This 3.3lb hunk of steel from Surly is designed for the hardcore biker, who is looking for a product to put up with the daily abuse in tough conditions. Made out of the same cro-moly steel used to make their bike frames, it comes powder coated in either silver or black. Attached to the rack is a bag with a fairly detailed manual, bags of screws, clamps, and spacers. The problem is, the instructions are so difficult to understand, one ends up frustrated beyond belief before even reaching step 3. I later relied on the blogosphere for tips on attaching to the front eyelets of my Surly Long Haul Trucker – 1.5 hours later, I had the rack installed, and generously applied Framesaver to the innards of it for additional protection.
With it’s ability to carry 70 lbs, this places it at the high end of other racks. Additionally, this rack has a platform above your front wheel, allowing you to attach bags, components, or other gear to if you are looking to distribute your load. I found it quite difficult to pack a sleeping large bag on the top of the rack as my Ortlieb Handlebar bag was in the way. As stated before, your mileage may very. I am presently contemplating putting a sleek rack pack to hold tools and spare bike parts.
The rack allows one to mount their panniers at two different heights. I chose to hold my front panniers on the bottom bar to allow for greater stability. While riding, one can definitely feel the difference with and without the rack on compared to other companies offerings. If this rack ever breaks, one can simply weld it back together, unlike aluminum.
Bonus point go to Surly for the two eyelets they included to help mount lights and other components. I also was impressed by the nice touch of the “feet” on the rack when your front tire is removed, allowing your bike to rest stable on the ground without having to rest it on its side. For a hat trick in points they not want to risk ‘doubling up’.
Overall, this rack, while pricier than all other racks, will no doubt serve me well while on the tour. I highly recommend if someone is looking for a well built rack to stand up to constant abuse. Just do a search on google to see if someone has posted a walk through for installation for your bike before you get frustrated k?
Update: 2010-05-11 – After a year of using this rack, it still is as solid as a rock. I’ve loaded this rack down with 60lbs with both front panniers and using the top platform for holding water without any structural issues. some of the Black coating is rubbing off from repeat wear of my pannier clips but no rust has yet to appear. I Expect this rack to last the entire ‘around the world’ bicycle tour.