Choosing And Fitting A Bike Rack [A Step-By-Step Guide]

A bike rack is necessary to transport your belongings, shopping, and children by bike using panniers, baskets, top cases or crates, and child seats. Choosing and fitting a bike rack is critical to anyone’s transportation system. With so many different models with a price range of less than 10$ to more than 100$, different characteristics define a bicycle luggage rack.

How To Use A Bike Rack In The City Or For The Trip?

TO GO SHOPPING OR GO TO WORK

There are as many ways to use a luggage rack on your bike as there are reasons to install one. So the luggage rack is your ally if you are a city cyclist who uses his bike to commute (to work). Indeed, the luggage rack is easily installed on a city bike. The rear luggage rack is also sometimes fitted automatically on city bikes. It then allows you to overcome the backpack option. A backpack is often a bad idea on a bike.

On the one hand, it can quickly become heavy and increase the risk of sweating. Thanks to the rear luggage rack, you can put side panniers or even side panniers that act as a backpack or even a “store everything” bag. This final solution can be attached perfectly with tightening straps or turnbuckles. Note, in general, this type of luggage rack must not support a weight greater than 25kg. 

As for the front of your bike, you can install various bike bags or panniers there. The front rack is more commonly made up of a platform than the rear. The advantage of the front luggage rack is that you always have an eye on it. Depending on the model, they can support from 2 to 20 kg. You can put bulky things, your handbag, or even a basket to put your little dog in.

To Transport Young Children

The main interest of a luggage rack is that it allows you to have an extremely stable load and to transport any bag, animal, or even a child. So if you’re considering installing a child seat, check the dimensions provided by the manufacturer to ensure compatibility with your bike and rack.

Thus, it is possible to put a child’s seat on all types of frames. However, you will have to choose the appropriate child seat. Choose the luggage rack that attaches to the seat tube for sports such as mountain biking or road biking. Pay attention to the age and weight of your child; these luggage racks have a weight limit of around 22 kg.

You can put the seat directly on the rear rack during a cycle touring practice. Urban bikes will be the most suitable for the baby carrier. Due to the upright posture of the cyclist, the seat for bicycle luggage rack seat can be positioned at the front or rear. The Steco brand has even thought of the stroller carrier! Finally, installing a child seat on your luggage rack is perfectly compatible with installing saddlebags. Two systems exist. Either by installing a double rail luggage rack or extensions on conventional luggage racks.

To Transport Your Pet On The Bike

One more, or one less, it doesn’t make much difference as long as you’re equipped. Thus, the rear racks can also accommodate animal baskets. Its baskets are generally composed of a base to be fixed to the luggage rack. Then the basket can then be installed and uninstalled thanks to the various means of fixing (EasyFix platform at Pletscher or scratch straps for Trixie ) very quickly.

Some tightening means are done directly on the luggage rack without a platform. This system must consider the space under the luggage rack, especially if you have an electric bike with a battery in this location. We detail this further down in the article. It is mainly the case with the basket for small dogs from Maxxis. 

To Go On A Trip, Hike, Or Stroll

When travelling by bike, choosing the right luggage rack is essential. If you prefer to ride in “bake packing” mode while lightening your belongings as much as possible, we invite you to discover the best backpack for your bike.

Now, for a cyclist, the luggage rack is an essential accessory. It must be robust so as not to break on the first steep trails or the first overload. Thus, a bicycle travel luggage rack must be able to support at least 25kg of load. 

In addition, you must be comfortable with your luggage rack. It must be simple to use and avoid the friction of the panniers with the wheel; in short, you must hardly feel it. We advise you first to install a rear rack on your travel bike.

It allows you to put more things while gathering them in one place. What about the front panniers? Their usefulness will depend on the duration of your trip. When you go on a bike ride on the weekend or even when you sleep at the hotel during your trip, the front luggage rack will clutter you up more than anything else. On the other hand, when you leave in complete autonomy, the camping equipment takes up space. In this case, we advise you to install a front luggage rack. 

