Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

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Mr Tom
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Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby Mr Tom » 3 Jan 2020, 9:40am

I'm thinking of getting a plastic crate for the front or back of my Surly LHT. I don't like cycling with a rucksack and there are so many journeys where I end up trudging around with two panniers for ages and it gets annoying. I just wondered if anyone's tried this and noticed the bike feeling less stable, to a point where it's annoying. Also does it make much difference if it's at the back or front? I guess the front is safer in terms of people grabbing your stuff.

I may look at the Ortlieb Vario as an alternative - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ortlieb-Vario- ... B00SR7KVNE

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby mjr » 3 Jan 2020, 9:46am

I've done both but on different bikes. Front damps steering similar to front panniers. Both make the bike feel top-heavy or "waggy" compared to the same pannier load. I put a strap or net across the top of the crate to stop things bouncing out.
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StephenW
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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby StephenW » 3 Jan 2020, 11:28am

I think baskets or crates are a very good idea for everyday use!

A rear basket will make it slightly more awkward to mount and dismount the bike. This may not be a problem for you.

If you have a laterally stiff rack, I don't think you will mind the effect of a rear basket on handling. It's perhaps not so good as panniers for heavy loads, but I find it quite OK in practice.

A front basket which turns with the steering will make the steering slower, as MJR says. It can also flop about as you are loading it up. A front basket which is fixed to the frame has much less effect on the steering, but that will almost certainly interfere with cantilever brake cables (and drop handlebars). Obviously a front basket leaves the rear rack free for panniers for when you want to carry a really big load.

I think you will find either a front or rear crate fine in terms of handling and very useful.

There are also things like the Steco Bag Mee, which I haven't used.

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby PT1029 » 3 Jan 2020, 11:31am

If your front crate turns with the steering, it will make the steering heavier. If you are able to mount it on the frame (so it doesn't turn like on a post office bike) steering will be inaffected more or less (unless the crate gets in the way of your handle bars).
How about a crate on the back? (a no no if you need access to the top rack rail for panniers).
I often see people with tatty old rear child seats on their bikes (kids long grown up) as they are an excellent place to put a rucksack, the child seat even has straps to hold it in.
A tatty old child seat is probably a good anti theft device. (After 10 years, a customer finally asked to have her battered child seat removed. The bike was stolen within 1 hour of her collecting the child seatless bike!).

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby Carlton green » 3 Jan 2020, 12:48pm

I fitted a large plastic box on top of the rear rack of my mixte utility bike. Until he died I used it to carry my (12kg) dog to the local beauty spots for our walks - in over a decade no one ever questioned me doing so but copy me at your own risk. It didn’t seem to affect handling but the load did make hills noticeably more of a challenge for me. The box readily takes two large bags so is really good for local shopping - much better (for that use) than panniers I think - and provides great flexibility in use.
Last edited by Carlton green on 3 Jan 2020, 4:24pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby cotswolds » 3 Jan 2020, 3:24pm

If you're flexible about solutions, when I had the same sort of problem, I opted for something like this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/BagBase-BG21-Messenger-French-Navy/dp/B00NVJD4VY/ref=sr_1_14?crid=KCW0G2WRZ5NJ&dchild=1&keywords=messenger+bag&qid=1578048826&s=sports&sprefix=messe%2Csports%2C194&sr=1-14

Even when quite full it was flexible enough to easily drop end on into a pannier, and added very little bulk so I could carry almost much as the pannier could hold. Then easy to lift out when I'd put the bike away in the shed without having to fiddle around unclipping a pannier.

The thing I liked most was that however filthy the weather, it came out clean and dry to carry round.

willp01908
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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby willp01908 » 3 Jan 2020, 3:58pm

How about something like these - can leave them open and just chuck stuff in and leave them open for easy access.

http://thebikebucket.com/index.html

I did have something like these (homemade fittings) on a bike for a while - even used them on tour once or twice. Don`t affect the handling any more than panniers but as they are fairly wide, it was a bit harder to swing my leg over the bike and to get it up close to bike racks sometimes.

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby Vorpal » 3 Jan 2020, 4:19pm

I guess it depends on the bike. I've used a crate on the rear of my hybrid, and not noticed that it made the bike feel top heavy. At least, it was more like my rack pack than it was a like child in a rear seat (which does make the bike feel top heavy).

Mini V's town bike has a basket on the front, and that handles absolutely fine. I have sometimes stuck a small rucksack or shopping bag in it, even with a fairly heavy load and hardly noticed it was there. It's better strapped down though. I have had a disconcerting moment or two when something heavy shifted suddenly.
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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 3 Jan 2020, 5:27pm

So many people use crates either front or rear, occasionally both. With something as stable, not to mention heavy, as an LHT, I doubt you'll notice it much at all.

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby simonhill » 3 Jan 2020, 6:15pm

Sorry, I don't understand. You wrote:

"I don't like cycling with a rucksack and there are so many journeys where I end up trudging around with two panniers for ages and it gets annoying."

Surely with a crate you will be "trudging around" with a large box instead. Is that better than the panniers? I would think the panniers are easier to remove when you don't want them than a fitted crate and are therefore more flexible. Have I missed something?

Note, this isn't an anti crate post.

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby Bmblbzzz » 3 Jan 2020, 6:43pm

The crate would be fixed permanently to the rack, presumably. This is what people normally do with them.

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby dc » 3 Jan 2020, 8:05pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:The crate would be fixed permanently to the rack, presumably. This is what people normally do with them.

As far as I am concerned carrying a rucksack while cycling is very dangerous. it throws you all off balance and covers up your reflective clothing. Get a good saddle bag. It should do the trick. Remember your bike is your horse, it carries the load, not you. After all you never saw John Wayne carrying a rucksack on his back. Panniers on the horse was his thing. DC

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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby mjr » 3 Jan 2020, 9:36pm

dc wrote:
Bmblbzzz wrote:The crate would be fixed permanently to the rack, presumably. This is what people normally do with them.

As far as I am concerned carrying a rucksack while cycling is very dangerous. it throws you all off balance and covers up your reflective clothing. Get a good saddle bag. It should do the trick. Remember your bike is your horse, it carries the load, not you. After all you never saw John Wayne carrying a rucksack on his back. Panniers on the horse was his thing. DC

Yes and the rucksack would be in the crate while cycling. Have you got the idea yet?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby mjr » 3 Jan 2020, 9:46pm


Can you confirm the measurements on that? It purports to be 15 litres and weigh 1kg.

I agree with the principle but I use a canvas Highlander army-style bag (the world doesn't need more plastic) and with boards in the bottom and back, it straps to the saddle bag loops OK. About 12 litres and weighs 300g IIRC.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Mr Tom
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Re: Fitting a crate on front / rear rack, how does it affect handling?

Postby Mr Tom » 3 Jan 2020, 11:51pm

Yeah the idea is just somewhere to chuck my rucksack and then take it out when I want to walk around town. I have tried putting my rucksack in the panniers and carrying it that way. I guess I was just a little wary of leaving the panniers on the bike. Maybe a thin cable would deter any theives