Author Topic: Rack Platforms  (Read 3829 times)

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Offline SilasTarr

Rack Platforms
« on: May 23, 2011, 12:12:24 am »
Greetings, my friends.

Today, I come to you with a specific question about mounted bicycle racks.  Thankfully, most of my questions about racks have been answered by reading past threads in this forum, but one point remains unclear in my mind.

What exactly are the advantages of getting bicycle racks with "platforms" on top of them?  It seems that most rear racks have a top platform to some extent, so this question mostly applies to front racks.  Obviously, the purpose of such platforms is to provide more places to store your gear besides in your panniers.

So, exactly what type of gear would be ideal to store on such platforms instead of in panniers?  I've seen some people storing their sleeping bags or tents on such systems; tents in their covers I can understand, but if I'm getting a down sleeping bag, I'd want to keep it in my waterproof pannier, right??

Basically, I'm trying to figure out if there's a good enough reason for me to aim for racks with platforms, or if I should mostly expect to store my gear inside my panniers.  Thanks for your feedback!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 12:25:49 am »
Yes, it's just more storage. You can put anything there you want. Some people would put a tent or a sleeping bag (inside a dry bag) or put a bag there that substitutes for a handlebar bag. Some people mount a headlight there.

Personally, I would not use one for three reasons: (1) I don't need that much space, and if I used that much space, it'd mean my load was likely too heavy, (2) it makes the front rack heavier, and (3) it's up too high on the front wheel for me and I'd be afraid it'd affect handling--I like my front weight down low.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 07:45:43 am »
Some racks are covered. Since I use fenders, it doesn't matter. When Touring, Sleeping Pad, Sleeping Bag and Tent. Commuting to work, I use a rear rack trunk bag to store my lock, rainjacket, spare tube, tool kit, 1st aid kit, and food since the center area of my rack trunk bag is insulated. I also attach a ACO highly reflective safety triangle to the back of it. If I stop at the grocery store, and pick up a couple of items, I unzip the side pockets and have two small panniers to add a couple of items. The weight is not a factor and over the years, even for day trips it comes in handy.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 11:46:40 am »
I have only ever toured with front racks with platforms.  I use it to distribute my weight, not as a tool carry more in my panniers than I normally would without it.  When I crossed the country, my sleepong bag went on the front rack.  For my next two tours, I had a more compact tent and it went on the front rack and the sleeping bag went on the rear.  Neither my seelping bag nor my tent would have gone in the panniers absent the front rack platform.

And I have never had any handling problems.  I think many people look at the setup and assume it causes problems.  I did a grand total of 65 fully-loaded miles with my original setup before embarking on a trip of some 6,000 miles.

BTW...If you don't have room for your bag in a pannier, you can put it in a light garbage bag before putting it in the stuff sack.

Offline SilasTarr

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 02:58:37 pm »
Hmmm... Divergent opinions, I see.

If anyone else wants to weigh in on this issue please do.  Until then, though, let me ask the following to those who encourage the use of front and rear racks with platforms:

What brand and model of racks with platforms would you recommend?

At the moment, I was looking into getting a Tubus Cargo rear rack and Tubus Tara front rack.  Neither of these seem to be designed with the idea of a storage platform in mind, though the Tubus Cargo rear rack may get by.  Your thoughts?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 04:25:47 pm »
The Tara certainly has no platform, but the Cargo platform is ideal for carrying stuff like a tent. I'm not sure what more you want in a platform.

Offline happyriding

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2011, 09:33:18 pm »
Platforms on top of front racks can also be used for 'handlebar' bags or baskets, which keeps the weight lower than a true handlebar bag.  There are also mini front racks that are designed to attach to the brake bolts or eyelets located high on the fork for supporting 'handlebar' bags up a little higher.  A mini rack can be used in conjunction with a front rack for panniers.  Check out the pictures here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/velotramp/2598858623/in/photostream/
http://www.acornbags.com/boxybag.html

There are also bags made specifically for the top of front/rear racks:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/renaissance-bicycles/5086120459/

As saddle bags get really large, like here:

http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/sackville-saddlesack-large-olive/20-133

they are supported by the top of the rear rack.

