Gear reviews, Racks » Freeload rack

The Freeload rack has only been around for a couple of years but is “World famous in New Zealand”, its country of origin. It fits on the majority of bikes because of its clever ratcheting attachment system and sliding mounts. It may look finicky but it is seriously bomb-proof.
I have used it successfully on a front suspension fork, but most of its use has been on the back of my Santa Cruz Superlight fully. It weighs 810 grams and comes in one size fits all for 26ers and 29ers but there are choices for two different “decks” on it.
One deck is specifically for using with side panniers, although it can also be used without them.
I don’t have any affiliation with the guys at Freeload although they sent me some rack frames to experiment with when I suggested that I could “chop” my rack-frame down for even more clearance for big hits on the back. They are really friendly like that. Top Kiwi Endurance rider Oliver Whalley also did some experimentation with his ones.
I have yet to see one broken, after two 1200 km Kiwi Brevets where probably half the field were using them.
Some links
http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/freeload-rack-review/
http://jeffsbike.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/Freeload
http://www.freeload.co.nz/
 freeload rack

Comments (19)

JulieJune 9th, 2012 at 2:31 am

I have one and can highly recommend it. If fits on the back of my full suspension perfectly. On multi day rides I have bounced over some rough ground and have total faith in the rack. The design is very versatile, I plan use it on my hard tail as a front rack next time I head overseas for an extended period.

Rick HancockJuly 17th, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I’ve been using the FreeLoad Touring Rack for over a year and it seems to be pretty much bomb proof. Took awhile to figure out the mounting system but once I got everything snugged down I haven’t had to readjust. The rack uses a ratcheting system that mounts in 4 places. The top rack and pannier frames are sold separately so you can use the rack alone or add the side frames for touring. The pannier frames snap on/screw on and tighten down very secure. I’m not 100% sold on the dual design (rack/frames) used together. I use a set of Lone Peak Panniers with over 2000 miles of trail use and I have to install the frames about 2″ or so above the rack so the panniers lock in place. Then I have to lay my sleeping bag stuff sack length wise in the “well” between the panniers/frames. Then, I can mount ground pad, etc cross ways. I’ve thought about cutting 4 notches in the rack so the locks on the panniers will lay flat and lock 100% but haven’t had time. I did call Free Load and pointed “design flaw” out to them but they stated it would be too costly to change the design. Most ads show them being used with Ortlieb Panniers. Overall, I’m pretty pleased but thinking about shifting to frame bag, handle bar bag, etc. My gear for a 3-4 day self contained ride is about 15/18 pounds minus water.

DocsurfJuly 31st, 2012 at 3:52 am

I used the Freeload racks on a fully loaded six week tour of Mexico and have nothing but praise for them. Enough that I’ve bought a second set for my GFs new 29er.

Doc

Freeload rack system- anyone used them?October 21st, 2012 at 10:22 pm

[...] Quite a few people in NZ use them for MTB touring/bike packing. bikepacking.net > Gear reviews > Freeload rack some more links on that page. but to answer your actual Q, I haven't used one. Reply [...]

BillJanuary 15th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Any one know where these things are available for purchase at this point in time? (January 2013)
Can’t find it listed anywhere on Thule’s website. Any place that used to sell it claims OUT OF STOCK, etc.

TaiJanuary 16th, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thanks for the review!

Bill, the cheapest price that I’ve found is bike-discount.de. They’re a good company, and I’ve had success buying from them before. They’re based in Germany but will ship to many countries.
http://www.bike-discount.de/shop/m659/freeload.html?lg=en&country=227&cr=USD

WahdayJanuary 17th, 2013 at 10:34 am

Bill: I learned a few months ago (after also struggling to find one) that Thule bought the Freeload rack system last year and has not re-released it yet. The most recent press release I saw about it was that they would be available through Thule in Europe in the 4th quarter of 2012 and in the US in March or April 2013. Not sure what the latest is.

I wanted to get a Freeload but had a heck of a time tracking one down as well (I’m in the US). A lot of vendors list them on their website but say out of stock. Still others make it seem they have it until you try to put it in the shopping cart when it shows up as “on back order.”

