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What Is A Pannier Rack? Definition & Recommendations 2023

Written by: Reid Hemsing



Time to read 6 min

The relationship between a pannier and a pannier rack is the same as that between a laptop and electricity. 

The functionality of one ceases to exist without the existence of the other. Pannier racks and bags go hand in hand because you can't attach a bag to your bicycle without a rack.

Pannier Racks, What Are They?

A pannier rack is a special mounting system that allows you to attach your pannier bags to a bike. 

It's a metal or alloy grid, usually attached above the front and rear wheels. Once attached, you can use the hooks or clip on the rack to attach your pannier bag to your bicycle for extra comfort and weight distribution.

Here are the specifications of modern pannier racks.

Materials of Pannier Racks Aluminum, Cromoly, Steel, Titanium
Attachment Types Seat Mounted, Eyelet Based, P-Clamp Type, Quick Release, Specialized
Weight of Rack 300 grams to 1 Kg

Why Should You Use a Pannier Rack?

You should use a pannier rack because you can't carry a bicycle pannier without a bike rack. 

Carrying a shoulder bag or backpack while riding is risky and places unnecessary stress on your back and hips. The last thing you want is a lop-sided ride because of a shifting messenger bag.

Apart from this, a pannier rack makes a commuter life easy, by offering multiple other advantages, like:

  • Better weight distribution
  • Increased comfort
  • Increased weight capacity
  • No more back pain
  • No wobbling while riding
A bike with a pannier rack and pannier attached.

How Do You Use a Pannier Rack?

There are three things you need to do to use a pannier rack:

  1. Choose the right pannier rack for your bicycle.
  2. Attach the pannier rack to your bicycle.
  3. Use it without overburdening it.

The first step is important because every bike isn't compatible with different pannier racks. Here's a list of pannier racks that you can use with different types of bikes, and the weight they are designed to fit.

Bikes Compatible Pannier Racks Ideal Bike Luggage (Pounds)
Mountain Bikes Seatpost or Frame mounted racks 40 to 60
Road Bikes Seatpost-mounted racks 20 to 30
Gravel Bikes Standard rear alloy racks 40 to 60
Touring Bikes Most front or rear pannier racks 50 to 100
Hybrid Bikes Standard rear or front racks 40 to 60
Cruiser Bikes Standard racks 40 to 50
BMX Bikes Not compatible with racks Does not bear extra luggage
Electric Bikes Design dependent 20 to 100
Fat Bikes Most front or rear pannier racks 40 to 60
Cargo Bikes Come with built-in racks 100 to 200
Cyclocross Bikes Some rear mounted racks 40 to 60
Triathlon Bikes Not compatible with racks Does not bear extra luggage
City or Urban Bikes Standard racks 40 to 60
Folding Bikes Standard racks 20 to 30

How to Use a Pannier Rack

Here's how you can use a pannier rack after attaching it to your bicycle:

  1. Place or park your bike in a stable position.
  2. Load your cargo evenly into both sides or your pannier if it's a saddlebag.
  3. Place your pannier bag on top of the rack or to the side of the rack (if it's a convertible backpack or duffel).
  4. Use the buckles or straps to attach the pannier securely to your bike.
  5. You can use bungee cords for extra security.

After attaching your pannier bags, you can ride around wherever you want.

How Do You Fit a Pannier Rack?

The front and rear racks have varying mounting and attachment systems. The most common attachment type is using the eyelets over your rear tire. 

By placing the rack over your tire, you align the attachment arm to the Dropout eyelets on the lower bicycle frame near the cogs of the rear tire.

After that, you have to align the front portion of your rack to the seat stay eyelet. 

That's all you need to do to get things into working order. Some carbon-fibre bodied bicycles, designed for speed, might not have the eyelets. You'll have to use a seatstay-mounted rack for these bikes.

Some bikes may not have mounting points or eyelets. You can use P-Clips for these specific bikes. Don't worry, with enough determination, you can pop a rack onto most bikes.

Are Pannier Racks Universal?

No, pannier racks are not universal. Different cycles have varying bike frames, attachment systems, aesthetics, and weight limits. You have to choose a pannier rack according to the build and model of your bike.

