I did my best to avoid them at all costs. I rode for 7 years without one. It was certainly manageable, but now I won’t ever go back. That’s right, I caved to the rear bike rack. I always thought they made the bike look bulky. Each time I would pass someone with a rack I would think,”What a nub!”. Now I am that nub, and I am happy about it.
I have always had the mindset of less is more, even when it came to my bicycles. I would carry all my gear in the smallest messenger bag I had. This would be most difficult when commuting to and from work. This all changed when I went on my first tour (San Fran to LA). That is when I purchased a rear rack and two panniers. It was then I realized that racks were not for weenies, but for smart cyclists.
I recently put a rear rack on my daily commuter and it is fantastic. I have two Ortlieb panniers that attach perfectly and hold all of my gear. The rack maximizes your bicycles potential. The items you can carry with a rack is extraordinary. I have even lugged a bundle of wood home with a few bungee cords. My only regret is not knowing about this earlier. Furthermore, you are free as a bird. There is no weight-bearing down on you or limiting your motions.
Below is the rear system that has forever changed my life! (As always a frugal budget is in mind)
1. Topeak Explorer Rack
This can be purchased on Amazon for a modest $36.87. It has nearly perfect reviews. I have used this rack on my tours and my daily commute. It has been over two years and this is still a beast! Snag it here!
2. Ortlieb Back Roller Panniers
These run about $138.72 on Amazon. They are the most costly item, but they are also optional. However, they have been one of my best purchases. They are bomb proof. I don’t ever leave the house without one. They can be stuffed to the brim with anything. Additionally, they attach perfectly to the Topeak rack mentioned above. Snag them here!
3. Bungee Cords
If you get nothing else, be sure to grab these at any local hardware store. They are less than $5. They can be used to strap anything to your rack. You can even strap down a back pack if you want to forgo the panniers. They are perfect for those unexpected pickups, like that old bicycle in the trash.