I think your choices are fine for racks.  The front rack is a "low rider" rack, which is designed to keep the weight down low, which supposedly improves handling.   And the rear rack has a top platform--it isn't a solid platform, so you probably aren't going to be able to safely lash a jacket to it, but you can lash something bulkier like a tent and sleeping pad to it.  Tubus racks are strong, sturdy racks.  I tour with a similar setup: the Tubus Nova(front) and Cosmo(rear).  Something to consider is: will you use your front rack for shopping when you get done with your tour; if so then attaching a basket to the top of the front rack could be handy.

As someone else mentioned, you probably want to get a dry bag for anything you lash on top of the rack.  REI sells dry bags, so if you get your racks there, you can pick up a dry bag too.

In my experience, lashing stuff on top of a rack is problematic.  I thought I could use a cargo net pulled tight to hold a tent and sleeping pad on top of my rear rack, but I found it was much too unstable when strapped lengthwise.  However, if you strap the load crosswise, which many people do, then you can't get into your rear panniers.  My solution was to cram my tent and sleeping pad into a dry bag, and lash it lengthwise with two straps which I pulled really tight, and then I strapped my cargo net over that, but it was a pain to setup in the morning.





« Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 10:32:38 pm by happyriding »

Offline Tourista829

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 07:57:19 am »
I have the Tubus Cargo/Tara system. It works for me but I miss a front platform. It depends on your mission and how much extra weight you are willing to carry, on the racks. I may try to adapt something for a small front platform for my sleeping bag. Most racks are a compromise, if you want to carry panniers and/or cargo.

Offline happyriding

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2011, 07:33:56 pm »
I have the Tubus Cargo/Tara system. It works for me but I miss a front platform. It depends on your mission and how much extra weight you are willing to carry, on the racks. I may try to adapt something for a small front platform for my sleeping bag. Most racks are a compromise, if you want to carry panniers and/or cargo.
It sounds like you could use a Nitto Big Front Rack:

http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/big-front-rack-nitto/20-075

Or if you want to stick with your current system, you could add a Nitto mini front rack for your sleeping bag:

http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/mini-front-nitto/20-020

I run the Tubus Nova/Nitto Mini Front rack combo myself. I have eyelets on my fork for the Nitto Mini front rack, but the clamps work too.  The Nitto Mini front rack also has a nice mount for a headlight if you are using a generator hub.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 07:38:34 pm by happyriding »

Offline indyfabz

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2011, 09:19:57 am »
I love my Nitto Big Front (and Big Rear).  Gorgeous and super strong.

Offline doug_in_seattle

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2011, 03:16:08 pm »
In my experience, lashing stuff on top of a rack is problematic.  I thought I could use a cargo net pulled tight to hold a tent and sleeping pad on top of my rear rack, but I found it was much too unstable when strapped lengthwise.  However, if you strap the load crosswise, which many people do, then you can't get into your rear panniers.  My solution was to cram my tent and sleeping pad into a dry bag, and lash it lengthwise with two straps which I pulled really tight, and then I strapped my cargo net over that, but it was a pain to setup in the morning.

I don't think you need a net.  I find that using two REI brand straps (with buckles) secures my sleeping bag and pad very well.  No issues even when riding rough forest roads.  It only takes a couple minutes to secure everything, too. 

Offline rcrampton

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2011, 02:35:57 am »
Seems like I'm always strapping crap on my bike here and there. The rack platform has been useful for strapping clothing on to dry (after laundry or rain or whatever). I made something up that holds my thermarest on the back of my rear panniers, but before that I strapped it on top of one of my rack platforms.

On trips to work or around town I will leave my panniers at home and strap on a windbreaker, rain jacket, or whatever on top of a rack platform. Or use small panniers on the rear and strap something large on the platform.

I'd personally make sure I had it on at least one of the two racks, but that's just me!

Offline Tourista829

Re: Rack Platforms
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2011, 09:52:10 pm »
Happyrider, was out riding so I didn't check the Forum. I think the mini front rack would be a welcome addition. I would like to keep my Tara front rack and have tried to find a small front rack. This is an ideal solution. Thank you for the suggestion. Even though I have been touring for years, I always learn something new from the Forum and see things from a fresh perspective. Thank you Adventure Cycling.