Best Rear Bike Rack – For Commuting, Groceries & Touring

Installing a rear rack is by far the most effective way to carry stuff on your bicycle. For years, bike tourers have favored them, and they are still favorites today.

However, you don’t have to be traveling across the globe in order to benefit from a rear rack. For commuting to the office or getting groceries, they are just as useful.

Learn what to look for when buying a rear bike rack so you can ditch the sweaty backpack.

 Top Picks:

Contents

 

Top 11 Best Rear Bike Pannier Racks Reviewed

1. Topeak Explorer MTX Rack (Best Overall)

Topeak Explorer MTX Rack for rear mount

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Weight: 1.3lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 55lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

The Topeak Explorer is one of the sturdiest racks out there with plenty of tire clearance. The sturdiness comes from the fact that the rack has three stays on each side rather than the usual two which helps to steady the load.

The flexibility of the flat steel arms is a strength here rather than a weakness as it allows them to be attached to a wide range of frames.

Features:

  • Stable – three stays on each side of the rack keep the load extremely stable, even when bouncing out of the saddle on climbs.
  • Lightweight – the hollow aluminum is strong enough to support 55lbs of baggage.
  • Taillight mount – welded-on mount for a rear light.

2. Planet Bike Eco Bike Rack (Best For Commuting)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 1.54lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 55lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

Since commuter bikes come in so many shapes and sizes, the Planet Bike Eco Rack is a great rack for commuting.

Furthermore, with a loading capacity of 55lbs, it can easily carry everything you need for the office. This simple design is tough and built to handle the demands of everyday commuting on grimy roads.

Features:

  • Capacity – 55lbs of carrying capacity is plenty for commuting.
  • Open Side Rails – great for perfectly positioning paniers.
  • Easy Installation – comes with p-clips to aid installation if your frame does not have eyelets.

3. Tubus Cargo Evo Pannier Rack (Best For Touring)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 1.72lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 57.3lbs
  • Material: Steel

There is something of a classic about the Tubus Cargo Evo Pannier Rack, especially among touring cyclists. We can see why.

With an impressive load capacity of 88lbs, this rack can carry the entire contents of your house. The installation takes less than five minutes.

Even with panniers loaded on the bike, there is no danger of hitting the bags with your heels while pedaling.

Features:

  • Tough as nails – it is no accident that this rack is popular amongst touring cyclists. The steel is strong, lightweight, and can support a massive 57.3lbs of load securely.
  • Easy Installation – the two adjustable struts that attach to the frame are extremely easy to install on the bike.
  • Accessorize – drilled holes for rear lights or pump holder.

4. Portland Design Works Loading Dock (Best Grocery Carrier)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 2.3lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 35lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

Featuring beautiful varnished bamboo, the Portland Design Works Loading Dock is one of the most stylish rear racks around. A cutaway allows pannier hooks to be easily mounted.

The 35-pound load capacity makes this rack unsuitable for long-distance touring, but it is more than sufficient for grocery shopping. No matter if the bike isn’t used, the good-looking seat will complement any city bike.

Adding panniers for grocery shopping is easy, but a box secured with some bungee cords might be more practical, as the wide deck allows you to carry it.

Alternatively, you could use a backpack for carrying groceries.

Features:

  • Striking looks – without doubt the best looking rack on this list thanks to the swooping curves and varnished bamboo deck. More than any other rack, this will improve the looks as well as the utility of any city bike.
  • Easy to Fit – adjustable arms attach to the seat stay. The rack comes with P-clips if your bike does not have seatstay mounts.
  • Wide Deck – panniers might be overkill for grocery shopping, so the wide deck is useful for attaching a box to make shopping much more convenient.

5. Thule Pack ‘N Pedal Tour Rack (Best For Mountain Bikes)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 2.42lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 55lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

It mounts directly to the frame of your bike using ratchet straps and is perfect for those with bikes that lack rack mounts but need to carry heavy loads.

It is one of the only racks that are suitable for mountain bikes with full suspension because of its long attachment struts.

As with a number of Thule products, this rack has some built-in security features to prevent the rack from being stolen from the bike.

Although the rack is versatile, it still can carry an impressive 39 lbs in panniers, or 55 lbs when loaded over the top. The rack is designed to work with Thule panniers, but the addition of side frames makes it possible to attach other pannier systems.

Features:

  • Versatile – rather than use eyelets, this rack uses a ratchet strap system to secure to the frame.
  • Security – a release key is needed to remove the rack from the frame which should be enough to keep opportunists at bay.
  • Front rack – if you prefer, this rack can also be attached to the front forks using the ratchet system.

6. Blackburn Outpost Rear Rack (Best Heavy-Duty Rear Bike Rack)

Blackburn Outpost Rear Rack in Grey ColorPin

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

  • Weight: 3.92lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 55lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

The Blackburn Outpost Rear Rack is a no-nonsense, tough rack that is designed to take a beating and keep going.

The aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum is both solid and lightweight and can carry a meaty load of 55lbs.

