Packing for a bike trip can be tricky. You will need to think of all the things you really need, and leave anything at home that you would add weight.
You will also need to consider how you can carry all your things on your bike. Some bikepackers prefer to use seat packs or fork bags to securely carry all their luggage.
However, the best option is still the most popular: attach your bags to a bike rack.
In this article, we’ll explore the most popular front racks for bikebacking, and in our buying guide, we’ll find out what you need to know before buying a front bike rack.
Types Of Front Bike Racks
Before we jump into our most popular front rack products, it’s worthwhile taking a look at some of the different types of front bike racks.
Lowrider Front Racks
Most touring bikes have a lowrider rack. These front racks keep the pannier weight low to the ground.
This is especially important with touring bikes as they are typically packed with heavy gear and equipment.
Low rider font racks have to have a mid-mount on the fork installed, as well as lower eyelets at the dropout.
This mounting method ensures that the bike stays stable even when it is loaded.
Porteur Front Racks
Porteur front racks are specifically designed to increase the stability of any loads in front and above the wheel.
These front racks were invented in France where newspaper boys (known as porteurs) would distribute newspapers from the front rack of their bikes.
In modern times, this front rack design is more suitable for carrying boxes or larger items that don’t fit into your average front rack.
Basket Front Racks
The basket rack is similar to a Porteur rack, just with a little cage around to hold the load in place.
The greatest benefit with a basket front rack is that you do not have to strap your load necessarily.
If you wanted to design your own front bike rack, then you could just buy a Porteur rack and attach a basket to it.
Suspension Front Racks
A suspension rack connects to the front suspension fork of your bike.
You can usually find two different kinds of suspension racks: one that mounts above the suspension, and the other rack is mounted below the suspension.
If you want to get the best out of your suspension front rack, then it’s worthwhile investing in a sprung bike rack.
Randonneur Front Racks
Randonneur racks are designed to support Randonneur bags of a smaller size.
Typically, you will find that the lower struts connect either to the lower fork eyelets or the rim brake mounts, and the upper struts are connected to the hole in the fork crown.
A Decaleur mount isn’t specifically a bike rack but it is a mount that is used to attach a Randonneur bag.
These mounts can be attached directly to the steerer tube, stem or a front rack. However, you will need a custom bracket on your Randonneur bag to ensure that it can be mounted to the rack.
The Best Front Bike Racks For Bikepacking And Touring
If you are planning to go on a bikepacking tour with your own bicycle, then the right storage rack is a must-have.
You will need to carry all your gear in some way, while at the same time ensuring that your bike is stable enough for a comfortable ride.
Depending on what type of bag you have to attach to your bike or your rack, there is a large choice of front racks out there.
You can attach specific bike bags to your bike, or you can use dry bags and store them in cargo cages attached to your bike.
These bikepacking fork cages are very lightweight and they make for an excellent alternative to the standard front racks on a bike.
Although the lighter weight is ideal for bike tours, with a fork cage you are limited to the capacity and the specific size of the bag. In addition, you will also need to install eyelets in order to attach these cages.
If you prefer to be more flexible with the different load you want to carry, then a front rack is the most suitable option.
Let’s take a look at the best bike front racks used for touring and bikepacking.
OUR TOP PICK
This low-rider front rack comes in a pannier-style and it has been designed for a wide range of different bikes.
As a top-shelf rack, you can easily attach and remove the top of the rack again whenever you don’t need it.
- Can carry an impressive 20.5kg load while keeping the bike stable in the front
- At 645g, this storage rack doesn’t add too much weight to your bike.
- Durable and sturdy design
- Although this rack is universal fit, it can be tricky to install on some bikes
What Customers Say
Customers of this front rack found the product very sturdy but difficult to install on their bikes.
The Tubus Duo front rack has been specifically design for bike tours.
Although you cannot use them on carbon or spring forks, they do have a very specific purpose for some bikes that cannot fit other racks.
Tubus are well known for their strong and sturdy bike rack systems. It allows for a maximum loading capacity of 15.6kg
The design with a longitudinal hole allows a better fit and more flexibility.
One of the advantages with this front rack is that it is a lowrider rack, which means that you can install an additional, smaller front rack for more carrying capacity.
As a low ride rack, it also brings the gravity center of any bag and pannier much lower to the ground. This will ensure a more stable and comfortable ride.
- Weighing just 560g, this front rack is lightweight keeping your bike well balanced
- Slightly less expensive than some other front rack models
- Only two pieces to attach to your bike for easy installation
- Doesn’t fit with every pannier on the bike
- Cannot be used with suspension or carbon forks
What Customers Say
Customers of this front rack liked the strong design and that it was easy to install.
The design of this touring front rack from Surly is perfect for anything you do with your bike.
Whether you go on a long bike tour and you need strap all your gear, or you just commute and attach a small bag, this rack allows you to attach different panniers high and low.
As the rack has a top platform, you can even attach a sleeping bag or a tent. Surly is a very popular bike brand, and their sturdy design shows in this rack.
This rack is made with tubular Chromoly steel, and you can attach it to the majority of forks from Surly and other manufacturers.
A big plus with this front rack is that it is height adjustable, so you can change it depending on the wheel size.
