What is the best pannier rack for a mountain bike?

Mountain bikes are great for riding off road, doing single trails and all that jazz. But what about if you want to carry stuff? A full suspension mountain bike has a suspension damper which allows the rear wheel, seat stays and chain stays to pivot up and down as you ride along. Most pannier racks require you to secure the rack on mounting eyes on the seat tube or even use the seat post itself. However, with a mountain bike this will not work because you need to allow for the vertical movement of the rack vis a vis the seat post.

The solution I found is to use the Thule Pack’n Pedal Tour (Amazon UK) or Thule Pack’n Pedal Tour (Amazon DE). This is installed on the seat stays using a clever mechanism that is easy to tighten. In a nutshell, it uses four straps that you can tighten using an allen key. To release it, you need a special key. This suggests a degree of security that you cannot just whip off the rack that quickly. The rack comes with all you need to mount it on any size of mountain bike. There are three lengths of metal stays you can choose from depending on the angle of your seat stays.

The Thule Pack’n Pedal Tour (Amazon UK) or Thule Pack’n Pedal Tour (Amazon DE) is very tough and stable. It can take 40kg of weight and has the right bars to fit the Ortlieb backroller panniers. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have not yet tried mountain biking down bumpy trails with Ortlieb backroller panniers installed, but if you are interested, just leave a comment and I’ll try it out.

If you combine the rack with the Thule basket (Amazon UK), Thule basket (Amazon DE), like I show in the pictures below, you get a really sturdy way to transport stuff from A to B. The basket fixes to the rack’s bars using four clamps that you tighten with an allen key (key and fixing points come included with the basket). However, just note that the basket can take a maximum load of 15kg. My observation is that it looks sturdier than that, but hey, it’s what the instructions say. In any case, it is definitely enough to transport a large bag of grocery shopping.

In case you were thinking about it, you cannot add Ortlieb panniers and the basket at the same time.

When you mount the basket, make sure to give sufficient clearance to the seat. Afterall, this is a mountain bike and the rear wheel, including rack and basket are all going to go up and down as you ride along on a rough track.

The experiments I have conducted all show that it works very well. Frankly speaking, this is mostly used on paved roads, but again, if you want to see a video of what happens on bumps, please shout.

Thule is expensive, but as usual, they produce equipment that is functionally excellent.

Thule Pack'n Pedal pannier rack
Thule Pack’n Pedal pannier rack
Thule Pack'n Pedal pannier rack
How the rack fixes to the seat stays
Thule Pack'n Pedal pannier rack
Rack showing the pannier bars and basket fixing. You can also see the metal struts that go from seat stays to the vertical post of the rack. These come in varying lengths depending on the angle of your seat stays. This allows in all cases for the rack to lie horizontal.
Thule Pack'n Pedal pannier basket
Thule Pack’n Pedal pannier basket (UK) or (DE) (note max load is 15 kg). And no: I have not tried filling it to the top with apples and riding it down a mountain to see what happens.

Written by Oli

Oli enjoys climbing mountains throughout the year on his various bicycles, camping in Summer and definitely to be seen skiing in winter.