Does anyone have experience with a front rack for an Arkel 18 pannier? I have considered the Tubus Tara but read an entry on an REI site that it is lacking a clip to allow the bag to be connected. I have thought steel or Chromoly is best as opposed to aluminum but am curious about experience from real bike tourers. Your thoughts and suggestions?
As a matter of fact I have experience with several front racks, and can strongly recommend the Old Man Mountain AC Lowrider, which at first glance appears to be no longer available. Presumably since it was the best rack for the job, Arkel picked up the design and they're having them made, since OMM discontinued them. You can find them on the Arkel site, and possibly other places now as well.
If you already have the bag or have studied the fastening mechanism, you will know that it needs room to pivot when fastening to the rails. This is not possible with at least one low-rider (which we tried first). But then we swapped that rack to a different bike that was carrying different front panniers, and found its attachment inadequately secure for real touring anyhow.
So the AC lowrider turns out to both work with these panniers and be very well designed and built to be secure in its fastening.