Why you should trust us
In addition to conducting our own research and testing over several years, we spoke to Mia Kohout, co-owner of Momentum Magazine and the general manager of Mobi by Shaw Go, Vancouver’s bicycle share system. An avid commuter, she gave us insight into how to make bike carry practical and efficient.
For even more real-world perspective, when beginning research for this guide several years ago, we talked with Andrew Blash, a volunteer Yosemite National Park host who commutes by bike between the park and the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s 180 miles one way, and he had a lot of opinions about how gear works, what’s overkill, and what items are best for the task of commuting.
Who this is for
The racks we recommend can carry up to 55 pounds strapped on top or hanging from hooks on the sides without having too much impact on your bike’s handling. That’s plenty for a commuter who wants to take a laptop to work or pick up groceries.
We looked primarily at aluminum racks for this guide, but if you’re going mountain biking or bike packing, a heavier steel rack may be more appropriate. Those higher-end racks, like the Tubus Cargo, are stronger and capable of holding more weight, but they cost a lot more (more than $100) and appeal primarily to touring cyclists who traditionally have valued the ability to repair them in the field.
Front racks, by the way, do exist, but they can’t carry as much as rear racks, and adding weight to the front of your bike can affect your ride much more than weight over the back tire.
That said, if you’re just running small errands around the neighborhood, a front basket might be all you need. Baskets can hold about 10 pounds of stuff—going beyond that can make the bike hard to steer and hard to stand upright.
Our pick: Topeak Explorer
The Topeak Explorer works better with a wider variety of bikes than any other rack we tested. That’s due to the flexible attachment arms and a sizable amount of wheel clearance over the back wheel. It’s also sturdier than other models that cost the same because it has three stays on each side to steady the load instead of two.
If you have either 26-inch or 700c wheels (most people do) or the recently popular 27½-inch size, chances are the Explorer will fit your bike. However, if your bike has disc brakes, make sure to get the disc-specific version, because you’ll need the extra clearance around the disc. If you have a mountain bike with 29-inch wheels, get the 29er model (also available in a disc-specific version).
Because they can flex, the Explorer’s flat steel arms can attach to a wider range of bike-frame rack mounts. This design makes finding a proper fit easier compared with models that use stiff aluminum tubing as arms such as the Axiom Journey.
The Explorer offered 1¼ inches of wheel clearance when installed on our Trek FX 2, which has 700c wheels—that’s more clearance than any other rack we tested. That amount of clearance, in addition to the movable arms, gives you more compatibility with a variety of bikes and means that the rack should fit over even the burliest of puncture-resistant off-road tires. Other racks we tested like the Axiom Transit left only a few millimeters between the rack and the tire.
Once installed, the Explorer provides a sturdy and stable platform for carrying up to 55 pounds of whatever you want. Often, when discussing durability of a rack, a review will talk about the type of metal used to build it. In this case, Topeak uses 6061 hollow aluminum. The “hollow” makes it lightweight, and the 6061 is an extremely common type of general-purpose aluminum.
But how the rack is supported is as important as what it’s made of when talking about durability and stability. The rack needs to be welded together, not just riveted with bolts, and in the case of the Topeak, three triangulated stays on each side support it—not just two. Although other racks may be rated to the same 55-pound capacity as the Explorer (our budget pick, the Eco Rack, for instance), it’s that third stay that stabilizes the load fully. Higher-capacity racks will be modified even more to add the necessary stiffness.
We loaded each side of the Explorer with panniers carrying 2 gallons of milk each (17 pounds per side) to see if it swayed, but everything stayed in place.
Other things we like about the Explorer include the fully welded-on taillight mount. It’s more substantial than the thin, bolted-on piece of metal on the Axiom Journey, Axiom Transit, Ibera PakRak, or Planet Bike Eco Rack. Topeak includes steel mounting hardware, and the included nuts are locking nuts with nylon inserts, which absorb road vibration and stay screwed on better than standard nuts.
Rack platforms, in general, are useful. This one can accommodate Topeak MTX QuickTrack luggage pieces if you want them (though we did not test any of these options), and it also provides two mini-perks: It gives you an unobtrusive way to carry a bike lock if you’re going without panniers, and, like most rack platforms, it acts as a built-in fender that keeps water off your back in light rain.