Additionally, some bicycles only support specific racks made by the manufacturer. While others do not support racks at all, like BMX and Triathlon bikes.

Do Panniers Fit All Bikes?

Yes, panniers can fit all bikes, provided you use the right pannier and bike rack. Nowadays, you can find specialized panniers for each type of bicycle. For example, if you have a mountain bike, you must use a small storage capacity pannier with it.

City, touring, and other commute bikes can support large bags like the 35 Liter Pannier Convertible Backpack Plus. BMX and other speed-based rides usually do not support racks or extra cargo. 

For these types of bikes, you can use a convertible backpack or a handlebar bag.

Are Pannier Bags Universal?

No, pannier bags are not universal. Like the racks, bike panniers have varying shapes and sizes tailored to specific bicycle types. 

Some pannier bags are compatible with common cycles, like touring bikes and city bikes, which offer better mileage and comfort for bike commuters.

Cargo bikes can support large trunk bags and pannier duffels because of their sturdy frames. Mountain bikes and gravel bikes are designed for short, thrilling trips, and naturally cannot carry luggage or bear the weight of large cargo. You'd need different types of bicycle panniers for each one.

A woman putting on a TwowheelGear pannier on her bike to show pannier bags are not universal.

What Size Panniers Do I Need?

The size of a pannier depends on an individual's needs. If you're an average commuter using a pannier to transport things like a laptop or books to your office, a 20 Liter to 30 Liter bag should be enough, like the Pannier Backpack Lite. 

These are convertible backpacks that you can remove from the bike in seconds.

If you're going on a trip or camping, you'll need a larger pannier, like the Classic Garment Pannier or Boundary Pannier Duffel. These bags offer up to 35 Liters of space, for larger items.

The Best Pannier Rack Right Now

There are countless pannier racks on the market, but the best one needs to check some boxes. 

For starters, it needs to have a rigid and durable frame. It has to be easy to use and attach. The rack also has to be rust-proof, ideally made from aluminum alloy.

Based on these metrics, the best rack that we recommend is the Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Rear Bike Rack. It has a sturdy frame that you can attach to most bikes. It protects your pannier from rubbing against the rear wheel with extra side rails. In addition to all of this, it's also compatible with KLICKfix.


KLICKfix is a great mounting and attachment system for racks and panniers. 

With all of the right hooks and buttons, you can secure your panniers to the bike at the KLICK of a button.

It's a nifty attachment for racks that keeps your precious items from wobbling around in the bag, while you make some tight turns.

What to Look For in a Pannier Rack?

Here are some things you should consider when looking for a pannier rack:

  1. Compatibility: A pannier rack needs to be compatible with your bike frame.
  2. Position: Find a rear or front bike rack according to your needs.
  3. Aesthetics: Although not crucial, a pannier rack should be aesthetically pleasing to your bike.
  4. Material: Your pannier rack should be made of a durable material like aluminum alloys.
  5. Easy to Use: It needs to be easy to install and use.
  6. Affordability: An expensive pannier rack is better left alone.

These are some common metrics that you can use to choose a rack. If you have a standard bike, use the Axiom Streamliner Bike Rack. 

It's affordable, sturdy, convenient, easy to use, and compatible with a range of bags. It also supports almost all panniers and is compatible with KLICKfix.

So, get your bike rack and bags, and gear up for your journeys with Two Wheel Gear. Enjoy the great outdoors, or rides to your office, without a worry in the world.

Functionality and Importance: Pannier racks are essential for attaching bags to bicycles, offering cyclists enhanced comfort, better weight distribution, and the ability to carry items without stressing the back or hips.

Compatibility and Types: Not all pannier racks fit all bikes due to variations in bike frames, attachment systems, and weight limits. It's crucial to select a rack based on the bike's build and model. Pannier bags also vary in shapes and sizes, tailored to different bicycle types.

Recommended Pannier Rack: The Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Rear Bike Rack is recommended for its robust frame, ease of attachment, and compatibility with the KLICKfix system, ensuring secure attachment of panniers.

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