Front Rack?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Graham O
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Front Rack?

Postby Graham O » 25 Apr 2019, 12:10pm

Hi,
My trip this year is likely to be a bit longer than previous ones (upto 3 weeks) and I will need to take camping gear.So far I've survived with 2 rear panniers, a rack pack for lock, tools etc and a bar bag, but I'll need a bit more, but not a lot, of extra space which makes me think of a front rack. However, rather than just going down the front pannier route, and the "if I have 4 panniers I'll fill them" syndrome, I wondering about a front rack bag, probably about 15 - 20L max. I was looking at the Surly Petite Porteur, https://surlybikes.com/parts/petite_porteur_house_bag which requires a wider rack than normal. Has anyone tried this bag and rack? Any comments? Is handling affected by having the weight higher? (I accept that the bar bag may not fit with this type of bag). Any other suggestions for racks and rack bags please?

Thanks for your help,

Graham

pwa
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby pwa » 25 Apr 2019, 12:30pm

I have used 2 small front panniers on a low rider (Tubus) rack and it keeps the weight low and rigid, which makes steering dependable. But I only put light stuff in there. One sleeping bag per pannier (carrying for other family members) plus flipflops, trainers and stuff like that. I keep the heavy kit at the back, and as low as possible.

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mjr
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby mjr » 25 Apr 2019, 12:42pm

pwa wrote:I have used 2 small front panniers on a low rider (Tubus) rack and it keeps the weight low and rigid, which makes steering dependable. But I only put light stuff in there. One sleeping bag per pannier (carrying for other family members) plus flipflops, trainers and stuff like that. I keep the heavy kit at the back, and as low as possible.

I use various 12 and 13 litre bags on the mini front rack shown on viewtopic.php?f=1&t=115886 - not particularly light but also not heavy. I've also a front-mounted high-and-wide rack without fork/axle support on a full-size bike which is good for small bulky-but-precious parcels.

I find the steering is slightly damped on the folding bike but no noticeable effect from the smaller load on the bigger bike. In general, one has to beware the weight limits on front racks: mine are 10kg and 5kg. For comparison, rear racks are available rated up to 75kg I think and at least 25kg is very common.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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HobbesOnTour
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby HobbesOnTour » 25 Apr 2019, 12:48pm

If I'm reading your op correctly, you're not actually interested in using a front rack, but more of a handlebar type bag?

Have you set out the gear you want to carry this way to get an idea of the volume and weight?
Some people split things like tents into separate components, so fly is in one place, inner another, poles along the top tube, pegs somewhere else.

Camping gear could be anything from a bivvybag through to a tent, sleeping pad, bag & cooking gear?

I can only see 1 pic of the Surly bag so can't comment.

I am curious as to what exactly is in your rack bag that means it can't be used? Would a bigger rack bag solve the issue?

I have an Old Man Mountain front rack with a platform. It has been used to carry 2 panniers, or I just used the platform part, depending on needs. When using the front panniers I find the overall experience better to have the front fairly heavy.

If your tour is 3 weeks long and you're not sure about committing consider some of the bikepacking gear on Aliexpress. Slow delivery and not always great quality, but it gives you the chance to test out the concept without investing heavily.
Here's a modular handlebar system
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/ROCKBRO ... 60075e0485

Graham O
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Graham O » 25 Apr 2019, 1:10pm

HobbesOnTour wrote:If I'm reading your op correctly, you're not actually interested in using a front rack, but more of a handlebar type bag?

snip



I already have a handlebar bag, and yes, the front rack with a bag on top is the point of my post. The extra space I need is about 15 - 20L ;10'ish litres for the camping gear plus 7'ish litres lost by not being able to use the handlebar bag. I don't want to change the rack bag as it is custom designed and fits my packing and weight distribution scheme. I could use a simple stuffsac on the front, which is an option, but I like the Surly bag. Are there alternatives to it, i.e. ones with pockets? A simple stuff sac strapped on top requires a different rack to one which only takes panniers, such as Tubus Tara.

Ivor Tingting
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Ivor Tingting » 25 Apr 2019, 1:18pm

The OP is clearly after a front rack on which to place a bag. For racks consider the Specialised Pizza rack, strong and light much lighter than Surlys own offerings which I have their front Nice rack built for a tank and heavy and also low loader Tubus Tara and Ergo front racks but the latter don't have top shelves. The Specialised Pizza rack ticks all the boxes imho, wide top rack and also side rails to mount panniers, robust 13mm tubing and as I say strong and light. Easy to mount and not too expensive. I paid about £45 for mine.

You could also try oversize bottle cages on the front forks of your bike but you've not indicated what bike you have, but you will need suitable mounting bosses though. Two Salsa Anything Cages on each fork with dry bags strapped to them is a possibility or Blackburn Outpost bottle cages to allow you to carry more. Another option is to get a bike packing front roll bag and strap it to your handlebars, again I have done this with Ortlieb's offering but tbh found it a pain in the bum to get on with. Not as practical as panniers and rack with a top shelf, but again it depends where you are riding and on what and the amount of gear you intend carrying. However a big recommendation for the Specialised Pizza rack. It was actually designed for their AWOL but I think it would fit most bike forks without too much trouble. It fitted on my Surly Ogre fork fine. Just needed to make a modified bracket just like this guy did below. I got mine a little lower and my handle bars look a little higher so more space and less interference between rack, bars and cables.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyR-93_9_1w

HTH.
"Zat is ze reel prowoking qwestion Mr Paxman." - Peer Steinbruck, German Finance Minister 31/03/2009.

