Modern touring bikes have over the years undergone a series of microevolutions from what we will call “standard non-touring bikes” so as to be used to travel across vast regions, states and even countries for days, weeks, months, or years. All these makeovers are geared towards making these bikes versatile and durable trail companions that can not only withstand the mechanical abuse of long distance bike travel, but will also carry you and your gear throughout your journey on two wheels.
These bikes are usually characterized by having durable frames; great tire clearance, longer chain stays and perhaps most importantly, threaded upper and lower rack eyelets allowing for various rack mounting options. Such provisions make it easy for owners to attach racks and other accessories onto their bikes.
In this article, we are coming to the aid of cyclists who own bicycles that for one reason or the other, just wont take up that rear rack as naturally as modern touring bikes can. Installing rear racks is perhaps the simplest way to max out a bicycle’s load carrying ability, dramatically transforming it from a modest lightweight carrier to a serious load-toting, luggage-hauling beast of burden.
Most rear racks mount to the bike via four braze-ons located on the frame. You can thereafter tow your precious cargo by tying it down with bungee cords on top of the rack and even use them to carry panniers or baskets depending on your needs.
If you take a look at this Tubus Cargo Classic, you’ll see that it attaches on to a bike at two points: First, a pair of bolts connect the rack arms to the frame below the saddle, and a second pair connect the lower section of the rack somewhere just above the rear hub.
However, we do understand that not everyone owns a bike that allows for quick and easy mounting of racks. Whether it be that you are going fatpacking (Yes, it is a thing folks!) and want to know how to overcome the rack-mounting limitations those large tires on a fatbike bring or that your bike manufacturer needed to trim costs and now you own a bike without upper and lower eyelets, we are gathered in this virtual campsite to discuss how best to solve the problem of mounting rear racks on bicycles that were not designed to carry them.
For simplicity, this article wilI focus on the rear rack mounting options offered by Tubus which is an established manufacturer of incredibly lightweight and elegantly designed bicycle racks.
The Challenge Of Mounting Rear Racks On Bikes With Disc Brakes.
First off, it must be pointed out that bicycle brands are different, and therefore just because a bike has disc brakes doesn’t mean that a rear rack won’t fit on it. That said, as a rule of thumb, Tubus racks generally do not work well on bikes with disc brakes. Most of the time, they have issues clearing the disc brake caliper. The location of the braking mechanism is the critical factor in concluding whether these racks will fit your bike or not. Disc brakes will interfere with rear rack installation if the disc brake caliper is directly above the eyelet that serves as a mounting point.
If your disc brake caliper is not above the rear hub, then you will be able to install rear bike racks without issue. However, If your disc brake is positioned above the seat stay, the only Tubus Rack we would recommend is the Tubus Disco. This rack swoops back around the disc brake caliper and would fit as shown below:
Mounting Rear Racks On a Bike With No Lower Eyelets
Lower threaded eyelets provide an important mounting point for rear bike racks. Most modern touring bikes come with lower eyelets and others even have top and bottom lower eyelets. If your frame doesn’t have eyelets on the rear dropouts, Tubus had your rig in mind when they came up with the Tubus QR Adapter. The way it works is that a quick release skewer clamps to a bracket that you can then use to mount your rear rack. The maximum load you can carry with the QR-axle setup is a respectable 25 kg(55.1 lbs) according to Tubus. With this setup, your Rack choice is limited to the Tubus Logo Classic and the Tubus Cosmo.
The QR adapter can also help one mount bike racks on bikes with brake calipers since it places the rack a little farther back allowing the rack to clear the brake caliper depending on the bike frame.
Some drawbacks to using the QR Adapter are that first, it will make the process of removing your rear wheel a little more complicated since you will have to detach the rack and Adapter before you can have access to the wheel. Second, the use of the tubus QR adapter may restrict your tire size choices because the mounting position of the carrier is approx. 25 mm lower than the usual mounting position on frames with existing eyelets.
Finally, this setup cannot be used with bikes that have thru axles. Thru axles are becoming increasingly popular these days but the QR Adapter utilizes the quick release wheel attachment system and will be incompatible with thru axles.
Mounting Rear Racks On a Bike With No Upper Eyelets
If you want to install a rear rack, but your bike lacks Upper Eyelets to act as mounting points, you can get a Tubus Seat Stay Adapter. The Tubus Seat Stay Mounts include 2 long stainless steel brackets that are bent around the seat stays and the stainless steel mounts attach to the upper struts of your rear rack. The rack mounts in the outer hole and the inner hole are then used for clamping to the seat stay.
Like every setup, this one comes with its downsides which in this case is that it adds extra stress on the seat stay when the rack is under a substantial weight and, we would therefore not recommend this system for carbon frames. For all of its unparalleled strength, Carbon Fibre is more brittle than Alluminium or Steel and it can snap when force is applied from another direction and angle therefore the Carbon frame would be pretty vulnerable around the Seat Stay.
Mounting Rear Racks On a Fat Bike
“Fatpacking” places unique demands on you when it comes to rear rack installation. When trying to figure out which rear rack can fit your big-boned fatty, you will be faced with issues such as non-typical dropout spacing due to larger hubs, limited mounting points, and of course, those huge tires that may hinder rack installation.
Luckily, Tubus offers a rack specifically designed to surmount these challenges. The Tubus FAT has all the great features of the other tubus racks but is just a bit more massive to fit your big wheels. With a weight capacity of 66 lbs (30kg) and super wide top platform you will be able to fit all your bike packing gear.
The Fat rack has clearance for up to 26×4.8” tires and panniers can be mounted in a high or low position, corresponding to the main two horizontal rack tubes. Pair this rack with Ortlieb pannier bags and your fatty will be ready to haul some serious luggage.
Closely related to the topic of fatbikes is that of Plus Size Tires. The new trend that’s picked up steam in the bikepacking community is plus-size tires. These wider tire sizes almost blur the lines between standard mountain bike tires and fat bikes. Top bicycle manufacturer Trek define plus sized tires as: “a 2.8- to 3.25-inch tire on a 35- to 50mm (external) rim“. Because they’re so big, they prevent mounting of rear racks and as far as we know, no Tubus solution exists. You can however try your luck with some of these Salsa Racks instead.
With some elbow grease and mechanical ingenuity, any part can be fitted on to a bicycle frame therefore if you’re trying to install a rear rack on a bike that isn’t designed to naturally carry traditional racks, I hope these these Tubus rear rack options will be of help to you.
Enjoy your next ride!!