My Rear Rack Doesn't Seem To Work
By Todd Lawton

This page describes several possible solutions for those whose bikes do not readily fit a standard rack on the back, regardless of whether it is to be used for touring, commuting,
shopping, etc. There are three main causes for these problems. The first is a lack of braze-ons or eyelets for the rack to bolt to (1). The second is the use of travel agents with v-brakes
getting in the way of the braze-ons (2). The third is small rear triangles, usually associated with a Softride beam (3). Recumbents have their own set of problems, since I know little about
their challenges, they are not included. For each solution, the problems it solves are listed behind it, as well as a list of pros and cons. While some links to manufacturers are provided,
they are not a complete list and further personal research will surely yield other manufacturers with similar products. For the purposes of this article, braze-ons are the threaded posts
mounted to the seatstays, a! nd eyelets are the threaded holes in the dropouts.


The advantages and disadvantages are from my perspective. It is fine if you disagree, but don't flame me for my opinions. If you think you can do better, send me a kind letter explaining
the changes or additions you would make. If I agree, I will update my article.

Beam racks (AKA seatpost racks) (1,2)

These are the racks made by Blackburn, Topeak, and others that have a clamp that mounts around the seatpost and nowhere else. While some have provisions for panniers, others only
have a flat section on the top for strapping a bag or other items to.

Advantages: Can attach to virtually any bike. Several have quick releases, which makes attachment and removal swift, even between multiple bikes.

Disadvantages: Because they only attach at one point, they are not as stable. They also have low weight limitations, which means loaded touring may be difficult with them. You also
must have several inches of seatpost showing for them to attach to.


Trailers (1,2,3)

There are a wide variety of trailers out there, but the main ones used to replace racks are the Bob with a single rear wheel, and the Burley with two rear wheels. The Bob attaches to a
quick release skewer and tips side to side with the bike, while tracking directly behind it. The Burley comes standard with a clamp that attaches to the left side of the rear triangle, but a
quick release attachment is available. This trailer remains parallel to the ground while turning.

Advantages: Don't need to worry about any braze-ons. These types of trailers are usually very quick to disconnect and reconnect, so dropping them for a spin around town or out to
dinner is not a big deal. They also usually have large capacities, so grocery shopping or other errands are easier.

Disadvantages: They weigh more than the other possibilities and you may have to drag that extra weight up a hill. In addition, they make the bike longer and maybe wider, so it is a little
more difficult to handle in tight places, although once up to speed it is not a big problem. In addition, flying with a trailer will likely add to your baggage count.

Other notes: While they appear to cost a lot at first glance, when compared with the cost of front and rear racks and panniers, the cost seems much more reasonable.


Old Man Mountain Racks (1,2,3)

This manufacturer has a line of racks and accessories that are specifically built to deal with these problems. While I have not dealt directly with them, their website gives the impression
that if their products don't solve your problem, they will custom build parts that do. The typical attachment method is eyelets on the rear (although they have adapters if you don't have
eyelets) and additional supports that run to the brake posts (assuming you have cantilever or v-brakes).

Advantages: They likely have a solution to your problem, regardless of what it is, while still maintaining a mostly conventional method of carrying stuff on your bike.

Disadvantages: I've yet to see one in my local bike shops, so finding one or getting spare parts may require special orders or mail order. They also tend to cost a little more than other
racks, but not an outrageous amount.


Customizing other racks (1,2,3)

This category is kind of broad, and caters more to the tinkerer. If you don't feel comfortable with a wrench, try one of the other solutions. These methods are not approved by
manufacturers, and they may do things like void warranties. However, if some care is taken, along with some thought about the loads and the modifications you make, all of these can
work for a lifetime. I will list those that I have seen people use, explaining the basic methods.

For racks where the braze-ons are missing or hidden by the brakes, often a higher mounting location is possible. Many manufacturers have adapters that will clamp to the seatstays
eliminating the need to use the mounting locations provided (or perhaps not provided) by the manufacturer. Jandd Mountaineering has a bracket that clamps to a monostay and provides
mounting holes for a rack. Another method, and this is one I use personally, is to attach the rack supports to the seatpost quick release. On my bike, there were no modifications needed
and the rack is very stable.

Another method is to take the manufacturer provided supports and bend them to meet your needs. You could bend them out around the brakes, then back in behind them to attach to the
brazeons, or go inside and back out. Be certain that you do not restrict the brakes in any way!!!. You could also pull a page out of the Old Man Mountain book, and bend your supports
so that they hook to the brakes.

Others have made custom adapters from items such as sheet metal, angle iron, etc, which hook to the braze-ons and allow the rack supports to hold at a separate location. For example, if
you have a monostay with braze-ons, a piece of channel of the proper width could be bolted to the braze-ons so that it sticks up in the air. Another set of holes could then be drilled at an
appropriate location for the rack supports.

An idea similar to this is the one developed by Joe Stafford. I can't do it justice in words, by the second URL below will give you the idea.

If you don't have eyelets, Old Man Mountain makes an adapter that slides into the quick release and provides a set of eyelets. Perhaps they will sell you a set without the attached rack,
or you can spend some time in your local machine shop and make your own.

Advantages: Cost can be minimized, often limited to scrap pieces you have floating around the garage. If you don't have the spare parts, try asking your local bike shop what they have
floating around (another great reason to become friends with the LBS). This lower cost is especially true if you already own a rack, and just want to make it work on a different bike.

Disadvantages: As previously mentioned, these are not factory approved, and you are liable for your own handiwork. If something goes wrong, don't blame me and don't blame the
manufacturer. You made the modifications, so you bear the responsibility. If your finishing skills are lacking, it won't look professional, but as long as it works and you are happy with it,
I don't care.