Most cycling publications specialize in either road or mountain biking, so we didn’t find a lot of existing reviews for commuter racks. Amazon reviewers also currently give the Explorer 4.6 out of five stars in almost 3,000 reviews.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
In the world of bike accessories, “easy to install” is a relative term. The biggest issue with this rack applies to all racks—it can be confusing and even downright frustrating to figure out which variation of the rack should work with your bike and install it. (If you’re not sure what size wheel your bike has, just check the tires: The size will be printed or embossed on the sidewalls.) Should you run into problems, though, we recommend checking with your local bike shop (and buy your helmet there, while you’re at it).
The people there will be able to confirm which version of this rack will fit your bike, and if there are any mounting issues, they’ll know how to deal with them. They may even have the Explorer in stock, as it’s a very common rack.
It’s also possible that your bike will not have the proper attachment points on the frame to bolt the rack to. Enter the P-clamp: a small metal loop commonly used to tack down cables in construction. They can be purchased at any hardware store. Wrap one around your bike frame at the appropriate place to create the attachment point you need.
Runner-up: Planet Bike Eco Rack
Planet Bike’s Eco Rack is the only other rack that installed as easily in testing as the Topeak, due to the height of the rack above the wheel (1¼ inches) and the same flexible arms that are a key feature of the Explorer. In opting for the Eco Rack over the Explorer, you sacrifice some stability, as this model has only two stays supporting the platform instead of three. It’s rated to carry 55 pounds (same as our top pick), and it toted the same 4 gallons of milk we put on the Explorer. But it felt less stable, as if all that liquid was pulling against us as we biked home.
It also wasn’t completely level when we first installed it, although P-clamps are included in case you run into the same issue. (The clamps will allow you to affix the arms at whatever height achieves a level surface.) This rack will fit 26-inch or 700c wheels, but Planet Bike offers no disc-brake option. Overall, the Eco Rack is not a standout, but if the Explorer is sold out or you can’t find it—and as long as your bike doesn’t have disc brakes—this rack will get the job done.
The Axiom Journey lack our pick’s flexible, sliding steel arms, which made it more difficult to fit. It also did not sit parallel to the ground when I put it on our test bike; to get it to do so, I would have had to remove sections with a saw. This problem may not happen with all bikes, but the fit we achieved was less than perfect.
The Ibera PakRak Touring Carrier Plus+ has adjustable legs. We installed it to see if we got more clearance over the rear tire, but the adjustable legs stretched to their limit when mounted over our 700c wheel, so this rack could fit smaller bikes but nothing bigger than what’s already standard. The extra bolts in such models also introduce another point of potential failure. (The version we tested, for rim-brake bikes, is nowhere to be found; the disk-brake version is readily available.)
The Thule Tour Rack is meant to modify a full-suspension mountain bike into a touring bike. The Thule requires no frame eyelets for mounting, and I had no problem putting it on our Trek, but it costs $120. Given that you could solve the no-eyelets problem with P-clamps, this seems unnecessary for anything other than the specific job it was intended for.
The Best Bike Storage Ideas – The New York Times
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The Best Bike Storage IdeasWhy you should trust usFor this review, I polled cyclists on my commute group’s email list (which numbers more than 3,000) in San Francisco—a place where bike infrastructure is expanding but individual living spaces are shrinking—about how they keep their bikes both safe and out of the way. I interviewed Chris Hodney, who works with Hacker Architects in Portland, Oregon, another cycling-mad city, and has made a specialty of evaluating bicycle storage for apartments and office buildings. I read Eben Weiss’s The Ultimate Bicycle Owner’s Manual to see what the opinionated Bike Snob NYC (Weiss’s nom de guerre) had to say on the topic. I checked in with Lennard Zinn (a frame builder who literally wrote the book on bike repair), David Kendall at Calfee Design (this shop is the last resort for anyone with a busted-up carbon bike), and Ric Hjertberg at Wheel Fanatyk (where you can find anything you’d need to build wheels, from finely wrought spokes to well-tuned advice) to get their opinions on storage options—and to make sure that it is, in fact, okay to hang a bike by its front wheel, even if the rim is made of expensive and easily damaged carbon. (Think twice, though, if you have hydraulic brakes. More on those in a bit.)One of the selling points of my current apartment is the roomy, two-car garage that’s shared with a