Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

rassilon256
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:53 pm

Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby rassilon256 » Fri Apr 21, 2023 10:52 pm

Hi there,

I bought a Giant Talon 3 in late 2020. I'd wanted to get a bike for a few years (hadn't ridden in ~20 years) but in the pandemic I had time to research and money to buy the bike. I went to a few LBS and my most local was the best - friendly and knowledgeable staff, good price range, trying the bikes out, etc.

I got the Talon 3 because my main interest was light trail riding (partly for it's own sake, partly for geocaching), but I felt I'd often end up just riding to the local shops or on concrete bike paths spending time with friends. It seemed ideal to survive the trail terrain and let me survive the road terrain.

In the end, I've hardly used the bike. Partly because my circumstances (and those of my cycling friends) have changed. But also because I don't have capacity to do some simple things. I've ridden to the shops occasionally but groceries in a backpack is a nuisance. I have a little dog who loves outings and would encourage me to go places but she can't ride the bike. Stuff like that.

So I thought I could encourage myself by equipping for those things with a rear rack and accessories for it. This is where I've gotten stuck. I did some research and liked a particular Topeak rack, bag for solo rides and rear basket suitable for dog transport (with a few modifications). My LBS sells Topeak gear so that seemed perfect. They assured me that the rack would suit my bike and they'd have stock of it in a few weeks. This turned into about a year of "It's been delayed"/"They didn't send us any this month"/"No we can't order one specifically"/"Just keep checking"/"No we can't ask a rep" and so on.

Before that "in a month" promise they also sold me some fenders they said were right for my bike (the bike they'd sold me, from their major brand). They weren't right; they wouldn't fit at all and wouldn't have mounted properly anyway, so I had to take them back.

I've given up on the LBS now. Nice enough people, and when I'm using the bike more and need a service or basic products I'll probably still go back to them. But I think maybe they've marked me down as not a serious every day cyclist like them and not worth the effort.

My next idea for advice was to go to Topeak directly. Their website sent me to Cassons. Cassons seemed more worried about my experience with the LBS being A+ rather than A++ but did say that most accessories should fit most bikes. They then asked follow-up questions and never responded to my answers. They also haven't responded to subsequent emails about their products.

So after all that I have a bike in the shed so rarely used that I need to thoroughly dust it off every time and no idea how to find accessories suitable for my bike. The things I think I want are available online but I'm concerned about buying something with no real-world support and paying for expensive shipping, then finding it's not right and paying even more to send it back without learning anything.

So there's all my context. Main question: how do I work out whether accessories are right for my bike before I buy them?
Additional questions: where do you recommend I go to buy online, and what do you think of Topeak gear?

Mozziediver
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Location: Melbourne, northish

Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby Mozziediver » Sat Apr 22, 2023 4:07 pm

FWIW, I wouldn't get too hung up on a particular brand, but look at models that have the features you want. Topeak are a decent brand, but there are lots of others. I've got an ancient Pletcher rack that's done good service, and a BBB that's ok too.

I know you want a rear rack, bu if your dog is not too big, a front rack + basket might also be a good option when short legs get tired.

Fitting racks can be quite difficult, so it may be worth going to a bike shop if you aren't mechanically inclined. If you are, then maybe look at second hand online (Gumtree, FB Market, ebay) as racks in good condition seem to come up regularly at reasonable prices.

You will need something that can attach to the seat post of the Talon, and to the seat stays. If there are no mounting points, you can use p-clamps. Maybe like this.
From Amazon here the Comingfit brand looks identical and price of $40 is ok too.
Moz
------------
Surly LHT 2013, '74 Raleigh 20 folder updated, Focus Aventura2 ebike.

rassilon256
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:53 pm

Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby rassilon256 » Sun Apr 23, 2023 8:31 pm

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply!

My interest in Topeak was specifically in the features of this rack and this bag. I like that everything should be secure even without a bungee cord (I'd probably still use a cord as well just in case), and the design of the rack with the lowered pannier rail. And the bag seems very adaptable. Also they don't seem terribly expensive for a big-name brand. There's a lot of cheap things on eBay and Amazon but if I can't find a decent review site I've no idea if it's worth it.

The dog is a mini schnauzer, about 9kg. I wouldn't have thought sitting over the front suspension of an MTB would be the nicest ride, even though I wouldn't be taking us over really rough terrain. Am I thinking about that wrong? One advantage to the above rack is that I can have panniers and dog basket easily attached without getting in each other's way, if the dog is on the front that advantage is far less critical.

I would say I'm reasonably mechanically inclined, having designed, built and maintained quite a few things in my career and personal life. If I know something should work I can get it done from first principles, it's just proving difficult making that initial assessment as this is a new world for me. Certainly I'm happy with second hand, I can make a condition assessment confidently. I haven't looked at Gumtree, will start now.

There are mounting points but that's just a good option, I'm not against clamping things provided I do it properly.

Any other shopping advice? My current strategy is looking at Amazon etc then googling for reviews and trying to guess if it'll be appropriate. Hasn't gotten me too far.

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apatheticaf
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Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby apatheticaf » Sun Jun 11, 2023 7:36 pm

Did you end up getting accessories that included a dog carrier? I've started looking into these and would love any recommendations you could share.

rassilon256
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:53 pm

Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby rassilon256 » Sun Jun 18, 2023 9:39 pm

Still looking I'm afraid, a variety of issues have pretty much wiped out my free time for the past month or so. Started on it again this week.

Probably not suitable for my bike, and a little expensive, but the Buddy Rider comes highly recommended by some colleagues of mine. Maybe it's right for your situation.

rassilon256
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:53 pm

Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby rassilon256 » Fri Nov 10, 2023 9:18 pm

Right, frustratingly infrequent research over the past 7 months has finally yielded some results. I should also say that in that time I've actually had several great rides solo and with friends, and they've been some of the best days of the year.

