Monday, 20 July 2015

Fitting cheap front pannier racks

Just three pounds (about 5 dollars) gets me this pair of front pannier frames on "clearance".

They attach to the fork and the mudguard/fender

Hope they don't get in the way of my quick-release!
I usually "fold" it down over the mudguard/fender mount!

What's in the packet - 8 bolts, 6 "nyloc" anti-vibration nuts, 2 spacer tubes, 2 pannier frames, two curved "clamp" pieces for the front fork, and a single-sided A4 instruction sheet.
The anti-vibration nuts are particularly impressive at this price point.

The instructions in detail. The paper gets a bit creased up in the packet!

Test fitting. One bolt goes to the mudguard/fender
mounting, and two bolts go to the curved clamping
piece on the fork.
The lower mounting bolt also comes with a nut, and
is M5, so the threaded M6 hole in the fork I am using
is ignored. I am guessing this is because Mermaid has
a steel frame, so the thread in holes is quite strong,
but the maker of the pannier frames expects folks to
fit them to aluminium framed bikes.
I could always just swap the M5 nut-and bolt parts
in the set for a suitable length M6 bolt, I suppose.
(both the spacer AND the lower mount on the pannier
frames will take an M6 nut!).

Mermaid has forks that, although they curve, they don't taper
towards the bottom. The forks are also a bit thicker than on a
typical "touring" bike, As a result the racks slope inwards a bit at the bottom.

The bottom of the rack clears the spokes,
with room to spare, but slopes "inwards"
a bit.

Mounting one of my mid-sized panniers (this one styled like
a shopping bag) suggests that it the pannier "sags" a bit with
a load in it, there is a danger of it rubbing on the front wheel.

I have wuite a few panniers, though, so let's see how it looks with
this shorter, slightly wider, pannier.

A bit better, BUT this pannier is a bit "floppier"
than the blue one, so I still have concerns about it
sagging towards the wheel. Heavy things like tins
of food tend to reaveal the tendency of a pannier to sag.

How about a taller, thinner, pannier - these is
the same Bikemate pannier that I have reviewed

Not too bad - there is less hanging out behind
the lower part of the frame than with wider panniers.

Remember this pannier? This is the Bike Bins hard-sided, lockable, pannier. No sag with a rigid pannier!

BUT ... the design of the frames means that one of the pannier
mounts has to attach at this point, and the lovely Rixen and Kaul
attachment clip fouls the leg of the fork ... :-(

Clearance is OK, especially as rigid
panniers don't sag.
But the fork leg in the way of the
mounting clip is a bit of a show-stopper

OK. So let's undo that lower bolt, and see how the pannier hangs "naturally".
Looks like it wants to lie a bit further out ...

... which is why the kit has a couple of spacer tubes in it (and a pair of longer bolts for use with the spacer tubes - that is why there are 8 bolts but only 6 nuts in the set!)

except that the spacer is a bit long for mudguard/fender mounts and the pannier rack, meaning ...

... that the bolt for the lower mounting only just reaches the nut.
I could always grind a couple of millimetres off the end of the spacer, I suppose, but let's see how it works as "standard" first!

So how do the panniers sit now?
As before, they sit towards the rear of the rack (the mounting triangle on the rack forces this position!)
More expensive panniers (such as our BikeBins rigid panniers) have adjustable mounts, but with low-cost panniers, the mounts are fixed (they tend to be riveted to the back of the pannier, rather than screwed on as with more expensive panniers).

Now the frames slope OUTWARDS a
bit at the bottom. The pannier sits better,
too, but some panniers sag quite a bit ...
With the spacer, there is a bit more room between all the parts,
But, as the pannier rack now slopes outwards a bit, the pannier has
a tendency to bend inwards at the lower corners ...

The "above" shot shows a nice bit of clearance between the pannier and the wheel.
As the pannier mounts offset a bit to the rear on the pannier frame, perhaps I should make up an additional strut that keeps the rear corner of the pannier well away from the spokes.
Or perhaps I should just use the front rack for carrying light, but bulky, stuff, like a spare jacket and waterproff trousers, etc. etc., and keep the heavy stuff (like tools, water, tins of food) in a pannier on the rear rack.

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