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  • 1 Post By backofbeyond
  • 1 Post By Wheelie
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  #1  
Old 8 Jun 2014
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Question Front rack, yay or nay?

Currently travelling around Australia on my XR600R. I've been planning on making a front rack for a while, to stick a drysack on probably containing clothes. But a couple of friends haves voiced a negative opinion to this. For the reasons of killing the handling of the bike off-road, and the 'Why bother? Just find room on the back'.

I used to have this arrangement on my DR350:




It worked really great, was really strong despite being made of really thinwalled tube that weighed hardly anything. I'll have to make it infront of the plastic headlamp surround on the XR, but I'm sure I can come up with something similarly lightweight.

What do you reckon? I think it will be highly practical and hardly noticable when there's nothing on it. I do put the bike to some pretty tough use when not carrying all my gear though, probably heading down the motocross track tomorrow if the weather's good
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Old 8 Jun 2014
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Depends on the bike but on something like the DR350 or the XR600 definitely yes. As long as you're not carting gold ingots around on it it makes no difference (that I can feel anyway) to the handling. I put stuff on it that I really can't afford to lose - passport, money, documents - that kind of thing. I've lost too many things off the back of bikes over the years to really trust bungees. If it's on the front and it moves I can see it move.

Here's a pic of my XR600 with front rack -



And with it en route -

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  #3  
Old 8 Jun 2014
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Those photos are useful food for thought for me. Had in mind something about that size projecting forwards, but hadn't thought about the top bit to stop bags pressing against the plastics, and hadn't thought too hard about attaching to those main headlamp bolts. Thanks!

Btw Stuart, I've never managed to see anywhere near the same fuel economy you got out of your XR, more like 50mpg. Just done a top end rebuild due to the amount of oil I was burning, but maybe it'll help the fuel economy a bit as well. Only managed about 12km/l riding in the bush yesterday though! When I pulled the barrel I found I was running a 654 kit, had to buy a second hand barrel and go back to first oversize.
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Old 8 Jun 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nath View Post
I've never managed to see anywhere near the same fuel economy you got out of your XR, more like 50mpg.
That's pretty much what I got / get in normal running. The 80-90 mpg came via some serious economy mode riding - long stints in top gear on level ground at 40-45mph max. It wasn't to save fuel (although it turned out that way) but for sightseeing purposes. I was in no hurry and was happy just to putter and look at the surroundings.
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Old 14 Jun 2014
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I thought about a front rack before travelling and concluded.
1.I needed to carry light important stuff on the front( just as BackofBeyond said)
2.It would act as a wind/rain deflector, if raised high enough.
3.The rack needed NOT to obscure the front light in any way
4.It should be easy to remove- to allow me access to the front electrics- while not restricting anything in the instrument panel- so I put bends in the "legs" when attaching to the bike
5.Fixing points have to be considered- plan ahead!
6.Not be too top heavy

If you put wide loads on it(spanning the handlebars)- then you get control issues.!!...so pack carefully

When I came off in France- the front rack saved my bike from serious damage.- the scuffs/force being taken by the rack!

In this video I show how I made it quickly-( starts about 5.19) I angled the rack slightly backwards too- this ensured contents were less likely to fall off. in a later Episode I use the rack in an ingenious way...as a clothes line!...t-shirts usually dried within 30 mins!- Ep05 I think??

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  #6  
Old 14 Jun 2014
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yay worked for the guys from mondo enduro and terra circa

I'm currently designing a removable one for my bike
great way to shift some weight to the front in my opinion
and like stated earlier if packed high enough can deflect some wind
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Old 14 Jun 2014
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My DiY rack

[ATTACH]Front rack, yay or nay?-101_3059.jpg

Front rack, yay or nay?-101_3056.jpg[/ATTACH]

I made a front rack for my CRF, its very basic and does the job. My plan was to carry about 3 to 5kgs of gear in a dry sack. I did a 250 mile Back road test ride and found he handling was fine up too 65mph. Over that and I got a wobble.
I like the idea of carrying a smaller Dry Bag in a rucksack with important items in. I too have lost stuff off the back without noticing.
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Old 15 Jun 2014
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I'm not a fan of packing up stuff so high and forward. But I guess if light enough, it may not affect handling or control. I think Lois may have over done it ... probably about 25 kgs. on that Yamaha Serow. What you guys think?



Do any of you guys use a Camel Back drink system? (or similar one?). Mine not only holds 2 L of water but becomes a sort of impromptu office, small tool storage for odds and ends: Paper work, Passport, some money, TVIP. It's quite spacious with several zipped pouches and pockets for storage, some running the whole length of the pack. I carry all kinds of things in it.

