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  • BiKe Patrol Rear Racks and Bags

    Just looking for some advice on brands of Bags, and types of racks used on your mountain bikes for patrol...

    I got some good feedback about the Topeak Beamracks from a few officers that used them, but the local bike shop guy said they sometimes rotate around the seatpost, (esp. in a skidding turn). Has this happened to you, or was he just trying to sell me the brands he had in stock...?

    Just wondering if anyone had found any other set ups that they really liked, bags they enjoy using.

    Thanks for the help
    -"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my children will have peace." - Thomas Paine

  • #2
    Most bike patrols I've seen, including the ones in my department, use a rear rack and a rear rack bag. Personally, I'd steer clear of a seatpost mounted rack. They're weak by design and prone to break. They're also heavier than most regular racks because of all the extra material to reinforce them. Whether your bike frame has rack eyelets or not (most do), you should be able to find a regular rack that will fit. It'll be stronger than a seatpost rack, probably lighter, and definitely more reliable.

    That being said, I am not a bike patrol officer (yet), but I have done a lot of cycling. I bike commute 2x/week, and have averaged 50+ miles a week for the past 7 years. In my opinion, Jandd makes the best quality for money racks. If your bike has a seat stay mounted rear disk brake, then Jandd makes a simple adaptor that will allow their racks to work. If your bike has a chain stay mounted rear disc brake, then the adaptors aren't needed.

    Jandd also makes high quality bags, including a line specifically for police bike patrols. The problem, however, with most bags including Jandd is that they are not waterproof. So, you'll also need a rain cover. This isn't a big deal if you don't mind fiddling with a cover.

    I like Carradice bags. They're made out of cotton duck. The fibers expand when wet, making their bags naturally waterproof but breathable. Because they're waterproof, I don't need to mess with a cover (I have Super C panniers front and rear; I also have their Junior and Nelson Longflap saddlebags). They also make a Super C Rackbag that would probably work well for bike patrol. Carradice is a UK brand, so the best way to get them is through a UK bike shop that will ship to the US, such as SJS. Wiggle sometimes carries them as well.
    Last edited by hopperja; 03-19-2011, 01:26 AM.

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    • #3
      I'm going to monitor this thread since we have just about pushed the bike patrol idea through.
      Originally posted by Ceridwen
      Just one would be stingy of me, I'd have to get two. For the children.

      Comment


      • #4
        YES! I was waiting for one of these threads. I just finished my department's supplemental bike patrol course. I'll have to look what packs we have on our bikes, but we have I think Smith and Wesson bikes. They are all hard tails and they just have pretty normal bike patrol bags on the racks. All of our lights are the NiteRider Lights and Sirens.

        On my personal bike I have a Topeak rack and bag and I love it! I've never had a problem with it swinging around. I ave the additional panniers and the fold down saddlebags. Got it all at REI on sale last spring. I wear my Bell Slant Helmet for recreational riding and patrol riding.

        Rack:
        http://topeak.com/products/Racks/MTXBeamRackV-Type

        Bag:
        http://topeak.com/products/Bags/RXTrunkBagEX

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        • #5
          Any of the racks that mount to the seatpost can swing around. There was a rash of guys here breaking the Topeak racks by overloading them and sitting back on them when descending stairs. If you run a bike with disc brakes or a 29er you get limited options for a rack. There are several now that clamp to the seat stays, I just got a Blackburn that uses an extra long rear skewer to mount the bottom of the rack. The standard ones that mount by screws through eyelets are fine as long as you check them every now and then. The bolts tend to work loose and can be really exciting when they finally fall out while you are moving.

          A bags pretty much a bag. The Jando and Bushwhacker are great. Mount it securely and don't overload it. Cops always want to carry extra junk but on a bike you have to learn to make do with less.
          Work smarter not harder!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by dtimoney View Post
            ...All of our lights are the NiteRider Lights and Sirens...
            I HATE Nite Rider lights. They are way over priced for what you get, not reliable, and expensive to fix. When it breaks, you or your department will pay a bench fee to have it fixed under the lifetime warranty. I had a NR Digital Evolution that I had fixed under warranty. After paying to ship it there, paying a bench fee, and then getting it back, it still didn't work right. And, from the beginning I could never trust it to not just suddenly and inexplicably turn off on me. Stay away from NR if you have a choice, there are much, much better lights out there.

