. In most cases the rack is stylish, heavy and strong.
- Beam racks: rear racks that are attached to the seat post. These types of rear racks are designed for bicycles that have a mountain bike shocks. The geometry of bicycle with a rear shock is dynamically changing while riding, and therefore you need a rack that is connected to the bicycle in one point only.
A main disadvantage of these racks is the limited weight that they can carry. Make sure you are not overloading your rear bicycle rack! Another disadvantage is that during turns, especially if your rear rack is fully loaded, it might spin your saddle, and even your saddle.
What Bicycle Rear Racks Are Made Of?
There are stain-steel racks, aluminum racks, titanium racks, and there are even chromoly racks. Each on has its own advantages, and disadvantages:
|Chromoly||Light||High||High||Made by Tubus|
Tips on Buying and Using the Best Bicycle Rack
Mounting the rack to the bicycle frame
If your bicycle has one of these mountain bike shocks, you are limited to using only rear racks that are attached to the seat post. For "hard-tail" bikes you can buy any type of rear rack, but you may prefer a standard rack, one that is attached to the seat stay and to the axis of the bicycle rear hub (or to the brake bridge, near the rear axle). These rear racks can carry more weight, they are more stable and you can easily attach bicycle panniers to them.
If you intend to attach a rear rack to your bicycle's frame, you should check if your bike has the required screw holes (braze-ons). These holes are necessary to connect racks, fenders and other cycling equipment to the bicycle frame.
The good news is that now-a-days most mountain bikes have plenty of braze-ons. Note: If your bike does not have pre-drilled screw holes, you can still mount a rear rack directly to the seat tube and to the frame tubes by using metal clips.
It might be quite challenging to find rear racks for special bicycles. If your frame geometry is unique, such as in the case of folding bikes, I would suggest you to take your bike with you to the bicycle shop before you buy a new bicycle rear rack. Otherwise, buying online might be the best bargain for you.
Weight and Balance Considerations
Carrying heavy loads on your bicycle might affect steering. If your rear rack is fully loaded, you may feel that you are almost loosing lateral control during turns. It takes time to get use to riding bicycle with a fully loaded rear rack. Still, the affect of heavy load on the rear rack on your handling is less than the affect of loads carried in front.
My Favorite Bicycle Rear Racks
Topeak Explorer Bike Rack
Sleek, slender, and surprisingly strong, this rack from Topeak can carry cargo for all your long cycling tours. Constructed from durable but lightweight aluminum alloy, this rack can hold up to 55lbs, positioning the weight of your load in a way that won't offset your balance or burden your ride. Attaching is easy, allowing you to clip this accessory on when you need it and remove it when you don't.
Blackburn MTN Bike Rack
Mountain biking isn't normally conducive to cargo, but this rack from Blackburn makes storage possible as you traverse the trail. This rack can fit on the end of almost any frame, and it's solid plate also functions as a fender, deflecting splashes of mud puddles. This rack withholds less weight than others, but those who are climbing up and down extreme mountain terrain tend to carry less with them.
Aluminum 3 Leg Rear Bike Rack
For those who know they'll be hauling cargo often, this rack is a much more permanent solution, though it can still be removed whenever desired. Offering ample cargo capacity, this sturdy rack is a paperboy's dream. Grid design makes it easy to secure your cargo with bungee cords, and the rack also comes with its own reflector to keep the cyclist safe. A great buy for those with wide loads.
More Bicycle Rear Racks
Where to Buy a Bicycle Rear Rack?
If you are interested in buying a bicycle rear rack you can buy it on one of these trusted online stores: