The 10 Best Bike Cargo Racks, According to a Cycling Pro

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Topeak Explorer MTX Rack
Origin8 Rush Messenger Front Flat Rack
Portland Design Works Bindle Rack
Thule Pack 'N Pedal Tour Rack
Tubus Cargo Evo Rack
Planet Bike Eco Rack
Bontrager BackRack Lightweight MIK Rear Rack
Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack
Lumintrail Quick Release Rear Seatpost Bike Cargo Rack
Schwinn Seatpost and Folding Rear Rack
collage of the best bike cargo racks isolated on a light blue background
When shopping for your best bike cargo rack, you need to consider mount type, material and weight capacity.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com

Bike cargo racks help you carry groceries, gear and more when you're out on the roads or trails. Buying the right rack can open up a world of possibilities for fun and function on your bike.

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Purchasing a bike rack allows you to transport the items you need, when you need them. "I'll always carry my gear on a rack as opposed to wearing a backpack," says Ellen Spann, a cycling-industry professional at Kozy's Cyclery in Chicago. There are many benefits to purchasing a rear or cargo bike rack:

  • Commute with peace of mind:​ If you ride your bike to your job, you need a place to store your work clothes, computer and valuables. Bike racks and their accessories help you keep items safe and dry on your way to work.
  • Run errands with ease:​ Rear bike racks make it possible to bring home your groceries or shopping bags without needing to drive or use public transportation.
  • Go on longer bike adventures:​ Racks help you carry gear and supplies when you're out bike packing, mountain biking or on a longer road ride.
  • Reduce back pain while biking:​ Investing in a rack helps spare your back on longer rides, Spann says. The more gear you have to carry or the longer you plan to ride, the more important it is to keep your body free from extra load.

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Here are our top suggestions for the best bike cargo racks for all types of rides and riders.

1. Best Rear Rack: Topeak Explorer MTX Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Rear
  • Weight Limit:​ 55 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1.3 lbs

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The Topeak Explorer MTX Rack was Spann's top pick for best rear bike rack for several reasons. First, it easily wins out as the best bike rack for compatibility with accessories. Topeak makes matching bike bags, trunks and baskets that are designed for easy and secure pairing with this rack. Spann says that no matter what you plan to carry with you on your rides, you can find a way to store it using the Explorer MTX Rack.

Second, Spann loves the high quality, functional design of this rack. It's sturdy and has a high weight limit. The basic version of this rack pairs with many different sizes of bikes, and Topeak also makes a disc break version for cyclists without rim breaks. Thanks to its wide platform, this rack functions like a fender to keep water and dirt from spraying your backside as you ride.

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Buy it​: REI.com; Price: $49.95

2. Best Front Rack: Origin8 Rush Messenger Front Flat Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Front
  • Weight Limit:​ 55 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 2.1 lbs

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When it comes to mounting a cargo bike rack, you have more options than the traditional rear mount that sits above your back wheel. Front-mounted bike racks provide similar support for gear — just in a different spot on your bike.

Spann says she prefers front-mounted racks to rear-mounted ones. "When the weight is in the front of the bike, I feel like it's pushing me forward as opposed to pulling me backwards," she says.

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She loves the Origin8 Rush Messenger Front Flat Rack. It has a high weight limit and a wide platform, making it perfect for large or oddly shaped cargo. You can also easily secure a trunk or basket to the rack. The rack is adjustable and can accommodate several different tire sizes.

Buy it​: SummitBicycles.com; ​Price​: $99

3. Best Seatpost Rack: Portland Design Works Bindle Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Seatpost
  • Weight Limit:​ 12 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 0.8 lb

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Seatpost bike racks mount to the tube that sits just below your seat. They are great options for cyclists who can't mount traditional rear racks on their bikes or who don't need to carry heavy loads. It's also possible to remove a seatpost-mounted rack when you don't need to carry any gear — and then easily reattach it when you do.

Spann picks Portland Design Works' Bindle Rack as her top seatpost-mounted rack. This lightweight rack attaches to your seatpost and includes straps to secure your gear as you bike. Spann loves that you can purchase the rack with or without an extra dry bag, which is a waterproof bag you can use to stash your cargo while you ride.

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Buy it​: RidePDW.com; ​Price:​ $88 - 118

4. Best for Mountless Bikes: Thule Pack 'N Pedal Tour Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Wheel
  • Weight Limit:​ 25 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 2.42 lbs

You may find it challenging to use traditional rear- or front-mounted bike racks depending on what type of bike you ride. For example, mountain bikes often lack built-in mounts, and the large size of their wheels may rule out many bike rack options.

The Thule Pack 'N Pedal Mount is unique because it attaches to the seat t0 stay on the rear wheel or the forks on the front wheel. It also has a high wheel clearance, which helps you get around pesky size and frame limitations posed by other bikes. Thule makes matching panniers and a trunk to go with this rack.

