Whether you want to go touring over long distances, commute to and from work, or just go buy some groceries, you will need some way to carry items on your bike. And what can be better than using bike racks? But what different types of bike racks are there? In this article, you will learn about bike rack types, what they are used for, and how to install them.
Rear Bike Racks
Rear racks are very common among bikes. Almost all commuter bikes, touring bikes, urban bikes, and cruiser bikes have rear racks or at least the mounting points for them. Rear bike racks provide a solid metal platform which can be used to carry cargo with the help of different accessories. Generally, rear racks fall into two categories – bolt-on racks and seatpost racks.
1. Bolt-on Racks
Bolt-on racks are secured to the bike frame at small braze-on mounts, also known as eyelets, using bolts. Bike frames will typically have eyelets at the base of the seat stays around the hub, and at the upper portion of the seat stays. So, there are two points of attachment. Some frames have eyelets midway up the seat stays. The rack will have corresponding threaded attachment points where the bolt is screwed in.
This is the more popular type of rear rack because of their usefulness to riders of all types and levels. Bolt-on racks have two or three supports per side and withstand 20-100 lbs depending on the model. On these racks, you can use panniers, trunk bags, baskets, or just tie something up with bungee cords.
2. Seatpost Racks
A seatpost rack is so called because it is attached to the seatpost using a clamp and either 2 or 4 bolts. Seatpost racks are an alternative to bolt-on racks in cases where the bike doesn’t have any rear rack mounting points, such as in road bikes and mountain bikes. These rear racks are not the primary choice for riders due to their lower load capacity or around 15-25 lbs.
You can use baskets and trunk bags with seatpost racks. But you cannot always mount panniers. To use panniers without them touching the wheel and drivetrain, there has to be side rails on both sides of a rack. Unfortunately, many seatpost racks do not have them.
Front Bike Racks
You have the option to load cargo at the font of your bike with a front rack. Unlike rear racks, there is a higher variety of designs for front racks. Front bike racks can be bolted onto built-in eyelets at the bottom, top, and/or halfway to the top of the frame fork. They can also be installed to the brake studs or using clamps in case there are no eyelets. Some have a support rod that connects to the base of the head tube.
1. Lowrider Racks
Unlike other bike racks, lowrider racks do not have a platform. They have rails on which you can mount panniers that hang pretty low on either side of the front wheel. This lets you keep pannier weight low so that a heavily loaded bike feels as stable as possible. Lowrider racks usually attach at two points to the fork – at a mid-mount and at the dropouts.
2. Porteur Racks
Porteur racks have a large, almost square-shaped platform. Due to this they are often referred to as pizza racks. Their name originates from the French word for “porters”, who used to distribute newspapers from the front of their bikes. The design of porteur racks makes them ideal for carrying baskets and large boxes, given that they are securely attached to the platform.
3. Randonneur Racks
These have a much more similar shape and look to rear racks. Randonneur racks, or “rando racks” for short, are ideal for use with small box-like bags called randonneur bags, hence the name. But you can tie down other stuff to them as well. Some models are mounted to rim brake studs (if any), while others are bolted to the fork eyelets.
4. Basket Racks
Instead of mounting a basket on a front rack, you could just get a basket rack which is a single unit. Essentially, it’s a porteur rack with a cage built around the edge. The advantage of this design is that you might not always have to strap everything down. You can use it just like a regular bike basket.
5. Suspension Racks
A lot of bikes have a suspension system on the forks. This is where a suspension rack comes in, since other front racks would not work with these bikes. They can either mount above the bike’s suspension or below it. These racks have a built-in piston, similar to the suspension, which lets the rack move up and down with the suspension of the bike.
How to install bike racks
The installation of bicycle racks depends on the type of rack you have. For example, front racks can either be mounted at one point or at two points. Front racks with one attachment point generally bolt into the brake studs. The second type bolts into threaded eyelets on the fork. If eyelets are not included in the frame, you can use clamps to attach to the fork.
Rear racks are pretty much installed in the same methods, either bolted onto threaded eyelets or to clamps. Unlike front racks, they are not mounted to brake studs. You should follow the steps given below when installing any bike rack.
- While installing a rack with multiple attachment points, start from the lowest mounts. Align the rack with the eyelets/clamps and tighten the bolts lightly so that you can make adjustments.
- Now, position the other mounting points correctly and place the bolts, again without fully tightening them. If a connector rod is required, install that to the rack first.
- Adjust the rack so that it is in the correct position. The rack should be parallel with the ground and not interfere with the brakes or the wheels.
- Finally, tighten the bolts fully (use an appropriate tool) and make sure that the rack is firmly secured onto the bike.
F. A. Q.s
Q1. What can be carried on a bike rack?
Ans.: On most rear and front racks, you can mount panniers which lets you carry a lot of things. However, not all bike racks have side rails which are important to ensure that the panniers do not hit the wheels. You can use other accessories such as baskets, trunk bags, and randonneur bags as well. Moreover, you can simply use straps or bungee cords to secure something to the racks. Before you even buy new bike racks, you should check whether your preferred accessories are compatible or not.
Q2. Is it safe to put heavy loads on a bike rack?
Ans.: All bike racks have a weight limit. Obviously, it would be risky to exceed this limit. The other, more subtle risk is that your bike’s handling might be affected. This is especially true for load carried at the front. Your handlebars will feel heavier and this is something you need to get used to. Regardless of your skill, it would be a bad idea to cycle at high speeds, make sharp turns, or tackle rough trails with heavy panniers loaded. So be sure to ride extra carefully.
Q3. What are bike racks made of?
Ans.: All bike racks are metallic. They can be made of steel, aluminium, or chro-moly alloy. Steel offers the highest strength but it is also the heaviest. Aluminium is quite lightweight but it does not have as much weight capacity. Chro-moly racks have a good combination of weight and strength, providing a middle ground between steel and aluminium.
No matter the distance or terrain, bike racks are undoubtedly one of the best ways to transport a wide variety of things with you. As we have shown you, there are different types of racks to choose from. Whichever rack you get, the most important thing is to ensure that it is compatible with your bike frame and with the accessories that you plan to use.