February 27, 2010
There are a lot of questions a person can ask about bike touring equipment, but if I were to pick the one question that I get more than any other, it would easily be in regards to bike racks. On the surface, it would seem as though finding a front and/or rear rack for your bike would be a simple task, but as soon as you begin your search, the list of options can quickly become overwhelming.
In an attempt to simplify matters, here's a breakdown on styles of bikes that necessitate certain racks:
1. Standard touring bike with necessary eyelets: Most standard touring bikes available are equipped with a set of eyelets on the rear seat stays, the front and rear dropouts, and a set of low-rider eyelets on the fork. This opens you up to just about any rack out there, and generally eases the process of installation by reducing the amount of hardware involved. Some options include the Arkel AC Lowrider front rack, and the Old Man Mountain White Rock Rear Rack.
2. Suspension forks and disc brakes: This is where we get the most questions concerning racks. For the most part, this refers to mountain bikes, but can also become an issue with newer touring bikes with disc brakes. Old Man Mountain made some of the first racks for this purpose, and have been doing it for over a decade. Take a look at the Old Man Mountain Cold Springs series for front and rear options, as well as the Ultimate LowRider front rack to keep your load a little lower to the ground. The racks are pretty simple in their design, and mount at the skewer and brake posts (if you don't have V-brake or cantilever brake posts, take a look at the next category).
3. Bikes without eyelets: If your bike doesn't have the necessary eyelets or brake posts for mounting racks, you may find band clamps useful. The Old Man Mountain band clamps we carry are designed to prevent slippage, and are available in different sizes to match up to the diameter of your frame and fork tubes. If you are going to take the band clamp route, make sure you are band clamping to a sturdy steel material. I wouldn't recommend using band clamps on an aluminum or carbon frame.
Hopefully this helps simplify matters a little bit. While racks can sometimes be a headache at first, once you have them installed, they are generally worry-free.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.
Low riders are indeed nice. I always had them on my bike with solid forks and I wanted them on my suspension forks, too. I got an Old Man Mountain rack but after seeing a few cyclists travelling with a Tubus I changed to a Tubus Swing. Low riders on suspension forks make the load unsprung weight. Suspension doesn't work properly. Tubus Swing sits above the suspension and that feels a lot better.
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It seems like the tubus forks, while not increasing unsprung weight, to increase sprung weight, so you'd have to make sure that you can dial your fork's tension up to deal with the weight. While the OMM racks would primarily affect unsprung rates, but not require adjusting forks.If the bushings can handle the forces of stopping and twisting, they aren't going to notice the forces put on by a rack.