…everything’s on the internet right? Well, how come I couldn’t find instructions on how to match up these two bits of kit? After struggling for an hour, I realized that I could potentially save someone a lot of time…
Here’s my mini-howto on getting some panniers into your life!
To start, this is specifically for the Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mated to a Trek 7.2 FX. If you’re looking for more general information, this is a great overview. Why the “disc” version on a bike without disc brakes? Room to breath, of course.
My Trek is the first “real” bike I’ve ever owned, and certainly the first I’ve done anything to other than irregularly lubricating the chain. Also, my Trek is a couple years old (2012 I think?) so Your Mileage May Vary if it’s much older or much newer. I hear the 2015 is a slight downgrade in build quality…anyway, enough rambling…
First: the Axiom came with entirely too much mounting hardware. I suppose out of necessity, both the hardware kit and the hilariously vague instructions (I had to download them off the internet) are generic. Don’t bother downloading them, they’ll just make the job take three times as long as you screw around with the center bracket before eventually being forced to abandon it: for the Trek, I didn’t need the middle bracket (or perhaps I do, but it’s a good 4″ too short to reach anything useful). I’m sure it’s necessary to reach the rated ~100 pound capacity.
Next, I had to pop some rubber bungs out of the threaded fittings welded onto the frame below the seat (in the bicycling world, these are called “internally threaded eyelets on the seat stays” I think? I may very well be wrong!) This is the location on the Trek:
The smooth silver bolt head in the middle bottom of the image (I think it’s called a rear brake frame mount) is where the center bracket would fit if it had been appreciably longer :/
Next, loosen the four hex head bolts that hold the “Versalock arms”. They’re the bits that are hooked to the frame in the above picture. Don’t loosen the bolts too far, just enough so you can easily slide the arms in and out, and rotate them a bit.
Time to start mounting! Lightly place the rack into approximate place. There are more threaded nipples down near the rear axle. If you want maximum load capacity, you probably want to use the axle (I think the technical term is “quick release skewer”) itself as the mount point (as well as fabricating a longer middle bracket and fiddling with Versalock arms so they don’t block the middle bracket). Easy enough to move at any time with a couple hex keys. If you’re like me and just wanted to get the rack mounted before needing to ride home in the dark, line the bottom of the rack up with the rearmost eyelets:
You can see I experimented with various mount locations ;) I used the longer bolts, as the backside of the eyelet has plenty of clearance. Also, I am very underwhelmed by how secure the bolt is in the eyelet. Some thread-lock or a locknut on the backside is definitely in order! A locknut may be challenging, as the backside of the eyelet is angled for what I’m sure is some really great reason. Don’t bother going nuts on tightening the bolt, just have it holding the bracket in place until all of the mount points are in place and the rack is level.
With the bracket lightly in place, align the Versalock arms so they reach the seat stay eyelets. If you get things loose enough, you can do just about anything you want with the arms (I managed to get them backwards at one point, so two of the bolts were facing each other under the rack…I’m special like that). I found that the arms interfered with the rear brakes if they weren’t in this specific configuration shown in my images. You may be able to “adjust” things differently with a little elbow grease. Also, I saved the shortest of the included bolts for this, as I figured the longer bolts may have bottomed out before tightening down.
Now that everything is roughly in place and you’re pretty sure the rack is level, tighten down the bottom bolts near the axle, then tighten down the bolts on the seat stays. Again, this is aluminum: don’t go nuts with the torque, I erred on the side of caution knowing I have thread-lock that is going to be slathered in here once I’m positive of the exact alignment. Finally, make sure the Versalock arms look tidy under the rack, and slowly tighten down the four bolts holding them in place. It’ll slowly pull itself into place, and right before it gets firm is your last chance to make minor adjustments to the angle of the rack. For these Versalaock arm bolts, I did give a little bit of torque, as I figure if this rack has a lifetime warranty these bits must be sturdy.
Three of these bolts are visible here. The shiny holes are from my misguided (thanks, instructions!) attempt at using the middle bracket:
If you made it this far, you now have a rack on your bike in a fraction of the time it took me. Enjoy!
Reminder: for maximum load carrying capacity, you’ll want the bottom bracket on the axle, and probably want to figure out some way to rig a new middle top bracket. The manufacturer claims it’ll carry 50kg (110 pounds!), and I don’t see that happening on those little eyelets over bumps for thousands of miles without something unfortunate happening to the welds…also, acquire high strenght threadlock / red loctite (and a bunch of spare bolts).
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