Blackburn MTN -1 Pannier Rack
I’ve just received and fought with this item, turning the air blue in the process. If you’ve never fitted one of these before, or it’s been a few years since you had one, then the instructions provided will get you nowhere. Of course, part of the fun with any item where any sort of assembly’s needed is to try and get as far as you can without reading the instructions and without using any tools other than what comes in the box and your teeth. Cable ties are also allowed in this game, as is duct tape (though not recommended).
I got as far as attaching it onto the seatpost, before realising something was back to front. So I had to dismantle it and replace it the right way round. Now all that remained was to fix the horizontal support to near the wheel nut. Of course, all the coaxing in the world wasn’t going to persuade the bolt to fit in the hole that I thought it should fit into. First thought, wrong hole (as you do), but it didn’t seem to fit into any other hole and kept falling out rather forlornly (please don’t quote this part out of context). Having settled on the original hole being the right goal, it was obvious that the bolt was too large. That only pushed me to try and force it in and of course, with a bit more effort it started to screw in as it should have done in the first place.
Only on one side. The supplied bolt wasn’t long enough to reach the hole on t’other side.
Apparently, there’s a difficulty in getting these things fixed when you’ve got disc brakes (kind of epiphany you get when blaspheming and blaming anything and everything in site). Now I know that, it seems that I’m going to need a longer bolt to attach it to that side. This is rather an obvious conclusion; clearly those six years spent doing industrial machinery maintenance weren’t wasted. While I’ve got glue and computer bits all over the place, I’m not going to start collecting nuts and bolts, so it took a trip to the local hardware shop (aka big bruvver) to explain that I want “one of these” only “so much” longer while futilely representing this precise engineering request with two fingers “so much” apart.
This pannier rack is sturdy and designed specifically to attach to mountain bikes, so long as you get the right size. The MTN1 is for frames up to 21” and the MTN2 for larger frames. I’m going to need this occasionally, and as you can’t really remove these things as and when you want them, this rack seems like the right balance between lightweight and toughness. Blackburn also produces the Expedition rack if you want something tougher. The marketing blurb states that the MTN will carry 15kg, which should be more than enough for any multi day trip I’ll be undertaking in the next year or so.
Fitting these things is very easy, even for a mechanical refusenik like me. You first need to do some minimal assembly by attaching the brackets that attach the front of the rack to the seat stay. It’s then a matter of removing the bolts that protect the holes and connecting them. The difficult part is then attaching the horizontal support to near the wheel nut. Part one of the review explains the difficulty I had in doing this, as while I was convinced I was trying to attach to the right holes, the bolt wasn’t going in. Eventually, it did attach both with a bit of elbow grease and the replacement of the bolt with a longer one. I’ll also need to work out how to attach my rear light as the attachment provided isn’t compatible.
There’s very little more that can be said until it’s been in use for a few months. Some online reviews claim that the steel attachments aren’t as good as they should be and are a weak link in the product. Blackburn on the other hand provide a no quibble lifetime guarantee, so i’ll have to wait and see.
Manufacturer (RRP): Blackburn (£34.99)
What’s good: It’s a rack that feels bombproof for the price – with the proviso given above!
What’s bad: Could do with an extra long bolt for disc brakes. Seat post attachment doesn’t feel as sturdy as the rest.