Buy it:Thule.com; ​Price: ​$119.95

5. Best Heavy Duty: Tubus Cargo Evo Rack

  • Material:​ Steel
  • Mount Position:​ Rear
  • Weight Limit:​ 88 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1.6 lbs

If you plan to carry lots of gear for a long distance ride or bike packing trip, you may need to purchase a heavy-duty rack that holds up under heavy weights and lots of accessories.

Many rear bike racks can hold 50 to 55 pounds of extra load. The Tubus Cargo Evo Rack can hold a whopping 88 pounds. You can load trunks and panniers to the front and sides of the rack, making it ideal for commuters or cyclists carrying gear on long trips.

Buy it​: CampfireCycling.com; ​Price:​ $169.99

6. Best for Commuters: Planet Bike Eco Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Rear
  • Weight Limit:​ 55 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1.4 lbs

The Planet Bike Eco Rack is a study rear-mounted rack that can support up to 55 pounds of extra load. And it's compatible with most panniers which makes it ideal for cyclists who use their bike as their main form of transportation.

You'll also have an easier time installing this rack on your own because it comes already preassembled. Spann says Planet Bike is known for making quality bike gear at affordable prices.

Buy it​: PlanetBike.com;​ Price:​ $35

7. Best for Road Bikes: Bontrager BackRack Lightweight MIK Rear Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Rear
  • Weight Limit:​ 50 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1 lb

Road bikes have slimmer frames than other styles of bikes. Spann recommends road cyclists purchase a cargo rack that fits the lower profile of their bikes. Look for a lightweight rack that's smaller in size and has a narrow platform.

Spann loves the sleek look of the Bontrager BackRack Lightweight MIK Rear Rack. Its smaller sized platform fits well and looks better on road bikes without sacrificing quality or sturdiness. You can still use panniers or accessories with this rack, and it won't add quite as much bulk to your frame.

Buy it​: SummitBicycles.com; ​Price: ​$74.99

8. Best for Mountain Bikes: Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack

  • Material:​ Steel
  • Mount Position:​ Rear
  • Weight Limit:​ 40 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1.6 lbs

Cyclists who ride on trails need a bike cargo rack that offers maximum security. If your gear or storage accessories are not properly secured to your rack, they can easily fall off when you hit a sharp turn or big bump. Mountain bikers need a rack that allows them to easily strap or tie their bags to the rack as opposed to just clipping them onto a slat.

Spann recommends the Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack for mountain bikers because it's designed to securely hold heavy gear and prevent things from flying off as you ride. This rack is compatible with lots of different accessories and can even be used to store extra water bottles for longer rides. You can choose whether you mount the Tumbleweed Mini Pannier Rack to the front or the back of your bike

Buy it​: TumbleWeed.cc; ​Price: ​$140

9. Best Quick Release: Lumintrail Quick Release Rear Seatpost Bike Cargo Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Seatpost
  • Weight Limit:​ 20 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1.5 lbs

Bike cargo mounts can be challenging to install. Spann says that most people won't want to take a standard rear bike rack on and off their bike once it's installed. If you want the option to remove your rack at will, you need a quick-release seatpost-mounted bike rack.

The Lumintrail Quick Release Rear Seatpost Bike Cargo Rack solves many of the installation and removal problems of traditional rear-mounted bike racks. You can easily mount and remove it using a simple tool that comes with the rack. Even though this rack can't support as much load as a rear-mounted rack, it can still tote small panniers.

Buy it​: Lumintrail.com; ​Price: ​$39.99

10. Best Budget: Schwinn Seatpost and Folding Rear Rack

  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Mount Position:​ Rear
  • Weight Limit:​ 26 lbs
  • Weight of Rack:​ 1 lb

Many casual cyclists won't want to splurge on an expensive bike rear rack. We love Scwhinn's affordable bike racks for riders who want to carry up to 26 pounds of gear without breaking the bank.

You can purchase two versions of this rack depending on where you want to mount your gear. The seatpost-mount version is a little cheaper and easier to attach, but won't be compatible with panniers. The rear-mounted folding rack will provide more storage room for accessories. However, it will be more difficult to install.

Buy it:Amazon.com; ​Price:​ $14.96 - 19.99

7 Things to Consider When Shopping the Best Bike Cargo Racks

1. Compatibility With Your Bike

Not every bike rack works with all bikes. It's important to consider the following to make sure yours does:

  • Type of brakes:​ If your bike has disc breaks, you need a disc break compatible rear rack. Many rear racks are designed to work exclusively with rim breaks.
  • Size of wheel:​ You need to purchase a rack that's big enough to clear your rear wheel. If the rack is too small, it won't sit high enough above the wheel or you may not be able to mount it at all.
  • Bike rack mount:​ Some bikes come with built-in screws called bike rack mounts that allow you to easily connect a rack to your frame. If your bike doesn't have these, you need to make sure your rack comes with extra hardware to allow you to securely attach your rack to your bike. You could also purchase a seatpost-mounted rack instead of a rear-mounted rack.

