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  1. #1
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    Racks and Panniers

    I'm looking for my first set of racks and panniers for my Fargo. I have no idea what to look for, as I've never owned either. Please help. Do all panniers fit on all racks? What are some features I should look for? Anything some of you experienced riders like or dislike?

  2. #2
    JP
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    I live in Seattle; Ortlieb seem to rule the pannier market where it rains. They have a tab in the back that lets you adjust how far back on the rack they sit. Seem to last a long time.
    "Another shot of the 6th Street Bridge. I guess I'm feeling sentimental because word is they're going to tear it down and build a replacement." DrRoebuck

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  3. #3
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    In general, panniers will fit on any rack. The caveat is that there are two common tubing diameters for racks--8mm (5/16" and 10mm (3/8). Inexpensive panniers will have a one-size-fits-all hook, which mostly work just fine. More expensive ones will have either cam lock hooks or specific hooks for the two different sizes.

    Racks come made for trunk bags only (zero, one or two legs) or for panniers (three or four legs). It's not a weight capacity thing--the extra legs keep your panniers out of the spokes. (Don't ask how I learned this.) So if you're going to use panniers, don't even consider any rack with fewer than three legs. And the further the rear leg extends out before curving up, the better.

    If you plan to use a trunk bag and panniers simultaneously, look into racks with an extra set of side rails. Yes, you can hang panniers from the rack deck along with a trunk bag--I did it commuting for over a year--but it involves a lot of cussing and fussing, which gets old. Then I discovered the joys of a rack with a extra set of side rails.

    Since I frequently use both panniers and a trunk bag, I'll never to back to a regular rack. Plus, the panniers mount a little lower, which lowers center-of-gravity, which improves handling when loaded.

    I use a Tubus Cosmo, but I know it's expensive and outside of many peoples' budget. Topeak Super Tourist DX is a cheaper alternative, and a rack from another firm I can't remember. But if you'll never (or very seldom) will use both, any rack will do.

    Some racks have a top plate, others open tubing. Top plates make poor substitutes for rear fenders, but that's about their only use. They just add weight and don't generally contribute to structure. Get an open tube rack and use real fenders.

    System racks (or what I call gizmo racks) like Topeak MTX system or the Bontrager Interchange system are designed specifically for that maker's own trunk bags. They slide in on rails and lock with a proprietary latch. Generally you're okay with any pannier on these racks. Using another brand of trunk bag is iffy. Topeak in particular might not be a good choice with another company's trunk bag since their locking rail has sharp edges which will quickly wear holes in a bag.

    Racks will almost always have a taillight bracket. Two vertical holes is the US standard, two horizontal holes is the Euro standard. I have a CatEye TL-1100 bolted to my US standard rack, and a B&M taillight bolted to my Tubus. Others will bolt on too. It's nice knowing that with my taillights bolted right to the rack, they'll still be there when I lock up outside.

    Edit: I just looked at the Fargo on Salsa's web site. With the rear caliper mounting on that bike, you won't need a disc-specific rack. My bike's rear caliper is mounted the same way, and any rack will work with that brake.

    For pannier choices, I'll defer to others.
    Last edited by brucew; 12-04-2009 at 04:54 PM.

  4. #4
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    Some guidance

    Quote Originally Posted by My Own Private Idaho
    I'm looking for my first set of racks and panniers for my Fargo. I have no idea what to look for, as I've never owned either. Please help. Do all panniers fit on all racks? What are some features I should look for? Anything some of you experienced riders like or dislike?
    Go to www.adventurecycling.org and click on How-To Department. Lots of information there. You can spend a lot of money on good racks and panniers, or can get away pretty cheap for not-so-good racks and panniers. Your service duty is the determinant. If theyre just for commuting short distances to work it's a whole different deal than if you're doing a fully loaded cross country ride.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucew
    Some racks have a top plate, others open tubing. Top plates make poor substitutes for rear fenders, but that's about their only use. They just add weight and don't generally contribute to structure. Get an open tube rack and use real fenders.
    That top plate is needed if you don`t have fenders (not everybody has or needs fenders). Not so much to keep road yuck off your stuff, but to keep your stuff from laying on the tire and getting slowly gobbled up. I commuted with no fenders and an "open" rack for a while and I frequently had my gym bag or a rolled up jacket sink down between the tubes and would have to stop and rearrange stuff.

