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Best Rear Bike Rack – For Commuting, Groceries & Touring

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If you need to carry stuff on your bike, by far the most effective way is to install a rear rack. They have been long-favorites of bike tourers and they have stood the test of time.

But you don’t have to be traveling across the planet to get the most out of a rear rack. They are just as useful for commuting to the office or grabbing groceries.

If you want to ditch the sweaty backpack then read on to find the best rear bike rack and what to look for when buying a rear rack.

Top Picks:

Top 11 Best Rear Bike Pannier Racks Reviewed

1. Topeak Explorer MTX Rack (Best Overall)

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

What makes the Planet Bike Eco Rack a great rack for commuting is its compatibility with most bikes since commuter bikes come in all shapes and sizes.

Another advantage is the ease of installation and with 55lbs of loading capacity, it can easily carry everything you need for the office. The simple design is hardwearing 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

The Tubus Cargo Evo Pannier Rack is something of a classic rack, especially among the army of touring cyclists. Its classic status is well-deserved.

If you need something that can carry the entire contents of your house then this rack comes pretty close with an impressive 88lbs of load capacity. Installation is easy and takes no more than five minutes.

The position on the bike means that, even when loaded with panniers, there is no danger of striking the bags with your heels during the pedal stroke.

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

The Portland Design Works Loading Dock is one of the most stylish rear racks around thanks to the beautiful varnished bamboo. The cutaways allow easy mounting of pannier hooks.

The load capacity of 35lbs makes this rack unsuitable for long-distance touring but it is more than enough for groceries. The good-looks will complement any city bike, even when not in use.

For grocery shopping, fitting panniers is easy but the wide deck is also great for carrying a small box, secured with some bungee cords, which might be more convenient.

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

The Thule Pack ‘N Pedal Tour Rack mounts directly to the bike frame using ratchet straps and is great if you want the ability to carry heavy loads but your bike lacks rack mounts.

The long attachment struts make it one of the only racks that are suitable for mountain bikes with full suspension. 

In common with a lot of Thule products, this rack even has some built-in release-key security to stop an opportunist from stealing it off the bike.

Despite its versatility, the rack can still carrier an impressive 39lbs in panniers, or 55lbs if loading on top. As you would expect, the rack works best with Thule panniers but the addition of side frames opens up the possibility of attaching 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)

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

The Blackburn Expedition Rear Rack is available in a disc brake compatible version that fits both wide and narrow tires.

The build quality of the aluminum rack is uniformly excellent and can carry high loads. The three struts secure the rack well and stop the rack swaying when pushing hard out of the saddle.

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

As the name suggests, seatpost racks or seat-mounted racks, attach directly to the seatpost below the saddle rather than to the frame like traditional rear racks.

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

But there are drawbacks, so check out these pros and cons to see if it will work 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

Trunk bags sit on the top of a rear rack and, for commuting, they are a great alternative to sweaty backpacks. Trunk bags come in different sizes so you need to work out what your typical load will be and work around that.

Some rear racks are designed to work well with certain trunk bags and offer easy installation where you simply have to slide the bag on and off. Whilst this a convenient feature, with the right straps and bungee cord most trunk bags can be installed on any rear rack.

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

If your rack is sturdy enough and your passenger is light enough, then it could also pass as a makeshift bike seat for short journeys.

Some racks are even compatible with child seats.

For short journeys on quiet paths, it might be fine but we do not recommend this for longer journeys where you have to mix with traffic. Not only will it be extremely uncomfortable but also unsafe.

Video: Carrying Stuff On Your Bike

Rear Bike Rack Features To Look Out For

Installation

The majority of rear racks are secured to the frame using eyelets near the rear wheel axle. Touring bikes will be littered with eyelets to give maximum flexibility when it comes to mounting packs.

More and more entry-level road bikes and even gravel bikes now come with eyelets for racks and fenders, as manufacturers realize that riders want bikes that can do more than just go fast.

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?

Using p-clips and seatpost clamps that have rack eyelets can quickly turn a road bike into something of a touring bike. If you ride an expensive, lightweight carbon bike, extra care should be taken by installing the clips.

Perhaps the biggest difference between a road bike and a touring bike is the chainstay length. The shorter wheelbase on a road bike means that there is a danger of striking your heel off any attached panniers during the pedal stroke.

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 to your bike. If you are commuting or touring, let the bike take the weight of your luggage and keep your back pain and sweat-free.

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.

Best Rear Bike Rack For Commuting, Groceries & Touring – Pinterest imagePin
Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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