If you’re planning on going bike touring or bikepacking then having a solid, sturdy front bike rack that can reliably and safely hold your belongings is essential.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of front racks you can choose for your bike. There’s the standard front rack which usually mounts above the wheel and most of them usually feature side rails that are meant for bike panniers.
Then, there are the low rider bike racks which, as the name suggests, are mounted closer to the ground on the bike’s fork and often don’t have a top rack. These holders are sometimes preferred when cyclists are touring as they distribute the weight lower down the cycle, making it easier to ride for longer distances and on difficult terrain.
Within those two groups, there are multiple varying weights and dimensions, so finding one that is best for you can be quite the challenge.
I’ve done the hard work of testing every notable front bike rack on the market with varying loads of weight and then curating things down to a top list to bring you the best front bike racks money can buy.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Front Bike Racks
- Top 8 Best Front Bike Racks 2020 – Our Reviews:
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Front Bike Racks
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the front bicycle racks that most people buy).
- Surly Touring Front Rack Top Pick
- Tubus Duo Runner-up
- Old Man Mountain Sherpa Runner-up
Top 8 Best Front Bike Racks 2020 – Our Reviews:
1. Surly Touring Front Rack
Unlike many of its competitors, the Surly provides several mounting options which makes it suitable for a wider range of bikes. You can run the panniers both low and high, which is such a blessing!
The rack is fully height adjustable and fits the largest number of wheel sizes of almost any front rack in my tests.
The top platform above the wheel is ideal for attaching things like a handlebar bag sleeping bags and other camping gear like a tent.
Surly is a name that has become closely associated with quality in this space and for good reason! This front rack is made of tubular Chromoly steel and has been used by some of the most famous touring cyclists in expeditions around the world.
This front rack can effortlessly carry up to 70 lb, or around 32 kg, and the mount itself weighs around 1.3 grams.
The Surly, in my opinion, is absolutely one of the best front bike holders on the market today.
- Can carry a tremendous weight of up to 32 kg on this front rack
- Pannier can be mounted high up or low down
- Can support bulky handlebar bag
- The rack is the heavy type, weighing 1.3 g
2. Tubus Duo
The Tubus Duo front racks are truly made for bike touring. While these racks do have one major limitation in that they aren’t really made for mounting on forks without eyelets so they aren’t suspension racks, they more than make up for it in one major area: durability.
The Duo is as strong as a bull. I really put this front bike rack through its paces in my tests and it effortlessly handled more weight than I expected it to and left me feeling pleasantly surprised.
This thing can handle intense loads and can handle pretty much any pannier out there.
The Duo is a lower rider front rack which not only means that you can carry heavy weight for longer periods of time comfortably when riding but also means that you can, if you need, add an additional front rack to your bike when touring. The Duo is easily one of the best lowrider racks on the market.
Plus, the Duo has an impressive capacity of 15 kg, and the rack itself only weighs around 550 grams. That’s right, this thing is incredibly strong and can handle some serious weight but itself weighs impossibly light.
- Incredibly strong and durable lowrider rack
- Can handle a very wide range of panniers
- Can carry up to 15 kg of gear
- Not suitable for bikes that don’t have fork eyelets
3. Old Man Mountain Sherpa
The Old Man is a front cycle mount designed very squarely for the serious bicycle touring enthusiast. The thing can carry a maximum load of 19 kg which is higher than almost any front rack I’ve come across.
The Old Man has what is known as a top plate design, meaning you add your pannier higher up on this bike compared to Tubus Duo reviewed above. This can be an issue as many cyclists find that carrying the load higher up makes it harder to ride with it comfortably when compared to when it’s lower down.
This front rack easily fits most cycles with what they term as “universal fitting” and is particularly suited to bikes that have either Rockshox or Fox forks.
This ease of fitting is one of the Old man’s biggest strengths. Unlike many similar front racks, the Old Man front rack doesn’t require eyelets for its mounting and instead uses an innovative OMM clamping system around the fork.
While it can carry an impressive 19 kg, what is equally impressive is that it can do this while only weighing around 660 grams itself!
- Very easy and straightforward to fit
- Can carry an impressive 19 kg of items for bikepacking and touring
- Innovative clamping system
- High up mount type only
4. Tubus Tara
The Tubus Tara is a front bicycle rack that has a low rider design, which means your pannier is carried lower to the ground. This is something many cyclists find a lot more comfortable and manageable, especially when traveling long distances on rocky terrain.
One of the biggest testaments to Tara’s quality is that it’s been around for 25 years. There have, understandably, been a few slight updates to the front bike rack in that time such as the independent holes being transformed into just one longitudinal hole.
Additionally, the way the rack mounts to the fork has been refined, meaning that the Tara now works with an even larger number of bike forks, allowing a larger proportion of cyclists to experience all the Tara has to offer and allow them to reposition it more easily and effectively.
So while there have been some modernizations to the Tubus Tara over its impressive 25-year life span, one thing has stayed consistently the same: the Tara is a no-frills but versatile and strong front bike rack best for most cyclists.
The Tara can handle a weight of up to 18 kg and weighs only around 500 grams.
- Strong low rider rack, perfect as a touring rack
- Can mount the pannier nice and low
- Compatible with the vast majority of bikes
- Very light; only weighs around 500 g
- Concerns about low term durability of this low rider rack
5. Nitto Mini Front Rack
Unlike the best front racks reviewed above which are quite heavy-duty and designed to carry heavy loads on multiple terrains, the Nitto Mini, as the name suggests, is for a slightly different kind of consumer and purpose.
