View Full Version : Advice on rack/panniers...

10-30-2009, 08:56 AM
Greetings all, first time posting.
I've been riding pretty much full-time for a year and I'm considering dumping my backpack. I rode in on Monday and all my work clothing inside got soaked...(as did I).

I have a couple of issues
1) I initially purchased a road bike without consideration to wanting a rack at some point. Is it possible to mount a rack on a road bike without drilling? I don't want a seat-post rack as I've heard that it's prone to twisting. I would want a full rack mounted stably to carry ~ 25 lbs of gear.

2) I have pretty big feet (size 14) and I'm concerned that I may hit my heels on panniers. Is there anyone else out there with big feet that have experience with panniers and whether they've had problems with their feet hitting?


10-30-2009, 09:02 AM
Welcome to the forum!

You can use p-clips to mount a rack onto most bikes that don't have rack eyelets. Most racks come with a set or you can pick them up at most bike shops in the area. p-clip mounted racks with decent loads are likely to scratch up your paint job where they are mounted - something to keep in mind.

Most modern road bikes do have pretty short chainstays, so with your large feet you very well could end up with heel strike issues. What kind of bike is it?

If you're riding a typical modern road bike that only has clearance for 23mm tires and no room for real, full-coverage fenders, I would highly recommend getting a second bike that you can devote to winter commuting. I can pretty much guarantee it would be a lot more comfortable.


10-30-2009, 10:00 AM
I'm riding the one of the largest bikes I could find...a 2009 Cannondale Caad9 6 - 63 with a steering post extender.

A winter bike would be nice, but it still wouldn't solve my problem of whether a pannier set would fit a bike I could ride.

10-30-2009, 10:11 AM
That is a pretty big bike. It all comes down to chainstay length, though. I have fairly large feet (size 12) and ride a Salsa Casseroll, which has relaxed geometry and reasonably long chainstays. As a result, I have plenty of clearance for full fenders, and no issues at all with heel strike on my panniers.

If your Cannondale's rear wheel comes right up against your seat tube, then it could be quite iffy.

Depending on how much you need to carry, could it be possible to get a rack and large trunk bag and carry your gear in that? IIRC Topeak and a couple of other manufacturers make trunk bags that have "fold out" mini-panniers that would give you more room than just the trunk bag, and those would be less likely to hit your feet.


10-30-2009, 10:44 AM
Hi Mark. Check out some of the fittings on this link. The quick release rack mounting kit and the Tubus stay mounting clamps might do the trick for you.


10-30-2009, 11:14 AM
Also consider a Wald front basket or porteur style front rack, many of these do not require any eyelets since they mount on the front axle and handlebars. Then you just throw your backpack in the front.

10-30-2009, 11:33 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I like the fittings at thetouringstore, That gives me hope that I could at least put a rack on my bike.

A front basket doesn't sound good to me since I've already got twitchy steering due to the extender.

I think the right answer might be a rack with a trunk

I think that I've got the answer about mounting a rack... I think it's possible.

Now the question becomes what's a large waterproof trunk that can hold my lunch bag as well as a change of clothing that's waterproof... hum...

10-30-2009, 11:36 AM
Following up on the basket or porteur idea, if you have Shimano STI shifters those pesky shifter cables (that come out the the sides of the lever) will get in the way, so you would probably need to switch to bar-end or downtube shifters. Still worth considering as a possible option though.

10-30-2009, 02:34 PM
Hi again Mark. I'm going to play devil's advocate for a bit. I'm a 6'3" 205 lb guy who has done my fair share of riding with a truck bag mounted on a back rack. First, let me confirm that you don't want a seatpost mounted rack, unless you are going with very light loads. But even if you are able to mount a conventional rack securely on your bike, will it be all that you had dreamed?

Finding a large enough trunk bag for a full change of clothes and a lunch might be an issue. Extra weight on your rear wheel could an issue too. I've used a Topeak MTX bag that 'expands' into a larger bag than what you normally see out there. What I did was to put stuff that needed to stay dry in a garbage bag inside of the Topeak bag. That said, when fully loaded with all my stuff, the bike became very top-heavy. And it still wasn't that big a bag. Getting on and off became more acrobatic. A large bag mounted behind the seat meant having to lift my leg very high to swing it over the rear of the bike. The top tube of my bike was too high to just lift my knee high and step over. And 'tilting' the bike to make it easier to swing the leg over was a problem because of all that weight mounted high on the bike. A little tilt and it just wanted to fall over.

That 'little tilt and it just wants to fall over' issue is my biggest concern. I'd ridden for thousands of miles like that through Portland's west hills without a problem, but then one day a few years ago I hit a pine-cone on a dark wet corner, and I went down hard on my left hip. Complete fracture with absolutely no time to react. I think that the load being placed high on the bike may have been a major contributing factor to the accident, though I have no concrete proof of this. It just makes me want to be extra-cautious when discussing mounting a trunk rack for commuting, especially to another tall person that has a long way to fall. (The bike was fine, BTW.)

After partially healing up, I've been mostly a recreational rider - no rack required. But if I were to have a do-over I might think seriously about ways to keep the load lower on the bike. With a fork change-out, you might be able to use a low-rider rack and front panniers. That's probably my first choice, and no question of heal-strike either. Something to think about. Hope you get this figured out to your satisfaction, and have may miles of safe riding.


10-31-2009, 02:27 PM
Alternatively, you could go for a nice retro saddlebag. They don't always need a rack. Especially with that big frame, you've got lots of clearance.

The Sackville stuff from Rivendell looks nice (it might want a rack), and the Carradice bags are also very good - you can get the Carradice bags at City Bikes; call for availability. Don't worry too much about things getting wet - in my experience, they don't really. But that is why there are plastic bags.

