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I've been riding every single day now the weather has improved and I need either a front or rear rack or store items while commuting.

My commuter:


Looking for suggestions on brands and also which you prefer, front or rear.
 

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Think you will find a rear rack much more common and easier to deal with. First check to see how the rack will mount. Many these days are meant for braze ons that may or may not be there. The simple way may be the old school basket. Ok my name is Mark, and I am a Fred, but I am not that big of a Fred yet.

A rear rack and a good set of panniers and you should be set to go.
 

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If you plan on commuting, I would look at the paniers you want first and make sure the bike rack you buy fits them. I've found that REI has a really good selection.
 

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♥'s Bicycles
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Step 1) buy a welder.
Step 2) learn to weld.
Step 3) build a front rack.
Step 4) be awesome (like I am).




and

 

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♥'s Bicycles
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To answer your question more completely:

I prefer front racks for a number of reasons:

1) They are more 'exotic' looking and I like that. I know this is a shallow reason but honestly, there are hundreds of rear racks out there and all but a handful of them look and perform nearly the same. Front racks have a lot more diversity, style, and interest.

2) Keep an eye on yer' stuff with a front rack. I like to be able to see what I'm carrying and make sure it is staying in place okay. I've had things fall off my rear rack before but I've yet to lose anything from one of my front racks.

3) Ability to run a much larger platform. While panniers are great for a lot of things, a platform can carry anything. Odd shaped and oversize items are not a problem with a large platform style front rack such as a CETMA or my second example above.

Now front racks do have some downsides:

1) Wonky handling with heavy loads. If you plan to use a 'platform' type front rack (as opposed to a low rider type with panniers) and you put much weight on it you'll see that your steering gets a little wonky. Not a big deal for a quick commute to work or the store but some people don't like it. Never bothers me but I've never run seriously heavy loads up there either.

2) Cost. Unless you own the tools to build your own front rack, you can expect to pay more for a front rack than for a comparable quality rear rack.

3) Selection. Again, if building your own rack the sky is the limit but if you are buying something off the shelf you'll find that there is not as vast a selection of front racks as there are rear types.
 

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Eocyclist
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My wife and I have used Topeak Explorer racks and Topeak MTX bags for the last 6 years. Topeak gear has a very convenient easy on / easy off binding system.

The rack is rated for 40 lbs and is strong enough for fully loaded touring. The base plate on the rack acts as a fender, keeping you from getting that skunk stripe when riding in the wet. Link to Topeak Explorer rack

The bags come large and small sizes, each in a model with and without drop down panniers. The panniers are large enough for groceries like milk or bread, and you could use them for an overnight or short trip.
Link to some of the Topeak MTX bags

Link to photos my bike with a Topeak Explorer rack - one shot with Arkel panniers and one shot with a Topeak MTX trunk bag

The shots below are the bag on my wife's Jamis Aurora
 

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I'm still not sure why anyone would want to load a bike down with front and rear panniers and such when a trailer such as a BOB or a Burley does such a wonderful job of it. I love my Burley Nomad....it follows me whereever I ride.
 

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Specialized Crosstrail
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If I were to get one, it would only be for the back of the bike and it would be like this. (Wild brought it up as well) It just clamps right to the seat post... done. Looks clean with no struts running up and down to bolt down, which also makes it easier to take off or put back on. They come in different sizes with adjustable rubber strapping to hold things on. My friend has one and it looks and works great. On the other hand, an older vintage type bike may look better with the strut style panniers, keeping with a more traditional look.

 

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Specialized Crosstrail
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@ Handsome Ryan... I'm likin your "Have six pack will travel" ingenuity... nice. Can't say I've heard of Lancaster MiLK Stout though...

 

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I found some racks available from Bontrager. Look at both racks and baskets. Most front racks seem to be made specifically for panniers unless you get some kinda old-schooly thing like the front racks for Electra bikes. Bontrager says that their front basket is for the Gary Fisher line of bikes and I have no idea why it couldn't be adapted...maybe a call to their help # would provide an answer.
 

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Eocyclist
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I'm still not sure why anyone would want to load a bike down with front and rear panniers and such when a trailer such as a BOB or a Burley does such a wonderful job of it. I love my Burley Nomad....it follows me whereever I ride.
For me, it depends on why and where I'm riding.

The Topeak MTX bag is usually on the bike, and it's fine for light loads. The MTX bag+panniers can easily handle two loaves of bread and two 1/2 gal bottles of milk.

If I have to carry a heavy load of groceries, I prefer the BOB trailer. It can carry a bundle.

But for touring, I much prefer the way the bike handles with front and rear panniers. To me, it seems much more stable. There are other reasons I dislike the trailer on a tour. I don't like the way the trailer pushes the bike on a downhill. And the trailer is a super pain to park or maneuver in tight places, especially if I have to muscle it around in a motel.
 

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For me, it depends on why and where I'm riding.

The Topeak MTX bag is usually on the bike, and it's fine for light loads. The MTX bag+panniers can easily handle two loaves of bread and two 1/2 gal bottles of milk.

If I have to carry a heavy load of groceries, I prefer the BOB trailer. It can carry a bundle.

But for touring, I much prefer the way the bike handles with front and rear panniers. To me, it seems much more stable. There are other reasons I dislike the trailer on a tour. I don't like the way the trailer pushes the bike on a downhill. And the trailer is a super pain to park or maneuver in tight places, especially if I have to muscle it around in a motel.
Very good points...That manuevering thing is why I went with a two wheeled trailer instead of the BOB. I guess every option has it's up and downside.
 

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@ Handsome Ryan... I'm likin your "Have six pack will travel" ingenuity... nice. Can't say I've heard of Lancaster MiLK Stout though...
Thanks.

The beer is kind of a local thing. The brewery is in (shockingly) Lancaster, PA but they distribute it into MD where I live. I've been to their brew pub in Lancaster and I'm actually wearing the "Got Milk Stout" shirt I got there right now. If you ever find yourself in the mid-atlantic region you should try it. The milk stout is great and they make a strawberry wheat that my wife really likes.
 

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Specialized Crosstrail
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Thanks.

The beer is kind of a local thing. The brewery is in (shockingly) Lancaster, PA but they distribute it into MD where I live. I've been to their brew pub in Lancaster and I'm actually wearing the "Got Milk Stout" shirt I got there right now. If you ever find yourself in the mid-atlantic region you should try it. The milk stout is great and they make a strawberry wheat that my wife really likes.
Yep I used to find myself in the mid Atlantic region for years. Lived in the Plymouth Meeting/Norristown area of PA from '64 to '78, which are Philadelphia suburbs, then moved to LA.
 
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