Low Cost Racks And Panniers

My good friend and cycling buddy, Travis, really, really cares about his cycling experience and he is serious about it.  He only buys excellent quality equipment with rave reviews.  His touring bicycle is equipped with a Tubus rear rack ($90) and a pair of Ortlieb panniers ($150).  That equipment is probably going to last him a lifetime and is never going to fail under a cross-country tour.  He says that the rack comes with a warranty that states that if it ever breaks, the Tubus company will send someone to where ever god forsaken place you are in the country and replace it for you.  Wow, that must be a really good rack.

But we aren’t going to talk about Travis’ gear today.  We’re going to talk about racks and panniers that aren’t going to cost you an arm and a leg, and that are sufficient for weekend get-aways, commuting around town, and other more common cycling activities.  These are the kinds of racks and panniers that I buy, and for the past 3 years they have held up very well and work fine.

I have bought about 4 different rear racks during the last 3 years, and the racks certainly vary in hardware style and quality.  The sturdiest rack I own is a Bor Yueh rack from Nashbar.com (it still appears to be listed in their rack section if you want to take a look at it).  Surprisingly this rack is only $15.99.  The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is hard to attach the bottom hooks of my Avenir Metro Pannier to it due to the shape of it’s “legs”.  However, you can still jamb the hooks onto a section of the legs of the rack and make it work.  It’s just hard getting the panniers off and on.

Topeak Explorer Rack

The best advice I can give you is to look for racks with thick-looking tubing and preferably with 3-tube leg support, similar to the rack to the left.  You can also read reviews, compare rack descriptions, and so on.  The rack you see on the left, by the way, is the Topeak Explorer Bike Rack and is about $28.  I have never used this rack, but it looks pretty good.  Also, the Avenir pannier I refered to earlier would fit well on this rack since its bottom hooks would fit perfectly under those little flared bits at the bottom of the legs of this rack.  Most racks and panniers work fairly well together, but it’s nice to pick a pannier and rack that are as well matched as possible.  A pannier that fits well on a rack and is easy to take off and put on makes your life that much easier.  :-)

Whether or not you even need panniers depends on what you’re going to be carrying around.  Are you going to go grocery shopping for a lot of little things?  You might want to use panniers.  Are you going on a beer run for a 30-can case of Hamm’s?  All you need is your rack and some short bungee cords (I do this all the time, by the way)!

Avenir Metro Panniers

I have only bought one set of panniers in my 3 year cycling career and they have worked out pretty well.  The Avenir Metro Panniers have 2,165 cubic inches of cargo space, 1 large top pocket, 2 medium side pockets, and 2 small side pockets.  I’ve been using this rack a lot over the past two years and I’m really surprised none of the zippers have failed yet.  I was sure one of them would break by now, seeing that I bought these panniers for only $40.  But, by heck, they have held up fine.  Also, if you need to strap that case of beer to the top of your rack, you can leave that big top pocket empty and it just lays flat.   And the large side pockets fit 6-packs perfectly, almost as though that is what they had in mind when they designed these panniers.  :-)

Yes, cycling and buying beer go together well and should be an important consideration in your cycling equipment decisions!  You have been warned!

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