How To Choose A Bike Rack?

COMPATIBILITY WITH YOUR BIKE

Due to the mounting system, it is vital to consider the bike’s size when choosing the pannier support. The luggage rack is generally indicated to be compatible with a bike size expressed in inches, which corresponds to the size of the tires. We are talking about racks for 26-inch bikes, for example. Some fit on different wheel sizes. For example, we are talking about racks for 20 to 24-inch bikes.

To circumvent this size problem, some luggage racks offer an alternative fixing system, thus offering wide compatibility:

  • Seatpost bike racks
  • Luggage racks on the stays

The Media Configuration 

There are different profiles of luggage carriers:

  • With a simple platform: This rack is often used on mountain bikes. It allows you to carry a bag to be fixed with fixing straps supplied or not. We also find this type of luggage rack with more original models, such as luggage racks with a wooden base installed at the front of the bike.
  • With a retaining flap: These luggage racks have a spring-loaded flap on the top. They allow you to quickly attach a linked double bag installed on either side of the luggage rack and held in place by the flap. Urban cyclists widely use this relatively basic luggage rack. Simple, reliable, and often at the entry-level, it is the type of luggage rack that is very useful for a daily bike.
  • Fixing rails: These luggage racks allow you to hang panniers on hooks. Some bags are clipped onto the luggage rack. This system offers more stability and is less likely to move on long or bumpy routes. The rails are essential for hanging these saddlebags. This system is very popular with cycle tourists.
  • With support for panniers: This luggage rack is more suitable for travellers on bicycles or fans of long walks. Latter, include in their design sidebars that hold your pannier bags so that they do not rub against the wheel.

The Payload, A 40 Kg Bicycle Rack

An important point to check when choosing a luggage rack is that depending on the use; you must be attentive to the maximum load it can support. In general, a basic rack can carry between 20 and 25 kg.

For long journeys, to support filled and loaded triple panniers, it is advisable to equip yourself with a heavy load luggage rack to support approximately 40 kg. These are generally in the high end, but they are a safe bet.

How To Install A Bicycle Luggage Rack?

How To Mount A Front Bike Rack?

There are many types of front luggage racks or bike pannier racks with very different systems of attachments and supports.

Fixing on the axle of the wheel and the handlebars or central hole in the fork

Fixing is done by modifying the front wheel’s axle, and for the top, either hook is fixed to the handlebars or a screw is fixed at the top of the fork. However, be careful with this luggage rack to check the bike’s compatibility, especially the wheels’ size and the type of axle with which the bike is equipped. Another point to note, these racks are incompatible with suspension forks. This type of rack is perfect for the city or road bike. Fixing on threaded holes of the fork

Some front racks install directly on the fork. They generally offer excellent stability and straightforward installation.

However, you need to pay attention to two points: the compatibility with the size of your wheels and the threaded holes on your fork. Fixing directly on the latter if it does not have one, there are fixing collars offering them threaded holes for the installation of your pannier rack. (note these clamps are not compatible with suspension forks).

These clamps are available in different diameters to fit your fork. This type of luggage rack is recommended for cyclists.

Fixing with clamps

This type of mounting offers extensive compatibility with, in most cases, the possibility of mounting the rack on a suspension fork. The collars supplied with the page rack or forming an integral part of it come to tighten the 2 arms of the fork. These racks generally offer a relatively large payload, between 15 and 25 kilos. This type of luggage rack/pannier rack is recommended for long bike trips.

On brakes and fork

The luggage rack is fixed on the screws of the V-Brake or Cantilever brakes, and a tab is fixed on the central hole of the fork bridge. Simple assembly and offering excellent compatibility, this rack can carry belongings or support a case during a short ride or for everyday use.

How To Mount A Rear Bike Rack?

To install a rear rack, you must first ensure that the bike’s frame has been designed to accommodate a rack. It is determined by the presence of holes or eyelets on the frame at the level of the rear wheel axle, and 2 holes on the seat stay behind the seat post. There can be both; it’s better, only the holes at the axis level, or there can be nothing at all.

