Rear carrier/rack load distribution in relation to rear axle

Hello all,
I’m playing around building a rear carrier. Might make it a regular thing if it doesn’t become too much of a chore.
Anyway the question is, does anyone have an opinion about load placement in relation to the rear axle?
ie. At what point does it make a difference handling if the load is behind the axel “hanging” of the back rather than concentrated further forward sitting on or ahead of the axel?

This is would be for loaded touring, not heavy transport.

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The key for rear pannier loading as far as I understand is that they should be as far forward as your heel clearance will allow. Ideally central over the axle or further forward. The philosohy is that load behind the axle will have a negagtive effect on weight distribution, and it will act to reduce the weight on your front wheel and thus affect the handling in a negative way. Front end wobble is one known effect.
Annoying at best, dangerous at worst.

A quick search online turns up a few results. Amongst my top results on Google is this thread on Reddit:

This is all in line with what I learned when I went for my motorcycle licence. They made quite the point of not putting a lot of weight behind the rear axle to keep the handling characteristics nice and safe.


The load from the carrier/rack is important. I suppose in an ideal world, the load would be directed as close as possible to the rear axle. I do recall Bruce Gordon mentioning rack eyelet placement. He had a strong opinion that the eyelets should be behind the axle, to maximize heel clearance. A rider doesn’t have to worry about their heel hitting the rack, the clearance to the pannier is what’s important. With chainstays getting shorter, and rear axle spacing getting wider, set-back eyelets may now be even more important than when Bruce was building.

Bruce Gordon Cycles, where the touring nerd is King!


Like others have said you want the weight as low and as far forward as heel clearance allows. And if you’re making a bike that’s a dedicated rear loader then I would also push out the chainstay a bunch (500mm+) too which effectively does the same thing.

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Thanks for the replies. That all sounds about like what I was reasoning. Ideally I’d like to keep the front end of the platform aft of the saddle, which shifts the whole thing slightly further back.
Maybe I’m splitting rabbits

I’m not building the frame, just the rack so I don’t get to choose where the mounts go.
Stays are 435mm.
Bruce Gordon is a good tip, hadn’t thought of him. Thanks @mark_pmw


435mm are on the short end for heel clearance with panniers. You’ll likely have to put the panniers behind the rear axle or use small panniers or both.

The bike in the photo has 435mm stays. The rack I made for it allows me to run Ortlieb front rollers with the tiniest amount of heel clearance. It’s slightly biased to the rear.


Damn Yankee Vélo Rear Carrier n° 1

Silver Brazed Brushed Stainless Steel

I didn’t make it easy for myself and it’s definitely not perfect but I am pretty satisfied with the result. Brushed/Polished Stainless is always a bit of a challenge because the joints all have to look decent. No paint to hide sloppy brazing or mitres that are “good enough” . The carrier is not adjustable which saves a bit of weight and makes it easy to install and remove but there is also no room for error because it’s got to be straight…Plus there’s the extra time to make it shiny(ish)

Probably will be building more racks if only to refine my process and figure out a few issues I ran into. Things like getting the bends symmetrical which probably means making a dedicated bender or something silly like that.

Anyhow thanks again for the advice.


Damn, Yankee! That’s a nice rack.


Thanks Mark.


That’s a really nice rack!

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Vielen Dank!