Field Tested: Blackburn Outpost front rack

Since the 1970s Blackburn has been making high quality touring equipment that has traveled the world over. A resurgence in the popularity of touring in recent years has led to a renaissance in products from the brand, including the new Outpost front rack.
Unlike traditional low-rider racks that mount to dedicated eyelets, the Outpost can be mounted in several different ways. The lower mounts can be bolted to fender or rack eyelets at the dropout, or the wheel’s skewer can run right through it, though you need an extra long skewer that’s not included. The height is then adjusted to fit 26-inch, 700c or 29-inch mountain bike wheels.
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The secondary supports are then mounted to the rack structure and can be bolted to lowrider eyelets, mid-fork eyelets, even cantilever/V-brake bosses. The can even be attached via hose clamps or the included P-clamps if your fork doesn’t have any mounts, assuming the fork is strong enough, of course. The best part about the design is that you don’t need to bend or cut anything to make it fit. I put it on two bikes and the setup on each took only minutes.
The rack itself is made from Easton 6061 aluminum, and has been plenty sturdy when loaded up. Keeping the top attached must certainly help with the overall structural rigidity, and is a handy place to strap lighter items or even a U-lock for commuting. Panniers can be affixed on either the top rail or the second rail, depending on how deep they are. I’ve mounted a pair of Ortlieb rear panniers to the front on the lower rail with no problems.
The $100 Outpost is a perfect match for my Surly Karate Monkey, which I use as a commuter but isn’t equipped with rear rack mounts. Plus having the weight up front and down low keeps frame flex to a minimum. Loaded up it certainly does affect the steering, but it only took a few minutes of getting used to. It is rated to 45 pounds and I wouldn’t hesitate to put that much weight on it. There is also a matching rear rack available if you’re going on a long tour.

Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #32 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a product review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.