We are all familiar with the rear bike rack that you can stack bulkier items on, such as a randonneur bag. We then take on the backwoods and highways which is typical of bikepacking or touring. What about the front bike rack?
Will it be able to carry as much as the weight that a rear rack can? We might be able to answer that on this article, but more importantly, we are going to look into your best options when it comes to your choice for your tour-ready bike.
In the middle of the 20th century, front bike racks became popular with the arrival of bicycle panniers. Today we already have varied front rack styles where its subtle differences in detail may escape the usual person on the street.
Primary Types of Front Rack:
The load is carried on top of the rack, or the top as its origin and hung off the sides.
Low Rider Rack
Carries bags from the sides and holds it lower and closer to the ground for better balance. Front Racks are usually designed to attach to the braze-on mounts of your bike.
Variations of Front Racks:
Porteur Front Racks
This type of rack is made to stabilize a big front load right above the front wheel. The name originated from France where porteurs used these rack types to distribute newspapers. Its use is recognized mainly for its large capacity.
Basket Front Rack
A basket rack is actually a porteur rack with a cage around the outside. The cage design is created to do away with having to strap down your bag. You can make your own basket rack by combining the porteur rack with a wire basket. Generally, basket racks are hanging off the handlebars or are attached to the front fork with metal stays.
Lowrider Front Racks
Lowrider racks are mostly utilized on touring bikes. By this, It allows your pannier weight to go very low to the ground. In addition, this type of rack helps stabilize your bike on both high and low speeds.
Suspension Front Racks
Suspension racks are made to connect directly to the front suspension fork. It allows your panniers to work as “sprung” weight. There are two main types which are, ons that mounts right above the suspension, and the other that mounts below the front suspension. It is best to use the type that mounts above the suspension.
A decaleur mount is an apparatus that is designed to keep the load in front of the handlebars from flopping around. This mount can be mounted directly from either your stem, front rack, or steerer tube. It then has areceiver that is custom-attached to the bag for securing and fastening the bag.
Randonneur Front Racks
It is a minimal and lightweight type of front rack that supports small randonneur bags. It can be fitted with integrated light mounts that allow the rider to ride for long periods of time. Aside from weighing less, most of its design feature eyelets that mount a dynamo right onto the rack.
What Materials are Racks Made Out of?
Front Racks can be made out of the following:
- Stainless Steel
All of these types of materials are geared towards a strong rack. Apparently, the most durable tend to be steel. Steel racks are the most popular racks by cyclists worldwide. Please be careful with aluminum it does have a high failure rate.
Where is the Best Location to Place Your Front Load?
Ideally, you would like to place your load low on the bike and lowriders racks, Front panniers are often used especially on touring bicycles. Light loads of less than 22lbs (10 kgs) are generally fine just right above the height of the wheels on either porteur or radonneur.
Best Front Bike Rack for Touring:
A Lowrider rack. This product/company is a company that has been around for more than 25 years. Innovations have been made and vast improvements as well. This rack can be installed on forks equipped with midsection eyelets. It also attaches to lower eyelets and midsection eyelets on both sides of the fork.
The makers have upgraded this classic lowrider with a rather light attachment which makes it easy to install. The fork has been altogether improved making it more flexible in terms of positioning. The Tubus has a loading capacity of a maximum of 39.6lbs. weighing at 500grams.
This rack comes in a one-size-fits-all category and is compatible with bikes equipped with disc brakes. Made of grade T-6061 aluminum, it weighs in at 917 grams. This item is generally known to be budget-friendly for touring gear. It is popular with adventure riders and is good for bikepacking too.
It is a flat platform that can be mounted with attachment clamps to your bike’s front fork. It also requires eyelet mounting not far from the axle. It can carry up to 20 kilos or 45lbs. total of your gear. It comes with a light mount and cargo net.
Surly Touring Front Rack
This type of front rack is so versatile it’s a favorite among riders. Made from tubular Chromoly steel this rack is extra durable and strong. and is a popular choice for adventurers worldwide. This item can be mounted in many ways making it very adaptable. You can put panniers on it, in either the high or low position.
It is height is adjustable and is compatible with many wheel sizes. Which lets you keep the center gravity for as low as possible. It has a carrying capacity of a maximum of 32kg or 70lbs. And weighs in at 1,382 grams.
Velo Orange Porteur Front Rack
This rack is forged from strong stainless steel tubing. Pretty much the same design as a traditional-style porteur rack just like the ones In Paris newspaper delivery bikes. The platform measures at 14x 11” and is mounted to the dropout eyelet and the brake bolt. They can also be installed easily even with your bike disc brakes on.
Minoura FRP-3000 Front Pannier Rack
This is a lowrider type rack that carries pannier suited for 700C touring. It has a steel tube casing and black powder finish that is both durable and rigid. It also mountable to Cantilever brake mounts.
The Minoura can hold up to over 5,000 miles of use without any problems. It is very stable, even under heavy load. This rack can make a wider fork, without the need for braizons. It is a little heavier than most racks in its category but that is compensated by its sturdy performance.
Old Man Mountain Sherpa
OMM Sherpa front rack has always been a popular choice for off-road touring. It has no problem with suspension forks and carries a maximum of 40lbs. This rack doesn’t require eyelets for mountings, instead, it has a clamp system around the fork.
Minimalistic in design, it weighs 635 grams and is ready to carry panniers with or without a front suspension. It has a top plate design that allows a higher pannier attachment compared to a lowrider rack. Despite the popular opinion that lower panniers mean greater control, some would debate that especially when it comes to OMM Sherpa Front rack.
