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Planning a bike touring adventure? Then it’s time to start thinking about what you need to carry and how you plan on carrying it. There is no doubt that a backpack just doesn’t cut it for bike touring – not only will you end up with a sore back and sore shoulders, but a backpack just won’t hold enough stuff for a longer adventure. Many longtime cyclists prefer to use the best bike racks for touring instead of a backpack, to lessen the load on their backs and provide a lot more space for carrying gear on their bike.

Attaching a rear rack to your bike will allow you to carry more gear without feeling loaded down. A rear rack will have the capability to attach specially designed bags, known as a panniers, to each side of the rack and will allow you to carry a bag or other touring gear on the rack platform.

There are so many choices on the market, so The Adventure Junkies bike touring experts have put together a short list of 5 of the best bike racks for touring. These bike racks will suit a variety of bikes and budgets to help you get on the road for your next adventure.

For more of our top biking gear recommendations, check out the Best Bike Frame Bags.

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Quick Answer - The Best Bike Racks for Touring

  1. Blackburn Grid 1 Rear
  2. Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Rear
  3. Portland Design Works Everyday Rear
  4. Salsa Alternator Plus
  5. Surly Rear Rack Chromoly

 

Comparison Table - Best Bike Racks for Touring

PictureNameWeightCarrying CapacityMaterialPriceRating
Blackburn Grid 1 Rear1.1 lbs45 lbsAluminum$4.1
Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Rear1.5 lbs110 lbsAluminum$4.5
Portland Design Works Everyday Rear1.6 lbs55lbsAluminum And Bamboo$$4.5
Salsa Alternator Plus1.7 lbs59.8 lbsAluminum$$$4.3
Surly Rear Rack Chromoly2.9 lbs80 lbsCromoly Steel$$$4.7
PictureNameWeightCarrying CapacityMaterialPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Bicycle Touring Racks

Blackburn Grid 1 Rear

Specs
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Carrying Capacity: 45 lbs
  • Wheel Size Compatibility: 700c, 650B, 29”, 26”
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim And Disc
  • Axle Compatibility: Quick-Release
Features
  • Light Mount On Rear For Safety
  • Can Accommodate A Variety Of Pannier Bag Styles
  • Pre-Installed Hardware Makes Bike Installation Easy

BEST FOR: BASIC VERSATILITY

When you’re looking for a really simple option that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and can do what the packet says, the Blackburn Grid 1 Rear Rack could be your ideal solution. This rack is designed to fit both rim and disc brakes and can accommodate quick-release axles. It’s also compatible with a wide range of wheel sizes, making it a versatile choice for all types of bikers. 

Made from a sturdy aluminum tubing, this rack is super strong and can hold up to 45lbs, whether that be a rear bag or panniers attached to the sides of the rack. The rack itself is relatively lightweight and even has a small rear plate that is perfect for attaching a light or reflectors for increased on-road safety. 

The pre-installed hardware makes it quick and easy to install on your bike, leaving you with more time for the fun stuff – like getting out there and adventuring!

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Rear

Specs
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Carrying Capacity: 110 lbs
  • Wheel Size Compatibility: 700c, 29”, 27.5”, 26”
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim And Disc
  • Axle Compatibility: Quick-Release
Features
  • Durable Anti-Scratch Coating
  • Streamlined Design For Aerodynamics
  • Can Accommodate A Rear Fender

BEST FOR: CARRYING A LOT OF GEAR

Axiom Cycling Gear has designed the Streamliner Disc DLX Rear Rack to carry a huge payload of 110 lbs! The reality is most people probably don’t want to be carrying that much gear and most people probably wouldn’t feel that stable riding a bike that’s loaded to the hilt. However, you can find confidence knowing this rack is strong and durable!

It comes with lots of great features such as a light mounting plate for your rear tail light and the ability to easily attach a rear fender. Plus, it’s been specially designed to sit low and back to allow for stability and offers plenty of room to keep your heels from bumping into the bags when you’re pedaling.

As the name suggests, this rack suits disc brake bikes, which most touring bikes are, so this is a really solid option for those looking for their next bike touring rack.

Portland Design Works Everyday Rear

Specs
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs
  • Material: Aluminum And Bamboo
  • Carrying Capacity: 55lbs
  • Wheel Size Compatibility: 700c, 29”, 26”
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim
  • Axle Compatibility: Quick Release
Features
  • Lower Mounting Bar For Better Center Of Gravity
  • Durable Alloy Tubing For Strength
  • Sleek Design Aesthetic

BEST FOR: THE TRENDY BIKE TOURER

If aesthetics are as important to you as functionality, then look no further than the Everyday Rack. This sleek and über trendy rack is from Portland Design Works, a company that designs and manufactures boutique products for the everyday cyclist.

Made from a durable alloy tubing that provides enough strength to carry 55lbs of weight, you can be sure that this rack will handle all you need to carry. The double-ply bamboo platform not only looks good but also provides a solid base to strap your bags onto. 