    +1 on the ACA article and on the lower rail. With the rail at platform height, it`s a considerable PITA to tie stuff on top while the panniers are mounted and almost as bad to mount panniers when there`s already stuff tied on top, especially if that "on top" stuff is bulging out to the sides (like a sleeping bag that you`ve cinched down tight).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by My Own Private Idaho
    I'm looking for my first set of racks and panniers for my Fargo. I have no idea what to look for, as I've never owned either. Please help. Do all panniers fit on all racks? What are some features I should look for? Anything some of you experienced riders like or dislike?

    Ortlieb is good as are others but I can't recommend Jannd enough - both racks and bags

    most panniers fit on most racks

    I have this rack - it's great:
    http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FREXP

    I have these panniers:
    http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FMP

    this set up got me through law school (10-12 years ago) commuting with books, folders and clothes - has seen me through countless other commutes, tours in wide range of weather - still looks great, still works perfectly - couldn't ask for more

  7. #7
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    Ortliebs are great for rain as others have said. No need to double bag stuff. They also have inserts for the hangers so they will accommodate several sizes of tubing without being really loose. They have a great latch-style retention mechanism that keeps them from bouncing off and as a result they don't require a bungee. Extremely adjustable so if you are running a bike with shortish chainstays you can adjust them far to the rear so your heel won't hit the bags.

    They aren't perfect though. They are on the heavy side and they have no external pockets which is a little inconvenient. The waterproofness is the result of the roll-up top which can be kind of cumbersome compared to a zipper - everything has its compromise. They are also fairly expensive.

  8. #8
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    Mmmm....Fargo.

    (I want one.)
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  9. #9
    rider of odd bikes...
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    A little different take; I think that how you're going to be using the panniers and what load you've got to carry has a lot to do with what you really need. I use mine for a short daily commute. They're cheap Nashbar panniers and they're fine for my purposes. If I was doing cross-country touring or even probably regular weekend trips, I'd probably want something larger and more durable. I should add that I have a Burley Nomad with a waterproof bag, so my view may be skewed...
    Question:How many bikes does one person really need?
    Answer:Just one more...

  10. #10
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    Ortlieb panniers. Simply the best I've ever used. But the other I used were much less expensive.

  11. #11
    Great White North
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    I've got a fargo setup with a Surly Nice Rack (rear) and it's pretty stout. Reportedly, with the fargo, they located the eyelets up far enough to make almost any rack compatible and clear the 29er wheels. I can't vouch for the fit of other racks, but with the Surly, there's plenty of room for adjustment.

    I did have to get a longer set of upper braces from Rivendell to get to the seatstay eyelets, but after that, mounting was straightforward and simple.

    For panniers, I'm using a set of Novarra (REI branded) drybag type panniers. They're perfectly adequate for what i need, no interior pockets, self locking attachment with clip to keep them from wandering.

    My wife has a pair of the Ortlieb rolltop panniers, and they're pretty nice as well. Personally, the ortlieb rear clip isn't as effective as the ones on my Novarra bags, but it's adjustable without tools. However, it's setup on an ellipse for adjustment, which I find doesn't line up as square with the vertical leg it clips on, so there's less engagement.

    If you're looking for more options, there's some more rack setups on the MTBR Salsa forum, there's a 6 page thread with different fargo setups.

    Plum
    This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good, eh!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hepcatbent
    A little different take; I think that how you're going to be using the panniers and what load you've got to carry has a lot to do with what you really need. I use mine for a short daily commute. They're cheap Nashbar panniers and they're fine for my purposes. If I was doing cross-country touring or even probably regular weekend trips, I'd probably want something larger and more durable. I should add that I have a Burley Nomad with a waterproof bag, so my view may be skewed...