downstairs neighbor. But once my herd of bicycles started to grow a few years ago—it’s now up to five, and my boyfriend has another five—I realized that I needed to install wall-mounted bike racks in the garage so that said neighbor could still get to her car without having to climb over wheels and frames. That was the beginning of my personal research into the topic of bike storage. I’ve also worked as a magazine editor for nearly 25 years, and I’ve spent many, many hours reviewing commuter bikes and bike tools for Wirecutter.How we pickedAlthough there are half a dozen variations on the indoor bike-storage theme, good storage systems share a few key attributes: An indoor bike rack should be easy to assemble, with well-manufactured parts that fit together securely. It should be sturdy enough that you feel comfortable trusting your bike to it (and anything that your bike might fall on, too). It should be versatile enough to hold many different kinds of bikes. And the rack should also be as unobtrusive as possible, at least when the bike’s not hanging on it—you don’t want your roommate or partner bashing their head on the rack while you’re out for a ride.Why are there so many different types of indoor bike racks? Ideally, your bike will occupy what might otherwise be wasted space, but that extra space will probably vary according to your living situation. “If you’ve got 12-foot ceilings, go high,” said one of my friends, a cyclist who’s also just renovated his house. “If your front door has two feet of space on the wall next to the hinges, buy a doorstop and hang your bike vertically behind the door.”For this guide, we looked at all of the variations: wall hooks from which a bike hangs by its front wheel; racks that hold a bike or two horizontally by the top tube, or crossbar, parallel to a wall; and ceiling-mounted hook-and-pulley systems that let you haul the bike up out of the way. We did test one freestanding rack, but in the end, we couldn’t think of any small-space situations where a bike standing in the middle of the room would be helpful, so we didn’t include that variation.The prices for our racks ranged from about $25 to $170 at that time. You can, of course, spend a lot more than $170, if you consider the rack to be as much decoration or sculpture as transportation accessory. Kickstarter, Etsy, Pinterest, and design blogs like Apartment Therapy, TheCooList, and TrendHunter are full of expensive bike racks and stands. Bear in mind, though, that though many of those options are…
The Best Bike Racks and Carriers for Cars and Trucks
The Best Bike Racks and Carriers for Cars and TrucksWhy you should trust usEric Evarts, a fervent cyclist since childhood, has tested roof racks, hitch racks, tray-style hitch racks, trunk racks, and pickup-bed carriers for Wirecutter. He is the author of the most recent edition of this guide. He’s also a seasoned auto journalist, with articles and reviews appearing in Cars.com, The Christian Science Monitor, Consumer Reports, U.S. News & World Report, AAA, Fortune magazine, and Green Car Reports, among others.Rik Paul served as Wirecutter’s autos editor, and he edited previous versions of this guide, going back to its beginning. He was previously the automotive editor for Consumer Reports and the senior feature editor for Motor Trend.Jack Smith, who also tested trunk racks, has been cycling since he was a child, too. As an editorial assistant at Wirecutter, he strapped nine racks (one at a time, of course) on the back of his Acura TSX and tested them during drives around Los Angeles.This guide also draws on the expertise of several bike-rack experts we’ve interviewed, on the results of a survey we sent to more than 20 bike clubs across the country, and on input from several other Wirecutter editors who are voracious cyclists and experienced competitors.Types of car bike racks You can find a rack for every vehicle, each with its own pros and cons. We tested (clockwise from top left) trunk, hanging hitch, tray-style hitch, and roof racks; we also tested vertical hanging hitch racks and models for pickup trucks (not shown). Photo: Rik PaulThere are many types of bike racks, each with its own pros and cons. Finding one that’s right for you will depend on your vehicle, bike, budget, riding style, and personal priorities. Here are the types we tested:Tray-style (platform) hitch racks mount to a vehicle’s trailer hitch and support bikes underneath their tires.Hanging-style hitch racks carry bikes by their frames.Vertical-style hanging hitch racks (designed to carry up to seven bikes) hold the bikes in a variety of ways: by the front wheel, front fork, or handlebars.Trunk racks strap to the back of almost any vehicle and support bikes by the frame.Roof racks attach to a base crossbar system on the top of a vehicle and hold bikes by the front wheel, front fork, or frame.Pickup-truck carriers let you securely carry a bike in a truck’s bed and hold bikes by the frame, fork, or the front wheel.After testing scores of racks, we’ve determined that a tray-style hitch rack is the easiest to use and the most versatile, but the vehicle (or vehicles) and bike (or bikes) you own may limit your choices:Does your vehicle have a trailer hitch (or can you have one installed)? If you have a hitch, we recommend a hitch rack; if not (and if installing one isn’t possible), you’ll have to consider another style. The size of the hitch receiver tube also affects your choice: Most racks have versions for a 2-inch receiver; fewer racks have 1¼-inch versions. (Many smaller cars can’t accommodate a 2-inch receiver. Adapters are available to shrink a 2-inch receiver down to 1¼, but we don’t recommend those that enlarge a 1¼-inch receiver to 2 inches because they push the rack out several more inches behind your car, interfering with ground clearance and making the rack less stable.) If…