            The Jet Lites A51, Baja Designs Strykr, or any DiNotte are as good or better than any NR you are going to buy. Plus they have a lifetime warranty (like NR), but don't charge any fees to fix them under the warranty.

            I have the BD Strykr, a DiNotte 200L, and a DiNotte 140R and have never had a single issue. Between them, I have over 10,000 miles on them in all weather.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by lazycop View Post
              Any of the racks that mount to the seatpost can swing around. There was a rash of guys here breaking the Topeak racks by overloading them and sitting back on them when descending stairs. If you run a bike with disc brakes or a 29er you get limited options for a rack. There are several now that clamp to the seat stays, I just got a Blackburn that uses an extra long rear skewer to mount the bottom of the rack. The standard ones that mount by screws through eyelets are fine as long as you check them every now and then. The bolts tend to work loose and can be really exciting when they finally fall out while you are moving...
              1- See my earlier post about staying away from seatpost mounted racks. They're weak but heavy by design and prone to break.

              2- Disc brake specific racks are limited, yes. However, any reputable rack maker provides adapters to use any of their line of racks with disc brakes. This only matters if the disc is mounted on the seat stay. A disc brake mounted on the seat stay is one that is mounted on the rear triangle tube that goes from the rear axel up to the seat tube, like in this picture. In the picture, the disc brake mount is the item that's been filet brazed to the top of the seat tube. Below that is the fender/rack mount hole. Mounting a disc brake on the seat stay makes an adapter necessary to push the rack out laterally to clear the disc brake. If you get a bike with a chain stay mounted disc brake, such as the Salsa Fargo, then this isn't an issue. When disc brakes are mounted on the chain stay (the horizontal tube that forms the bottom of the rear triangle, running from the rear hub to the bottom bracket), rack mounting is the same as on a non-disc bike.

              3- Use some sort of thread locker on your rack bolts. This will reduce or eliminate them coming loose.

              4- There are NOT limited options for 29er racks. A 29er mountain bike is a 700 c road bike size. They are one in the same. There are actually more racks available for road bikes (29er/700 c rims) than for mountain bikes (26 inch rims). Many of the road bike racks will also fit on a mountain bike.

              5- I would stay away from any rack that clamps to the seat stay. Theoretically, cargo should be centered over the rear axel. Rack eyelets are very near the rear axel. Seat stay clamps are going to be further away from the axel, thus having a negative effect on handling.

              6- Like anything, with bags, you get what you pay for. Go cheap and you'll get poor quality. Pay a little more, and you'll get something that will withstand the rigors of daily use. Personally, I believe the weakest part of any bag is the zipper. Consider bags that have roll top, strap, buckle, or snap closures, as they'll be more reliable. Additionally, if you ride where it rains, don't forget water protection. Most bags will need a rain cover, unless you opt for the likes of Carradice (waterproof/breathable), Ortlieb, or Axiom Typhoon (waterproof not breathable; no rack top bag option in the Typhoon series). Also, consider a good handlebar bag to move some of the weight forward. This will improve handling. Incidentally, Carradice is waterproof, breathable, and has no zippers to break.

              Speaking of the Salsa Fargo, I've never ridden one, but I bet it would make an excellent patrol bicycle. It has traditional mountain bike geometry (probably more like today's all mountain bikes), so the rider is more upright. With a good seat, this makes it more comfortable for long hours in the saddle. Yet, it has a drop bar, so there are more hand positions than with the traditional mountain bike flat or riser handlebar. The rear triangle is set to the standard mountain bike 135mm, so it can accept mountain bike tires (though for patrol, this probably isn't necessary). And as a bonus, it's a steel frame so it's more forgiving and more comfortable than a more rigid aluminum frame. If my patrol bicycle were left up to me, this would be a serious contender.
              Last edited by hopperja; 04-05-2011, 10:47 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                From racks and bags to clothing. As I've said, I'm not a bike patrol officer yet, but I ride a lot in all kinds of weather year around. In the Pacific Northwest, the extremes range from 20 degrees and clear to 33 degrees and raining hard, to 90 degrees and sunny but not humid. I absolutely love cycling and anything related. I read about it and partake in it nearly daily, and I actually enjoy researching anything bike related.

