Tubus Tara Low rider review
Keep them hanging low
After spending a long time comparing different low rider racks I eventually settled for the Tubus Tara. It has a decent trade off between low weight, price and is one of the stronger low riders around.
My bicycle has 50 mm tires, which is the maximum for the regular Tubus Tara. However, since my fork and mudguards can take even wider tires I opted for the Tubus Tara Big Apple version, which is rated for tires up to 60 mm, in order to keep my options open. It's only a few euros more expensive and a few grams heavier. I did have to wait several weeks for it to be delivered since the online shop where I ordered it from did not have it in stock.
The low rider rack consists out of 3 parts. A bow made out 14 mm tubing which provides stiffness goes over the wheel, and two rails made out of 10 mm tubing on which the can be hung. The bow extends below the fork to prevent the panniers from flopping around or, even worse: touching the wheel. The tubes are powder coated to prevent corrosion. The parts are kept together, and attached to the front fork using M5 bolts.
the Tubus Tara came packaged in a plastic bag with the rails, mounting hardware and manual contained in a cardboard tube that was attached with tie wraps. It's a very efficient way of packaging things. I was a bit disappointed, there were supposed to be eight bolts, but one 12 mm M5 bolt was missing. I was lucky that I didn't need it as I mounted the rack a bit differently.
The instructions are contained on a single sheet, with a very descriptive picture. However, the picture on the bottom, shows the low rider attached to a disc brake mount, which is impossible, even when there is no disc brake caliper on there, there still is only one, on the left side of the fork, and nothing on the right side.
The Tubus Tara has two eyelets which should allow some flexibility when mounting. Most examples show the rack attached to the rear eyelet of the fork with the mudguard attached to the rack.
I wanted to mount the low rider on the front eyelet. However, this was not possible, the quick release lever of the axle was in the way. The SKS Bluemels mudguard is not very adjustable, and required some creativity to play nice with the disc brake. I eventually mounted them both in the same eyelet with a longer bolt.
- Tara (Big Apple)
- Low rider bicycle luggage carrier
- 25CroMo4 10/14 mm tube
- 500 g (total)
- Max. capacity
- 15 kg
- Max. tire width
- 50/60 mm
Once the rails are screwed onto the bow they pull inward very strongly, making it impossible to get them around the fork. The solution is to only very loosely join them together, and only tighten them after all the other bolts. This tensions up the rack and makes it feel very sturdy.
My bicycle has 3 eyelets on the front fork. The low rider is supposed to mount in the middle one. At first I put them on the lower eyelet, which also worked to keep the rails horizontal, but it did look a bit off, and that panniers are hanging even lower to the ground. The benefit of using the bottom eyelet is that I still have two available which means I could still mount two bottles on the front fork.
I moved the rail to the middle eyelet where the panniers hang a little bit higher, but the rails are not exactly horizontal, but not that is no problem.
Mounting the Tubus Tara was quite cumbersome. I expect it to be easier with for example the Jandd or Hebie low rider racks which have more clearance around the eyelet, or in the case of the Hebie, which can be mounted anywhere along the tubes.
Anti scratch protection
The instructions also state that the it is "highly recommended" to use Tubus' anti scratch protection set, which is sold separately. This was greatly annoying, since Tubus does not mention this anywhere on the product page, or even lists it as an accessory for low riders. Instead this fact is hidden somewhere in Tubus' FAQ page.
The online shop where I bought it did not mention this in the product description (which are often supplied by the manufacturer). If it is really that highly recommended Tubus should make a better effort to communicate this, or even better include it with the product. This is a premium product they are selling, which should include these kind of things.
For 6.50 euros I ordered the anti-scratch protection set. This turned out to be a single sheet of adhesive plastic! I figured I could at least use it on the front and rear carrier. After preparing the bicycle and opening the package I did some calculations on how long the strips should be. It turns out that it is mathematicaly impossible to wrap the strips at least twice around the tube (per instructions).
We need at least two strips of 88 mm (14 mm × Π × 2), and four strips of 63 mm (10 mm × Π × 2). After cutting the strips for the 14 mm tubes there is only one strip left which can be split into two for one 10 mm tube, and then there is nothing left to wrap around twice the other 10 mm tube. What the fuck Tubus?! The instructions clearly say that an anti-scratch protection set protects against "panniers", a plural!
At this point I was so annoyed that I sent of an email to Tubus requesting another anti-scratch protection set, because I don't think they delivered what they promised. About a week later I received a reply:
many thanks for your e-mail. I understand your point and of course we will use this feedback to discuss this point again. I'm using the Tara with Front-Roller made by Ortlieb and for me one foil is enough for both bags after I cut it by myself.
As a gesture of goodwill I send one foil-set to you.
A nice the gesture, I hope they change it.
Mounting panniers depends on the mounting system that the bags use. In my case I used Ortlieb Front Roller Plus bags, which use Ortlieb's Quick Lock-2 system, which is also found on some other brands. For bags with the Quick Lock-1 system Tubus sells a replacement "lid" (Tubus article number 30013) that makes bags fit.
I found that I could use the widest setting of the top hooks, and still have the bag slide around. The best way to keep the panniers from sliding is to move them all the way to the back against the back and use the bottom lid pointing forward so that it pushes the bag backward. This makes mounting and unmounting the bags a little bit more difficult. During my longer trips I several times had the lower lid slip off. The bags were not in any danger of falling off, but would sliding up and down the rails a bit.
Something clamping around the rail that would prevent sliding of the panniers would be a good addition, but as said before, for a premium brand like Tubus this should be included with the product, not something you have to figure out yourself.
Having two panniers on the front wheel can affect the handling quite a bit. Some bicycles get very twitchy steering behavior. However, this is mostly related to the geometry and construction of the bicycle. A carrier that lacks stiffness can however worsen the problem.
For my bicycle the steering was very stable. Only when loading more weight on one side the bicycle would quickly pull into that direction whenever I tried releasing the handlebar, it did however never feel twitchy or unstable.
The scratch protection kit from Tubus looks kind of shabby as the plastic peels of. I decided that I could do better, and removed it, using alcohol to clean off the glue. For less than a euro I got a meter of heat shrink tubing. I detached the rails and used my girlfriend's hair dryer to shrink the tubing. The result is a much better protection against scratches that not only looks better, but also prevents the panniers from rattling, as it increases the diameter from 10 to somewhere closer to 11 mm for a more snug fit. It even protects against rust by creating a tight seal.
The Tubus Tara is a very solid low rider rack. The bow over the wheel makes it very stiff, even when carrying heavy luggage. It's relatively lightweight and does not seem likely to break.
The minimalist design does not offer much flexibility in latching on panniers, if it fits your panniers it's great, if it doesn't, you probably should look for another low rider.
Although the carrier itself is of decent quality I think the product as a whole is not as good as it should be. If they would fix the instructions, include a proper anti scratch protection set, and add two little things that can clamp along the rail to prevent the bags from sliding it would make a big difference.
After trying the Tubus Tara the Hebie Low Rider seems more appealing than before.