Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Missing The Point

When I started this blog a month or so ago, I promised not to rant on topics political. So, technically, I'm keeping my promise but a recent article in a well known cycling publication requires some comment. The article, written by a well published author, attempts to explain the importance and advantages of mounting a stiff rack to one's touring bike before heading out.

Now, I've read the author's articles for years. and while I enjoy the historical analysis that always finds its way into the content, most of the topics are over analyzed and usually miss the point. This article on racks is no exception as it describes a rack's "load paths and triangulation", and uses words like compression and tension to describe the structural forces at play.

I'm sure there are a few engineer types out there who care about such things but the majority of people reading it don't. It takes two pages to get the reader to the concluding paragraph which is all the information most of them want -- "A well designed rack is stiff, light-weight, and strong".

The point the article really misses is that the weakest point of any rack, no matter how stiff or strong it is, are the 5 mm bolts attaching it to the frame. It doesn't matter how good the rack is if one of those bolts shear off as you're bouncing down the road -- and they often do. IMHO, frame builders should utilize attachment points that use a 6 mm bolt but that's another story.

A touring cyclist really can't go wrong buying a rack from companies like Surly, Tubus, Blackburn, Nitto, Jandd, Old Man Mountain or Topeak. They should ask touring cyclists for their recommendations or work with a shop that sells products for touring cyclists. When you're in the middle of nowhere looking for that ideal campsite, load path's and triangulation really don't matter.

Just carry extra bolts.



  1. I buy quality racks. I have racks from Tubus and Old Man Mountain. I read the mentioned article just last evening. It had me down in my basement questioning the design of my racks. What did I learn? If you buy quality racks, you get quality racks. Even the cheapy rack on my Cross Check is properly tiangulated.

  2. the point: even if you buy quality racks the weakest like will be the weakest link 5mm bolts