P-Racks, or Adventure Racks, or whatever you want to call them- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2004

    P-Racks, or Adventure Racks, or whatever you want to call them

    I've been using Xtracycle stuff for about 6 or 7 years now. First with a Freeradical and now with a Big Dummy. I have always used the Freeloaders, but had recently become curious about the P-Racks (aka Adventure Racks) and Panniers.

    I poked around online to try to learn a little about other people's experiences with panniers in this system, but I couldn't' find much. So I just bit the bullet and bought them. Since there was a lack of info out there about them, I thought I'd share what I'm learning so far. . .

    So far, I think I'm going to like this better than the freeloaders, but there is some compromise. Here are the pros and cons and compromises thus far:

    Pannier Pros:
    -Versatility: I have a set of Jandd Large Mountain panniers, a set of Jandd economy panniers, and a set of no-name grocery bag panniers. I can use any combo of 1-4 depending on what I'm going to need to carry. And the large Mountain panniers actually hold about as much as what I was typically carrying in freeloaders.

    -More passenger friendly: My 5 year old daughter ends up on the back of the Dummy twice in a typical day. She would get frustrated by the fronts of the Freeloaders encroaching on her leg space. With the P-racks, if I'm just running one set of panniers, I can put them farther back and her legs have room in the front.

    -Easier to get "naked:" Panniers are easy to remove, so if I want to ride carrying nothing, I don't have to bring bags at all (but I usually do, 'cause why not? . . .), But I always found Freeloaders frustrating when I needed to air up the back tire or lube the chain or adjust the rear derailler, or brakes, etc. It's quick and easy to get the panniers out of the way.

    -Better weight management: One thing I've always liked about a longtail is that it's easy to keep loads in front of the rear axle, which really improves handling vs. hanging stuff off of a Blackburn-type rack and letting it wag the back of a short wheelbase bike around. Having a load in 4 panniers instead of 2 Freeloaders lets you be deliberate about putting the heavier stuff in front of the axle and light,but bulky stuff behind.

    -It lets me use more Jandd stuff. For reasons I've never quite understood, I've had a Jandd fetish for as long as I can remember. Now I have one more way to indulge that particular quirk.

    -Stuff is enclosed by the pannier, no need for a bag-within-a-bag.

    Now Cons:
    - Pannniers don't seem like they'll do weird, bulky, odd-shaped loads as well as Freeloaders did.

    - There's no real obvious anchor point for the little S-hook-on-a-bungee that comprises the lower attachment mechanism on many panniers.

    -The not-hauling-odd loads things hasn't' been a problem for me so far. Partially because my scavenger days are behind me so I"m less likely to bring home that 18th century hutch that someone has left out on the curb for the trashmans, and partially because I've been able to use the Wideloaders and some straps to achieve what I used to do with the Freeloaders. But when push comes to shove, I typically carry: my backpack/briefcase thingy, my daughter's naptime pillow and blanket for preschool, a pink kitty lunchbox, and a case of fizzy water for my little fridge at my office. Those things work pretty darn well with panniers. Likewise, my typical grocery run actually does better with panniers than with Freeloaders because I don't have to wonder whether my tomatoes are going to roll to freedom, my peanut butter is going to hop out the top on a bump, or if I've hit the magical balance between getting the freeloader straps tight enough to hold everything, but not so tight as to mash my bread.

    -So far, I've improvised a workable solution for the bottom anchor point--I've taken nylon climber's cord and made little prusik-style loops around the chainstays that give the pannier's hooks somewhere to hook. So far so good. . .

    Anybody else using panniers and have any good tips or tricks?
    Fat, tired.

  2. #2
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    Apr 2005
    Great feedback, which is appreciated. I'm intrigued by the P-Racks myself. Post some pictures.

  3. #3
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    May 2011
    I just got p-racks as well and wondered about the lower attachment point as you mentioned. My current panniers are hand-me-downs of hand-me-downs so I think that might be part of the problem. Many new panniers don't use the elastic hook thing anymore and have an adjustable bracket thing instead.

    Check out the hooks on this pair of Ortlieb panniers which I think is what XtraCycle shows off on their p-racks: (**Well it appears I can't post an img or url - so go google Ortlieb and look at their attachment mechanism!**)

    Anybody have these on an XtraCycle equipped bike?
    - Ben

  4. #4
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    Feb 2010
    Nice report on the P-racks. I am going with them too on my BD but am not sure what I will end up on it.Maybe I will try the go-getter bags they hold a lot stuff more than the free loaders do but then again you have to run the wide loaders on it all the time or I heard you do.But I think I have found out a way to use them and not have to use the wide loaders all the time with them.Even with the P-racks you can still run the free loaders on them too.That way I think you have it cover no matter what rout we go with.I have learn this tho the BD does cost money to build and lots of it too.LOL...

  5. #5
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    Feb 2004


    Since I switched over the the P-Racks, I've come up with a better solution for anchoring the bottom of the panniers.

    I have a friend who knows his way around metal fabrication and I had him make me a couple of aluminum rods that span across between the braze-ons that are meant to anchor the Freeloader straps.

    The rods are basically the same diameter as the tubing that Blackburn or Bruce Gordon and those types of racks are made of so they pannier hooks fit around them nicely. And because it's just one long uninterrupted anchor point it allows me to put pannier as far forward or backward as needed for whatever I'm carrying.

    I really don't miss freeloaders. . .
    Fat, tired.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2005
    Any of you guys wish to sell your v-racks?

  7. #7
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    Jul 2017
    Anyone wish to sell their P-racks, or know of a source where they may still be offered?

  8. #8
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    Jun 2008
    For short day trips and for days on the dirt roads the panniers are sometimes handy. We have used them to tour with as well as we can fit our Ortlieb front and back roller classics on the rear and still put things on the front rack.
    Good though for day runs where I just need an extra jacket and stuff for the little man then just the two front roller Ortliebs hooked on right at the back is fine. If the dirt trails are wet, which is often the case here then we can just throw on a couple of old cheapo panniers. They keep our stuff dry but get plastered in mud and debris.
    We have gone the other way than yourself in that we had P racks first and then got a set of V racks and changed to those for camping trips as we can fit the big tent which is longer as well as the bed rolls in them. The waterproofing of the bag and its contents is the issue and is why we kept the P racks and can swap them out quickly when needed. Not that we do very often and generally ride most of the time with the Free radical bags on.
    Great review and agree most everything though having both just makes it much more versatile.


    Front Roller Ortliebs on a day run.
    DSCN3981 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

    DSCN3460 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

    DSCN3100 by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

    21125382_1271717322957009_6709097848812580715_o by Jamie Dyer, on Flickr

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