While the Nitto Mini is a durable, hardwearing front bike rack made for bike touring and bike packing like the others, it’s suited to those that don’t have a tremendous amount to carry and want to travel light and prefer front to rear racks.
The Nitto Mini has a load capacity of 2 kg, so it can carry a fair amount, but is markedly less than the competing front racks. However, as stated above, this is fine as it’s aimed at a completely different type of consumer.
It’s advised that this rack is used with a tether so that you can loop it around the tongue of the rack as well as the bike handlebars.
This easy-to-install bike rack is suitable for most but not all types of bikes, and if you’re using V-brakes then this rack really isn’t right for you.
Saying all that though, if you’re someone who likes to travel light when biking, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a front rank more suitable than the Nitto Mini.
- Very light and compact for short bikepacking and touring
- Incredibly strong; able to carry a lot of items
- Very easy to install, so excellent for bikepacking setup
- Can only carry 2 kg of pannier weight, so not much gear
- A somewhat clunky mount racks mechanism
6. Velo Orange Porteur Front Rack
The Velo Orange Porteur is one of the very traditional front bike racks.
Its style is very similar to those used on Parisian newspaper bikes that routinely carry over 100 pounds of newspaper. It’s also been known as the pizza rack style.
This stainless steel rack is incredibly durable and robust and it performed fantastically during my tests. It’s crucial to remember that this is a real stainless steel rack, not a painted steel rack that is susceptible to rusting or an aluminum rack that is known to eventually crumble under heavier weight.
Unlike many of its competitors, the Porteur rack is actually quite attractive. Something about the polished stainless steel and uniform design gives the bike rack a very elegant, aesthetically pleasing look.
While the Velo Orange can carry a lot of weight, it weighs just over 1 kg. It’s worth noting though that this is markedly heavier than many of its competitors.
- Made of stainless steel
- Attractive pizza rack style design
- Heavy 1 kg front rack
7. Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack
Origin8 is a brand associated with innovation and quality within the bike gear space and the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD lives up to that reputation.
This front bike rack is made entirely of heavy-duty aluminum and has a load capacity of 55 pounds.
This sort of bike rack mounts to the caliper hole and front axle and has a really good adjustable fit allowing a comfortable fit for 26, 27, and 29-inch wheel bikes. That means high compatibility without having to sift through multiple rack options.
The front rack itself weighs just under 1 kg, which makes it a little heavier than some of its competitors, but this is a small price to pay to have a front rack made of a more premium material like aluminum.
- 55 kg weight capacity for long bike touring carrying a lot of items
- Compatible with a large number of bikes without multiple pannier rack options
- Easy installation
- Can support most handlebar bag and randonneur bag models
- Doesn’t come with good instructions or tools so make sure to do assembly research if buying
- Questions surrounding the strength of the product
8. Axiom Journey Deluxe Lowrider Front Rack
Last but by no means least, we have the Axiom Journey Deluxe Lowrider Front Bike Rack which is so much more than your standard rack as it gives your front wheel another purpose!
This front rack is easily one of the best ways we have found to rack onto your suspension forks at your front wheel which, for many bikers, allows them to manage and balance large loads most effectively during long rides. This rack really lets you go as low as possible, right near the disc brakes.
This rack is made of aluminum and is double welded for extra robustness and strength, which means you can trust it at your front suspension forks.
Its mounting system consists of fore/aft adjustments slots that allow mounting to a surprisingly large number of fork angles, a far cry from the basket rack style of the past.
The mount fits fork up to 42 mm in diameter, which covers the vast majority of bikes and scores this front rack top marks for compatibility.
More importantly, the rack can carry up to a truly impressive 18 kg, all while mounting to your front suspension, which puts it right the way up the top when it comes to load capacity and blows most of the competition out of the water.
All of this makes it one of the best front bike racks on the market right now.
However, there are some downsides. Chief among them is the requirement to carry a roughly equal amount of weight on either side of the wheel when this thing is mounted to prevent any issues with balance and maintain your center of gravity.
- Clamps onto front fork for low pannier rack carrying, right near disc brakes at racks front
- Double welded aluminum for strength and durability for one of the strongest lowrider front racks
- 18kg weight capacity for bike touring while carrying a lot of gear
- Not for those who want to carry their pannier high
- Not for those who don’t want their stuff near the front fork
So there you have it, a complete breakdown of the best front bike holders on the market today, with most being front as opposed to rear rack styles and none of them being wire basket styles, as that is where the market is going.
A few touring bikes racks that narrowly missed the top list were the Braze Ons front racks and the Velo Orange Randonneur Platform Rack.
There is, understandably, a lot of confusion when it comes to front bike racks as there are quite a few different types on the market and some are suitable for some types of bikes and not others. I’m hoping this breakdown has simplified things for you and made it easier to take a pick.
In summary though, if you want to mount your bicycle panniers higher up on your bike then we recommend Old Man Mountain Sherpa. If you find it more comfortable to mount your pannier lower down, then you can’t go wrong with the Axiom Journey Deluxe Low Rider.
If you have a lot to carry, then you’re going to need something heavy-duty like the Surly Touring Front Rack which can carry up to a mammoth 32 kg. If carrying tremendous loads isn’t high on your agenda, however, and compactness is your main criteria, then we recommend the Nitto Mini Front Rack.
Finally, if you want my opinion on the best all-rounder then I have to say it’s the Surly Touring Front Rack. It’s a robust front bike rack that can carry a tremendous weight easily and can be mounted high up or low down, depending on the type you prefer.