Question: Front rack or rear rack with panniers?

Hi all,

(Mods, please move to appropriate thread if needed…)

I am thinking I would like to stop carrying a backpack for my 14km workplace commute and let the bike do the work of carrying my things each day.

This is the bike (picture somewhat out of date):

It’s a medium Pompino with v-brakes and 420mm wide bars.

This is what I need to be able to carry simultaneously most of the time

  • Laptop
  • Lunch
  • Wallet, phone

I have been thinking about a rear rack and maybe some Ortlieb panniers, but now I am entertaining the idea of a front rack that sits nicely between the drops. However, I have read that front racks may be annoying for handling depending on the amount of trail

What would people suggest is the most convenient and safe way of taking care of this requirement? The path of least resistance is to stick with the backpack, but i am always open to ideas!

Rear rack with panniers would give the best carrying load:value option I would think. Or even the topeak rack w/ the rack bag on top might hold a laptop

Or go with a wald basket and a roll top bag or something if it’s only a small amount.

My wald basket gets very wobly* when you put too much in it

*Probably my dodgy installation

I’ve used a Carradice saddle bag for commuting for the last 6 years. They are really good for the size of load you’ll be carrying, but you’ll have to check dimensions to see if your laptop will fit. I used panniers before I went to the saddle bag and found that the saddle bag didn’t affect the handling nearly as much.

Camper longflap would do the trick: http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=product&product_id=35&under
Review of a guy who carried a laptop in one here: https://theeverydaycyclist.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/long-term-review-carradice-camper-longflap-saddlebag/
You can also get quick release mounts etc for these I think.

Good move getting rid of the backpack. Crazy how many people do long commutes with backpacks when they have a perfectly good bike to load stuff onto.

Or get an Endpoint low-trail fork, go mullet disc front, and get a nice big rack. Fork here: http://iconosquare.com/p/1171865205260643026_395243289

Hi gents,

Thanks for the replies. I know that a rear rack is the most traditional and obvious option, but I didn’t want to ruin the look of my precious if I can help it!

Mr. Metal, I think you’re onto something here… The Carradice quick release mounts plus bag does sound like a great idea. My only concern, again vanity related, is that the bag is not the look I would normally go for. Do you know of any similar alternatives?

I found this, which is more up my alley:
http://www.dillpicklegear.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=70_63&product_id=60

I did find a link showing a slightly different Carradice model doing a perfectly cromulent job on an earlier generation Pompino.

http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/large-saddle-bag-for-credit-card-touring

I might have to explore this option and see if there are other solutions similar to the Carradice, and if not just bite the bullet and go for one. The idea of a little rack that clamps to the saddle/seatpost and the holes near the top of the seat stays is also something I might explore.

So I am close to buying a Carradice SQR Slim, with the corrresponding SQR quick release system to mount it.

Has anybody got experience with these specific products? Other than the fact that I don’t much like the look of the bags, it all seems like the perfect solution! Which bag do you have Heavymetal?

I’ve got the lowsaddle longflap: http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=product&under=range&product_id=36
Doesn’t have quick release or anything, but QR would’ve made it ideal.

Give it 30 years to grow on you

There are a lot of low-trail off the shelf forks (disc and canti / v-brake), if you want to switch the forks out for a front rack. I’ve been using a Soma Portuer rack on my Space Horse with a Chome messenger bag strapped to it to carry everyday stuff with no problems, and those forks aren’t particularly low-trail.

The bag or the beard?

Both, obviously

On topic: What are the pros and cons for front vs rear loading? My Soma only has rear mounts but I do have some ortlieb clamps that I could use up front. Thoughts?

I’ve got an older version of pretty much the same bag that uses the SQR quick release thing. Can’t fault it (holds lots of stuff, is waterproof and is still going strong 5ish years on) and the ability to quickly unclip the bag is super handy compared to other bags. Just make sure the blocks tightened up on the seatpost enough (especially when carrying heaps) or it will rotate around and scratch your seatpost.
Also make sure there’s enough clearance between the tyre and the bag so the tyre doesn’t rub and wear through the bag.

Front loading dampens your handling.

I find that front loading makes steering slower, while rear loading makes the bike generally sluggish (harder to gain speed because of the added weight at the back). Rear loading also makes climbing out of the saddle harder, as the rear end becomes wobbly (again, added weight). Front loading is good if you need to access stuff while riding, also you can check your front load easily for possible problems.

Try experiment with loading only the front, then only the back, see what you prefer. Small loads (say less than 5 kilos) are easy, whether at the front or at the back. But if you have a big load use both front and back and spread the weight.

A note on frame bags, they are pretty cool. I got one last year and got into the habit of putting heavy items in the frame bag, I find that it works well.

I find front loading makes the bike more stable than unloaded, and certainly better than rear only. My current fully loaded setup is front panniers, rando bag, and saddle bag. Heaviest stuff goes in the panniers.

Rear only makes the handling shit atmo. It wobbles everything around. Rear only and front bag clamped to the handlebars is pretty much the derpiest so out. Everything wobbles at the slightest bump or non-perfect pedal stroke.

I have a Carradice Camper and used to commute with it solely for years. It’s great, but it really does shake up the handling, enough that I’m using a backpack now.

Of course, geometry plays a big part. I rode Ewan Gellie’s new bike not long ago with 20kgs of bricks in the front panniers and it was sold as. I’d front load for your bike.

To basically echo everyone else, I prefer lowriders, a frame bag and a bike packing style saddle bag for touring. Steering slows a little but you get used to it, climbing is better and you put the weight low over the front wheel which is also the strongest wheel.

I find high front weight (especially a handlebar mounted bar bag)on a non-low trail bike pretty meh.

Wow, thanks for all the tips people! I have found a friend with a Carradice SQR slim, but he has just left for a 3 week holiday today. I might see if he lets me do a test fitting on my reasonably small frame when he gets back, and then decide based on how well it fits and how that high weight feels.

As another point of reference: I commuted with my Carradice for 6 years and never had an issue. So yeah, trying it out and seeing if it works for you is probably a good thing to do.

Yep, totally geometry dependant, low trail front end will prefer a front load

The good thing about the Carradice bags is they aren’t long, so the centre of gravity is a bit more forward than on an a bikepacking style bag.