    I plan to continue to use my BOB for commuting, and I may pull it with the panniers. I plan to use these for week-long tours, weekend camping, and grocery hauling. Although the latter may be by BOB instead.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by My Own Private Idaho
    I plan to continue to use my BOB for commuting, and I may pull it with the panniers. I plan to use these for week-long tours, weekend camping, and grocery hauling. Although the latter may be by BOB instead.
    I wondered when this was going to come up. I've not used either on my road bike, however, I have a fair amount of experience on my MTB with both panniers and the Bobyak. Generally, we found panniers to be the poorest solution except with very minimal amounts of weight. The BOB was by far the best if loads were fairly big as long as you kept the heavy items low.

    In the end, we used backpacks for small loads and the bob for trips. Loaded panniers, especially on the front, seriously hamper bike handling and take much of the pleasue out of the experience. This is likely less of an issue on smooth roads where manuevering is seldom an issue.

    I post this info simply for the purpose of getting the OP to look at a possibly better alternative--depending on his future plans. I realize that this is pretty far adrift from his question.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwiftSolo
    I wondered when this was going to come up. I've not used either on my road bike, however, I have a fair amount of experience on my MTB with both panniers and the Bobyak. Generally, we found panniers to be the poorest solution except with very minimal amounts of weight. The BOB was by far the best if loads were fairly big as long as you kept the heavy items low.

    In the end, we used backpacks for small loads and the bob for trips. Loaded panniers, especially on the front, seriously hamper bike handling and take much of the pleasue out of the experience. This is likely less of an issue on smooth roads where manuevering is seldom an issue.

    I post this info simply for the purpose of getting the OP to look at a possibly better alternative--depending on his future plans. I realize that this is pretty far adrift from his question.

    I'm the OP. I don't think discussing trailers would normally be adrift. But in my case, I've owned a BOB for 2 years. I really like it. But when I go camping with the whole family it just doesn't carry enough stuff. I have three kids, and only one of them can haul his own stuff. My wife really can't do it either, so I end up really loaded down. For those trips I want to have panniers (front and rear) and then pull the BOB. Plus, I want the option of just using panniers if the situation calls for it.

  15. #15
    What Would Google Do.
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    Ortliebs (roller classics) with Tubus racks.
    you cant say 3rd without turd.

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  16. #16
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    I've used Orliebs on tour and yes they are excellent. However there is also a company in Seattle that makes a wide range of panniers and bike bags. I have a set of panniers from then and find them excellent for my needs. They are called Detours http://detours.us/index.php?cPath=35. Nice folks to talk to on the phone too if you have any questions.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by My Own Private Idaho
    I'm the OP. I don't think discussing trailers would normally be adrift. But in my case, I've owned a BOB for 2 years. I really like it. But when I go camping with the whole family it just doesn't carry enough stuff. I have three kids, and only one of them can haul his own stuff. My wife really can't do it either, so I end up really loaded down. For those trips I want to have panniers (front and rear) and then pull the BOB. Plus, I want the option of just using panniers if the situation calls for it.
    Sorry about that!

    If you haven't already, I'd try one of your hiking backpacks along with your Bob before spending the money on paniers. My wife and I found that she could carry 20 lbs in a backpack with no problem and I could carry 30 lbs and pull the bobyak with 50lbs on some fairly difficult terrain. May be worth a try if you already have fairly good packpacks that remain stable. After learning this the hard way, the panniers were never used again and were eventually given away.

    I do realize that road riding on smooth terrain may make panniers a bit less undesirable.

  18. #18
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    Clarification on BruceW's excellent contribution...

    Quote Originally Posted by brucew
    It's not a weight capacity thing--the extra legs keep your panniers out of the spokes. (Don't ask how I learned this.) So if you're going to use panniers, don't even consider any rack with fewer than three legs. And the further the rear leg extends out before curving up, the better.

    ...

