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We're in need of a good, reliable low-rider front rack for long distance touring. I've come across a good number of heavy-duty front racks with low rider rails like this from blackburn

blackburn
(source: blackburndesign.com)

But they get pretty pricey, and seem to include a lot of bulk we don't need just to hang some panniers. The best option I've seen to date is this front rack I spotted that comes with the new REI adv 1.1

rei

but after a few inquiries it sounds like there isn't any way to get the rack on its own. There are also options like the Salsa Down under or Blackburn cl1 which looked promising, except they require midfork eyelets on the outside and inside, of which we only have outside midfork eyelets.

salsa cl1

The axiom journey rack also looked promising and at a good price axiom but it doesn't seem intended for use with frame eyelets, and moreover, it doesn't look like it can be mounted level with the ground (I've heard this is important, but correct me if I'm wrong).

I figure there is a solid chance I'm just searching for something that doesn't exist, but it would be awesome to find a minimal, inexpensive front rack. I've also seen things like this Tubus

tubus

which look good but come at a steep price. Maybe that's just the price you have to pay, but I'm hopeful there might be some alternative.

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    The first couple racks require mid-fork eyelets on both sides for the fork (rare on most rackable bikes), although I have noticed a mainstream brands actually doing this. Tubus Tara is pricy, but will fit on almost any bike, is quite strong and by far one of the most reliable front racks I have used. With Tubus you usually keep the racks and sell the bike! – Rider_X Apr 16 '18 at 17:56
  • Not an answer, but its relatively easy to add eyelets using an insert called a rivnut or a nutsert. I've added bottle cage mounts to an 80s steel road bike without issue. Downside is the fork is utterly critical, and drilling holes in it WILL change the stress dynamics. Plus forks are more likely to be Aluminium or Carbon, and not Steel. – Criggie Apr 16 '18 at 23:03
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    Another possibility is not use front racks, but to add a "yard" or a "peg" across the fork crown so it pokes out the sides by ~100mm. Then mount a 5-20L rainproof dry sack on either side. and velcro-tie it to the forks and the yard to stop it rotating into the front wheel. You want the bags well cinched down so they don't wobble freely. – Criggie Apr 16 '18 at 23:08
  • Have you tried contacting a local engineering firm? Pick a design you like, draw out some plans accurately on paper, and take them in for a quote. You might be surprised. Plus you get to make whatever modifications you want - adding a gopro mount or a light fitting. – Criggie May 17 '18 at 9:46
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I've got the Blackburn CL1 you picture or one almost identical. I bought it for my hybrid and only ever used one side (D lock the other side) and I only got it to fit by cutting off the bar to the inner screw hole. Now I've put it on a tourer that does have the right screw insert, but none of my panniers fit with that inner bar, so I've cut it off on that one too. This of course weakens it in the lateral direction, but that's something I accept given that I intend to load it lightly and only use it occasionally.

Getting the P clips on the diagonal bar to align and grip properly has also been a challenge (not helped by disc brakes and full mudguards). The bar for the lower pannier clip (anti-sway) isn't very versatile, but I want to put my Altura Morph backpack pannier on there, which is really meant to go on the back.

Overall I only recommend this design if you're prepared to accept a lot of fiddling and modification, but it is light. If/when I get something new I may well go for one like your top picture for serious heavy duty, or that Tubus at the bottom.

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