It's on my back so it won't likely fall off ... just be careful you don't walk off the LEAVE IT in a Cafe. (yes, I did just that!)
In heat I'm drinking constantly to avoid dehydration/heat stroke/cramping.

I don't mind the bit of weight and never bothers me riding ... as I've used them 20 years off road and traveling too. Very handy.

I do carry a front inner tube on my Fender, nothing more. Another alternative to using a front rack are Tank Panniers. Weight is more central and lower. Worth a try if looking for more storage.

These Tusk ones cost $15 usd.
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Old 17 Jun 2014
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Keep the light stuff up front, and you'll be ok.
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Old 18 Jun 2014
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Front rack, yay or nay?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
I'm not a fan of packing up stuff so high and forward. But I guess if light enough, it may not affect handling or control. I think Lois may have over done it ... probably about 25 kgs. on that Yamaha Serow. What you guys think?



Do any of you guys use a Camel Back drink system? (or similar one?). Mine not only holds 2 L of water but becomes a sort of impromptu office, small tool storage for odds and ends: Paper work, Passport, some money, TVIP. It's quite spacious with several zipped pouches and pockets for storage, some running the whole length of the pack. I carry all kinds of things in it.

It's on my back so it won't likely fall off ... just be careful you don't walk off the LEAVE IT in a Cafe. (yes, I did just that!)
In heat I'm drinking constantly to avoid dehydration/heat stroke/cramping.

I don't mind the bit of weight and never bothers me riding ... as I've used them 20 years off road and traveling too. Very handy.

I do carry a front inner tube on my Fender, nothing more. Another alternative to using a front rack are Tank Panniers. Weight is more central and lower. Worth a try if looking for more storage.

These Tusk ones cost $15 usd.
Hi Mollydog,

What are your thoughts overall on packing? Basically keep weight low and forward on the frame as possible? I'm finding a hard time getting a rack done with panniers worth putting on here in small town chile.

I don't have much, a 31lt rack pack which will sit as pillion and hold heavy stuff, on top a very light backpack with sleeping gear only, maybe a 27lt top box and small tank bag for bits and bobs. It should look quite neat and tidy if nothing else and after looking at that picture feel better already, I wonder if she got to where ever she was going!?
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  #11  
Old 18 Jun 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridetheworld View Post
Hi Mollydog,
What are your thoughts overall on packing? Basically keep weight low and forward on the frame as possible? I'm finding a hard time getting a rack done with panniers worth putting on here in small town chile.

I don't have much, a 31lt rack pack which will sit as pillion and hold heavy stuff, on top a very light backpack with sleeping gear only, maybe a 27lt top box and small tank bag for bits and bobs. It should look quite neat and tidy if nothing else and after looking at that picture feel better already, I wonder if she got to where ever she was going!?
That's Lois Pryce. She's on this forum from time to time. Yes, she did get to where she was going ... with numerous breakdowns, rebuilds and delays along the way. You can read all about the trip in her book:
Lois On The Loose Highly recommended.

Packing? I am not the guy to ask about packing. I take too much and have screwed up enough times and set two pannier sets a lite ... so take anything I say with a grain of salt.

I have ... S L O W L Y learned a few thing over the years but as I've always said, packing light on a bike is kind of an Art. Some are just naturally good at it ... some are dangerous.

The longer you spend on the road, living day to day off your bike ... with no permanent refuge ... the better you will get at all of it. You'll figure out what you need and what works for YOU. People will tell you all kinds of things .. but in the end experience ON THE ROAD is what matters.

Doing some kind of pannier rack does not have to be fancy. The main thing is to keep the pannier OFF THE PIPE! Lots of simple solution can work. Here are a couple early ideas I did on my DR650.


Primitive 1st effort. Most bikes have threaded inserts where you can bolt up a rack.

This rack is what I'm using now ... made for the DR650. Bolts to footpeg mount and up by muffler hanger. Mounting will vary on each bike.
Rig up something to keep pannier bag off hot pipe.

Remember: with throw over panniers its the SEAT that is taking the load, not the racks. The racks only serve to keep bag off pipe and to attach bag to so it doesn't jump around. But the real load is on the seat.

Opposite the pipe side, I used a piece of simple elec. conduit, bent to fit. Hammered ends, drilled a hole and bolted into existing threaded inserts and
foot peg. See pic. Very simple.


Rubber bicycle inner tube covers metal conduit tube. Here it only has to keep pannier out from rear tire.

Several pannier options:
Small Tourmaster panniers. Would be a good size for your small Honda.


BIG panniers ... too wide, not well made, but these Technic bags were only $60 usd new.

