16 October, 2018

Maximum Weight on VO Racks

By Scott

"How much weight can does the Randonneur rack take?" is a common question we get. Frankly, it depends on several factors including how it's mounted, what type of road or un-road you plan on riding on, the bike, and what kind of gear you plan on hauling. With people moving towards more  front loading, we thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about max weight recommendations for our racks.

Polyvalent at the beach with just the essentials

All our racks are made from polished stainless steel tubing. This makes for a very strong design and if tested statically (not moving), a medium sized person could sit on a front Campeur rack and it wouldn't break. Dynamically, where the load can be affected by acceleration (in all directions), impacts, and general jostling, the maximum weight it can take becomes much lower.

When we initially tested the Campeur Front Rack, the testing protocol was to load the rack up with as much weight as we could put on it and ride it lots. So we put 50 lbs of stuff into panniers and rode it lots. We discovered three things: 1) it is actually really difficult to load your panniers up with 50 lbs of modern bicycle touring gear, so we resorted to dictionaries and other large books, 2) when you approach that weight, your arms (and mind) fatigue quickly trying to keep the bike straight, 3) even low-trail bikes lose their handling confidence, especially at low speeds. Therefore, we'd recommend a maximum weight of 40 lbs.

Loading up the rear rack with too much weight can create "luggage sway". That's the rack and frame flexing which can travel up to the front end and make handling challenging. Usually, you'll feel the bike want to go the opposite direction than where you want it to go, obviously not an ideal scenario. This effect most often manifests itself during out-of-the-saddle efforts, but is also evident negotiating obstacles such as potholes or debris, as well as seated difficult climbs. Using a rear rack with lowriders such as the Campeur Rear Rack can mitigate the above effect, but having a properly balanced load front to back makes your bike handle best. Or you can simply take less stuff! For the Campeur rear rack, we'd recommend a maximum weight of 40 lbs.

With our Randonneur Racks, we tell folks that the weight limit is about 12 lbs. Placing more then 12 lbs on most bikes, at that height above the axle, will make the steering feel heavy and you end up muscling the steering rather then gently steering the bike.

Most medium-sized Rando bags out there won't take much more then 12 lbs due to their size, i.e. it can be tough to physically put more than 12 lbs of stuff into the bag. If you want to carry a lot of heavy stuff, then the best answer is the Porteur Rack. Using the Surly rack struts to give it four points of contact, we've had folks carry a case of beer on it (about 40 lbs) without issue.

(Or a dog in a basket)

What's the oddest package/item/thing you've ever carried on your bike? Let us know in the comments and don't be shy.


velodoug said...

Check out the EfNeo 3 speed front internal crankset on the pug carrying bike!

Unknown said...

When I tour, I carry about 50-60 lb total or about 30 on the rear and 20 on the front rack - Randonneur Racks. Even when I self-toured across the Canadian Rockies in 1982, I carried 55-60 lb in four panniers. Today, I would used front and rear Randonneur Racks and still keep the weight to 50-60 lb in four panniers and a handlebar bag.

Pete said...

I work in the schools. We have an old school paper cutter that needed to be repaired. So I strapped it to my bike and took it home. Got a bunch of odd looks.

econojames said...

I carried an antique wooden office chair home from my local ReStore, strapped upside-down to my rear rack.
Last summer I found a scythe at an estate sale: lashed the snath to my top tube, with the blade hanging down behind the bike, and home I rode. A friend texted me that he'd seen the Grim Reaper riding a bike...

Morlamweb said...

My typical carrying load for the bike is 1-2.5 grocery bags home from the supermarket. In the panniers, I've carried home at various times:
80 lbs of concrete pavers;
4 1-US gallon cans of paint;
a circular saw and earmuffs;
a recip saw, blades, and earmuffs;
2 12-packs of beer (cans, 30 miles up hill and down dale, one way);
potted plants;
countless loads of shopping bags from the hardware store, target, shoes, etc

In the trailer, at various times I've carried:
2 6.5-foot tall arborvitae mini-trees (with potted plants in the bags and strapped to the racks; I was a rolling forest);
100+ lbs of concrete pavers;
2 60lb bags of sand;
4 metal folding chairs;
my cats for vet visits;
loads of books to donate to the library (and, returning many books/movies to the library);
a trailer full of old bike parts to donate, including wheels and tires.