In all cases, there are solutions!

Does your frame have eyelets?

Attach the luggage rack rods to your rear wheel axle on your frame’s eyelets (1). Then to hold the top of your luggage rack, eyelets are located at the top of the seat stays (2), under the seat post. All you have to do is attach the rods of your luggage rack to the eyelets on your stays provided for this purpose using screws and bolts.

As far as hardware is concerned, most luggage racks are mounted with M5 x12 screws and nuts. Some racks may be supplied without the fixing rods at the level of the stays, or some may be broken or too short. Note that this type of part can be sold as spare parts for luggage racks :

Is your frame not equipped with eyelets on the seat stays?

Your frame may not be equipped with eyelets on your seat stays. In this case, different substitution systems are possible.

Thanks to mounting collars to be fixed on the seat stays (3), substitution eyelets are created on the bicycle’s frame. These collars are available in different diameters to best fit your stays, for diameters of 12 and 13mm and 18 to 19mm.

Thanks to the saddle tube clamp fitted with eyelets (4), eyelets are created at the level of the saddle post. Then attach your rack to the collar using the rods supplied with the rack. This type of collar exists for seat posts with a diameter of 31.8 mm or 34.9 mm.

Another solution: the luggage rack on the bicycle seat tube has a clamp-like jaw that comes to take the seat tube. This attachment is the only attachment point for this type of luggage rack, thus offering extensive compatibility. In the case of seat post mounting, you must ensure enough free space on the stem tube to install the luggage rack. Attention, these luggage racks support less load than a classic luggage rack. In general, they are given 10 kg.

Easy to install and compatible with many bikes, the Thule rack on forks or seat stays attaches to the seat stays when you install it at the rear of the fork when you want to position it at the front. As an option, it is possible to add supports for saddlebags or an extension if necessary. An expensive but almost universal product!

Is your frame not equipped with eyelets at the rear wheel axle?

Thanks to adapters on the wheel axle. A complete kit allows you to replace your rear wheel axle and install it on either side of the frame plates equipped with eyelets that can receive the rods of your luggage rack. Please note, however, that this system is only available on a quick-release axle, and the maximum payload is 15 kg.

The chainstay clamp rack is the closest alternative to the traditional bicycle rack by offering more payload capacity than a Seatpost rack. Instead of being fixed at the bottom on threaded holes, jaws at the end of the arm come to take and tighten the bike’s seat stays—greater payload capacity than a Seatpost rack. Instead of being fixed at the bottom on threaded holes, jaws at the end of the arm come to grip and tighten the bike’s seat stays.

WHAT RACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING OR ROAD BIKING

What Rack For Mountain Biking Or Road Biking?

Consider Disc Brake And Full Suspension

In mountain biking, fixing eyelets on the frame or fork are rarer. The best option for installing a rack on your mountain bike is choosing a simple and robust rack designed to be fixed on the seat post or the seat stays. 

If you opt for a rack to be fixed on the seat stays, you must pay attention to the compatibility of your rack. So, see if the size of your wheel matches. Also, check that the types of brakes are adaptable. Some racks are not compatible with disc brakes. Those that are disc brake compatible have rounded fixing rods that bypass the disc system, as seen with the Ostend brand. Finally, if your mountain bike is full suspension, you should go for full suspension bike racks, such as the Quick Rack model from Pletscher.

A mountain bike rack is convenient when you walk in the forest with your family over a weekend or if you cross the Ardèche. Small rack sizes are also convenient for mountain biking. The Ostend mini luggage rack is versatile since it can be installed both at the rear and front. But this model is not compatible with disc brakes. 

An Accessory That Must Remain Light And Practical To Carry The Minimum Of Things

It is unusual to install a luggage rack on a road bike, but it is possible! Road bikes generally do not have mounting eyelets. It is partly related to the more fragile road bike frame material, such as carbon. But if the quest for a light bike on the road is dominant, it is not incompatible with having a luggage rack. For example, the RC-1200 Minoura luggage rack is made of aluminium and weighs only 680 grams, making it a discreet and lightweight accessory. 