Otherwise, I'd recommend a rear pannier - Ortliebs are, of course, completely waterproof. I've got an old Jandd briefcase pannier, which carried change of clothes, lunch, shoes, and sometimes my laptop. It is probably no longer waterproof, but that is why there are plastic bags...

11-02-2009, 03:02 PM
And 'tilting' the bike to make it easier to swing the leg over was a problem because of all that weight mounted high on the bike. A little tilt and it just wanted to fall over.

I think bikes "want to fall over" when rear-loaded and tilted because we tend to only hold onto the handlebars when leaning them over. If we only hold the handlebars, then at some point the upward force we are applying to keep the bike from completely falling serves to lift the front wheel off the ground. Once the front wheel is off the ground, the 2nd-class lever created by the bike and the ground breaks. Next time you need to lean a loaded bike over to make it easier to mount, try putting a hand on the saddle and lifting a leg forward over the top tube. Of course, when actually riding a bike, this principle does not apply, because we are not lifting the bike to keep it from tilting, and our weight is distributed among the saddle, pedals, and handlebars.

As far as stability while riding, think of riding your bike like balancing a broomstick upright on your hand; your front wheel is your hand. The only way to stay upright on a bike is to move the front wheel back and forth to keep the bike underneath you. Loading the front wheel is like keeping the end of the broomstick on your hand; it is pretty easy to balance the bike with a load on the front. Loading up the rear wheel is like moving the broomstick up closer to your elbow; it gets harder to balance. This is why high rear-wheel loads make a bike feel wobbly.

As far a traction goes, I would guess that having more weight on the front wheel might increase traction in turns and such, but I don't know whether having weight only on the rear decreases the amount of traction an unloaded bike would have.

11-03-2009, 03:42 PM
Interesting analysis of the forces involved. Thanks! I've used that technique of holding the saddle and lifting the leg over the top tube. It's just that with my 61cm cyclocross bike the top-tube is already pretty high off the ground (with the higher bottom bracket and all), so I have to be pretty limber on that day to high-step it over the top tube. I have another 59cm road bike that I have no problem stepping over the top tube. The difference a few inches makes! No doubt that's why touring bikes generally have lower bottom brackets and shorter seat tubes.

11-13-2009, 08:25 AM
Thanks for all of the information and advice. I like idea of added stability by using front mounted panniers, but I've got carbon front forks, and all of the mounting kits that I've seen said that you don't want to bolt these onto carbon forks.

It sounds as though rear mounted panniers decreases the stability of the bike. But is that any worse than wearing a backpack? I don't really want to stick with using a backpack. I just purchased a new shower's pass coat and I don't want to wear holes in the shoulders with the backpack.

I've been looking for a truck bag and its devilishly difficult to find one that actually carries enough and is removable. I think that the best option might be to purchase a rear bike rack with panniers and just hope that with the mounting kit, I can move the panniers far enough back to keep them away from my huge clod-hoppers.

11-13-2009, 09:59 AM
My personal experience with loading my bike on the rear is this:

Loads carried low, e.g., in panniers, do not interfere with balance or stability. I assume this is because they don't tend to amplify the normal micro-tilting that balancing a bike involves. Don't worry about stability if you are carrying things in rear (low) panniers.

When I have loaded things higher up on my rear rack, such as in a "milk crate" on top of the rack, I have had a couple of different problems: balance issues (nothing really terrible, just an increased sense of wobble at low speed) and steering shimmy. It is probably just the peculiar geometry of my bike, but when I have a bucket/crate/box mounted on top of my rack, and I fill it with my work junk, my steering starts to shimmy at about 12-15mph. I even get a low-grade shimmy while pedaling (pedaling is supposed to be one of several possible anti-shimmy measures). If I take off the bucket and switch back to my pannier bags, the shimmy goes away.

I would try just what you mention in your last post; find the rack that allows the farthest-back mounting of panniers. I haven't shopped for panniers lately, but I believe there are some that actually have cut-outs to allow a little extra heel-room when pedaling.

Good luck!

11-13-2009, 12:43 PM
rear panniers do not mess with my balance or stability. I carried a single one, often with a laptop and clothes and... You compensate really quickly, and don't even notice.

02-11-2010, 01:13 PM
In an effort to increase the general knowledge about bag systems, I'm following up on this thread.

I ended up getting the following for my Bike:
1) Ortleib back-rollers
2) Tubus Logo
3) Tubus QR adapter
4) Center post adapter for mounting stays

Observations after a week of riding with the new setup:
1) I had to drill new holes in the Logo frame to mount the QR adapter even though it claimed to be made for the Logo
2) Changing a flat back tire with the QR adapter is much more difficult. I have to completely unscrew the QR adapter from the bike (creating many small and mobile pieces) to change a flat. This seems much harder than having the mounting bracket directly on the bike.
3) I have size 14 feet, and I needed all of the 'extra' room that the QR adapter and the logo frame claimed to grant. When I tried mounting the back rollers on the top of the rack, I would hit my heels on the bags. But once I moved them back to the lower mounting slots, there was about 1+ inches of clearance. (but it's still quite close)
4) Bike stability has so far been a non-issue. I find that when I come to a stoplight, I have to steady the bike significantly more than I used to since the bike now weighs about 15+ lbs more.
5) Riding without a backpack is colder. I have to dress more warmly since I'm now getting great ventilation. A bit of a pain in the winter, but I'm willing to bet that I'll love it during the summer.

If I were to start over, I would get a touring bike with the mounting brackets directly on the frame. (not mess around with adapters and what/not).

That said, I love having dry clothes when I get to work and not wearing a back-pack.