Do I need a heavy-duty rear rack for my mountain-bike trip?
In August, Im going on a mountain-bike trip in Colorado, where Ill be porting some 30 to 40 pounds of gear. I have a 15-year-old Nashbar rear rack but don't know its maximum capacity. The current Nashbar rear rack holds 30 pounds. Should I spend $60 for a heavy-duty rack? I also need to buy panniers. Sherry Parker, Colorado
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The rack you have is rated on the ITTWW system. Thats an acronym for the common industry expression, I Think This Will Work.” Not to say that the 30-pound rating is completely fanciful, but I doubt that the engineering on that rack was tremendously rigorous (not to pick on NashbarIve owned a number of their house-brand products over the years and generally find them pretty good. Well, except for the chamois that always falls apart in their cycling knickers ).
Jandd’s Expedition RackExpedition Rack
Add to that the inevitable metal fatigue from prolonged use, and it might be prudent to buy a new rack. Blackburns EX-1 is an excellent choice, very beefy and built for touring. It has a 40-pound rating, and I expect that offers a pretty wide margin of safety. Retail is $45, but Nashbar (www.nashbar.com) currently has them for $35.
I also like Jandds Expedition Rack ($65; www.jandd.com). In fact, thats what I have on my Bob Jackson Special Tourist. Its a really rugged rack, rated to 50 pounds, and can easily handle as much stuff as you can pile on top of it.
Dunno what youre after for panniers. Jandd makes excellent ones$140 for a pair of Mountain Panniers, the cast-iron skillet of Jandds pannier line. Very rugged, with plenty of room for multi-day trips. But the Gold Standard for pack bags has to be the Ortlieb (www.ortliebusa.com) line of rugged, waterproof bags. The Bike Packer Plus is the flagship Ortlieb rear bag$200 for a pair. Excellent bags.
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