Thus, the luggage rack attached to the seat tube can be pretty suitable. It is used for short outings since its average maximum load does not exceed 9kg.

Then the second possibility is to opt for racks with clamps that attach to the frame. Either on the fork at the front or the seat stays at the rear. This rack system is slightly more substantial than the previous one. It adapts perfectly to a road bike but also to all other types of bikes. Finally, as mentioned above, another rack support exists for road bikes. By being attached to the front wheel’s axle, this system is rather interesting for people who prefer the weight on the front when riding on the road, but it can also be adapted to gravel.

Which E-bike Racks And Batteries Are Compatible?

How Do I Know If My Rack Is Suitable For The Electric Bike?

The electric bike, more precisely an electrically assisted bicycle (VAE), generally does not have a horizontal tube in the frame. It is to lighten its weight to compensate for the electric motor and the battery. But thanks to its engine, the VAE can carry a heavier load in the back. The battery is often located at the back of the bike, above the wheel, especially for city pedelecs. It is essential to take this into account before installing a luggage rack. Even if some brands, such as Pletscher or Racktime, have designed suitable VAE luggage racks, you need to check the size of your battery. These types of luggage racks for VAE are generally installed using a fixing at the level of the rear axle. 

At the same time, an electric bike is a perfect option for transporting your child. Indeed, it is possible to walk with a child up to the age of 9. So Steco has designed an adapter for a child bike seat on the rear rack.

Choose Between The Different Existing Bicycle Batteries

There are several types of luggage carriers because there are also several types of electric bicycle batteries. They can be installed directly on a rear rack or the seat tube of your VAE (electrically assisted bicycle). We advise you to check the compatibility of your battery with the luggage rack and vice versa. 

So if the battery of the VAE is not at the level of the luggage rack, you can potentially install the luggage rack of your choice. When these attach to the rear axle, you must first measure the width of your axle. Indeed, the rear wheel’s axle can be more expansive on an e-bike than on a muscle bike.

FAQs

How do I know what rear bike rack to buy?

A bike rack is a helpful addition to any home or office. It gives the user the ability to store their bikes safely and securely while at the same time providing an attractive look. Here are some tips on how to choose the perfect rear bike rack:
1. Consider your space: If you’re limited in how much storage you have available in your home or office, a rack that fits snugly onto one or two bikes may be all you need. However, if you have a lot of bikes and more storage space is required, consider purchasing one that can fit more than two.
2. Consider the types of bicycles you use. It will help you determine which type of rack is right for you. Many racks are designed to hold both road and mountain bikes, but not all can handle both types. The best racks can handle both types of bicycles.
3. Consider your budget. A lightweight rack may not be necessary if you’re starting in the world of bike touring. However, it may be worth investing in a heavier-duty rack if you plan on travelling a lot and carrying more than just one bike.
4. Consider the type of bicycles you use. The best racks should have a wide range of mounting options.

Do all bike racks fit all bikes?

Bicycle racks come in various configurations, from large, functional family racks that fit up to thirty bikes to small and compact Singlespeed racks that are perfect for just one or two bikes. There is something for everyone when it comes to bike racks. It all depends on your needs and preferences.

How do you size a bike rack?

There are many different racks available on the market, so it is crucial to find one that will fit your bike and your space. You should also consider the bike you want to store, as some racks are better for certain types of bikes than others.

How do I choose a bike carrier?

Many different types of carriers are available, so it’s essential to find one that meets your specific requirements and fits your cycling style.
Some factors to consider when choosing a carrier include the bike’s weight, the space you’ll need to place the carrier in, and how often you’ll be using the carrier. Some carriers are designed for single-use or fleet use, while others can be used multiple times.

rriers are designed for single-use or fleet use, while others can be used multiple times.

Marcelline
Marcelline

Marcelline is a writer and covers several categories thanks to her multidisciplinary expertise.

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