Blackburn Lo-Rider Front Rack Review

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SUMMARY:

A solid, if inelegant rack, on which virtually no modern panniers will fit.

GOOD:

  • Reasonably solid.
  • Can be mounted without eyelets.

BAD:

  • Most modern panniers won’t fit.
  • Interferes with wheel when removing.

This is more of a warning than a review, and I make no apologies for that. You will see these racks sold just about everywhere. Why I don’t know. In their day they may have been good but they were designed for old-style panniers, with hooks at the top and elastic at the bottom to hold them in place. Modern panniers have clips that go right round the top bar and, usually, an anti-sway clip on the back. If you look at the low riders you’ll see that the top has a flat sheet with holes to attach it to the forks. This obstructs the clips on modern panniers making it impossible to fit them, without mutilating the rack.

The incredible thing is that some of the shops selling this rack swear you can fit just about any pannier to it – it only takes a bit of customisation. By ‘customisation’ they mean sawing off chunks of it with a hacksaw! Good luck trying to claim on your warranty if the rack breaks, and it probably will because the bit you need to saw is the attachment point to the forks.

I picked up a set of these second-hand for practically nothing so I can’t really complain. To fit my panniers I needed to saw off quite a large portion of the fork-attachment sheet. This sheet is soft and easy to saw but afterwards it did not have enough strength to hold it to the forks securely and after a few hundred miles it broke around the screw points. I managed to bolt the outer part of the rack directly to the fork, which was fairly solid. But bear in mind if you do want to adapt these for modern panniers it may not be straightforward and you most likely will seriously reduce the strength of the rack.

It is curious that the only soft part of the lo-rider is the bit that attaches to the forks – maybe it needs to be soft to give it some flexibility, but I think even if the rack was intact this part would be prone to failure, particularly if you use eyelet fittings as they use two screws rather than four. The outer part of the rack is very hard and looks like it would last a long time.

Even after adapting this rack I could never get the panniers to sit right. The clips kept popping open. This was with the Vaude style clips. I imagine Ortlieb or other style clips would work better.

Of course, if you have the old style panniers with hooks and elastics these racks should work fine and are reasonably light and solid. My only concern with durability is the fork attachment bar, which is made of soft metal and could shear.

A minor niggle is that, when removing a wheel the bottom part of the cage obstructs the axle. It takes a bit of fiddling to get the wheel past the rack.

It’s hard to give a score for the low rider. Though reasonable quality they are an outdated design and I struggle to see why shops are still selling them. At the very least they should be sold with a warning about what types of panniers will fit.

Front racks seem to be a tricky thing to get right. Cheaper ones often have hideous looking designs, though when the panniers are on you won’t see them I suppose. Tubus seems to be the only European company producing racks that are neat, lightweight, safe, and very durable. However, they are quite expensive. If you’re planning on doing a lot of touring I would recommend Tubus racks. For short or very lightweight tours a cheaper brand should be ok but I wouldn’t even consider the Blackburn Lo-Rider unless you have old-style panniers.

4/10 (This score ignores price. Learn more about these reviews.)

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