The Best Rear Bike Rack for 2022 | Reviews by Wirecutter
The Best Rear Bike RackWhy you should trust usIn addition to conducting our own research and testing over several years, we spoke to Mia Kohout, co-owner of Momentum Magazine and the general manager of Mobi by Shaw Go, Vancouver’s bicycle share system. An avid commuter, she gave us insight into how to make bike carry practical and efficient.For even more real-world perspective, when beginning research for this guide several years ago, we talked with Andrew Blash, a volunteer Yosemite National Park host who commutes by bike between the park and the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s 180 miles one way, and he had a lot of opinions about how gear works, what’s overkill, and what items are best for the task of commuting. Andrew Blash, one dude ready for a serious ride. Photo: Eve O’NeillWho this is forThe racks we recommend can carry up to 55 pounds strapped on top or hanging from hooks on the sides without having too much impact on your bike’s handling. That’s plenty for a commuter who wants to take a laptop to work or pick up groceries.We looked primarily at aluminum racks for this guide, but if you’re going mountain biking or bike packing, a heavier steel rack may be more appropriate. Those higher-end racks, like the Tubus Cargo, are stronger and capable of holding more weight, but they cost a lot more (more than $100) and appeal primarily to touring cyclists who traditionally have valued the ability to repair them in the field. The rear triangle of our test bicycle, showing rack mounting points and the components of a typical rear rack. Photo: Eve O’NeillFront racks, by the way, do exist, but they can’t carry as much as rear racks, and adding weight to the front of your bike can affect your ride much more than weight over the back tire.That said, if you’re just running small errands around the neighborhood, a front basket might be all you need. Baskets can hold about 10 pounds of stuff—going beyond that can make the bike hard to steer and hard to stand upright.Our pick: Topeak Explorer Photo: Eve O’NeillOur pickThe Topeak Explorer works better with a wider variety of bikes than any other rack we tested. That’s due to the flexible attachment arms and a sizable amount of wheel clearance over the back wheel. It’s also sturdier than other models that cost the same because it has three stays on each side to steady the load instead of two.If you have either 26-inch or 700c wheels (most people do) or the recently popular 27½-inch size, chances are the Explorer will fit your bike. However, if your bike has disc brakes, make sure to get the disc-specific version, because you’ll need the extra clearance around the disc. If you have a mountain bike with 29-inch wheels, get the 29er model (also available in a disc-specific version). We found that flexible metal support arms (top) are easier to fit to a bike than stiff ones (above), as some can even require trimming with a hacksaw to achieve the right length. Photo: Eve O’NeillBecause they can flex, the Explorer’s flat steel arms can attach to a wider range of bike-frame rack mounts. This design makes finding a proper fit easier compared with models that use stiff aluminum tubing as arms such as the Axiom Journey. The Explorer’s flat attachment arms can bend to accommodate variations in bike frames. Photo: Eve O’NeillThe Explorer offered 1¼ inches of wheel clearance when installed on our Trek FX 2, which has 700c wheels—that’s more clearance than any other rack we tested. That amount of clearance, in addition to the movable arms, gives you more compatibility with a variety of bikes and means that the rack should fit over even the burliest of puncture-resistant off-road tires. Other racks we tested like the Axiom Transit left only a few millimeters between the rack and the tire. We installed and tested eight models. Photo: Eve O’NeillOnce installed, the Explorer provides a sturdy and stable platform for carrying up to 55 pounds of whatever you want. Often, when discussing durability of a rack, a review will talk about the type of metal used to build…
Cycling Gear and Bikes | Wirecutter – The New York Times