                I have had good experiences with J & G cyclewear. They have a specific line of bicycle clothing for bike patrol, and they're worth a look. I've just finished two winters with their rain jacket, rain pants, and helmet cover and they've been great.

                My department bike patrols use Bratwear bike wear, but I have no personal experience with it so I can't write specifically about their line.

                Lastly, I'd also consider the Take-a-Look mirror. With it, you can see behind you, which I think is imperative if you're riding in traffic. None of my department's bike patrols use any mirrors, and frankly, I don't know how widely they're used. I don't ever ride on the streets without mine, it's that valuable (after getting used to it).
                Last edited by hopperja; 04-05-2011, 11:18 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hopperja View Post
                  I HATE Nite Rider lights. They are way over priced for what you get, not reliable, and expensive to fix. When it breaks, you or your department will pay a bench fee to have it fixed under the lifetime warranty. I had a NR Digital Evolution that I had fixed under warranty. After paying to ship it there, paying a bench fee, and then getting it back, it still didn't work right. And, from the beginning I could never trust it to not just suddenly and inexplicably turn off on me. Stay away from NR if you have a choice, there are much, much better lights out there.

                  The Jet Lites A51, Baja Designs Strykr, or any DiNotte are as good or better than any NR you are going to buy. Plus they have a lifetime warranty (like NR), but don't charge any fees to fix them under the warranty.

                  I have the BD Strykr, a DiNotte 200L, and a DiNotte 140R and have never had a single issue. Between them, I have over 10,000 miles on them in all weather.
                  Niterider light are the standard for public safety bikes. The company is a bit quirky, changing some designs and requiring new adapters and retrofit kits, but as you said they will repair the product if need be. They are also one of only a few makers that produce a multi colored light and a siren appropriate for police work. The water bottle batteries work well within the lifespan the company advises, after that it is hit or miss. We probably have 30 of them floating around and the only issues we have ever had is the need for new batteries every few years and a couple with busted mounts.
                  Work smarter not harder!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by hopperja View Post
                    1- See my earlier post about staying away from seatpost mounted racks. They're weak but heavy by design and prone to break.

                    Was I unclear on that?

                    2- Disc brake specific racks are limited, yes. However, any reputable rack maker provides adapters to use any of their line of racks with disc brakes. This only matters if the disc is mounted on the seat stay. A disc brake mounted on the seat stay is one that is mounted on the rear triangle tube that goes from the rear axel up to the seat tube, like in this picture. In the picture, the disc brake mount is the item that's been filet brazed to the top of the seat tube. Below that is the fender/rack mount hole. Mounting a disc brake on the seat stay makes an adapter necessary to push the rack out laterally to clear the disc brake. If you get a bike with a chain stay mounted disc brake, such as the Salsa Fargo, then this isn't an issue. When disc brakes are mounted on the chain stay (the horizontal tube that forms the bottom of the rear triangle, running from the rear hub to the bottom bracket), rack mounting is the same as on a non-disc bike.
                    Yeah 700 and 29" wheels are the same diameter, but the frames are worlds apart in design and construction to account for those wider wheels and tires. In addition to the rack you have to somehow mount a kickstand back there which is also likely to need an adapter. Some 29ers, Specialized Rockhoppers for example, have a reinforcement bracket between the seat stay and chain stay, a problem when you need to mount multiple items in close proximity there. Some also have no rack eyelets.
                    3- Use some sort of thread locker on your rack bolts. This will reduce or eliminate them coming loose.
                    Years of this and I never thought of that. Thread locker, ingenious.

                    4- There are NOT limited options for 29er racks. A 29er mountain bike is a 700 c road bike size. They are one in the same. There are actually more racks available for road bikes (29er/700 c rims) than for mountain bikes (26 inch rims). Many of the road bike racks will also fit on a mountain bike.

                    5- I would stay away from any rack that clamps to the seat stay. Theoretically, cargo should be centered over the rear axel. Rack eyelets are very near the rear axel. Seat stay clamps are going to be further away from the axel, thus having a negative effect on handling.