My current set up. Nelson-Rig bags ($100) with Wolfman 30 lt. dry bag. ($105)

Important to keep bags in close to bike ... not hung way out like so many are. You only need an inch of clearance from the hot pipe ... so tuck them in tight.

As you mentioned ... low and forward is good. Heavy stuff should go in panniers. Light weight stuff in top bag. I'm not a fan of top boxes. Off road they really beat up contents and often BREAK OFF and end up on the road. Stacking stuff way up high on the pillion seat is not a great idea. Off road it may come detached or shift and end up in the rear wheel.
Have fun! Find a good welder, get some lightweight steel tube (round or square) and have at it.
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Old 18 Jun 2014
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First of all, less is more. Pack ultra light... like one change of underwear, maybe two at most. There is a disproportionate relation between handling/performance/nimbleness and the size and weight of your luggage. Nothing you really put in it weighs much, but it all ads up. Think versatility of everything you choose to bring - choosing options that serve multiple purposes in one than having separate specialized items for each function... and improvise as you go along. You will find many riders who far down their trip starts getting rid of stuff or shipping it home.

Another thing to keep in mind is that luggage creates clutter and more things on your mind and things to keep track of. Having to get to an item hidden among all the others can quickly have adversial benefits to having brought the item along in the first place "nice to have, yes... need to have, no". With this approach to your trip, it will likely be a far more enjoyable one. Keep It Simple Sweetheart... K.I.S.S."

As for panniers, some of the enduro/dirt bikes have very weak subframes, or no subframes at all, unable to support much weight. This requires either modification of the subframe or reducing the weight and/or ensuring your bike is packed in such a fashion that your bike will remain intact should you have a wipeout.

The general rule is to strive to pack the bike so that you get the weight as low and centered as possible. This means having the heaviest bits low, front and on the inside of the panniers. This of course is not practical in many cases, so you need to think through which items you use often and when... i.e. on the road or after having arrived at your destination. I would for instance try to keep everything I would take off the bike at the end of my destination in one pannier bag, like clothing and toiletries. In the other pannier, on the top, I would keep the stuff that I would take out maybe once or twice during the ride, like packed lunch and stock of water for the day, with stuff like rain gear right underneath. Underneath these often used items, in both panniers, I would keep spares, consumables, and stocks of water and engine oil, etc... as for items used to service the bike, I would keep that underneath the clothes - this as the clothes would come out at the end of my destination, and the bike be serviced afterwards. Tools I try to find a place down low on the bike where I can attach some compartment, i.e. in front of the bash plate. The lightest stuff, like sleeping bag and mattress would be stored across the back of the saddle. In the tank bag I would keep stuff that would come out at allmost every stop, like maps, documents, money, some tobacco, snacks, bottle of water, etc. Within this frame set I would to the greatest extent as possible try to put weight down and center to the greatest extent possible.

If you have soft panniers, having straps that compresses volume can help you get a better weight distribution on the bike.

If you follow these principals and you are riding solo, you probably won't need a front rack.



I also second Lois Pryce's two books - among my all time favorites
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Old 18 Jun 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelie View Post

If you follow these principals and you are riding solo, you probably won't need a front rack.

I also second Lois Pryce's two books - among my all time favorites
If you're riding anything bigger than something llike a C90 and you're riding it solo, I agree, you probably don't need a front rack- for luggage capacity anyway. If you do you've overpacked by some considerable margin. But that's not why I've put front racks on quite a few of my bikes. As I mentioned before it's so I can keep in sight the essentials I really need when I'm a long way from home. I can see that the bag is still there after mile upon mile of corrugated piste, or that no-one has "assisted in its liberation" at traffic lights or in a crowded market. It's to hand when I turn up at a border and I know where stuff goes when I'm packing.

You might say just wear the rucksack, or put it in a pannier, you won't lose that. Well I have had panniers come off (through mounting brackets failing usually), the latest being only about a year ago. And I hate wearing rucksacs on a bike, even if they weight next to nothing.

The rack is also there for manhandling the front end of the bike if it has to be pulled anywhere - up a ramp for example, attaching a tow rope and, to certain degree, protecting the electrics, headlamp etc when (not if) the bike goes over. If you make the rack rather than buy it (all of mine have been home made) you can incorporate brackets so the rack acts as a mount for a simple screen and/or a gps rather than the handlebars.

They're not right for every bike but for the majority of trailies loaded up for a long trip they have significant advantages - imho of course.
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Old 20 Jun 2014
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Well here's the finished product. Had to cut holes in the headlamp surround in order to bolt on to the upper yolk/fork-clamps, but otherwise pretty tidy. Copied Stuart and added a little vertical bit so my dry-bag doesn't press against the headlamp-surround.
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