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Help Center : Bike Rack FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions on our Bicycle Racks

General InstallRear Rack InstallFront Rack InstallCapacityBike Bag FAQ

Which overall issues should I consider in choosing the best bicycle racks for my uses?

We offer a large selection of bicycle racks to cover a wide range of uses. Some of the most important points to consider are:

  1. The style of your bicycle and what racks it is capable of being outfitted with.
  2. How much stuff/bicycle bags will you be loading on your bike racks.

The following Q&A's are intended to answer some of these basic questions. If anything is unclear, or requires more detail, feel free to give us a call at 1+800-717-2596.

Which is a better material for bicycle racks, steel or aluminum?

Steel bicycle racks are often considered to be the best choice for expedition bicycle touring. Steel racks are strong, resilient and repairable.

Aluminum racks have gotten a bad rap due to the proliferation of low-quality aluminum racks on the market. However, well built, well designed aluminum racks such as those manufactured by Old Man Mountain are extremely strong and light. Their high-quality aluminum racks utilize aircraft-grade, tubular aluminum, and are manufactured with meticulous, precise welds.

Lower-grade aluminum racks can offer a suitable choice for carrying lighter loads, closer to home, but should not generally be relied on for the rigors and remoteness of bike touring.

What can I do if my rack breaks during a tour?

Steel racks offer the advantage that they can often be repaired by local welders.

Many manufacturers of high end touring racks offer very strong warantees, sometimes even with special guarantees. For example, if a Tubus rack breaks within its first 3 years of use, Tubus will airmail a replacement anywhere in the world. Old Man Mountain offers free shipping of spare parts anywhere in the world as well a lifetime guarantee against defects in workmanship.

General Install:

Can I put a rack on my bike?

There are quite a few issues to consider when mounting a bicycle rack onto a bicycle. In the following questions we try to address all of the major mounting issues that may come up with mounting bike racks to your particular bike. If you'd like to go over any of these details with us do not hesitate to call us at 1+800-717-2596.

To begin with, the easiest bicycles for mounting bicycle racks to are touring or commuting specific bikes. These bikes will generally have rigid frames and forks with upper and lower eyelets on the rear of the frame and lower and mid-fork eyelets on the fork. On the other end of the scale, the most difficult bicycles to mount racks to are full suspension bikes with disc brakes. Beyond this, specialty bike such as recumbents can vary even more widely in the racks that they will accept and will often require a specific rack designed to fit.

Will my rack work with fenders?

Fenders are a great way to block ricocheting shrapnel from the road if you travel through wet or muddy conditions. Most bicycles will accomodate a rack and a fender combination. A typical set up for mounting rear fenders is to use one eyelet for the rack struts and another for the fender struts. Using a longer bolt, you can also mount both rack and fender struts to the same eyelet. Some racks can accomodate fender brackets, so the fender does not need eyelets for mounting. Understand that the use of fenders with a rack may require additional clearance under the rack. Several adapters are available for most high-quality rack brands to gain this clearance.

Will my rack work with lights?

Since most headlights are handlebar mounted, front racks rarely conflict with your lights. If you mount your front lights to your fork or axle, however, you will more than likely experience some problems. Consider moving your lights to your handlebars, adding a handlebar extension device (such as those available from Nitto, Minora, Sidetrak, and Topeak), or using a front rack with a top platform you can mount the lights to.

Conflicts between taillights and rear racks are much more common than up front. This is becuase most riders mount their tailights to the seatpost, out of habit. This becomes a problem when you start attaching things to the bike behind the seatpost, especially if your saddle is low relative to the frame. The simplest solution is to switch to a rack-mounted taillight, like those available from Busch & Müller.

Rear Rack Install:

Can I put a rear rack on a bike frame without rack eyelets?

Most rear bike racks require upper and lower mounting eyelets.

The lower mounting postion is located somewhere near the rear dropouts. If the bike has rack eyelets, these will be above and/or slightly behind the dropout. If the bike does not have eyelets, quick release mounting systems are available for Tubus and Old Man Mountain Racks.

The upper mounting position is located along the upper section of the bicycle's seat stays. If the bike has upper rack eyelets, these will often be slightly above the brake posts (on non-disc brake bikes). For bikes without upper rack eyelets, adapters are available. Tubus offers seat stay adapters in 5 sizes to fit a variety of seat stay diameters. Old Man Mountain racks do not require eyelets as they attach directly to your brake bosses, utilizing brackets that mount under the head of the brake arm mounting bolt. For bike frames without brake bosses, Old Man Mountain racks utilize a clamp similar to the Tubus Seat Stay Adapters.