    System racks (or what I call gizmo racks) like Topeak MTX system or the Bontrager Interchange system are designed specifically for that maker's own trunk bags. They slide in on rails and lock with a proprietary latch. Generally you're okay with any pannier on these racks...
    I use the Bontrager Interchange system. It has only two legs. It won't keep full-sized panniers out of the rear wheel's spokes. (Don't ask how I learned this.)
    If you would please put your input underneath mine, that would be great. -- Steelflex

  19. #19
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    Quote Originally Posted by RotatingShifts
    I use the Bontrager Interchange system. It has only two legs. It won't keep full-sized panniers out of the rear wheel's spokes. (Don't ask how I learned this.)
    Thanks for clarifying that. I forgot that many Interchange racks have only two legs.

  20. #20
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    I went to the LBS last night and looked at the Surly rack (Nice Rack). I like it. I was a bit worried about the adjustable height, but those racks look really stout.

  21. #21
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    Backpacks are really good for one thing: delaying the panniers that are sure to come.

    I use very cheap rear panniers to be honest. One is a collapsible "box" style pannier that holds important items like clothing, cameras, on my way to work. It's somewhat waterproof, with fenders of course.

    The other rear is an open pannier that cinches on the top with a buckle. I drop my work-backpack in this open pannier and it works great.

    On the front I have two small Nashbar waterproof panniers that work GREAT! If it is going to rain then my important items from my rear panniers get stuffed in the empty waterproof panniers up front. These Nashbar front waterproof panniers are a great value.

    Most important; on the top of the rear rack is a trunk bag, which holds all of my repair items, spare lenses, etc. All the things I need for flats etc stay out of my rear panniers.

    I've been commuting for 20 years and this system is the one I've finally settled on. It's important for me to have room to "grow" on a daily basis. The below photos show my work-backpack dropped in the open pannier, and the front panniers have my softball gear and swim gear. The rear bag with the softball bat has been replaced with a collapsible "box" style pannier that I LOVE, which is water resistant.

    I personally don't think you need expensive panniers for around-town riding. Long distance touring however, different story.

    I would strongly recommend you put a low-rider Tubus Tara rack on your bike for front bags. Once I finally did this I don't know how I lived without.

    Also not pictured...in the winter I carry a waterproof backpack cover from REI that I can quickly slap over one of my rear panniers if it's moist outside. This cover has it's own little bag which is clipped to the lid of one of the front panniers so it's quick to take out.





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  22. #22
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    Trailer or panniers ?

    Ive done 500 mile touring with panniers and hated it.Got a bob yak and love it.Trailer has advantages like virtually no wind resistance and a low centre of gravity.Try balancing a loaded top heavy bike up hills.That will wipe the smile off your face.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob2500
    Ive done 500 mile touring with panniers and hated it.Got a bob yak and love it.Trailer has advantages like virtually no wind resistance and a low centre of gravity.Try balancing a loaded top heavy bike up hills.That will wipe the smile off your face.

    I want both. I have a trailer. As a matter of fact, I have two BOB trailers.

  24. #24
    What? Me worry?
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    Trailers have plenty of advocates and advantages, but there are some disadvantages:

    Trailers don't fit too well on planes, in cars, on car racks, car tops and elevators.
    If you're worried about security, it's harder to park a trailer in a small motel room.
    For serious touring trailers require extra spares...tires, tubes etc.
    Panniers are much more flexible when it comes to smaller loads...carry one pannier or carry four. Panniers also make organization of the load easier and things easier to find.
    A pannier can be carried as a pack or shoulder bag...try that with a trailer.
    All else equal, trailers are a little heavier than panniers, and a heavy trailer without brakes is more work up hill and may tend to swap ends downhill.
    Most trailers put even more load on the rear wheel of the bike, and in some instances can even cause the front wheel to loose ground contact.
    Finally, if you ride with a partner there's always the question of who will pull the trailer.

  25. #25
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    I use a HybridBackpack because it allows me to take my very own backpack. Also, you can take any item measuring 49 inches by 38 inches, so says the site. Also when it rains I just put my backpack in a garbage bag and place it on HybridBackpack. It has adjustable straps that buckles up.

    www.hybridbackpack.com

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