This article was published in 2016, in Newsletter 127.
Since starting to cycle commute over 40 years ago I’ve always had a rear rack that could take panniers, and my first Karrimor ones only recently bit the dust, having been relegated in their final years to carrying vegetables from the allotment. Loose soil fell out through the holes as eventually did potatoes!
At some stage I bought a slightly better aluminium rack with a spring attachment to hold things on the rack. This has decayed over the years but survived trips to Denmark1 and Germany2 although the bike changed between the two trips.
I’d realised the limitations of that rack, especially for bring home large items when shopping. It did not have a lower hanging rail, so with even a single partially loaded pannier there was no flat space on the rack to fit a large boxed item securely.
I found several with such a lower rail, but felt I could not justify the expenditure.
Before cycling the Danube in 2008 I’d found a nice light, strong, robust front rack made by Tubus in Germany. The UK importers did not seem good so I eventually arranged to pick up such a front one in Freiburg before the ride. I also spotted that they did a rack with a lower hanging rail. As a bonus there is a version with an attachment that takes a good sized ‘U’ lock. I’ve found the normal fixing a pain, and it prevents the easy use of a bottle rack. Of course on a ladies bike it can either foul the step-through or restrict the use of panniers.
Eventually fatigue struck… on the rack rather than me! A crack appeared in the old aluminium one, and with a UK touring trip imminent I had the excuse I needed. With some difficulty and a little help one was shipped from Germany and I had it fixed before our ‘C2C’ ride across Devon (a mere hundred miles) last year.
The rack can take up to 40kg and a large box (perfect for potatoes amonst other things) fits neatly over the pannier. The ‘U’ lock slides inside the rack and clips into place. This is easy even with a second pannier although some tape can help reduce any rattles.
My only niggle, common to most racks, is that a rear light fixed to the provided bracket is obscured from the side when panniers are added. I’ve added an extension to reduce this problem. The lower rail drops the pannier by about 75mm (3 inches).
I’m sure this rack will outlast me, and now wish I’d bought one fifteen years ago! They are available for shipping to the UK from ROSE Bikes. I bought the extra spring clip but otherwise it came with all the necessary fittings. Care is needed when fitting the spring or fingers may suffer!