Can I put a rear rack on a full suspension bike?

Most standard rear racks are not well suited to work with full suspension mountain bikes.

Most of Old Man Mountain's rear racks work well with full suspension bikes with their axle and brake-bolt mounting design. Seatpost mounted bike racks are also compatible with full suspension bikes however, these racks are not rated for carrying very heavy loads.

Can I put a rear rack on a bike with rear disc brakes?

Most standard rear racks will not fit on bikes with disc brakes because the disc brake's caliper gets in the way of the rack's left lower strut/eyelet connection.

There are several rear racks that will work in combination with rear disc brakes. The Tubus Disco was designed to fit on the majority of bicycles with rear disc brakes to overcome this issue. Old Man Mountain offers disc versions of their rear rack with wider and taller lower mounting brackets.

Additionally, some touring specific bikes are built with disc brakes where the disc caliper is mounted to the chain stay rather than the seat stay so that it is clear of a rear racks standard mounting positon.

Can I put a rear rack on a mountain bike with a rear 29er tire?

Most standard rear racks will have clearance issues when used on bikes with a rear 29er tire.

For additonal height clearance, Tubus offers extension adapter. These adapters raise up Tubus racks by 3/4" to 1" offering more than enough clearance. The Tubus Cargo in the 700c size offers plenty of clearance without the extension adapters. Old Man Mountain offers rear racks that offer sufficient clearance for 29er tires.

Front Rack Installation:

Can I put a front rack on bicycle forks without rack eyelets?

The majority of front fork racks require a mid-fork and a lower mounting position.

The lower mounting postion is located somewhere near the fork's wheel dropouts. If the fork has rack eyelets, these will be located above and/or behind the dropouts. Tubus does not offer front racks that work without lower eyelets. Old Man Mountain offers several front racks that mount of off a front wheel quick release eliminating the need for front eyelets.

The mid-fork mounting position is located in the middle of the bicycle fork. Forks are sometimes built with two styles of mid-fork eyelets. Threaded mid-fork eyelets refer to threaded eyelets that are brazed on to the outward facing side of the fork. Through-bolt mid-fork eyelets refer to threaded eyelets on both the outward and inward facing side of the fork so that a bolt could be threaded through both sides of the fork.

For forks without mid-fork eyelets, adapters are available. Tubus offers two sizes of mid-fork eyelet adapter to fit a variety of diameters of forks. Old Man Mountain racks do not require eyelets as they attach directly to your brake bosses utilizing brackets that mount under the head of the brake arm mounting screw. For bike forks without brake bosses, Old Man Mountain racks utilize band clamps to mount in the mid-fork positon.

Can I put a front rack on a suspension fork?

Most standard front fork racks are not very well suited for mounting to suspension forks.

There are specific racks available for mounting to suspension forks. Tubus offers the Swing Fork which is well suited for mounting to traditional crowned forks. The design of Old Man Mountain front racks is well suited for both standard and suspension forks.

Can I put a front rack on a bicycle fork with disc brakes?

For disc brakes on suspension forks the racks that will work with the suspension fork will also provide plenty of clearance for the disc brakes. Standard front racks will generally work well with rigid forks with disc brakes. It is possible that the lower rack mounts will need to be spaced out slightly from the lower eyelets to provide clearance for the disc caliper.

Can I put a front rack on a bike with a 29er front wheel?

Most standard front racks will have clearance issues with 29er mountain bike tires.

Old Man Mountain offers 700c/29in models of both the Cold Springs and Sherpa front racks. Most Tubus front racks will not accomodate wide 29in tires, but for 29ers with through-fork eyelets, there is the Tubus Duo.


How much can I carry on my rack?

Generally you don't want to overload your racks. Doing so can severely affect your bike's handling, especially when descending. Plus, you run the risk of breaking the rack, which never works out well. Try not to go beyond the manufacturer's capacity rating for any rack. Check out our comparison chart to see the various carrying capacities of the racks we offer. Heavy-duty touring racks allow a large carrying capacity, while commuter racks are made for lightweight loads.

What is the best way to distribute weight on a bicycle rack?

Ideally, weight should be distributed evenly on each side of the rack. When toting paniers, it's best to keep the heavy items at the bottom for good balance. If you have a front lowrider rack and a rear rack, transferring as much weight as possible to the front will help to dynamically stabilize the bike. Try not to fill any rack so it becomes top heavy. Weight should be kept low, near the axles whenever possible, and distributed evenly on both sides.

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