This allows you to keep the center of gravity for your gear as low to the ground as possible making for a very easy ride.
- Allows you to carry up to 32kg of gear while keeping the bike stable
- Includes all the important hardware components you need to install the rack
- Fits a variety of bikes and wheel sizes
- Its weight of 1.3kg will add a fair bit to the overall weight of your bike while touring
What Customers Say
Buyers of this front bike rack liked the sturdy design and easy installation which makes sure that bags stay in place safely even on a long tour.
If you are looking for a front rack for your Randonneur bag around the handlebars, then this bike platform allows you to carry everything you need.
Velo Orange are well known for their tough bike equipment, and this also applies to their Randonneur front rack.
Made with tubular, polished stainless steel, this rack is best for tied-down dry bags, baskets and handlebar bags.
- Stainless steel design that doesn’t rust or flake
- The classic polished stainless steel look fits every bike
- Suitable for a range of Velo Orange forks
- The load capacity weight is relatively small with 5.4kg
What Customers Say
People who bought the Velo Orange rack really liked the strong design but they believed that a good piece of kit like this should come with all the hardware included.
You can buy the VO Randonneur front rack on velo-orange.com
This five rail front rack is on another level to any of the bike racks above.
Its heavy-duty design is thanks to the custom welding and handmade craftsmanship from Pass & Stow.
The rack has a flat platform which can carry different panniers and baskets. We found it to be ideal for long bike tours.
- Custom-made individually for your bike size and specifications
- Comes with internal wiring for a Dyno light
- Different leg options to match your bike’s look
- As it is custom-made, this rack is on the expensive side
- You will need to factor in a waiting time for delivery as this rack is made by hand
What Customers Say
Buyers of the Pass & Stow front rack found the customized bike rack an excellent choice. The rack is made to their bike specifications, so it always fits perfectly.
You can buy the Pass & Stow front rack on passandstowracks.com.
Best Front Bike Racks For Touring And Bikepacking Buying Guide
When you are looking to get your bike ready for a longer bike tour, then there are plenty of things to consider, including how you want to carry all your gear.
Both a back bike rack or a rack in the front are great options, but there are a few things to look out for when buying a suitable bike rack.
Use The Right Type Of Bag
Especially when you plan to go on a longer bikepacking tour, you will need to use a bag that is sturdy and big enough to carry your equipment.
In addition, it also should be waterproof and easy to attach to your bike rack. If you already have a pannier, then it’s a good idea to buy a front rack from the same manufacturer as you are more likely to get a good fit.
If you don’t have a bike bag yet, then you need to consider what bag you want to use, or if you need a bag for certain items at all.
For example, a tent or a sleeping bag will come with their own bag and you will just need to fix them to your bike rack with straps.
Find The Right Fit For Your Bike
Once you know what type of bag and rack you want for your bike, you need to find the right rack that fits your touring bike.
There are a lot of different options of how to fix a rack to a bike. Some racks require mid-blade eyelets, while others have a fixed mounting point where also your fenders are affixed to.
The majority of racks come with an easy mounting option that you can adjust for your bike.
Make Sure Your Bike Is Balanced With The Rack
One of the biggest problems when carrying a lot of load with you on the bike is that it becomes difficult to balance the bike, and you are more likely to have an accident.
For the best balance, your load needs to lie as low to the ground as possible, and front racks allow you to do this.
This is one of the most common reasons why touring bikes use front load racks.
Saying this, you can also use relatively light loads (anything below 10kg) on the back, and the bike is still easy to maneuver.
Choose A Strong Front Rack
Once you established that a rack fits your bike and the bag that you want to carry, you need to make sure that it is strong enough for all your load.
It is worthwhile checking the rack’s manufacturing advice on loading capacity.
Although most front racks are made with steel and strong materials, you should not overload the rack as this can have a big impact on the maneuverability off your bike.
Some front racks are designed to carry only light loads, such as sleeping bags, while other bike racks will also carry heavier bags.
The best way to find out how strong your chosen bike rack is, is to look at the load capacity and the material.
The sturdy front racks are made with stainless steel that can take heavy bags. Other popular materials for bike racks include titanium or aluminum.
While all these materials can be used to create a strong front rack, they are not always the most sturdy for different weights.
The most commonly used material for bike racks is steel. However, it’s important to point here that stainless steel bike racks are heavier, so you will need to factor this into the overall weight of your bike.
Aluminum racks are much lighter than steel but they can also bend, dent and warp much quicker if you overload them.
As a rule of thumb, the lightest rack isn’t always the strongest, so make sure to check the rack’s loading weight capacity.
Bike racks have been around for almost as long as bicycles themselves.
The front bike rack was one of the first adopted in the 1800s but they only became more popular in the middle of the 20th century when bicycle panniers were introduced.
Today, we have a wide range of bike racks for different purposes.
From lightweight racks that carry your handbag for easy commuting, to heavy-duty bike racks that carry all your gear on long bike tours.
Before you choose a bike rack, it’s important to understand what you need it for. If you want your bike rack to be durable for a tour, then only put on the correct weight.
This will ensure that your front bike rack will last for many years to come.