If you can find one, snatch it up unless you are willing/able to wait until spring. I believe it is being released as part of a wider system of touring attachments/bags/racks/equipment and I don’t know if they have changed the name. In the end, I found an OMM used rack for $50, so I couldn’t pass that deal up. Waiting for warmer weather to test it out, but it seems pretty bomb proof. Aside from that, I had read nothing but extreme praise for the Freeload – definitely seems worth the $.

Good luck tracking one down! Also look on Ebay. They occassionally show up there, though more often what I see is just the decks.

EricJanuary 18th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Vendors are finding availability dates for Thule Bike n’ Pedal racks (Freeload racks) in March. Keep checking back. Looks like the price may go down as well! I bought a Freeload months ago to check its versitility for multiple bikes (cross bike/commuter/mtn for intown use, gravel pounding or Mtn riding) I’m pleased as punch! Easy and quick to mount, just have to figure what bags to carry for multiday. Went this route vs frame bags due to cheaper cost and versitility – we’ll test them out this summer! will be ordering Thule’s version in March!

AndrewJanuary 27th, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Does anyone know the price of the AEVON STD 100 bike trailer? I just purchased a new Kona 29er and found out that due to the new axles on all new 29’ers, none of the trailers on the market are compatible that hook to the axle. Looks like I will need to use a seat mount trailer.

CarmenJune 4th, 2013 at 11:50 am

The back of the rack when touring with panniers bends inwards and racks end up bumping into chain ring on one side and brakes on the other side. Trying all sorts of jerry rigging to stop it doing so. Any ideas.

Rick HancockJune 4th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Carmen, I’ve used my Freeload system for about 2 years now with never an issue. I’m unclear from your description above. Can you include any pics that show the problem. My review above is pretty accurate as to the pros and cons of the complete system. I have recently been using a set of Ortliebs but had to replace their lower Q mounting system with a spare bungee system from my Lone Peak panniers.

SamJune 22nd, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I tried for over 7 hours today to install this rack on my cyclocross bike, with disc brakes, but the rack interferes with the cables that run down the rear of the seat stays.

I was really excited about this rack, thought it would be a single rack solution for all my bikes, unfortunately it is not compatible with my bike. Will be returning to Amazon.

JeffJune 28th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Im pretty sure I just lifted the cable over the Mount? Usually is only the cable stops you have to think about.
Jeff

TezzatJuly 21st, 2013 at 6:27 am

I over tightend and crushed the carbon chainstay…..ive hear a few reports of this…if you have alloy , tt, steal… they aee bombproof

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bernhardOctober 9th, 2013 at 3:43 am

The Rack is available:

http://www.bike-discount.de/shop/m530/k353/racks.html

I’m considering to get it.

Bernhard

WahdayDecember 19th, 2013 at 11:41 am

Anyone have any experience with Thule’s Pack n Pedal version of this rack now that it is in production and available? Seriously considering this rack over a Salsa-specific one as I will be moving it between two bikes (commuter and bikepacker). I have an El Mariachi and a Raleigh XIXX SS, so could only use the Salsa rack on the Salsa. OMM is the only other rack I am aware of that would fit both of these bikes. I love my OMM but it’s a 26” version so won’t fit these ponies.

I am mainly wondering about overall quality of Thule’s version and if anyone has given it a beating.

Allan SindelarApril 6th, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Wahday and others, here’s my experience: The rack worked well but the pannier rails did not. Summer of 2013 my 15yo son and I rode the San Juan Huts mountain bike route between Durango CO and Moab UT; 210 miles, mostly off road with some singletrack. Very few racks work with dual-suspension bikes, so we were both glad to find this rack and the “Thule Pack ‘n Pedal Side Frames” to carry our Ortlieb panniers. The racks held up well but the side frames did not – made of aluminum and plastic, one side broke during the ride, and the remainder finished the trip only with the help of multiple zip-ties to hold everything in place. The racks held up very well, but I would encourage use as a platform only, avoiding panniers and the side frames. We returned both sets as defective, as the weak side frames made the good racks useless for bikepacking.

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