                    6- Like anything, with bags, you get what you pay for. Go cheap and you'll get poor quality. Pay a little more, and you'll get something that will withstand the rigors of daily use. Personally, I believe the weakest part of any bag is the zipper. Consider bags that have roll top, strap, buckle, or snap closures, as they'll be more reliable. Additionally, if you ride where it rains, don't forget water protection. Most bags will need a rain cover, unless you opt for the likes of Carradice (waterproof/breathable), Ortlieb, or Axiom Typhoon (waterproof not breathable; no rack top bag option in the Typhoon series). Also, consider a good handlebar bag to move some of the weight forward. This will improve handling. Incidentally, Carradice is waterproof, breathable, and has no zippers to break.
                    Handlebar racks are going to be difficult to use with a set of lights, a siren, cyclocomputer, and whatever else you have mounted up front. You keep strapping things to the bars you are going to impact handling.


                    Speaking of the Salsa Fargo, I've never ridden one, but I bet it would make an excellent patrol bicycle. It has traditional mountain bike geometry (probably more like today's all mountain bikes), so the rider is more upright. With a good seat, this makes it more comfortable for long hours in the saddle. Yet, it has a drop bar, so there are more hand positions than with the traditional mountain bike flat or riser handlebar. The rear triangle is set to the standard mountain bike 135mm, so it can accept mountain bike tires (though for patrol, this probably isn't necessary). And as a bonus, it's a steel frame so it's more forgiving and more comfortable than a more rigid aluminum frame. If my patrol bicycle were left up to me, this would be a serious contender.
                    Work smarter not harder!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My experience with bike patrols is limited. There are only two in my department, and they only cycle part time. They don't use red/blues or a siren, so I may have misunderstood. Perhaps NR is the only brand that makes those, I don't know.

                      I haven't had any issue mounting a handlebar bag with a cyclecomputer, an air horn, and a light. Things can get tight though, and luckily I don't have more than that to mount. Either way, something like a Minoura Swing Grip would ease the space issue.

                      The issue with handling, as I see it, is delicate. It seems, a bike patrol officer wouldn't want so much weight up front as to hinder picking the front wheel up. What could be mounted then (front handlebar bag or even panniers or a small rack/bag), would be limited by the strength and skill of the rider. I suppose you'd want most weight to be on the back to make lofting the front wheel easier.

                      I have mounted my Jandd Expedition rear rack to a 700c/29" road bike and a 26" disc mountain bike, using the Jandd adapters, with no problems. On the mountain bike (Kona Caldera), I used longer screws because I also had fenders and it didn't have fender eyelets. I also know Topeak (Explorer), Axiom (Journey), Old Man Mountain (both the Sherpa and the Cold Springs), Tubus (Disco), and Nitto (R 15), make racks that will work with 700c/29" wheels with disc brakes. I'm sure there are many others, though none of better quality than Nitto, Old Man Mountain, or Tubus.

                      As Lazy Cop previously mentioned, some racks attach to the seat stays, eliminating in disc brake compatibility issues. For example, this Nitto would work.

                      I see what you're saying about kickstands and see how in some cases they would be hard to mount. Perhaps an axle mounted kickstand would alleviate the space issue, such as the Wald or Evo.

                      Edit: I looked into the police bicycle lighting issue. If I was in the market for police lighting, and because NR seems to be the most viable option, I'd look to custom builds first. NR uses white LEDs with flip-down blue/red lenses. While this works, it theoretically significantly reduces the effectiveness when compared to blue and red LEDs without filters. With custom builds, you might be able to have one built with blue and red LEDs. For example, Hahn Tronix, might be able to put something together for a decent price that will give greater run time, be more reliable, and twice as bright as any NR off the shelf.
                      Last edited by hopperja; 04-08-2011, 12:00 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well I decided to go with a regular rack based upon the recommendations against a seat post mounted version. I have yet to select a given model, but I should decide upon one soon.

                        In the meantime I looked into basic lighting, and decided to add a pair of Planet Bike Blaze 2W lights to the front. They are plenty bright, and have a good direct spot on my upcoming path. I also looked into the Niterider equipment, but decided that at that price, I could add a customized setup to the bike for less.

                        With the advances in compact led lights such as the Soundoff Ghosts, or Whelen Ion/Vertex lights you can mount a few actual emergency lights without taking up too much space or weight (and still keep near the cost of a niterider setup). Not to mention you have the advantage of mounting those same lights on a car later on.

                        I guess the next good question would be what items in your bike bag you cannot start a patrol without....?


                        Thanks again for all the great info.
                        -"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my children will have peace." - Thomas Paine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by celticpilot View Post
                          Well I decided to go with a regular rack based upon the recommendations against a seat post mounted version. I have yet to select a given model, but I should decide upon one soon.