Graham O
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Graham O » 25 Apr 2019, 2:02pm

Thanks Ivor, the Pizza rack is more or less, just what I'm looking for and still £45. The bike is a Surly Cross Check so has mounts on the fork and it shouldn't be difficult to fit the Pizza to it. I like my bike(s) to have the maximum utility in them, so a rack which suits both a rack pack and panniers is ideal. Now to find a suitable rack pack, or I may just make my own.

Thehairs1970
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Thehairs1970 » 25 Apr 2019, 6:47pm

I think there was a study done years ago that showed heavy loads on the front as being preferable but people just didn't like the idea. I would have four panniers and split them evenly weight wise.

hamster
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby hamster » 26 Apr 2019, 9:30am

Thehairs1970 wrote:I think there was a study done years ago that showed heavy loads on the front as being preferable but people just didn't like the idea. I would have four panniers and split them evenly weight wise.


A lot depends on the steering geometry, for some bikes it works, others it's horrible. In the US it seems far more common, but the bikes seem to be fast road bikes (short rear stays, no rack eyes or mudguards) with a fork swap to make them usable for touring.

Graham O
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Graham O » 26 Apr 2019, 10:08am

The problem I have is not related to weight as the extra load I'll be carrying is not huge, maybe 3kg. The problem is with finding a front rack, which I think I have an answer to, and to a bag to go onto it of around 15-20 litres. Does anyone know of any off the shelf bags available to go onto "wide" front racks? I've found the Surly one, but struggling to find others.

pwa
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby pwa » 26 Apr 2019, 10:23am

hamster wrote:
Thehairs1970 wrote:I think there was a study done years ago that showed heavy loads on the front as being preferable but people just didn't like the idea. I would have four panniers and split them evenly weight wise.


A lot depends on the steering geometry, for some bikes it works, others it's horrible. In the US it seems far more common, but the bikes seem to be fast road bikes (short rear stays, no rack eyes or mudguards) with a fork swap to make them usable for touring.

I know if I put too much weight in the front panniers on my Thorn Club Tour it feels terrible, with a juddering going through fork blades that are moving in the wrong way. But with light panniers the handling at cruising speed is actually better than with heavy rear panniers only.

Ivor Tingting
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Ivor Tingting » 26 Apr 2019, 1:16pm

Graham O wrote:The problem I have is not related to weight as the extra load I'll be carrying is not huge, maybe 3kg. The problem is with finding a front rack, which I think I have an answer to, and to a bag to go onto it of around 15-20 litres. Does anyone know of any off the shelf bags available to go onto "wide" front racks? I've found the Surly one, but struggling to find others.


How about Ortlieb's Rack pack bags? Waterproof and come in S (24l), M(31l) and L (49l) and different colours. Just use bungy cords to secure them to the rack. This is what I do. Could also use Ortlieb PS490 dry bags but rack pack bag I feel is better.
"Zat is ze reel prowoking qwestion Mr Paxman." - Peer Steinbruck, German Finance Minister 31/03/2009.

Graham O
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby Graham O » 26 Apr 2019, 2:15pm

The Ortliebs will do the job, but they have to be attached to the rack with bungees which is a pain when I want to access the contents. What I really need is a bag which has it's own fastening to the rack allowing me to just rip the top open to access the camera, map, or a snack, even on the go.

A regular scene when I'm riding, although the "in flight catering" does vary:
in flight catering.jpg

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andrew_s
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby andrew_s » 26 Apr 2019, 2:58pm

It sounds like what you want is a decaleur set up. It's a French thing.
Gilles Bertoud and Velo Orange are the brands to look at.

You basically have a mini front rack (above wheel), on which the handlebar bag sits, held in place by the decaleur.

On the VO version, the bag has a steel strip bolted to the upper back (rider) side that has a couple of inch long pegs going down from the centre. These slot into tubes that are either attached via the headset, or to the rear of the (special) front rack. To remove the bag, just lift straight up.

The GB version has 2 tubes on the bag and one attached via the handlebar clamp, and a long pin through all 3 to keep the bag in place. To remove, pull out the pin.

If the decaleur attached via the headset or handlebar clamp, pretty much any front rack will do.
Because the bag is supported from underneath, and merely held in place above, you want a moderately rigid, boxy bag (as sold by GB and VO, expensively).

[EDIT]
The Velo Orange blog page on the subject:
https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2013/0 ... tures.html
Last edited by andrew_s on 29 Apr 2019, 3:48pm, edited 1 time in total.

HobbesOnTour
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Re: Front Rack?

Postby HobbesOnTour » 26 Apr 2019, 4:35pm

For bag inspiration have you tried Googling porteur or decaleur images?
Sometimes a handy way to get inspiration, especially handy if you can drill down to the source of the bag or for inspiration for custom designs.

That style of setup is quite common here in the Netherlands, often with some creative self made designs - solid and soft state.
I've always considered such a design as more for (local) utility rather than long distance touring, although that pizza rack looks interesting.