2. Ease of Installation

Spann says that mounting a bike rack can be a challenging and frustrating process. You need to make sure the rack clears your rear wheel so there's no obstruction while you ride. It's sometimes tough to get the rack to sit perfectly flat. Furthermore, some racks require additional hardware and tools in order to securely mount them to your bike frame and prevent damage to your breaks.

Instead of struggling to mount the rack yourself, Spann suggests taking it to your local bike shop. She says technicians there can easily and securely mount the rack to save you a lot of headache. If you purchase your rack directly from a brick-and-mortar shop, they'll often install the rack for a small fee.

If you prefer to mount your rack on your own, search for an option that promises easy installation. Look for racks that are already partially assembled, use flexible mounting arms (which help you accommodate different wheel sizes) and provide adapter kits with tools or extra parts.

Seatpost-mounted racks are much easier to install than front or rear racks because they only attach in one place. Some of these racks even use quick-release technology for easy on and off. If you would like to be able to take your rack off your bike at times, a seatpost rack is your best bet.

3. Mount Position

Your cargo bike rack attaches to your bike frame in one of three locations:

  • Rear rack:​ These racks attach to the back of your bike frame and/or to your rear wheels. Rear racks tend to be very sturdy and are often compatible with a variety of panniers and other accessories.
  • Seatpost rack:​ If you can't mount a rear rack, you can still store things on the back of your bike using a seatpost mount. These racks are easier to install and remove, but they can't hold as much weight and have limited compatibility with accessories.
  • Front rack:​ You can also mount a flat rack to the front of your bike. Spann says she prefers front racks to rear racks because of the way weight is distributed on her bike.

4. What Type of Riding You Plan to Do

Different cyclists may need different bike racks depending on the terrain they're riding on and the shape of their bikes.

  • Commuter:​ When you're riding to and from work or the grocery store, you may want a heavy-duty rack that can support lots of items and works with accessories like trunks, baskets or panniers.
  • Road bike:​ Road bikes are slimmer and sleeker than other types of bikes. For this reason, Spann suggests looking for a bike rack that's lightweight, lower profile and has a thinner platform. These racks will fit your road bike better without the extra bulk.
  • Mountain bike:​ Cyclists who ride on dirt or gravel trails will have bumpier rides than those who stick to the roads. Spann suggests looking for racks that promise more security by tightly tying bags and accessories to the rack. She says that standard panniers which clip onto the sides of a rack are much more likely to fall off and may not be a good choice.

5. Weight Limit

Every bike rack has an upper limit for how much weight it can carry. If you plan to ride with lots of heavy items, you need a rack that's built to support hefty loads. You can easily find this information online or by asking at your local bike shop.

Spann says most cyclists won't actually need to worry about buying a rack that can handle really heavy cargo because of how those loads could affect their ride. "The more weight you carry on a rack, the harder it becomes to steer and handle your bike," she says. Less experienced riders should start with more conservative loads to stay safe on the roads and trails.

6. Compatibility with Accessories

Many bike racks are designed to pair with different bags, baskets and trunks. Panniers, the most popular rack accessory, are large bags that clip on to the sides of a bike rack. Trunks typically slide on to the top of a bike rack. There are countless other options you can purchase depending on what you want to carry and how you'd like to store it.

Before you buy a rack or any storage accessories, it's important to make sure your purchases play well together. Look to see if your rack has the appropriate clips, sliders, slats or other means by which you can secure accessories to the top or sides.

You should also consider what types of accessories you'll need to carry the gear you plan to bring with you on your rides. Spann says this is the most overlooked — and also most important — thing to bear in mind when picking out a rack for your bike.

For example, if you are a commuter who plans to ride to work in all types of weather, you may want to invest in a waterproof bike bag to store your work clothes and laptop. You would then need to make sure you buy a back rack that can support panniers.

Some companies design accessories to go with specific racks. However, Spann says you don't necessarily need to match brands when selecting storage accessories for your bike rack. "Almost any rack with slats on it can hold panniers," she says.

If all else fails, Spann says you can also use bungee cords, cargo netting or nylon straps to secure accessories, loose items or milk crates to your bike rack. Most bike shops and websites will also sell these types of small accessories.

7. Rack Material

Bike racks are typically made of either aluminum or steel. Aluminum cargo racks tend to be lighter, which is ideal for cyclists who want to minimize extra weight on their bikes. Steel racks are heavier, but they're also sturdier. This lets you carry heavier loads and keep your cargo secure when you ride on rougher roads and trails.

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