Anyhow, I looked at numerous brands' websites and all the reviews I could find, and I have two rack options I'd like people's advice on.

First, the Topeak Super Tourist DX. Designed specifically for disc-brake bikes, although having looked at a lot I don't understand what advantage it has. It has the lower pannier rail I really like and the QuickTrack looks quite solid. The clip on the accessories looks like it could sometimes be modified to use a lock with.

Second, the Racktime TourIt. Again, the lowered pannier rail. Perfectly fits the width of my bike across the lower mounts. The Snapit system looks less robust than the QuickTrack but I think that's all in my mind. I particularly like that it has an optional keylock that attaches to the mounting plate (though I realise this is only a deterrent, there's no true security on an unattended bike). There seem to be more options in terms of their own brand accessories, not to mention third-party ones, which don't seem to be a thing with Topeak.

Both brands sell their mounting plate separately, though the Racktime one seems easier to get. Both brands have a nice trunk bag with good design and fold-out light panniers. Both have baskets but Racktime has more and also boxes, which appeals to me.

I think they're both suitable for me and my bike - can anyone tell me something I've missed? All opinions, advice, etc gratefully received.

Next for me to research: threadlocker and torque wrenches. I'm used to more industrial versions of these than are required (or safe) for bikes.

Andy01
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Location: Brisbane

Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby Andy01 » Sat Nov 11, 2023 10:29 am

I can't think of many (if any) places I have used threadlocker on my bike, but I don't have a rack, so maybe for that. IMO as am longtime maintenance engineer, Loctite 243 is hard to go past - works well without being stupidly hard to remove.

As regards torque wrench, I bought a 3/8" drive Toledo (7-108Nm) which works well for the "bigger" stuff but it doesn't go low enough for the small screws. In hindsight I should probably have got the 1/4" drive model ? There are a few "kits" around that are for bikes, and some get reduced for the sales like EOFYS and Black Friday - they might be a better option. One of the bike shops was selling one this week (maybe Pushys ?) that was adjustable for 4, 6 & 8Nm - for about $30 or $40 - I saw it on a marketing email (since deleted).

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redsonic
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Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby redsonic » Sat Nov 11, 2023 11:01 am

If you are looking to carry a basket for the dog, as well as panniers (which I do regularly), pay attention to the distance between the pannier mounting bar and the rack carrier plate. It can be very tricky to mount the panniers with the basket in the way. I ended up with a Blackburn Outpost:

Image

The Tourit looks better in this regard than the Topeak


With a Basil Cento basket mounted permanently to the rack. Basil do make a quick release version of the Cento, and a dedicated (and very expensive) dog carrier, but the Cento is rated to 10Kg (make sure the pannier rack has a higher rating), and I prefer the security of the bolt-on basket rather than quick release. It is precious cargo, after all.

Basil Cento:
Image

And, just for giggles, here is my Mum's Mini Schnauzer learning to ride on the back (I have since changed bikes and rack)

Image

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bychosis
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Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby bychosis » Sat Nov 11, 2023 11:56 am

Torque wrench may not be necessary. Just don’t do things up stupid tight. After years of bike wrenching pretty much the only things I use a torgque wrench for are when clamping on to carbon or perhaps stem bolts.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.

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OnTrackZeD
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Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby OnTrackZeD » Sat Nov 11, 2023 6:18 pm

redsonic wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2023 11:01 am
If you are looking to carry a basket for the dog, as well as panniers (which I do regularly), pay attention to the distance between the pannier mounting bar and the rack carrier plate. It can be very tricky to mount the panniers with the basket in the way. I ended up with a Blackburn Outpost:

Image

The Tourit looks better in this regard than the Topeak


With a Basil Cento basket mounted permanently to the rack. Basil do make a quick release version of the Cento, and a dedicated (and very expensive) dog carrier, but the Cento is rated to 10Kg (make sure the pannier rack has a higher rating), and I prefer the security of the bolt-on basket rather than quick release. It is precious cargo, after all.

Basil Cento:
Image

And, just for giggles, here is my Mum's Mini Schnauzer learning to ride on the back (I have since changed bikes and rack)

Image
That dog doesn't look upset at all, lol.

rassilon256
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:53 pm

Re: Long-term newbie - needing shopping advice

Postby rassilon256 » Sat Nov 11, 2023 10:49 pm

Thanks all for the responses!

@Andy01
Loctite products have gotten a lot of use in my home (I have a bottle of 243 on the shelf in fact) and work so great to see I can stay with what I know. I'll keep an eye on the wrenches. The ones I used to use for work would be incredibly unsuitable range for this application.

@redsonic
That is a fantastic insight, I hadn't thought about that properly. I'd also not come across Blackburn so will be looking at their website soon.

I had seen the Basil carrier, it looks like you could put one together with $30 worth of stuff from Kmart. Definitely planning to give that a miss and doing something more like what you did. My precious cargo is also a mini schnauzer, and I fully expect her to also look that happy when learning to ride.

@bychosis
Thanks for the opinion. I'm normally pretty good at avoiding "stupid tight", and at pointing out when others haven't. I guess I'm just a bit more cautious with this as it's a new field for me. Also I did have to stop an hour into a rough ride the other week to tighten the bolts on my kickstand. That bottle of Loctite 243 might be getting used tomorrow.

@OnTrackZeD
To be fair to the dog, schnauzers can't help but look grumpy even before you put them in a basket and ride them down the street. I'll have to get before/during/after photos of mine.

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