                          In the meantime I looked into basic lighting, and decided to add a pair of Planet Bike Blaze 2W lights to the front. They are plenty bright, and have a good direct spot on my upcoming path. I also looked into the Niterider equipment, but decided that at that price, I could add a customized setup to the bike for less.

                          With the advances in compact led lights such as the Soundoff Ghosts, or Whelen Ion/Vertex lights you can mount a few actual emergency lights without taking up too much space or weight (and still keep near the cost of a niterider setup). Not to mention you have the advantage of mounting those same lights on a car later on.

                          I guess the next good question would be what items in your bike bag you cannot start a patrol without....?


                          Thanks again for all the great info.
                          What bike (make/model) are you going to be using?

                          1- I have no experience with what to put in a bike patrol bag, so I'll defer to others with experience for that one. I would guess this would depend on time of year/weather, how far your beat is from your station, anticipated duties/contacts, etc.

                          2- I emailed Hahn Tronix to hypothetically ask if he would be interested in building a police bike lighting system. He replied to my inquiry. It contained quite a bit of technical information, but suffice it to say he would build a two-light LED set-up with one red and one blue LED. The blue would put out about 65 lumens and the red about 70 lumens. This would be plenty bright to grab people's attention. This light, with a battery (comprised of 8-AA NiMH rechargeables), battery holder, and charger would be about $150. He could program whatever flash pattern you wanted. This would give about 12 hrs runtime in flash mode. This would not included a white light. He could make the lights even brighter, but that would increase cost and decrease run time. You could get this red/blue setup and his Better Front Light (a white light that puts out 1800 lumens, about twice what your patrol car's spotlight puts out) for around $300 (this would be a significantly better set-up than using anything by Nite Rider, Whelen, or Planet Bike). It would take more real-estate on your handlebars so you'd probably want (not need, but want) the Minoura Swing Grip I previously mentioned.

                          3- In my opinion, the best racks for the money are made by Jandd. For light usage* such as in patrol, Topeak and Axiom would probably work just fine. * = Jandd, and other heavy duty bike racks are made to carry a lot of weight over a lot of mileage, such as bicycle touring or utility cycling. Patrol cycling doesn't put that kind of demand on bike racks.

                          4- You'll get about 100 lumens out of each PB 2 w lights. I like Planet Bike (they donate 25% of their profits to bike related causes), but there are better options out there. In that price range ($100), I'd probably go with a good patrol flashlight (such as the Elektrolumens EDC MCE, $129, 900 lumens; or, a Fenix TK30, $114.95, 630 lumens). If you do mount a flashlight, you'll need a Two Fish Lock Block to make mounting easy.

                          IMHO, the absolute most important thing for bicycle safety is good visibility/conspicuity. Make sure you have good reflectors as well as the best rear light you can afford. I have a DiNotte 140L that is outstanding. On slow flash it would probably last an entire shift. It screams to be noticed. The DiNotte 300R and Hahn Tronix BRL are the only rear lights you can buy that are brighter than the 140L.

                          It might seem complicated with all this information thrown out, but it all boils down to these things:
                          1- start with a decent bike
                          2- get a good rear rack
                          3- get a good rack bag
                          4- get a good front and rear light set up
                          5- consider other safety equipment (reflectors, horn, mirrors, etc)
                          6- do you need police specific lighting/sirens?
                          7- get decent bike related clothing/shoes/helmet
                          Last edited by hopperja; 04-10-2011, 01:34 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Finished my first day of IPMBA bike class today. I think the Volcanic are probably the best, patrol specific bicycles out there, at least that I'm aware of. I've seen a couple and while they are a little bit heavier (thicker tubing for durability and strength), they are thoughtfully built. My ideal build as of this moment would be a Volcanic with a Jandd rear rack and a Carradice Super C rack bag.

                            Also, I found (on-line, I haven't seen it in person) a seat post rack that would probably work well: Arkel randonneur rack. If you're having trouble fitting a rack, this is probably an option for you.
                            Last edited by hopperja; 08-24-2011, 12:20 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Glad you guys started this thread, I'm just starting up a bicycle unit at my department. Any advice for a rookie? And what can I expect at IPMBA class?

                              Comment

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