CyclingThe Best Bike Handlebar BagPublished August 5, 2022by Sam SchildAfter spending the winter testing dozens of bike handlebar bags, we’ve chosen five that can carry all your riding essentials, no matter where you’re headed.The Best Bike PumpUpdated July 26, 2022by Eve O’Neill, Matthew Edwards, and Dave YasudaAfter five years of tests, we believe the Lezyne Classic Drive is the best floor pump for most commuters, and the Lezyne Pressure Drive is the best handheld.The Best Bike Storage IdeasUpdated July 20, 2022by Christine RyanAfter 30-plus hours of research and testing, we think the Delta Cycle Michelangelo Gravity Stand is the best bike rack for storing bikes in limited-space homes.You Can Build an Ebike. Yes, You.Updated June 24, 2022by Kevin PurdyIf you’re willing to do some research, light to medium wrenching, and variable fiddling, adding a motor to the bike you already own may be a viable option.The Best Bike Phone MountUpdated June 2, 2022by Amy Roberts and Christine RyanAfter riding with 27 smartphone bike mounts over 120 miles’ worth of smooth and rough roads, we’d trust our phones to the mounts from Quad Lock.The Best Bike Racks and Carriers for Cars and TrucksUpdated May 9, 2022by Eric C. Evarts, Rik Paul, and Jack SmithAfter testing 75 bike racks—including hitch, trunk, and roof models—we recommend the Küat Sherpa 2.0 hitch rack as the best way to carry your bikes on a car.Peloton Review: What to Know Before You BuyUpdated April 28, 2022by Ingrid Skjong and Amy RobertsPeloton’s Bike and Bike+ offer live at-home classes for a monthly membership fee. We’ve also reviewed eight Peloton alternatives.The Best Bike Helmet for CommutersUpdated April 19, 2022by Eve O’NeillAfter three years of consecutive testing, we still think the Specialized Echelon II is the best helmet for commuters.The Best Bike LockUpdated April 12, 2022by Duncan Niederlitz and Eve O’NeillWe tested 32 bike locks, and the Kryptonite New-U Evolution Mini-7 is the most affordable lock that will most likely need a power tool to be defeated.How to Clean a Peloton BikePublished April 7, 2022by Ingrid SkjongHere’s a simple routine for keeping your Peloton Bike (or whichever indoor-cycling model you own) clean and ready to ride.Is It a Bad Idea to Buy a Peloton Right Now?Published February 8, 2022by Ingrid SkjongDrops in demand, layoffs, recalls—Peloton is on a rough ride. The only plus side for buyers: It’s easier than ever to get a Peloton Bike.The Best Commuter Bike LightsUpdated October 21, 2021by Hannah Weinberger and Michael ZhaoAfter testing 90 lights over the past six years, we have recommendations for the best headlight and the best taillight for most people who commute by bicycle.The Best Bike PanniersUpdated October 13, 2021by Eve O’NeillAfter spending three years testing dozens of panniers, we’ve chosen eight that’ll be great for daily duty no matter what you’re toting or where you’re going.The Best Hybrid BikeUpdated August 30, 2021by Christine RyanAfter riding a dozen hybrid bikes up and down San Francisco’s hills, we’ve pegged the Marin Fairfax 1 as our favorite (and most affordable) bike for commuters.The Best Folding BikeUpdated June 22, 2021by Amy Roberts and Duncan NiederlitzAfter 85-plus hours of pedaling, shifting, folding, and unfolding, we’re convinced that the Dahon Mariner D8…
The 4 Best Bike Locks of 2022 – The New York Times
The Best Bike LockWhy you should trust usDuncan Niederlitz has worked in the bicycle industry since 2002 on both coasts of the United States, as well as abroad. He has owned many of the locks we’ve tested and has worked at shops selling all of them, occasionally having to cut them off bikes. Between that and the work he did for this guide, he has spent hundreds of hours researching, selling, using, and testing bike locks.Eve O’Neill, a senior staff writer covering outdoor gear for Wirecutter, started in 2014 as our first bike reporter. After eight years on the job, she continues to test and review products for many of Wirecutter’s cycling guides.We contacted John Edgar Park, an avid lock-picking enthusiast and instructor with over 20 years of experience, and we sat down together to review all the locks we had received to vet them for lock-picking vulnerabilities. In addition, we made arrangements to get in touch with a lock-picking group, and we visited on a night with a presentation on high-security disc-detainer locks. The meeting was in an unmarked room in an unmarked building, and everyone who gave a presentation used their Def Con code names.We also corresponded with Mark Podob of Metlab, a heat-treating and metallurgic-consulting company, to gain insight into how locks are constructed.We ended up choosing four Kryptonite locks, and we know how that kind of thing can look. But we think the data speaks for itself. Duncan was working at a bike shop in 2004 when the Bic pen fiasco went down (he appeared on the local news station demonstrating the technique), so we approached this guide with a skeptical view regarding any lock manufacturer’s claims.Who should get thisIf you ride a bike and ever need to leave it unattended, you should carry (and use) a sturdy bike lock—at least if you want the bike to be there waiting for you when you return. And if you live in an area where garage or apartment-building