Features:

  • Sturdy – the aircraft-grade aluminum construction is strong and lightweight.
  • Versatile – can attach to the frame in the standard way using eyelets or using an extended quick-release skewer.
  • Safety – rear plate to fit a light.

7. Blackburn Expedition Rear Rack (Best For Disc Brake Frames)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 1.76lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 40lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

There is a disc brake compatible version of the Blackburn Expedition Rear Rack that fits both wide and narrow tires.

Aluminium racks are uniformly excellent and are capable of carrying large loads. When pushing hard out of the saddle, the three struts secure the rack and prevent it from swaying.

Features:

  • Child seat – compatible with CoPilot child seats.
  • Compatibility – suitable for disc brakes and wide and narrow tires.
  • Durable – the oversized aluminum frame is built to last.

8. Rockbros Cargo Rack (Best Quick-Release)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 2.85lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 165lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

This Rockbros Cargo Rack is another great option if your bike doesn’t have mounting eyelets but you need to carry a heavy load. It is attached to the frame using quick-release mounts at the seatpost and, crucially to support the load, on the seat stays.

Features:

  • Easy Installation – quick-release mounts make it easy to attach to the frame and easy to remove on those days you don’t need a rack.
  • Integrated fender – keep road spray away from your luggage.
  • Adjustable – the position of the rack can be adjusted easily and helps to avoid heel strike when pedaling.

9. Axiom Transit Racks (Best Value Rear Rack)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 1.54lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 155lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

Yes, you read that right – the Axoim Transit Rack can support a massive 155lbs! That is more than your typical mountain-goat road cyclists.

In terms of capacity per dollar, this rack is excellent value for money.

Features:

  • Huge weight capacity – more loading potential than you could ever need for touring.
  • Compatibility – fits most bikes, even if you ride with fenders.
  • No more heel strike – the rack is designed to keep panniers away from your heel during the pedal stroke.

10. Schwinn Bike Rear Rack (Best Budget Rear Bike Rack)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight Capacity: 26lbs
  • Material: Aluminum

If you are looking for an affordable rear rack that won’t let you down, then you cannot go wrong with the Schwinn Folding Rear Bike Rack.

It might not have the biggest carrying capacity but it does enough with its lightweight aluminum frame to justify a place on a commuter bike.

Features:

  • Folding arms – this rack is a real space saver when not on the bike.
  • Safety – rear bracket to attach a light.
  • Compatibility – the fully adjustable seat stay arms and struts mean this rack can fit a wide variety of bikes.

11. Tortec Unisex’s Tour Ultralite Rear Rack

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 1.32lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 55lbs
  • Material: Stainless Steel

The Tortec Tour Ultralite is a great lightweight rack that is ideal for commuting or short tours. The handsome aluminum is built to last and is rugged enough to survive the grim reality of commuting through winter.

Features:

  • Lightweight – great little rack for short tours or commuting.
  • Rear light mount – well-positioned welded plate for a rear light.
  • Clearance – great clearance above tires and plenty of room for fenders.

Read more: The best bike panniers for commuting

Alternative To Rear Bike Racks: Seatpost Racks

Racks mounted directly on the seatpost are called seatpost racks or seat-mounted racks, as opposed to rear racks that attach to the frame like traditional rear racks.

The seatpost rack can be a convenient alternative to standard rear racks for riders who only need a rear rack for short trips and do not need to carry a heavy load.

This method has some drawbacks, so check out these pros and cons to see if it is right for you.

SeatPost Racks – Pros

  • Easy to install – a single mount clamps to the seatpost either using four small Allen bolts or sometimes with a quick-release mechanism.
  • Easy to remove – when you don’t need the rack, you can quickly remove it from the bike and restore it to its natural, sleek beauty.
  • Versatile – the mounting style means they are sometimes the only option if you have rear suspension.

SeatPost Racks – Cons

  • Load Capacity – since they are mounted at a single point, load capacity is obviously limited. Not the best option for long, epic tours.
  • Weight – to increase the strength, seatpost racks are typically beefed up and heavier.
  • Damage – if your seatpost is made of carbon, as is common on road bikes, then you should think twice about seatpost racks. Tightening to mount too much could damage the carbon and the load itself will put a lot of stress on the seatpost.
  • Dropper and Suspension seatposts – these racks probably won’t fit if you have this type of seatpost.

What Can You Carry On A Rear Rack?

Panniers

Most riders fit rear racks to their bike so they can attach panniers. These bags fit either side of the rear wheel, much like the saddlebags on horses.

Good quality panniers offer a lot of storage whilst keeping everything dry inside.

Touring bikes are ideal for carrying panniers due to the longer chainstay that stops them from interfering with the pedal stroke.

Read more:

Trunk Bags

The trunk bags sit on top of a rear rack and are a great alternative to sweaty backpacks when commuting. Due to the fact that truck bags are available in different sizes, you need to figure out what your typical load will be and plan accordingly.

Many rear racks are designed to work well with trunk bags and offer easy installation where you simply slide the bag on and off. While trunk bags are convenient, they can be mounted to any rear rack using the right straps and a bungee cord.