This rack accommodates panniers for extra storage capacity. The rack sits low over the rear wheel, allowing for a lower center of gravity which improves bike stability and inspires confidence when riding with a fully loaded touring bike.

Leave the rack on when you’re not bike touring for the perfect commuter-friendly bike rack!

Salsa Alternator Plus

Specs
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Carrying Capacity: 59.8 lbs
  • Wheel Size Compatibility: 700c, 29”, 27.5”
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim and Disc
  • Axle Compatibility: 135/142/148
Features
  • Designed Specifically For Salsa Alternator Dropouts
  • Can Accommodate Large Rear Bags
  • Longer Struts For Easier Fitting

BEST FOR: SALSA BIKES WITH ALTERNATOR DROPOUTS

You’ve got yourself a stunning new Salsa Bike – but most racks don’t fit because of the propriety rear axle dropouts. Never fear, Salsa has you covered with the Salsa Alternator Plus Rack.

Manufactured from a durable aluminium tubing and powder coated black, this rack is incredibly durable while also being sleek and lightweight. It can carry nearly 60 lbs so you can load up side pannier bags and a rear top bag without worrying about overloading the rack. 

This rack will be perfect for multi day trips, long adventures, and bike packing. The only thing left to do is plan where your next trip will take you!

Surly Rear Rack Chromoly

Specs
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Material: Cromoly Steel
  • Carrying Capacity: 80 lbs
  • Wheel Size Compatibility: 700c, 29”, 27.5”, 26”
  • Brake Compatibility: Rim or Surly Branded Disc Brake Bikes
  • Axle Compatibility: 142mm
Features
  • Made From Super Strong Steel
  • Can Carry A Big Payload
  • Wide Platform For Stability When Carrying Heavy Loads

BEST FOR: EXPEDITION BIKE TOURING

The number one feature on this Salsa Rear Rack that you need to know about is the fact that it is made from steel, unlike most racks on the market that are made from aluminium. This steel rack is not only extra strong, but in the very unlikely event that something was to happen and it broke while you were in the middle of your next bike touring trip, this rear rack can be welded back together. The chances of a rack breaking are slim, but it is something worth noting.

Other great features include the extra wide platform that allows for larger bags to be attached without compromising on stability. The ability to carry up to 80 lbs makes this a great long haul option – especially if you will be days or even weeks between towns, meaning you can stock up on essentials to carry with you without worrying about overloading the rack. 

This rack fits most rim brake bikes and has been specially designed to fit the Surly bike range including the Ogre, Troll, and Disc Trucker bikes.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A BIKE RACKS FOR TOURING

CARRYING CAPACITY

Depending on the materials and design, bike racks will carry varying amounts of gear. In the short list above, there are racks that can carry between 45 – 110 lbs. So there are some substantial carrying capacity options to choose from.

However, it is essential to be realistic about the amount you will actually feel comfortable carrying. It is important to feel stable and in control so a smaller rack may suit you better if you are a smaller or less strong rider. And remember, the more gear you load up, the heavier your bike will be when climbing those mountains.

 

BAGS AND PANNIERS

If you already own bike bags (or panniers as they are commonly known), ensure they are compatible with the bike rack you choose. Some racks are smaller and will therefore only be able to fit smaller panniers, while some racks are much larger and will fit larger panniers.

 

COMPATIBILITY

Bikes can sometimes have very specific features or design elements, such as the width and size of the rear wheel and tire or the types of brakes they have. These particular features will impact which rack fits your bike. So ensure you check the compatibility of the rear rack with your bike to ensure it will fit.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

AXLE

This refers to the cylindrical metal piece that is in the center of your wheel. These come in varying widths so it is important that the width of the axle matches the width of the rack.

PLATFORM

This refers to the top of the rack. These will sometimes be made from metal tubing or have a solid piece of wood or metal. This is the space where you can strap an extra bag onto.

PANNIERS

The bags that slide onto the side of a rear rack for bike touring are known as panniers. Panniers are designed specifically to be mounted onto bike racks. They often open at the top with a zipper or velcro for ease of access to the inside of the bag. They will commonly have straps on the back side that slide onto the rack. It makes them easy to secure to the rear rack but also very quick to take off.

See the best panniers for bike touring here.

DROP-OUT

Referred to in the Salsa Alternator rear rack. A drop-out is a small piece of metal attached to a bike frame at the rear wheel – it is the piece that locks and releases the rear wheel. These can be very unique to each bike or bike brand, which is why the Salsa rack reviewed above has been designed to be specifically compatible with the Salsa bike drop-out.

PRE-INSTALLED HARDWARE

Rear racks require various hardware, such as screws and washers, to attach them to the bike. Some rear racks have this hardware already installed so it is quicker and easier to mount the rack to the bike.

READ MORE

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