bike-room break-ins are common, you may even want to lock your bike up when it’s seemingly safe at home, too. Unfortunately, as we’ve discovered through both our testing and our own painful experience, no lock can keep a determined bike thief at bay forever. However, a good one might persuade that thief to move on to a less well-defended target.How we pickedWe spent many hours researching all the locks available from the major brands in the bicycle industry, attended trade shows to see not-yet-available options, reviewed earlier versions of this guide, and searched for well-reviewed locks from smaller companies or lesser-known brands.Manufacturers make locks in a range of similar styles. Considering their supposedly different levels of security and proprietary ratings systems, however, it can be hard to decide which locks are comparable, other than blindly going by price or researching the ratings from independent organizations such as ART in the Netherlands and Sold Secure in England. Unfortunately these institutions use different rating scales, and not all lock manufacturers submit all of their locks to be tested. And although these independent labs return a rating, they do not make the reasoning behind the rating (or the tests they used to come to that conclusion) available to the public, so looking at their ratings still gave us only a rough idea of the security of any one lock.We decided that our only way forward was to order the most expensive locks from every company we could and test them to destruction to set a baseline for what each company considered its highest level of security. We then ordered the budget locks from our previous guide, as well as some of the upgrades from companies that had finished well in our first round of tests, and destructively tested all of those, too. We eventually destroyed 32 locks from ABUS, Altor, Artago, Blackburn, Foldylock, Hiplok, Knog, Kryptonite, Litelok, Master Lock, OnGuard, RockyMounts, Schlage, and TiGr.How we tested Our testing pool after a few rounds of security testing. Photo: Duncan NiederlitzTo…
Cheap Essentials for Getting Back on Your Bike
Cheap Essentials for Getting Back on Your BikeAn inexpensive helmet Photo: SchwinnWe’ve spent hundreds of hours wearing, riding with, and researching bike helmets, and if you’re looking for the cheapest possible good option, we like the Schwinn Thrasher. It isn’t our budget pick for helmets (more about why in a sec), but the Thrasher is the only helmet we’ve found in its price range that has an adjustable knob at the back so it can snugly wrap around your head. Typically the fit is hard to adjust on inexpensive helmets, and a helmet that doesn’t fit right can’t do its job.If the Thrasher is sold out, or if you can spend a little more, the budget pick in our bike helmets guide, the Bontrager Solstice, checks all the boxes for fit and function that we look for in our testing, plus it comes with a generous replacement policy—the company will send you a new one for free if you crash while wearing it in the first year you own it. (This is the reason we ended up making the Solstice, not the Thrasher, our budget pick.)Normally we’d recommend buying a helmet at a bike shop to ensure a proper fit, and even more so now, in the era of fakes on Amazon. But if you have to order one online, check for the Consumer Product Safety Commission sticker on the inside; every helmet sold in the US should have one. And if you have an old helmet lying around and are wondering if you need to replace it, we have some advice.Bright, cheap(ish) lights Photo: Michael MurtaughIt’s hard to recommend an ultra-cheap bike light. When we began researching lights years ago, we noticed that sub-$20 blinkers weren’t powerful enough to be seen by a car, even at night—the beam gets lost in all the signals, reflections, and ambient light competing for your attention.For that reason, we recommend spending a little more to get the Cygolite Hotrod 50 Rear Light instead. This 50-lumen taillight is visible from more angles under a wider variety of conditions than any other light we tried. It recharges via USB, it should last about a week of regular rides, and it attaches to your seat post with a flexy, rubber ring.The Hotrod is also available in a front and rear light set. The front light doesn’t have a focused beam, as its intended purpose is to make you visible to those around you, not to produce a focused beam of light that will illuminate a dark path. If you’re looking for front lights that will help you see the road, we have some recommendations in our full-length bike light guide.A bell to be heard in traffic Photo: SpurcycleBike bells aren’t just for kids—they’re for anyone who rides a bike near other people. We’ve long recommended the Spurcycle Bell, which produces a loud, distinctive chime, but it carries a $50–$60 price tag (depending on the finish). The company recently introduced a more affordable version, though: the Compact Bell. At $39, it’s still not exactly cheap as far as bike bells go, but it has a similarly…
Dear Wirecutter: Which Rack Is Best for a Four-Bike Family?