Basket

If you use your bike for everyday grocery shopping, then adding a simple basket to your rear rack can be a great help. Compared to baskets at the front of your bike, rear rack baskets can typically carry more groceries and don’t interfere with the steering.

People

As long as your rack is sturdy enough and your passenger is light enough, you could also use it as a makeshift bike seat.

Even child seats can be mounted on some racks.

We don’t recommend it for longer journeys in heavy traffic, but it could work fine on short journeys on quiet paths. Not only will it be uncomfortable, but it is also unsafe.

Video: Carrying Stuff On Your Bike

Rear Bike Rack Features To Look Out For

Installation

Near the rear wheel axle, most rear racks are secured to the frame with eyelets. The eyelets on touring bikes will provide maximum flexibility when it comes to mounting packs.

As manufacturers realize riders want bikes that are more than just fast, more entry-level road bikes and even gravel bikes now have eyelets for racks and fenders.

If your frame does not have eyelets then all is not lost. Adding p-clips to your frame is an easy way to get some eyelets to secure rear racks.

Materials

Most rear racks are made from either aluminum or steel. Aluminum is great because it is not only strong but lightweight.

Touring bike riders, however, prefer steel racks for their sturdiness and the fact that they are easier to bodge a repair in the middle of nowhere.

Weight

It might seem strange to talk about rack weight when it is going to be dwarfed by the load it carries but it all adds up and when the road starts to point uphill you might just be thankful for shaving a few grams off the weight of the rack.

Disc Brake Compatibility

There was a time when if you had disc brakes and wanted to install a rear rack, you had to channel your inner MacGyver. The disc brake mechanism typically stood in the way of the eyelets and so you had to add spacers and longer bolts to secure the rack.

As more and more bikes come with disc brakes now, rack manufacturers have pivoted sharply to make compatible racks.

How To Mount A Bike Rack To The Rear Of Your Bicycle

Rear rack designs vary and each brand will have its own, relatively straightforward, mounting instructions.

Mounting a rear rack is easy and can be done by any cyclist at home with the help of an Allen key at most.

  1. Place the rack over your rear wheel and connect the bottom of the rack to the rack mounts, or in some cases the rear axle itself.
  2. Using the supplied bolts, attach the rack to the mounts. Tighten just enough to keep the rack in place but with enough slack to move it into the perfect position.
  3. Attach the arms to the seatstays and tighten. This will keep the rack secure and stop it sway from side-to-side under load.
  4. Once you are happy with the position, firmly tighten the bolts. 
  5. Attach panniers and check that everything feels secure and that your heels will not hit the bags during the pedal stroke.
Video: How To Install A Rear Rack

FAQs: Rear Bike Cargo Racks

What If My Bike Doesn’t Have Eyelets?

P-clips are the next best thing if your bike does not have eyelets for fitting a rear rack. These are simple metal bands that clasp around the tubes and have a protruding eyelet.

How Much Weight Can A Rear Bike Rack Hold?

Due to differences in materials, construction, and mounting, every rack will have its own weight limits.

Do Pannier Racks Fit All Bikes?

Not every bike will have eyelets for mounting racks but there are ways around this with p-clips or a different rack design. There will be a rack out there that will securely fit your frame.

Can Rear Pannier Racks Damage Your Bicycle?

If you use p-clips to attach the rack there is a chance you could damage your frame. Extra care should be taken if you have a carbon frame and only hand-tighten the p-clips.

Can You Put A Rear Rack On A Road Bike?

When you use rack-compatible seatpost clamps and p-clips on a road bike, it can easily become a touring machine. Those who ride an expensive, lightweight carbon bike should take extra care when installing the clips.

The chainstay length is perhaps the biggest difference between a road bike and a touring bike. On a road bike, the shorter wheelbase means that your heel can strike off any attached panniers when you pedal.

Are Rear Bike Racks Safe To Use?

If installed properly, rear racks are safe to use and a great way to let the bike, rather than your back, take the load. Obviously, the bike will feel and handle differently when loaded with luggage but it is something that riders get used to very quickly.

Always ensure there are no loose items on the rack that could get lodged in the moving parts of the bike.

Can I Use A Saddle Bag And A Rack At The Same Time?

Most rear racks attach to the seatpost to provide extra stability and tend to interfere with any saddlebags.

Fully Loaded – Our Final Words

Your back will thank you for installing a rear rack on your bike. Whether you are commuting or touring, let your bike handle the weight of your luggage and keep your back pain and sweat at bay.

The Topeak Explorer rack is an excellent all-rounder, suitable for commuting and touring. Under load, it is sturdy and doesn’t sway even when grinding out of the saddle.

If you need a rack for carrying groceries, the striking varnished bamboo of the Portland Design Works Loading Dock adds style to any town bike. This one has looks and practicality in abundance.

The Schwinn Folding Rear Bike Rack is proof that good quality, durable rear racks don’t have to cost a fortune. Easy to install and great if you want to get a taste of bike touring.

Leave a Reply