An Important Tip For Commuters On Carbon Bikes

from Rookie’s keyboard

Hello, friends

Today, I will provide a few tips for people who plan on using their carbon machines for commuting. (It turns out that there are many individuals with similar plans).

Cargo Transportation

There are two ways to transport cargo – on the bike (e.g., panniers) or on your body (backpack). 

Any serious commuter will tell you that the first option is better because you feel lighter and don’t suffocate your back with annoying rucksacks. 


Panniers are a very common choice for carrying cargo on a commuter. However, they cannot be mounted directly on a bicycle. You need a front or a rear rack.

But when you have a carbon frame, mounting a rack could be troublesome. After all, carbon bikes are designed for speed, not commuting. That said, it’s not mission impossible.

First, check the frame for rack mounts/bosses.

A small minority of carbon frames have threaded rack mounts on the seat stays specifically for mounting the arms/braces of a pannier rack.

Below is a list of models known for having rack mounts:

ModelRack StyleCapacity
Specialized DivergeRear55lbs/25kg
Willier JenaRearN/A
Bombtrack Hook EXT-CRearN/A
Jamis RenegadeRear25lbs/11.3kg
Fuji Jari CarbonRearN/A
Norco Search XR C1RearN/A
Tifosi CavazzoRearN/A
Niner RLT RDORearN/A
Trek 1120Rear26lbs/11.8kg

Keep in mind that a rear rack has 4 attachment points – two for the rack’s legs and two for the arms.

Some frames have leg mounts but lack connection points for the arms/braces. If you are facing that issue, you can get a seat collar with rack mounts (image below).

No mounts = The Axle Saves The Day

If the frame doesn’t have rack bosses/eyelets, you can use a rack that attaches directly to the rear axle.

The table below contains racks that fit the criteria:

ModelPositionMounting Points/AxleWeightCapacity*
Axiom Streamliner Road DLXRearQuick-release skewers510g110lbs/50kg
Axiom Streamliner Disc DLXRearQuick-release skewers710g110lbs/50kg
Tubus DiscoRearQuick-release skewers720g44lbs/20kg
Tailfin X Series Pannier RackRearQuick-release skewers, Thru-axle, frame eyelets390-540g9kg/19.8lbs (per side)
Sherpa Classic Rack FrameRearQuick-release skewers, Thru-axle700g31.8kg/70lbs

As you can see in the table, most racks are designed for quick-release skewers rather than thru-axles.


Thru-axles are more commonly found on high-end bicycles that aren’t intended for cargo transportation.

Touring bikes are sometimes an exception, but they have rack mounts and don’t need workarounds

A Rack Attached To a Non-carbon Seatpost

Another option is to get a rack that mounts directly to the seat post. Those rack models have a much lower capacity but at least they can be attached to virtually any bike and don’t require rack eyelets.

However, the seat post must be made of metal – not carbon. Seat post racks are secured to the seat post via a massive bracket that produces a lot of clamping pressure. 

And carbon is a spoiled material that doesn’t like being clamped. I’d never install such a rack on a carbon seat post.

This rack style will allow you to carry panniers, but the loading capacity will be much lower – 10-15kg.

Front Racks

Front racks are less commonly used for panniers, but they work fairly well for that task too.

Once again, you will need eyelets (this time on the fork) for the support legs of the rack. 

Even if the fork has eyelets they may be designed only for water bottle cages and mudguards. If that’s the case, they may be structurally weak and unsuitable for heavy cargo.

You may also consider replacing the fork entirely with one that has mounts. 

Example Model: Specialized Diverge comes with a rack-ready fork. The model can support up to 30 lbs (13.6kg) of cargo at the front. 

Tubus Tara is a low-rider front rack known to fit the Specialized Diverge fork.

Clamping Mechanism = Bad

Some racks have an attachment system that squeezes the seat stays to circumvent the lack of mounting points.

Those racks are fine for metal frames but could damage a carbon frame. Avoid them.

Ditto for P-clamps and similar methods used to connect the legs of the rack to the seat stays.

The Downside of Using Panniers

  • Extra Weight

The only purpose of relying on carbon components is to save weight. And by turning your carbon bike into a cargo model, all weight savings become meaningless.

  • Carbon Bikes Aren’t Commuters

Carbon bikes are designed for racing. Using one to go to the office is not unheard of, of course, but locking it outside with the “plebs” makes no financial sense as it can be easily stolen. If you don’t have a dedicated place for it at work, get a cheaper machine.

  • Carbon Bikes are Babies

Unlike steel models, carbon cries like a spoiled baby. It requires routine examinations of the frame and fork as well as a “soft touch” during regular maintenance.

Get A Beater Bike

The reality, my friends is that there isn’t a bike that can excel at everything. Each discipline demands certain qualities that become negative when the bicycle is used for different purposes.

Turning a race carbon road bike into a cargo commuter is akin to relying on a Ferrari to transport construction materials. It can be done, but it’s just not right.

If you have a carbon bike, you can keep using it as a racehorse and get a beater bike for commuting.

A beater bike is a cheap (not to be confused with bad) bike that offers comfort and peace of mind. You can lock it anywhere and if it’s gone, the USD 180 that you paid for it will lessen the pain of separation. 

Until next time

– Rookie





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