And probably more that I can't remember right now.

Andy said...

I carried a large load of electronics for recycling, about nine miles.


dr. hypercube said...

SNOWSHOES! And not yer newfangled ones - wood and babiche, baby! https://www.instagram.com/p/BR2_B0tAoK1/ The #adventureteckel demands a mention, too: https://flic.kr/p/NszrvM

Andy "What?" M-S said...

On one occasion I carried 4 gallons of milk (total of 36#) in rear panniers. Bike was a little slower, but it worked.

I would not try to stuff that much into a randonneur bag, on the other hand! But my Ostrich IS a good place for road food, camera, phone, gloves, etc. It's a glove compartment, after all, not a trunk.

billyhacker said...

On the canti pass Hunter with VO low rider rear rack, I regularly, for the last five years, bring home a week's worth of groceries for a family of three in two large ortliebs plus a box on top of the rack. All together the rear load averages around 65 lbs (wine, milk, potatoes) and I never have an issue (except loading and unloading). Obviously not a touring load but failure is way past that point.

My daily commuter load is 25lbs (huge lock, drinks, clothes, computer) and it honestly doesn't feel like it is there at all.

Great racks.

Lynn said...

My own wheelchair.

I broke my hip about two years ago. For a long time, I couldn't stand or walk for very long, but riding a bike helped with pain, muscle spasms, and cabin fever. So I spent months with my crutches strapped to my cargo rack (complete with their own set of tail lights!) or borrowing an electric bike and trailer to haul my wheelchair.

BTW a set of crutches is GREAT for keeping cars as far away as they can possibly get.

Grego said...

In a BOB trailer behind a mountain bike, I carried thirty 7-lb bags of ice about a quarter mile. It was nearly unrideable due to the rear axle trying to torque the bike sideways to the ground with any tiny offset from perfect vertical. Had to balance the rig very carefully and mount up against a wall to get started. Succeeded, but NOT recommended (and would not repeat)!

A Marin said...

I like to carry smaller loads in a basket, but I had trouble finding someone that looked good on my ride. So I designed one that clamps to the headtube, which provides a lot more stability. It's made of aluminum and canvas and looks pretty cool in addition to providing a more comfortable ride.

ian said...

I haven't done any touring, but I've carried a christmas tree home on my bike on multiple occasions. Different sizes, usually strapped to the front rack, sometimes vertically, sometimes horizontally for the bigger ones… will give you some smiles and weird looks, even in San Francisco.

also, how appropriate that the reCaptcha ask me to identify bicycles!

orc said...

70 pounds of soymilk on the porteur rack on my fixie (I pretty regularly carry 60 pounds on that machine, but 70 pounds of soymilk *slosh* and make handling a little more interesting than it would otherwise be) or 120 pounds of (unbalanced) framebuilding tools on my xtracycle.

Anonymous said...

I've easily had 40lbs on my Porteur rack with the surly struts and it has been totally manageable. I regularly ride with 12-15lbs on it when commuting and that's a really sweet spot for smoothing out the handling on my old Bianchi touring frame. I can attest to the strength of the Porteur rack as I went to unlock my bike this summer and found and woman sitting on the rack while eating an ice cream cone and swiping through her phone. Admittedly, she was quite petite, but it was still impressive. After being initially a little upset, I was more just in awe of the whole rack setup being seemingly fine afterwards.

Oldcyclist58 said...

It is always amazing to me how little weight it takes in a handlebar bag to affect steering. My wife and I travel with our tandem quite a bit. Most of the load, 60% in the rear, 35-38% in low rider front panniers, and the balance in the handlebar bag,for ease of access. Most of the time this complete load is under 40# and really isn't that much of a problem. Testing my strength is loading the granddaughters up on the Xtracycle. They just can't be still back there and man that is a handful! They are both pushing 50#/each and a Hooptie, flight deck, and Magic carpet add up. Oh yeah, then add picnic supplies and drinks. That propels me to SuperGranddad status!!! They love it!!

A Marin said...

@RonBell, I was also troubled by steering imbalance with weight on the handlebars and wanted to design a basket/bag to attach to the headtube. Solves the problem for me and wondering if you might provide some feedback.

Anonymous said...

What’s the brand of bike with pug on it?

VeloOrange said...

@anon- Looks like a repainted Mk2 Velo Orange Polyvalent