Dear Wirecutter: Which Rack Is Best for a Four-Bike Family?Q: What bike rack can you suggest for a four-bike family?A: We don’t have a specific recommendation for a four-bike rack, but you should consider a hitch- or roof-mounted rack, or a combination of different types of racks, and we have a few ideas for you. To help you get familiar with the different types, our guide to the best bike racks and carriers has a rundown of the pros and cons of each.First, if you’re considering a hitch rack but your vehicle doesn’t have a receiver hitch installed, you’ll need to get one. When we checked pricing for several cars and SUVs on the U-Haul website, the total for the hardware and installation was between $250 and $300. If possible, get a 2-inch hitch, which will give you more options than a lighter-duty 1¼-inch hitch.If your vehicle already has a 1¼-inch receiver hitch, you can use a hanging-style hitch rack, on which the bikes hang by arms that support the frame. Our pick for this type of rack, the Thule Helium Aero, will carry up to three bikes. But Thule and Yakima sell models that can carry four. The REI and Rack Attack websites make it easy to compare them by using the filters in their selection tools. The reasonably priced Yakima Ridgeback 4-Bike was recommended to us by a couple bike shops, and Rack Attack lists it as one of its top-five hitch racks.If you have a 2-inch receiver hitch, you can choose from a wider selection of hanging- and tray-style hitch racks. With tray-style racks, the bikes’ wheels sit on trays or platforms and can be secured by the wheels, eliminating contact with the frame. Overall, they’re easier to use but generally more expensive than hanging-style racks. In our testing, we really liked the Thule T2 Pro and T2 Classic models, each of which can carry up to four bikes when you use an add-on attachment (our hitch pick, the Kuat Sherpa 2.0, can handle only two bikes). With its modern design, the T2 Pro is one of the easiest hitch racks we’ve used, and lately the street price for the 2-inch version isn’t that much higher than the older T2 Classic. The rack/add-on combo can get pricey, though, reaching to more than $700, even for the lower-priced Classic. A much-lower-priced alternative might be the Allen Sports Deluxe Four Bike hanging hitch rack, which costs only about $100; we thought the two-bike version was a good budget buy in our tests, although we haven’t tried the Four Bike.To mount your bike on the roof of your vehicle, you’ll need a basic roof-rack system with crossbars for the carrier to sit on. Many vehicles come with one already installed; otherwise, you can buy one from Thule or Yakima. Like most bicycle roof racks, our pick—the Yakima HighRoad—is designed to carry one bike, so you’ll need to buy four of them to handle your needs. This can end up being more expensive than using a hitch rack. In addition, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle has enough room for four bikes on top; a local installer should be able to tell you.Most bicycle experts don’t recommend carrying four bikes on a trunk rack because of the weight, and most rack companies don’t sell four-bike trunk racks. That said, Allen Sports does sell a couple inexpensive models that are designed for four bikes, although we’d go for another option.Another reasonably priced route is to carry one bike on the roof and three on a trunk rack (or two and two). If you already have a base roof-rack system, going with our main picks for roof and trunk racks would cost you less than $400 (or about $550 for the two-and-two setup).The Wirecutter’s editors answer reader questions all the…
The Best Bike Panniers | Reviews by Wirecutter
The Best Bike PanniersOffice in a bag: Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible 1.1 Photo: Rozette RagoOur pickGet this if: You’re the digital nomad type and are commuting with a laptop and all your accessories to a coffee shop or coworking space. The Two Wheel Gear Backpack Convertible 1.1 has a lot of organizational features: interior mesh pockets to hold pens, cables, chargers, and phones as well as a dedicated laptop compartment that will fit up to a 15-inch laptop.The waist strap of the backpack acts as the lower attachment point for the pannier—it’s one of the most clever mounting solutions we’ve seen. Photo: Rozette RagoWhy it’s great: It’s hard to design a good backpack pannier—the stiff, structural mounting systems that make for a good pannier are at odds with the comfort and flexibility a backpack needs to ride easily on your shoulders.But this one manages to combine both functionalities better than most we looked at. The plastic mounting system that Two Wheel Gear uses is both minimal and effective—one set of hooks latch over the top of the bike rack while another mechanism presses up from below, clamping the bag on tight. The way this bag converts from pannier to backpack is intuitive and low-drama, and the payload is evenly distributed on your back, something panniers from Timbuk2 and North St. struggled with.We tested the 22 L version of this bag, and its multiple pockets and protectors provide a storage place for every one of those things you need for your mobile office. We were able to fit in all our