Nitto Mini Front Rack
The Nitto 32 F Mini Rack is a small front rack that is mounted via a single bolt through the crown and 2 bolts at fork braze-on. You can also use the supplied clamps to wrap around the fork as it is made out of Tubular Cromoly which is satin nickel-plated. Measuring at 190 x 110mm, this is a small rack but by no means any weaker.
It can carry a maximum of 4.4 lbs. which is already fairly hefty compared to its size. Make sure to use a tether to tie around the tongue of the rack and the handlebars. Due to its size and design, it’s not compatible with all bikes.
This rack is, however, best for bikes with cantilevers. You can use Rando bags to partner with this small but strong mini rack.
This Front rack consists of two parts and has no bow frame above the front wheel. The front fork passes through middle braze-on and drop-out eyelets. The DUO can carry extreme loads and even almost all types of panniers.
This item has some limitations though, an example would be, they do not mount on spring or carbon forks. this rack is essentially only good for touring and not much for anything else. It has a maximum load capacity of 15 kg and the rack itself weighs 560 grams.
Velo Orange Randonneur Platform
This item is constructed in tubular stainless steel as it is perfect for a handlebar bag, a tied down bag, and a basket. The material used to make this rack is so strong, it is guaranteed never to rust, chip, and be repolished to shine, Even if it’s a few years old already. The platform measures 20.7 x 10.2 cm wide. It can carry a maximum of 5.4 kgs. or 12lbs.
As the names suggest, this rack can do well partnering with a Randonneur handlebar bag. This semi-small front rack can fit most bikes with cantilever brakes complete, with canti-mounting bolts included.
Origin 8 Rush Messenger
This item has a front basket rack with an integrated U-lock holder, The cargo net holds the basket contents in place. The platform itself is measured at 12”x 14”. It is constructed out of heavy-duty AL6061-T6 alloy and can support up to 55lbs.
It has an adjustable fit of 26”. 27.5”, 29”, and 700c. Origin 8 is good for wide or odd-shaped cargo. The whole thing weighs in at 5 lbs. So you have to have a sturdy front wheel to carry both the rack and cargo.
Buyer’s Guide on Front Bike Rack for Touring
What to Look for When Buying a Front Rack?
A few questions you need to answer before your purchase.
1. What is your intended use for getting a Front Rack?
a. Will you use it for touring or bike packing?
It will mostly consist of attaching and or carrying and putting big bulky front panniers on your bike.
You may use a flat platform rock that can hold a Rando bag, or maybe a heavier handlebar bag.
Anyone of the racks mentioned above can fit into either of the purposes.
Other things you need to consider when buying a front rack:
Any rack with decent strength will be able to carry your load securely and safely. However, if you are looking to carry more gear for a tour, make sure to get one of the racks that have heavier gauges. The thicker the better. Although it will significantly weigh more.,take for example the Surly which can go bike adventuring and will be able to carry your load to and back without having to worry. .Although it may be a little bit more on the heavy side, its performance would more than compensate for its weight.
Materials used (e.g. steel)
For most, the front bike rack that is known for its rigidity and strength, steel is the most favored material used. Steel is not too expensive and can last for years. Mostly, racks that are constructed with tubular stainless steel design, gives it a structural rigidity that is commonly popular with bikers.
Can Your Bike Accommodate the Front Rack that you Want?
You would want to check if it has the necessary eyelets for mounting. Other than that if your bike is a touring bike or one that is custom-built for bike packing. You should be able to mount the best racks available. What are the qualities that you would look for in a rack, and how do you recognize the difference in quality among them?
The difference in quality may not be readily recognizable but there are some indicators that may help make a good assessment as to the condition and strength of the rack. Always consider the materials that were used in its construction (mainly steel as the strongest). Also, check out the quality of the welding. If you notice that the rack is kind of flexible you can expect that it won’t hold that long on heavier loads. Choose rigidity over price.
Some racks will have a higher weight limit than others. A maximum of 25 kg load limit is a good indicator that the rack is sturdy.
Preparing Your Bike for Rack Install
Check your bike if it has rack mounts. If it doesn’t, then you won’t be able to install a rack. You can substitute regular rack mounts with seat-posted mounts, but it would be better to wait till you can get a new bike one with the proper mounts.
Once you gain a general idea of how you are going to use your new front rack, you will want to see how they will hold to the load that is applied.
Letting your bike carry your burden for you is a very good way to travel, as well as keeping your body comfortable in the process. No more weight pressing against your body hence no more backache or soreness on the shoulders. Your clothes can stand to benefit too, nor more bunching during winter and less swear during summer.
According to some, panniers that are attached to lowrider racks improve the center of gravity of the bike giving the rider better balance and control. Panniers are very good at neatly transporting larger items due to their size and a wide opening at the top.
What are the Features of a Good Pannier Bag?
It should have a quick and secure mounting system. Panniers have an ingenious drop-on-and-ride system. This system keeps the bag secure when riding, but then you can also easily pick it up by lifting them up using its specific carry handle or maybe by pressing a button.
Checking the size of the pannier that you would like to use would always be good business. In that, choosing the size would depend on where you would be taking your bike. If it is just a commute on flat roadways or adventuring that would require you to go through uneven terrain, of course, you might like to go for medium size for a short trip to the office,
This is where your pannier will be holding your laptop, some big folders, and some other gadgetry that you’ll be bringing along. You might want to use the same medium size for regular adventuring as well. Or even a smaller one to make sure you get clear those big rocks as you explore the backwoods.
Inclusively, take note of small but important items: reflective patch, rear light hanger tabs, adjusting clips, shoulder straps, reinforced base and corners.
Overall, with so many options to choose from in and outside of this article, you can use a simple approach that would later expand to other options. Always remember to match your front rack for your intended use