Back Country gear from Thule

Words Jon Harris
Photos David Ferguson
Date Sep 14, 2014

Thule may have the solution for riders looking to haul gear to ride in the back country for a couple of days. They had a full suspension rig set up with the company’s Pack’n Pedal Tour rack that simply attaches to the fork and/or chain stays. The same rack can be adapted for either placement. That means you can ride to your base camp, easily remove the racks and then you’re set to shred as per usual. Perfect for those Chilcotin trips here in B.C.

thule_panier_full_bike_1600

The Opus show bike was set up with racks front and rear and laden with packs.

thule_panier_fork_1600

The velcro and rubber mounts are surprisingly sturdy and able to support 55lbs on the top or 45lbs with side bags.

thule_panier_front_1600

The racks attach and detach very easily, so you can pack your stuff in and once at base camp unleash your chariot for big rides. Thule also makes the panniers and bags to compliment.

thule_panier_back_1600

The adjustability of the rack means that it can be adapted to different configurations of rear suspension.

The Pack’n Pedal Tour rack sells for a very reasonable $99USD.


Anyway up for some big adventures this fall?

 

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Comments

chugbutton
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chugbutton  - Sept. 17, 2014, 6:14 a.m.

Thule with some nice design. Handling wise though, all these panniers are adding mass to your unsprung mass (wheels & fork lowers) You want to keep that to a minimum so the suspension can react quickly.

Apart from frame bags, I've not seen anyone do decent mtb load hauling where the mass is attached to the frame. You'd have to add air to your shocks a la a bigger rider. Anyone seen different?

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yogi
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Yogi  - Sept. 15, 2014, 1:54 p.m.

I've used this rack for carrying the extra stuff you can't fit in your pack (actually the Freeload version before it was sold to Thule). Perfect for strapping a tent and sleeping bag to the top of when you need to keep weight on the bike down. Also used up on the front forks for light bulky gear teamed up with a Revelate Designs 12L saddle bag on the rear for clothes and heavier stuff. Straps work fine at keeping the rack in place. However I was checking it and tightened it every second day just to make sure. The straps did do some damage to the decals on the forks though… would be preventable with a bit of inner tube.

Makes a huge difference getting the weight off your back for comfort but at the expense of bike handling. Perfect for very long less technical riding conditions in my opinion.

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dan
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Dan  - Sept. 15, 2014, 11:31 a.m.

Those packs look decent but I too wonder how much they shift from side to side, or slide down the fork legs.
(Also, the rear rack attaches to the seat stays, not chain stays.)

Reply

lounge
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Lounge  - Sept. 15, 2014, 7:58 p.m.

Dan, they will rock side to side if overloaded. I used a Freeload set up last year for 550km / 15,000m climbing trip and it needed a stabilising strap to stop excess movement. The upside is the little bit of give reduces potential failures like a friend had with his Old Man Mountain rack on the same trip. Also, they don't budge when done up properly but you do need some inner tube between frame/forks and strap to stop them damaging paintwork/decals. I'd use them again but be lighter with the load.

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CraigH
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Craig Hunt  - Sept. 15, 2014, 11:11 a.m.

What stops the straps from sliding down the fork legs & seat stays?
~~~~~~~~~
I've tried panniers in the S. Chilcotin (as I need to use my pack to carry a chainsaw & safety gear) and I've also tried a pack with some gear on both the back and front of the bike and that seems like the way to go. Having panniers on the back of the bike makes the back of the bike really heavy and awkward to hike-a-bike. Having the weight spread around seems like the way to go, some on the front of the bike (bar), some on the back of the bike (behind the seat) and some in a pack.

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CraigH
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Craig Hunt  - Sept. 15, 2014, 11:12 a.m.

Any photos of the handlebar bag?

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Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 16, 2014, 5:25 p.m.

My Chilcotins setup - Porcelain Rocket bags…

I'll go with less next time. You can ride trails as hard as you would an unloaded bike with soft bags.

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chugbutton
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chugbutton  - Sept. 17, 2014, 6:16 a.m.

Nice work, do you find side winds a problem with the frame bags?!

Reply

Vikb
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Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 17, 2014, 8:24 a.m.

Side winds? No I've never had an issue. There is very little for the wind to push on around the front wheel/bars and that's the only place it would really be an issue.

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jonas-dodd
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Jonas Dodd  - Sept. 15, 2014, 11:01 a.m.

I recently organized a three day bike-packing trip in the rockies with some very steep and prolonged hike-a-bike sections. One of the guys used panniers filled with roughly 30lbs of gear. This made his sub-30 pound bike into a sub-60 pounder and for the tough sections he was hating life (and me). The downhill portions were problematic with panniers as well: bike handling was difficult and jumps were impossible. Based on this, I would say for any trip with real terrain a pack is the only way to go.

That being said, these racks do look good if you want paniers on your mtb.

Reply

mammal
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Mammal  - Sept. 15, 2014, 11:48 a.m.

I think this set-up would be ideal for rides where the base camp ride is more mellow and drawn out, then more ambitious once you take off the gear. I was planning on doing a ride just like that this summer and this config would be perfect.

Also, the panniers would be much easier to deal with once you have a few inches of squish between you gear and the rider.

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jonathan-harris
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Jonathan Harris  - Sept. 15, 2014, 9:10 p.m.

That was exactly what I thought they'd be ideal for, which is why I threw them up here.

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weedan
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weedan  - Sept. 14, 2014, 11:22 p.m.

I have a pair from back when it was still Freeload Racks (in 2012 before the guys sold it to Thule) and they are amazing - they deserve more press. NSMB long term review?

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