office supplies, bike repair gear, a windbreaker, plus a notebook and some pens. We also liked the zippered outside pockets and mesh side panels for even more organization-centric storage.Two Wheel Gear says this bag is made of 600-denier TPE-coated polyester (so water will roll off of it), but it comes with a rain cover for true downpours. The company offers a two-year limited warranty against defects in craftsmanship.Flaws but not dealbreakers: The rain flaps that cover the zippers are very stiff, almost to a point of frustration. We were often left wrestling with zippers caught at weird angles. That said, we don’t think that’s a good enough reason not to buy this bag if you like everything else about it.This bag may not be large enough if you want to carry along a lot of extras such as lunch and a change of clothes. Two Wheel Gear does make a bigger bag, the Pannier Backpack Convertible Plus+, which is 30 L and would be the right size if that’s your goal. However, we haven’t tested it yet.A duffle for your bike: Arkel Signature H Urban Pannier Photo: Rozette RagoOur pickGet this if: You like to carry everything you could possibly need in the day and just dump it all next to your desk. Your laptop, gym clothes, makeup, extra shoes, lunch, thermos, hats, gloves—the Arkel Signature H will hold it all. We like the horizontal shape because it makes this bag easier to dig through than similar but more vertical designs.Why it’s great: This bag is a marriage of two sensibilities—the stylish “tote” of the North St. Bags Route Seven Pannier and the hauling capabilities of an Ortlieb Back-Roller—but with two design tweaks that make it better for carrying a lot of things over your shoulder than either of those bags.There’s no…
The 8 Very Best Bike Racks – New York Magazine
The 8 Very Best Bike Racks Photo-Illustration: Photo: Retailer If you were one of the thousands of people who acquired a new bike over the past couple of years, you probably also acquired a storage problem. Especially in cramped city apartments, simply leaning a bike against a wall can crowd your space, lead to scuff marks, and cause other interior-design frustrations. Luckily, there are plenty of options to streamline your bike storage, many of them both inexpensive and drill free. That’s right: You don’t have to touch that drywall if you don’t want to. To find the best mounted bike racks, tension poles, and floor stands, we asked six experts — including avid cyclists and bike-store employees — to tell us about the ones they recommend, and we combed through our archives to surface any standouts we’ve written about before. Best overall | Best adjustable | Best with helmet storage | Best floor stand | Best vertical floor stand | Best family floor stand | Best tension pole | Best for stationary cycling Wall-mounted versus freestanding: According to Andrew Crooks of NYC Velo (a bike shop that has been operating in the East Village since 2005), the best bike racks are “one of three kinds”: wall mounts, floor stands, or tension poles that reach from floor to ceiling, with the two latter styles requiring no wall drilling to install and better suiting those who move a lot or like to change up their décor. We’ve included expert recommendations for all three types, including minimalist and maximalist options — because while some may wish to make their vintage Schwinn a living-room focal point, others may wish to simply save as much space as possible between rides. We also included options that hang bikes by both their wheels and their frames. If you think you want to store your bike on a hook or wall mount, all of our experts remind us that the higher you put it, the more effort it will take to hang up your bike and take it down. So if your bike is superheavy, it may be better to position the hook or mount lower. Crooks adds that any mount or hook designed to hold a bike is only “as safe as the wall you’re mounting it to,” so it’s worth double-checking that your walls have studs, beams, or something beyond drywall as an anchor. Single versus multiple bikes: If you’ve got cyclist roommates or just a burgeoning bike collection of your own, it makes sense to invest in a storage solution that will accommodate at least two sets of wheels. We looked for wall mounts and floor stands for single and multiple bikes, including a surprisingly sleek six-bike option for families. Scratch protection: The process of using and storing your bike on a daily basis can be a little arduous for both you and the bike — particularly its frame and spokes. Because bumps and bangs can lead to damage or just annoying little paint scratches, we’re recommending wall mounts and floor stands that protect your precious rims with materials like rubber, vinyl, and even foam padding. Wall mount (front wheel) | Single bike | Vinyl coating While floor stands are easier to install (we’ve got plenty of them further down on this list), a majority of our experts — four, to be precise — told us that Park Tool’s inexpensive hooks are the best way to store a bike. “Sometimes the best choice is also the simplest solution,” explains cyclist and outdoors writer Morgan Tilton, who uses the hooks herself. Each is “made from seven-millimeter steel and burly,”…