Trunk Racks & Bags

I am not sure if this topic has been treated before - if so, please feel free to point me to it. I wonder if there is any downside to putting a trunk rack and bag on the back of my bike. Right now, I have a small handlebar bag (Route Werks - about 3.5 liters) that I really like. I carry everything else in my hydration backpack (18 liters). I wonder if having the option to move stuff into a trunk bag and reducing the weight I carry on my back would be a really good thing for longer rides (300K or longer). I am just wondering if a high-quality, well-mounted bike rack has implications for ride quality, bike performance, etc… Right now, all of my frames are steel. And all but one has a trunk rack. Any insights would be appreciated.

Good question. I don’t have the answer, but I’m following for interest!

My personal choice is various bike packing bags, in my case by Apidura, but there are many other good options. The value of these is that they will fit on almost any bike and can be easily transferred from bike to bike. Using an 17 l seat pack, a 4.5 l frame bag and a 10 l handlebar bag, I am able to carry enough for self supported camping. A smaller “race pack” seat bag of say 6 l would be great for extended single day rides.

@Colin - thank you. I do have a bike-packing bag. It is a Road Runner and has an 8.5-liter capacity. This time of the year, there is a lot of layering to accommodate temperature fluctuations throughout the day. I think I will take your suggestion and go with the seat pack to relieve the amount of stuff I put in the hydration backpack. Thanks.

Aside from the “inconvenience” of a trunk rack, does anybody know of any downsides to a high-quality rack? I understand that it is important to not overload the rack. Is it just a matter of preference?

I know a few people who have moved on to products by Tailfin Rather than the more traditional bike touring racks and panniers. What I do know from speaking with them is that while options like Tailfin rear bags that mount high on the bike means the weight is high and does change the bike handling. However because this who have moved to them are also now doing more gravel/trail routes the advantages are the bike been narrower. Traditional racks and panniers have the advantage of getting the weight lower down which helps with the stability and I think I’m right in saying slows down the handling/steering but you do have more width and the bike is less nibble.

@kevstorr thank you much. This is helpful. I really had not thought much about the center of gravity. After reading your comment, I checked out my other bike with a more traditional rack and noticed that the top of the rack is a little higher than the end of the top tube (the mounts are clearly raising the rack so it is even. I think that given the size of my frame (52 or 54, depending on the frame), the rack needs to be at that level to clear the tire. I have looked at the Tailfin racks - while quite pricy, they are quick-release and light. In addition, I think that the bike packing bags probably raise the center of gravity as well, but they have other advantages. Also, carrying around 2 liters of water on my back must raise the center of gravity… perhaps I am overanalyzing this. Thanks again!! -Ken

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In my past as a mountain bike I aways tended to carry a hydration bladder with usually 2ltrs on my back. I now often run with 1-2ltrs in a vest but the weight is split front and rear. The other consideration is the weight will be reducing based on your consumption. For me on my 54cm Trek I can get two 950ml bottles on and get them in and out while riding. I don’t often find I need more than this given this gives me 3-4hrs between refills.